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Breath of Life

March 22nd, 2017 by Michael Tabor

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I am a “Nervous Nellie.” That’s just the way I’m made. I worry about everything and my natural state is not that of being loose and relaxed, but rather tense and anxious.  The best way to combat stress and anxiety is through breathing exercises. Trust me – it works, but you have to practice several times a day AND most importantly stick with it. It’s going to take time to retrain your body.

One of the most popular breathing exercises is the 4 fours. Which is simply: Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4. And repeat 4 times. The problem is everyone is different and everybody has different breathing patterns and rhythms, so you’re going to have to work it out for yourself – what works for you. I personally – inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 6, and breathe out for a count of 6 and then repeat. I do this for as long as I need to, in order to get relaxed.

Good Luck! So WhaDaYaThink? What do you think? Keep practicing and stay calm. As Bob Marley says, “Be Happy.”

P.S. – I just now wrapped up a breathing session. So, this is what I actually do: inhale through my nose for 4, hold for 6, exhale through my mouth for 6, then pause or breath naturally for 2. Repeat. I feel like a new man! Another thing to keep in mind, is it’s all about gaining control of your physiology; make sure your breathing is smooth, slow, and not choppy.

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Meditation is Not Just Some New Age Thing

May 8th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

Mindfulness, TM (Transcendental Meditation), Movement meditation like Tai – Chi (I have been practicing Tai – Chi for 3 decades), breath – counting … just to mention a few types (hey it’s essentially the same stuff, I’ll elaborate in just a sec…)of meditation practices that are proven methods for peace of mind and good health.

Most people, especially westerners are prodigiously skeptical of , to which the title alludes, this new age thing called – meditation. But, listen up, the facts are the facts: doctors from this country (U.S.) and rigorous clinical studies have clearly shown that meditation of any kind:

· Normalizes blood pressure (not just lowers, in other words)
· Reduces risk of heart attack and stroke
· Minimizes stress
· Cures insomnia (actually, I don’t mean cure here, but it definitely helps. I’ve suffered from insomnia my whole life and I can honestly attest that I’d be a sleepless zombie if it not were for my meditation practices)
· Reduces anxiety and depression
· And leaves you with a sort of sense of calm throughout the day (calm for me anyway, lol). I am and always have been a “Nervous Nellie”meditation2 . I wish this were not the case, but hyperactivity and nervousness is just part of my temperament and genetic make – up. Before I discovered Tai – Chi and meditation in 1983 I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown – I kid you not.

In a nutshell, meditation (any form) is simply the arduous painstakingly practice of paying attention to the most boring and uninteresting thing a human being can possibly imagine e.g. following and counting your breath – inhale … exhale … inhale … exhale. What this practice does, is simple 1. Train you to be in the moment 2. Improve your concentration and put a halt to extraneous distractions other than the task at hand (counting your breaths for example. Oh, incidentally it’s impossible for your mind not to wander about to other matters, but that is all part of the meditation practice… intrusive thoughts pop into your mind, & now your job is to gently bring your attention back to breath – counting) and 3. Permit you to become the “viewer”, “watcher”, “third person” who uncritically and without judgment allows one’s body to do what it wants to. THAT’S IT !!! There is nothing mystical about it. You don’t have to convert to Buddhism and you certainly don’t need a mantra (as TM suggests).

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? I know David Lynch (the surrealist Film director) has been proselytizing about TM over the past couple of years. I’m telling you, once you fully grasp and understand it, it truly becomes a part of your everyday life and you quickly realize that it’s something without which you simply cannot live. YEP, it changes your life forever !!! Check out this YouTube clip of Howard Stern (everyone knows I personally hate Stern, but here he is amazingly articulate, passionate…) and Jerry Seinfeld drinking coffee and having a discussion about a simple but profound practice that has been around formeditation1 at least 6000 years.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPLn1ZgGxos

 

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Marathon Runner Dies at the Age of 47

March 18th, 2013 by Michael Tabor

26 miles and 385 yards – that’s insanity!!! People point their finger at me and say that I’m a fan of a brutal sport (MMA –Mixed Martial Arts) but not a single person has ever died in the UFC octagon; and though I don’t have the exact statistics, invariably every year or so, one hears that a person has died of a heart attack running the outrageously long race.

Why does the race have to be that long ? And, who are the morons who elect to participate in such a deleterious sporting event? It’s a medical fact that engaging in any cardiovascular activity for more than an hour provides no further benefits to one’s health and in fact pushing oneself beyond 40 minutes to an hour without pause is simply put – dangerous. I find it quite interesting to note that these professional marathon runners do not look in any way shape or form  – healthy; in fact they look sickly and in need of a good highly – caloric meal.

I do respect the gutsy toughness of the runners, but can’t they cut it down to 13 miles, instead of 26 ??? Wouldn’t that make sense?

So, WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ?

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Cancer: The Master of All Maladies – Is it Possible to Find a Universal Cure ???

January 22nd, 2013 by Michael Tabor
After being diagnosed with cancer, one feels horrifyingly frightened and unspeakably alone and alienated; imagine the milli – second before the big bang occurred type of loneliness or if you happen to have a monotheistic worldview, dwell on the utterly terrifying concept of being GOD – you know the Christian God – barrenly and existentially alone.
Today I read an article from the science journal ‘Nature Chemistry’ which stated in a nutshell that scientists have discovered a “quadruple helix” which may suggest a clue as to the root cause of how and why cancer cells proliferate so prodigiously. Since cancer is “viral – like” in terms of our body and white blood cells not recognizing a foreign invader and the fact that every cancer is different, many oncologists are skeptical about whether or not they will ever find a universal cure. Just think of cancer as a terrorist type of beast that hijacks your normally – functioning cells and tells your DNA in essence to “follow my orders – I’m your new captain” , then grows wildly(resulting in sickening tumors) and ultimately the satanic beast sucks every last bit of life, to the marrow and until it kills you – the host. But, today’s announcement has given us some hope.

Cancer in this country and around the world is so widespread, that the saying “If you live long enough, eventually you will get some form of malignancy” holds a lot of weight once you look at the statistics. 600,000 Americans will die of cancer this year and more than 7 million people around the world will succumb to this most deadly disease. We have made tremendous strides and have come a remarkably long way in terms of 1. Diagnosing the disease (get your annual checkup) and 2.Treating cancer, the 3 major ways: a. surgery b. chemotherapy or c. radiation or a combination of all three, if you catch it early enough.
One of the nastiest types of cancer is acute leukemia, which is really cancer of the white blood cells (the very cells that are in normal situations, supposed to protect you from illness) – one nurse I can recall her saying that “when a patient has acute leukemia, you are always on super alert, because being a blood malignancy, even a paper cut is an emergency. I bring this up, because many years ago in the ‘90s, a good friend and colleague of mine lost his daughter to Leukemia and even though I have not heard from nor seen Ed L. (the father) in a long time, tears well up and I have to immediately distract myself so I won’t become profoundly depressed.

This is a short essay so I can’t elaborate on anything other than the fact that this discovery of a “quadruple – helix” is incredibly exciting stuff. Without getting into medical jargon (+ I’m not an oncologist) this makes me feel quite optimistic, because just think – what makes cancer such a Goddamn formidable disease is that we CAN’T isolate the healthy cells from the malignant ones so whatever form of treatment (if you get it in time) you choose you invariably are going to kill healthy tissue as well (collateral damage is a useful metaphor).

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? There isn’t a person alive today, who hasn’t personally been affected or who hasn’t known someone who has died of cancer. I know it’s unpleasant, but the obvious full medical exam is in order and when you’re my age (almost 50) i.e. the finger in the butt or colonoscopy and for women – please don’t put off mammograms and pap smears. Have a long, happy, and healthy life everyone.


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Despair and Depression: Root Cause – Hormones

January 19th, 2013 by Michael Tabor

Wow!!! For anyone who has ever suffered from severe depression, the movie to see is “Helen.” I’m stating the obvious when I say that the film is not an uplifting movie nor is it for everyone; I see that “Rotten Tomatoes” has rated it 33% out of a possible 100% – not very good at the box office, but that’s beside the point, everyone knows I hate mainstream features. Wow, what remarkably credible performances by both  Ashley Judd and also the supporting actress (don’t know her name) who played Mathilda – it must have been draining and exhausting – my God !
I’m not going to do a movie review and because this is a blog, I am not going to delve very deeply on all of the reasons why a person may become clinically depressed, but rather I’m going to write a little something looking through one miniscule lens; goes without mention,one would have to write a tome in order to shed any light  on such a perplexing, complicated, and misunderstood disease such as clinical depression.

Why was she depressed, one may ask ? The protagonist in the film, “Helen” had everything – she was attractive, intelligent, had a great job, she was musically gifted, married to a wonderfully supportive and loving husband, was upper middle class and financially secure, had a beautiful daughter, etc.

David Foster Wallace – real life, celebrated novelist and professor committed suicide on September 12, 2008 at the age of 46. He had it all one would think – fame, money, genius (and I mean genius, no one since James Joyce could even come close to David). Why would he throw away a life, his own, when he had what most of us can only dream and fantasize about. David also had drug and alcohol problems which is not unlike throwing gasoline on fire – but addiction and depression go hand in hand, sisters … self- medication. David Foster Wallace suffered from suicidal depression his entire adult life and when his loved ones begged him to LIVE – his response: (my words, but the essence of what David said) you’re asking me to refrain from jumping out of a house that is on fire and engulfing me – suffocating me, drowning me… I can’t explain.

My favorite book of all on the topic of depression was also written by another famous novelist, William Styron, ‘Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness’ Yes, that is correct, the same guy who wrote the best – selling, and book – turned – into  – movie ‘Sophie’s Choice’ became suicidally – depressed interestingly after he could no longer tolerate “drinking socially” – suddenly and abruptly making him violently ill, by the way. This little  book (maybe 100 + pages) encapsulated “WHAT” depression is, which can really only be conveyed via metaphor because it’s such a fishy affliction.

I have been studying and researching the causes and reasons for this crazy, irrational sort of illness for a long time. I believe that depression is neuronal & hormonal (I am not dismissing talk and cognitive therapy) and a physical disease that only medication and even under extreme circumstances, perhaps shock treatment, can cure.

WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? I am not a doctor, this is a blog and my opinion of course, so…  I hope this prodigiously serious illness isn’t misinterpreted as glib and facile – because I know what it’s like.   And Watch that movie!!! It’s the real thing and shouldn’t be 33%.

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Marathon Champion, Record-Holder and Beloved Role Model Dies Too Young

April 21st, 2011 by Michael Tabor
Cancer has ended the life of the almost super-human, Norwegian marathon champion, Grete Waitz at the age of 57 on Tuesday, April 18. I say super- human because she won nine (9) New York City Marathons (26.2 miles) and four of which were in record time. Grete also ran other marathons  – she won the London Marathon twice and the Stockholm once (It’s hard for me to even fathom finishing a grueling  26.2 mile marathon, never mind win on a consistent basis.) One has to wonder how many miles she has actually been clocked running in her lifetime in preparation for and in the sheer number of races in which she had participated. (I don’t know the official number of races in which she ran – there were so many- but she took part in 10 mile, 10 kilo., 15 kilo and more.)
Grete Waitz was often called the graceful champion for her modesty and athleticism. She never boasted about her accomplishments and was actually embarrassed by all the adulation that was bestowed upon her.  Whether or not she would acknowledge this fact, she was a role model for not only female runners but for all; and not just for running races. Grete was also a schoolteacher and taught geography in the Oslo school system.
Ms. Waitz was diagnosed with cancer (she never publically revealed what kind) in 2005. It must have been an absolute shock when you consider the fact that she spent her whole life exercising. I’m certain she had a robust cardiovascular system but cancer does not discriminate. Athletes and couch potatoes alike get cancer.
It’s only natural to ponder over this killer – cancer – for which we will never find a cure. (cure is an unsophisticated word for a disease which takes on 1000s of different forms. Every Physician will talk about how cancer manifests itself differently with every single individual diagnosed with the dreadful disease.)
I personally felt a sense of helplessness in terms of thinking about controlling the number of days of life each individual is allotted. No one worked harder at staying healthy than Grete Waitz. Smokers and alcoholics may live to 80 and she dies at the age of 57. God bless Grete Waitz and may she rest in peace.
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No More Talk Therapy – Just Take a Pill

March 7th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

I earnestly believe that there is not a single individual (sane, neurotic or insane) who could not benefit from regularly seeking treatment from a professional psychotherapist. Even the President of the United States, at whom we often look as perhaps the sanest, calmest, coolest and most collected person one can ever set eyes upon, can certainly profit from psychotherapy (especially the president  – the guy with the most important job in the world and all the stress that comes with it); after all therapy is merely sitting down (or lying down) and openly and honestly discussing one’s problems, doubts and troubles with an intelligent and understanding trained professional whose greatest strength is perhaps listening (a very rare and undervalued attribute). But, most of all talk therapy along with medication is a necessity for people who suffer from severe depression or clinical depression

Sadly, I read yesterday on the front page of the NY Times, that very few of the 48,000 psychiatrists in this country (U.S.) offer talk therapy and instead simply take out their prescription pads and write out scripts for an SSRI (a Paxil-like anti-depressant now universally prescribed for depression) and perhaps a benzodiazepine (Xanax or Klonopin) for that dreadful anxiety. Why is this the case? And why no more psychotherapy? The answer to this question and the reason for most problems we Americans and all people face is simply – MONEY!  

Allow me to elaborate; insurance companies don’t consider clinical depression to be a disease, though the American Medical Association does, and therefore won’t cover the expense. And as a result of this egregious and unjust system we now have millions of clinically depressed people walking around contemplating suicide and even perhaps harming others. (As William Styron pointed out in is amazingly short yet awe-inspiringly accurate book – ‘Darkness Visible – A Memoir of Madness’, clinical depression at its extreme is, make no mistake – madness.) Furthermore we now have an epidemic of depressed people who in addition to battling their depression are also addicted to Psycho-pharmaceuticals.  

Here is another Catch-22 – if you’re severely depressed, you can’t work, and you have no money and no insurance anyway. Those who are lucky enough to work through their dire situation will more than likely see a psychiatrist because only a psychiatrist (who is a Medical Dr.) can write out a prescription and honestly with real clinical depression, medication is more important but sadly not enough. And again we have the money situation – it’s cheaper to spend 15 minutes with a Psychiatrist every 3 months for $150 than see a psychologist at $75 for 45 minutes but in order for talk therapy to work, a patient should be seen at least once a week. So you see – talk ends up being more expensive than the pills. 

Now, as for the rich – of course there are no problems – Woody Allen and Howard Stern can have a psychiatrist/psychologist and pay anywhere from upwards of $600 – $2,000 an hour (another blog – one of the plethora of privileges for the rich). Also, trust me on this one; there are a lot of awful, inept psychologists who are “nuttier” than anyone out there. Bottom line is all the good talk therapists are taken (another blog). 

My Opt. –ed. Blog is an open forum and I am brutally honest, and furthermore I consider the people who comment, read, and support my (our) Opt. ed. blog as family. So I will reveal to my readers that I have suffered from clinical depression, addiction and a panic disorder (I’ve had it since high school). Fortunately, I have had help from amazing doctors and loved ones and haven’t suffered from the ‘Black Dog’ (Winston Churchill coined this –a great man who perhaps saved western civilization as we know it – see there is nothing to be ashamed of ! Life is hard – people get sick) in more than 5 years and though I do get anxiety attacks from time to time, I am a very happy man and consider myself cured.   

So now it’s your turn WHADAWETHINK ? Our country is in debt as it is and our health care system is just a mess. Does anyone have a panacea? Any solutions out there? Have you ever suffered from depression ? Please share ! 

Now the most awful part of the job – begging you to click on the Amazon widget and purchase something, Note, Amazon sells everything, I use it all the time, even before I started blogging I bought everything there. Note DON’T go straight to Amazon, I won’t get credit – click here and get whatever you want. And please if you don’t need anything from Amazon that’s fine too. We enjoy the comments more than money. We’re indeed starving artists but we’re lucky enough to do what we love –which is to write. I hope you enjoyed reading this, 1/2 as much as we enjoyed writing it! Please come back. Fresh, thought- provoking material everyday.

 

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Jack LaLanne dies

January 27th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

How is this possible? Mr. Lalanne died Sunday, January 23 of respiratory failure at the ripe old age of 96. This is not good for business. Jack lalanne was a fitness guru indeed but he was even more so an entrepreneur and a businessman. All kidding aside he himself recently said he planned on living for a long, long time and that he in fact felt terrific and was still working out two hours a day at the physically fit age of 96 and indeed death was not expected to occur not at all in the foreseeable future. I am sincere when I say that Jack probably thought that if he continued to workout without fail he would really live forever and never die – see this interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKEHWISVi9U.

This actually ties in nicely with the other blog I wrote about death and dying. Surely Lalanne wasn’t insane and knew that he would have to go sometime but I’m sure he figured if he continued with his exercise routine he wouldn’t die that day, the next day, or even next year for that matter. We all compartmentalize (again read Ernest Becker – Denial of Death; it’s all about the things we do in order to not face up to one’s own demise) and fiercely deny that this grim day will come. Can’t come! How can the earth continue to rotate on its axis and circle the sun without me?

My own form of denial is working out too. If I go out jogging for 40 minutes and come back without incident and feel healthy and refreshed well chances are I’m not going to croak that night. Why do you think people run in the 1st place? I mean it certainly doesn’t make you look any more physically fit (I’m talking about the obsessed fanatics – the marathon runners and Iron Man competitors) and it’s been documented that rigorous exercise for more than 40 minutes a day does more damage than good. Just look out the window and you will invariably see some jogger running in 20 degree weather while it’s snowing and sleeting because the runner needs his fix. And the irony is that this individual is increasing his or her odds of accidental mishap and death because he or she elects to run in inclement weather in order to avoid death.

Oh and speaking of fix. Remember Jim Fixx; the running guru who wrote a number of books about running and health and how by having a jogging routine you will increase your lifespan, etc. Well when he died in 1984 of a massive heart attack while running, runners across the country were saddened and shocked and were rendered unable able to get out of bed, so grieve-stricken that their guru was dead.

Let me wrap up this blog with Jack Lalanne the man and his accomplishments; I won’t list all of them here (watch him work out on you tube; it’s remarkable how strong and fit he was, just amazing watching him do the 1 finger pushups) but he certainly was an advocate of healthy living; diet and exercise. He had his own TV show, sold many books and was certainly an Icon of the 20th century.

Now WHADAWETHINK ? Is this country obsessed with exercising? How long do you think it prolongs your life – 6 months maybe; all that work for 6 months. Does it even prolong your life? Professional athletes don’t live longer than non-athletes. Do you think all this exercise is worth it? How much is enough?

If you like this site and you want to support WHADAWETHINK – click onto the widget shown above and shop at Amazon. Note: Any purchase at all will help WHADAWETHINK, so you don’t have to purchase the exact product displayed in the ad. Thanks and keep coming back.

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