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Too hard can induce pain. The clothes you wear for meditation should be loose and soft. If they restrict blood flow or put pressure on nerves, the result will be pain and/or that tingling numbness that we normally refer to as our "legs going to sleep." If you are wearing a belt, loosen it. Don't wear tight pants or pants made of thick material. Long skirts are a good choice for women. Loose pants made of thin or elastic material are fine for anybody. Soft, flowing robes are the traditional garb in Asia, and they come in an enormous variety of styles such as sarongs and kimonos. Take your shoes off, and if your stockings are tight and binding, take them off, too. The link between prolonged stress, systemic inflammation, and major depression isn't exactly good news, particularly since the amount of stress we experience today is, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), becoming a public health crisis. In fact, APA CEO Norman Anderson, PhD, says, "America is at a critical crossroads when it comes to stress and our health." What's stressing us out? Money and work rank as the two top stressors, with family responsibilities coming in third. Stress levels also seem higher the younger we are, with millennials reporting the highest average levels of stress (6.0 out of 10). Exacerbating the situation is that advances and innovations originally promising to relieve our stress--computers, smartphones, and the Internet, for example--appear simply to add to feelings of being overwhelmed. Here's what business and technology expert Bernard Marr has to say regarding why technology escalates our stress: Data, data everywhere. Our brains are being expected to cope with data flowing into them from all directions as our computers, smart phones and connected devices constantly beep, flash and bombard us with information. Put simply, the digital technology has evolved at a far quicker rate than the physical evolution of the brains we use to decipher and put it to use. Our brains aren't built to cope with the ever increasing volumes of data we are trying to cram into them--and this is leading to brain malfunction in the form of stress. Even something as seemingly innocuous as checking e-mail can add to our stress. Gloria Mark, a researcher at the University of California at Irvine, made interesting discoveries about e-mail stress when she conducted a study of a group of US Army civilian employees. After giving the test subjects heart rate monitors, she measured what happened when they eliminated e-mail from their lives for five days.

After the completion of their e-mail fast, employees' heart rate monitors showed that stress levels had decreased. Participants also reported that they felt more in control of their working lives and that productivity had improved. And what is the impact of all this stress? Studies are showing an increase in the number of people who report feeling nervous, anxious, depressed, sad, worried, irritable, or angry over previous years.While this is not good news, it does give us a place to begin. It gives us hope that, by managing our stress (and inflammation), we can decrease depression and create a positive difference in our mood. (Practice my confident tips which you just read about, and you'll be able to confidently assert who you are, without apologies.) But, we're not there yet and I understand your concern. These interactions might be more than just casual encounters at a grocery store. They could have a direct impact on your social and work standing for months or years to come. That's why you're here and that's why my likability book is going to change how you view your social interactions for good. There's something innately attractive about a likable person. Forget everything you see on TV about the rude, mean people who seem to get all the men or women. I'm talking about something different. And in my experience (as well as the clients I've coached to be powerful and popular), sex appeal is all about confidence. You don't have to be manipulative to get what you want. You don't have to be mean. You don't have to puff out your feathers or wear designer clothes to get the attention of the opposite sex. You don't have to complain to your significant other to get more sex, affection or thoughtful gestures of appreciation - because let's face it, did that ever work anyways? The truth about sex appeal is that no matter whether you're a man or a woman, it comes to a sensual and a sexual confidence. This confidence is so magnetizing because it draws people in, and it draws people in because these people who possess it are in control of their reality. They dictate what will happen to them at every step of a relationship.

Yes we all want a partner who is intelligent and sure of themselves, but everyone wants a partner who is nice to spend time with. They want someone with a good sense of humour who can carry a conversation, will ask for an opinion, and generally engage anyone they meet. They are strong, sure of themselves, and clear in their intentions. They have boundaries, and at the same time, are open minded enough to enjoy life--no matter what may come. They take care of their emotional and physical needs, without depending on someone else to do it for them. And, because they don't depend on anyone else to make them happy, they radiate sex appeal to everyone. Such an innocent interruption has the ability to derail an important and sensitive conversation--the kind that solidifies close friendships. The next time we had dinner together, we made sure to put everything the kids would need, including food and drinks, in another room. The kids received clear instructions not to interrupt the adults unless someone was bleeding. All external triggers--whether coming from our phones or our kids'--deserve scrutiny to determine whether they are serving us. Our children are also better served when they learn to take care of themselves, and by watching their parents model fellowship, they learn the importance of tuning out distraction to focus on friends. If we are not intentional about making the time and space for distraction-free discussions, we risk losing the opportunity to truly know others and allow them to truly know us. In the same way society reduced social smoking with social antibodies, we can reduce distraction while with friends. By getting agreement from our friends and families to manage distraction and taking steps to remove external triggers that don't serve us, we can quarantine the social contagion of distraction while with people we love. Distraction in social situations can keep us from being fully present with important people in our lives. Interruptions degrade our ability to form close social bonds. Block the spread of unhealthy behaviors. "Social antibodies" are ways groups protect themselves from harmful behaviors by making them taboo. Develop new social norms. We can tackle distraction among friends the same way we beat social smoking, by making it unacceptable to use devices in social situations.

Prepare a few tactful phrases--like asking, "Is everything OK?"--to discourage phone usage among friends. As we've seen, however, we have to pay attention to all the evidence when deciding if psychic predictions are associated with future events. Consider how many times psychic predictions were way off the mark. Even if we forget about the ambiguity in the Nostradamus quatrains, he supposedly predicted that in 1999, "A great king of terror will descend from the skies," and the War of Wars will be unleashed. Did it happen? Of course, we may not have noticed since he also said we would have been at war with the antichrist since 1973.8 Jeanne Dixon predicted in her 1969 book My Life and Prophecies that Castro would be removed by 1970, Spiro Agnew's career would prosper, America would have severe food shortages after 1979, and a comet would strike the earth causing earthquakes and tidal waves in the mid 1980s.9 Another popular psychic predicted in the year 2000 that Bill Bradley would win the presidential election and David Letterman would call it quits in 2001. Bush won the election and Letterman signed a $32-million-a-year contract in 2002 to continue his nightly TV show.10 We also have to ask ourselves, if psychic ability was real, why are so many major events not foretold? The Committee for the Scientific Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) noted that the biggest embarrassment for psychics in 1997 was their failure to predict the death of Princess Diana. No psychic predicted the Oklahoma City bombing, the World Trade Center tragedy, or the two Iraqi wars. And, if psychics can predict the future, why aren't they making millions in the stock market? They say they have no need for great wealth--but why don't they do something good for society and donate the money to needy charities? On close examination, psychic ability turns out to give us nothing more than interesting conversation. Some people also believe that astrology can predict the future. As noted, even Nancy Reagan used an astrologer to determine the best time for her husband's presidential speeches and meetings with heads of state. Astrologers claim to have many clients in large Wall Street investment firms, and some technical stock analysts willingly say that they use astrology to predict the market. You, as stockholders, may unknowingly be paying for that advice!12 Do you think there must be something to astrology because it's based on ancient wisdom? If so, just remember that the ancients also used to foretell the future by reading the entrails of animals. The Babylonians invented astrology and hepatoscopy. While astrology uses the alignment of the stars and planets, hepatoscopy makes predictions by evaluating an animal's liver. Does it make any sense to believe that animal livers can give us an indication of the future?

Probably about as much as believing that planets a million miles away affect our personality and future. There are over ten thousand professional astrologers in the United States today. So does astrology work? Numerous studies demonstrate that it does not. For example, one study gave thirty prominent astrologers the natal charts of 116 subjects. They were also given three different personality profiles for each subject--one was the subject's profile and two were selected at random. All the astrologers had to do was match the subject's natal chart to his or her correct personality profile, a job that should have been quite easy for these professionals. It turned out that they chose the correct profile only 34 percent of the time, exactly what we would get from simply guessing. In essence, the astrologers' predictions were no better than chance accuracy. So why do people believe in astrology, palm reading, and other psychic prognosticators? In addition to wanting to believe, a major reason concerns a well-documented phenomenon known as the Forer effect.14 Mentioned earlier, the Forer effect refers to the fact that we often see some of our own personality traits in very general personality descriptions. Essentially, we see an ambiguous, general description and think that it refers specifically to us. My favorite example of the Forer effect occurred when a scientist put an ad in a Paris newspaper offering free horoscopes. He sent the same horoscope to all one hundred and fifty people who replied, and amazingly, 94 percent said they recognized themselves in the description. I wonder how they reacted when they found out the horoscope was drawn up for a French serial killer! When you are sitting on the floor in the traditional Asian manner, you need a cushion to elevate your spine. Choose one that is relatively firm and at least three inches thick when compressed. Sit close to the front edge of the cushion and let your crossed legs rest on the floor in front of you. If the floor is carpeted, that may be enough to protect your shins and ankles from pressure. If it is not, you will probably need some sort of padding for your legs.