Then, if some pain lingers, use it as an object of meditation. The first step is physical handling. Maybe the pain is an illness of one sort or another, a headache, fever, bruises, or whatever. In this case, employ standard medical treatments before you sit down to meditate: take your medicine, apply your liniment, do whatever you ordinarily would do. Then there are certain pains that are specific to the seated posture. If you never spend much time sitting cross-legged on the floor, there will be an adjustment period. Some discomfort is nearly inevitable. According to where the pain is, there are specific remedies. If the pain is in the leg or knees, check your pants. If they are tight or made of thick material, that could be the problem. Try to change it. Check your cushion, too. It should be about three inches in height when compressed. If the pain is around your waist, try loosening your belt. Loosen the waistband of your pants if that is necessary. If you experience pain in your lower back, your posture is probably at fault. Slouching will never be comfortable, so straighten up. Don't be tight or rigid, but do keep your spine erect. Pain in the neck or upper back has several sources. The first is improper hand position.

Your hands should be resting comfortably in your lap. Don't pull them up to your waist. Relax your arms and your neck muscles. Don't let your head droop forward. Keep it up and aligned with the rest of the spine. There are two types of guilt--self-correcting and self-loathing. You might also call them true guilt (justified) and false guilt (unjustified). The first occurs naturally when you recognize you've made a mistake. It's a spontaneous emotional signal that you need to make amends and give thought to avoiding the same mistake in the future. For example, suppose you participate in a workplace conversation that unfairly tears down a coworker, possibly jeopardizing the person's standing within the organization. Later, you feel bad about your behavior, knowing it was not right. That sense of guilt is a sign of healthy self-correction. As a result, you might be moved to apologize to the target of gossip and set the record straight. At the very least, you are more likely to stand up for what's right the next time around. It's obvious from its name that the second type of guilt--self-loathing--is the kind that contributes to depression. It may also be prompted by a particular incident, but rather than encouraging introspection and self-improvement, it results in a generalized feeling of unworthiness. That's not something we know how to correct, so it lingers and grows until it stops being about something we may have done and becomes a statement on who we are: worthless. Combine that with other common ingredients, and you've got a recipe for depression. Fear. If you are walking alone through a darkened parking lot at night in a rough neighborhood, a dose of fear-induced adrenaline is a very helpful asset.

It sharpens your senses and reflexes, preparing you to fight or flee, should it become necessary. It's what kept our ancestors alive back when the "neighborhood" was likely to be filled with hungry carnivores and pillaging enemies. But what happens when fear (or anger or guilt) becomes a way of life--no longer a momentary response to specific dangers but a constant, low-level tension? In that case, these emotions have exactly the opposite effect, with all sorts of physical and emotional consequences--including depression. According to researchers at Mayo Clinic, the long-term activation of the stress-response system--and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones--can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including: anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, memory and concentration impairment. Just imagine how unfriendly it seems if you're in a conversation and the other person asks you "do you like baseball" and your immediate response is "ugh, no - I'm a gamer myself". It's rude, unfriendly and pretty much screams to them "leave me alone - I'd rather not talk to anyone who doesn't share myoneinterest". Is that your intention? When you're injured, unhappy, sad, or angry what is the first thing you want? Someone who cares for you to sit by your side and listen to your concerns, right? Everyone searches for an empathetic ear to listen to your problems can instantly make those problems seem less all-encompassing and help you get on with your life. So, when trying to be likable, one of your primary goals should be to become that person - the man or woman who can throw all your own worries and concerns out the window and become instantly empathetic to someone else. Going back to Tim Sanders' book on likability, he labels the four core concepts of likability as friendliness, relevance, empathy, and realness. We've already discussed how friendliness can have a direct impact on your likability and how to be relevant in someone else's eyes - showcasing talents and interests that will draw their attention. But, empathy is something else entirely. Whereas friendliness and relevance can be achieved by consciously adjusting your social behaviours, empathy comes from within - it needs to be honest and whole and it needs to touch everyone around you, not just the person(s) you're trying to impress. Most people understand what empathy is and why it is so important. We feel it for our spouses and children, for our parents and our pets, but it's much harder to connect with the people you meet every day. We have a habit of filtering out part of the interactions we run into each day and for good reason.

Imagine what happens if you were to be empathetic toward every human being you met. Your life would be torturous. The world is filled with suffering and sadness - it is part of our lot as human beings - so we start filtering out what we "care" about. But, just because we need to protect ourselves from becoming attached to every living thing we encounter doesn't mean we should ignore opportunities to connect with people on a level beyond simple pleasantries. There are three steps that can help you build empathy in a conversation as it leads to a new relationship. So what's the probability that you actually have the virus? Many people say it's around 95 percent. Recall that the right answer is only around 4 percent! How can that be? Let's use a little logic and number crunching. If one out of five hundred people have the virus, the other 499 don't. However, if the test indicates that a person has the virus when she doesn't in 5 percent of the cases, the test will say that about twenty-five of the virus-free individuals are infected (0.05 times 499). This 5 percent is called a false positive rate, because the test positively identifies a person as having the virus when, in fact, she doesn't. As a result, the test indicates that twenty-six people (twenty-five wrong and one right) out of five hundred have the virus when only one actually has it. One in twenty-six is about 4 percent. So even though the test says you have the virus, there's only about a 4 percent chance you do.5 Don't feel foolish if you thought the answer was close to 95 percent. When a similar problem was given to sixty doctors, medical students, and house officers at four Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals, the answer given most frequently was 95 percent. About half of the medical practitioners said 95 percent, while only eleven gave the right answer.6 Even medical professionals fall prey to judgment errors that relate to their work. As it turns out, intelligent people are usually not trained to think about issues like these in the right way. There's usually some error associated with most predictive tests.

While the virus test indicated a person has the virus when she actually has it 100 percent of the time (the true positive rate), it also indicated a person has the virus when she doesn't 5 percent of the time (the false positive rate). It would be one thing if a test was perfect in prediction, but the overall accuracy is almost never 100 percent. Thus, we first have to consider the base rate--the background statistic--which indicates how often the event occurs. We normally don't think about this background stat, but it's crucial information. In our example, one in five hundred have the virus, which is a base rate of only 0.2 percent. Next, that base rate should be adjusted given the result and "diagnosticity" of the test. To evaluate a test's diagnosticity, we have to compare the true positive and false positive rates. In the virus example, the true positive was 100 percent while the false positive was 5 percent, so we should adjust the base rate by a factor of twenty (100 percent : 5 percent). This number indicates how much information we get from a test--the higher the number, the more the test results should influence our judgment.7 The diagnosticity of a test is extremely important when we make decisions based on test information. For example, many people rely on lie detector tests. Police and lawyers use them in criminal investigations, and the FBI uses them to screen employees.8 However, the diagnostic value of a lie detector test has been estimated to be as low as two to one.9 As we saw in the medical example, a twenty to one diagnosticity yielded only a 4 percent probability of having a virus, given that the base rate of infection was very low. A lie detector test is much less reliable, indicating that we get little useful information from polygraphs. And yet, lawyers, police, and federal agencies place great emphasis on their results (thankfully, they're not admissible in a court of law). In fact, since the base rate of being a criminal is usually quite low, some argue that the only time you should take a lie detector test is when you're guilty. Why? When the base rate is low, and there's a significant false positive rate, there can be many more cases where the test says guilty for an innocent person than for a guilty person. In effect, there's a chance you may beat the test if you're guilty, while there's a significant chance of being found guilty when you're innocent. After you have made all these various adjustments, you may find you still have some lingering pain. If that is the case, try step two. Make the pain your object of meditation.