The Hemp Connection + [yoga]

Blackberries, iPhones, Facebook, Twitter…are they interfering with your health?

Sasha Ottey of PCOS Challenge posted this video on Facebook yesterday. It shows what happens to a man who accepted the challenge of trying to live without all of his electronic connections for a week. He didn't make it…and his reaction was pretty extreme.

I love how these techno tools, if used properly, can help to make life easier. I wouldn't be able to do what I do for a living without the Internet.

However…

…I have observed over time, that people seem to be more electronically connected than they are in real time.

I live near an intersection in Phoenix where a lot of law offices are clustered. It's not uncommon, on a sunny day, to see groups of attorneys on the corner, waiting for the green light to cross, all looking at their Blackberries and iPhones instead of up at the people next to them. They usually seem to be completely oblivious to their surroundings.

I am disturbed at the number of people I see on the canal (even the mountain trail) where I run, and at the gym where I lift, talking on their cell phones while they exercise. They cannot put their toys down for even a half hour to enjoy their workout.

I am learning to love the power of Twitter, as it is helping me to reach women I would not otherwise know, who can benefit from the wisdom of our network members.

However…

…I am noticing a troubling trend, that people seem to be more interested in telling people what they are doing, instead of just doing it! If you're sitting in a meeting, and you're telling people you're sitting in a meeting, you're not really paying attention to the speaker who has taken time to prepare the presentation you're supposed to be listening to. You're either participating in the meeting or you're Twittering/Facebooking about it…you cannot effectively simultaneously do both.

What does that have to do with PCOS, your weight, your health?

One of the most important tools you have to fight and manage PCOS…is your brain.

Your brain is an incredible tool. More powerful than any Internet service provider, communication tool, website. It receives and transmits billions and billions of pieces of information every day: the temperature outside, your mood, your fatigue level, your blood sugar, your hunger level, etc. 24/7, whether or not you consciously think about it.

When things are out of balance, your brain is programmed to let you know. It will tell you if you need to pee, eat, address a conflict, seek companionship, whatever it needs in order to stay in balance.

There is one important caveat. You have to be available to listen to what your brain is saying in order to take the action you need to. If you're jamming your life with toys that fill up your brain's time with information you don't really need (like what your Twitter buddy in Outer Mongolia had for lunch or what the results of your"where you should live" Facebook quiz are)…you're not making time to listen to the REALLY important messages--Are you tired? Hungry? Angry? Anxious? Lonely?

Those messages don't go away just because you ignore them. They pile up in your inbox and keep sending you message alerts until you open them. Kind of like that annoying little red box that pops up on Facebook until you check to see what it wants you to know.

The Perfect Storm often comes during the evening hours, when things finally start to quiet down, and all the messages we've put on the back burner all day long start popping up. If we've ignored hunger…we can binge. If we've ignored anger…we might not sleep well, which we pay the price for the next day. If we're lonely, and were too busy with electronic friends to do something social in real time…we can eat or drink alcohol to self-medicate.

We often don't like the messages that our brain sends us, so it's easy to fill our lives with Tweets and quizzes and status reports to ignore them. But it's only when we listen to them that we have a shot at being healthy.

I like to recommend yoga to clients as a stress management activity. Early into making that recommendation, my clients would routinely come back and complain that they hated it. I couldn't understand it, until I started asking why. Often they would complain that it made them feel"tired" (which I learned later was actually relaxed but it had been so long since they'd felt that way they couldn't recognize it).

What happens when you're new to yoga is that it tends to slow your body down very quickly. But if you're not working on the"head" part of yoga, you can find yourself in the corpse position, with a racing head, throwing all of your unpleasant thoughts and feelings back atcha, and you can't run away from them because your body is too relaxed to do its dysfunctional thang.

Many people give up on yoga at this stage because they simply cannot tolerate the reality of how they feel when they listen to their brain's truthful feedback.

I quickly learned to tell my clients experimenting with yoga there was a"Five Session Rule". They were not allowed to tell me they hated it until they'd been to five sessions. They don't tell me that anymore. They get hooked on the feeling.

If what comes up when you listen is too much to bear, a trained counselor (such as Stacy Korfist in our network) can be invaluable in helping you sort through the discomfort and figuring out what to do about it.

For those clients who are not at a point where an hour of direct communication with their brain is tolerable, I challenge them to start with five minutes of"disconnect". It's not really disconnecting, it's setting aside the barriers to TRULY connecting. Just long enough to think about how you're feeling. Away from the phone, the office, the Blackberry, the iPhone…just to see what comes up.

Once they've accomplished that, five becomes ten. Some people get into the challenge so much they…imagine this…don't read their e-mail or check their iPhone messages for an entire weekend!

Just think about it. Are you living a"virtual life", connected to"virtual friends" and"virtual activities"…or are you living a real-time life, with an occasional jaunt into the virtual world for a bit of fun?

I'll appreciate your feedback here, on Twitter, and on Facebook later on. But I've planned my day so I can quit work early and go for a long walk on the canal to enjoy the spring flowers. I hope you have some real-time connectivity planned in your day, too!