Wisdom from Books

<b>Wisdom from Books</b>
Stephen Lau's website to help you get the wisdom to live as if everything is a miracle!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Back Pain Surgery?

Back Pain Surgery

Pain is unavoidable, especially physical pain, as you continue to age. 

Back pain is a common debilitating occurrence in people in the Western world, affecting about 60 to 80 percent of people in Western countries. If the pain lasts only a day or two, it is most probably due to muscle spasm and strain. However, if the pain is intermittent and continual, it may be attributed to disk degeneration, resulting in the vertebrae crushing against each other, and hence damaging the nerves along the spine.

Avoid surgery in treating back pain for various reasons:

Back pain surgery to remove a disk is a very invasive procedure, with various complications.

1. Surgery does not stop or reduce back pain.

2. Research studies have shown X rays, CT scans, and MRIs on more than 20 percent healthy individuals with no back pain having protruding disks and other problematic abnormalities. These findings indicate that back pain may be more than just back problems requiring surgery.

3. Without surgery, damaged disks may often improve by themselves. Even tissue having herniated out from the interior of a disk may be reabsorbed on its own.

4. Surgery may not be necessary in many cases, except where nerves may be damaged. A recent review of eleven countries showed that surgery rates are determined not by how badly operations are needed, but by the availability of orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons, with the United States at the top of the list.

There are certainly other options in treating back pain, such as using back exercises and improving posture through correct breathing. Remember, back pain is often due to stress.

Primal Stress is an innovative exercise program for stress relief, especially coping with back pain.

Stephen Lau 
Copyright © by Stephen Lau

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Application of Aging Theories

Aging is a steady decline in health, which is instrumental in shortening lifespan; and the aging process is the duration during which such changes occur. Aging occurs throughout most of lifespan. Such a process is an accumulation of changes, which may be subtle or even drastic, that progressively lead to disease, degeneration, and, ultimately, death.

Many scientists have come up with different theories explaining why and how you age. Putting into practice the theories of aging may defer and delay your own aging process.

The free radical theory of aging

This theory is based on the damage of cells due to cumulative free radicals, leading to disease and, ultimately, death.

Free radicals are molecules within the human cells. Due to regular oxidation (e.g. breathing), and other environmental factors (e.g. tobacco smoke), these molecules become damaged and unstable, and begin to affect other healthy cells close by, creating many more similar unstable free radicals, and thus initiating a chain reaction of cell damage by free radicals.

Damaged cells lead to disease and ultimate death.

The genetic theory of aging

This theory is based on the pre-programming of human genes to induce aging and death—your Creator ensures that you will not be immortal. Therefore, aging is not the consequence of wear and tear over the years. The fact of the matter is that you are not meant to live forever.

Other than disease and other environmental factors, there is no great variation in the lifespan of humans, and this may partially explain the role of genes in aging.

The hormone theory of aging

This theory is based on the gradual changes in the human body due to the decline and degeneration of the endocrine system, which is responsible for producing hormones to regulate many body functions and processes. Changes in the human hormone production, such as menopause, account for the changes responsible for aging.

The immunity theory of aging

This theory is based on the failure of the immune system to give adequate protection against contaminants, viruses, and stress, among other agents contributing to a weakened or compromised immune system.

This theory attests to the important role of the immune system in longevity health and overall wellness.

The rate of living theory of aging

This theory is based on the rate of breathing: faster oxygen metabolism leads to a shorter lifespan. In the animal kingdom, rodents, with the fastest heartbeats have the shortest lifespan, while tortoises with the slowest breaths live the longest.

This theory vindicates that breathing right is one of the key factors in longevity in humans. Learning to breathe right is critical to remaining younger and healthier for longer.

To sum up, the human aging process is best explained not by one single theory but by a combination of these theories.

Apply the theories of aging and live to 100 and beyond. But no matter how long you may live, get the wisdom of happiness and live as if everything is a miracle.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 23, 2018

Correct Breathing and Good Posture

Correct Breathing and Good Posture

Breath is life. Without food and water, you can still survive a while, but without breath you die in minutes. Optimum breath is correct breathing.

The importance of correct breathing cannot be overstated. Breathing is responsible for over 99 percent of your entire oxygen and energy supply. Correct breathing not only provides ample oxygen to your lungs for long-term holistic health, but also nourishes your body in the form of internal vital life energy, known as qi. This life-giving energy is responsible for the growth and rejuvenation of your body cells and organs by supplying them with oxygen and nutrients.

Good posture contributes to correct breathing—which is breathing with deep and long breaths. Incidentally, rodents, with the shortest breaths in the animal kingdom, have the shortest lifespan. Therefore, breathing correctly is an important component of holistic health and healing.

Unfortunately, the average people reach their peak respiratory function and lung capacity in their mid 20s. Then their respiratory capacity begins to decline by as much as 10 to 20 percent for every decade of life!

Poor breathing leads to chronic maladies, such as allergies, anxiety, asthma, depression, fatigue, headaches, high blood pressure, impaired heart conditions, obesity, sleep deprivation, and stress, among others. As a matter of fact, all diseases are caused or worsened by poor breathing.

To enhance your correct breathing, learn diaphragm breathing.

Diaphragm Breathing

Consciously change your breathing pattern. Use your diaphragm to breathe. If you place one hand on your breastbone, feeling that it is raised, with the other hand above your waist, feeling the diaphragm muscle moving up and down, then you are practicing diaphragm breathing correctly. When you put your hand on your tummy, you feel it expanding upwards when you breathe in. When you breathe in correctly, the air fills up the lower parts of your lungs first and then goes upwards. When you breathe out, your chest pushes out your breath and your tummy then deflates and lowers again.

This is how you do your diaphragm breathing:

Sit comfortably.
Begin your slow exhalation through your nose.
Contract your abdomen to empty your lungs.
Begin your slow inhalation and simultaneously make your belly bulge out.
Continuing your slow inhalation, now, slightly contract your abdomen and simultaneously lift your chest and hold.
Continue your slow inhalation, and slowly raise your shoulders. This allows the air to enter fully your lungs to attain the complete breath.
Retain your breath with your shoulders slightly raised for a count of 5.
Very slowly exhale the air.
Repeat the process.

Learn to slowly prolong your breath, especially your exhalation. Relax your chest and diaphragm muscle, so that you can extend your exhalation, making your breathing out complete.

To prolong your exhalation, count “one-and-two-and-three” as you breathe in and breathe out. Make sure that they become balanced. Once you have mastered that, then try to make your breathing out a little longer than your breathing in.

Good Posture

You can always enhance your breathing through improving your posture.

Despite the importance of good posture for optimal breathing, good posture is often overlooked because there is no one constantly reminding you to improve your posture; just as correct breathing is taken for granted because you “think” breathing is second nature to you, but often it is not. Correct breathing is constant awareness of your breaths and your posture.

You cannot breathe right without correct posture. Good posture means in any standing position, you body posture should be as follows:

Your head is directly above your shoulders.
Your chin is tucked in. 
Your ear, shoulder, and hip are in a straight line from a side view.
Your upper back is straight, not slouched.
Your shoulders, relaxed and straight, are flat against your back.
Your pelvis is in a neutral position.
Your knees are unlocked.

This is how you can improve your posture, in particular, your standing posture: to stand up straight, you require a straight spine, straight shoulders, and no slumping.

These are the steps to improve your standing posture: 

Stand with your feet hip-width apart (for better balance).
Align your ears, shoulders, and hips (Using a mirror for alignment).
Unlock both knees (maintaining “neutral” pelvis; that is, avoiding you pelvis tilting forward).
Pull in your abdominal muscles.
Inhale naturally.
Exhale slowly while pulling your belly button into the spine.
Lift your rib cage by straightening your rounded upper back; while expanding your lungs for deeper breathing.
Realign your head over your shoulders. Make sure your head is not leaning backward.
Un-round your shoulders by rotating your arms until your palms are facing your thighs.
Gently press your shoulders down, away from your ears.
Pull your shoulder blades towards your spine.
Stretch your head upwards without tilting backwards.

Practice the above until correct posture becomes second nature to you. Correct breathing is developing your awareness of good posture at all times.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Friday, April 20, 2018

Create Your Own Happiness Recipe

Create Your Own Happiness Recipe

Like everybody else, you want to be happy. But, unfortunately, happiness always seems elusive and out of reach. Maybe the explanation is that happiness is a uniquely individualized experience; that is, what is happiness to me may not be happiness to you. There is no blueprint for the pursuit of happiness; there is no one-that-fits-all recipe for happiness. The bottom line: you must create your own happiness recipe through looking at ancient wisdom from the East and the West, conventional wisdom, and spiritual wisdom.

A happiness recipe is like a GPS that guides us in the direction of the different destinations we are heading. Some of us may choose the highways; others may prefer local or toll-free routes. Likewise, a happiness recipe is a matter of personal choice and preference, based on each individual’s own past and present life experiences, as well as the core values of that individual.

Core values are not life goals, which have to be pursued and achieved in order to give an individual happiness; core values, on the other hand, are beliefs of an individual in humanity that have to be lived, rather than just being acknowledged, in order to fully experience the innate happiness in humanity. Remember, your core values are your beliefs that are meaningful only to you, giving you happiness now and then. They may be something held in common by many people, or they may not be. Your core values are meaningful only to you, regardless of whether they are meaningful to anyone you know. Therefore, you do not have to remodel your life to live the core values of others. Of course, you may want to adapt your life to transform yourself if you appreciate some of the core values of others. That explains why you need creativity to try a new recipe, or change some of the ingredients in your current recipe.

Remember, you are living a life in which you spend a lot of your time engaged in actions that are an expression of your core values, as well as a reflection of the person you are meant to be. These actions, or rather your perceptions by your thinking mind of these actions, give you happiness or unhappiness—that is why you need wisdom to take these right actions.

Bottom line: it is humanly possible to be happier more of the time and to experience higher quality happiness than you have ever felt before. Just learn from some of the real-life examples expressed in the book The Happiness Wisdom to help you become wiser and happier!

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 16, 2018

Your Mind - Your Friend Or Enemy?

Is your mind your friend or your enemy? How does your mind become your enemy, instead of being your friend? How does it become an obstacle in your pathway to self-discovery and ultimate enlightenment?
Descartes, the great philosopher, made his famous statement: “I think, therefore I am.” Accordingly, we think and we then become what we think we are—the products of our thoughts. Unfortunately, this famous statement by Descartes is only partially true: it is true that we identify ourselves with our thoughts projected into our minds; but it is not true that our identities thus created by our thoughts are our true selves. In that respect, your mind may become your enemy, because it gives you a false image of your true self, and you are not what and who that you think you really are. 
Reflective Thought
Your mind is doing you a disservice because it is not telling you the absolute truth about who and what you really are.
Case in Point
Negative thoughts create a negative image of self, but that negative image can be changed into a positive one through positive thinking, as proved by many scientific studies. So, your identity created by your thoughts is not a true reflection of who you really are. You think you are somebody, but, in fact, you are not!
If our perceptions of who we really are, or our true identities are affected by our distorted thinking and thoughts, then our minds have become our enemies, and not our friends.
The crucial question is: “How do you stop your mind from working for or against you?”
Honestly, it is very difficult, because we are all compulsive thinkers; that is, we think continuously—even in our sleep in the form of dreams in our subconscious minds. Because our minds are thinking non-stop, we are constantly identifying ourselves with our thoughts in our subconscious minds, whether we want it or not. In order to stop our minds from controlling or using us to our disadvantage, we must be able to stop our thinking whenever we choose to. In other words, we would have to “switch off” our minds, just as we turn off our computers. That may be a little difficult, but not totally impossible.
Truly, we can never totally stop our minds from thinking for an indefinite length of time; after all, we all need our minds to think, don’t we? But we can give our minds a short, meaningful break every now and then, just as we switch off our computers when we are not using them.
The Book of Life and Living is a 190-page book on how to use your mind to your advantage and live your life as if everything is a miracle, The Wisdom of Letting Go shows you the importance of letting go to attain profound human and spiritual wisdom.
Stephen Lau
Copyright© by 2018 Stephen Lau

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Protect Yourself Against Vision Loss

Biologically, you eyes are designed to adjust from close to distant focus, back and forth, continually. But, in reality, you focus your eyes for a long span of time at close distance when you read. This is one of the main causes of nearsightedness.

Reading causes eyestrain, which results in the constriction of eye muscles. Prolonged eye muscle constriction distorts the shape of the eye. Eyestrain is due to the following conditions:

  • Reading material being too close (less than 20 inches), and not parallel to the eye
  • Insufficient lighting or too bright artificial lights (fluorescent lights)
  • Poor posture in reading, such as slumping or neck-bending-downward position, leading to lengthening of the eyeball
  • Reading while eating: digestion drawing blood to the digestive system, thereby temporarily depriving the eye of nutrients

To overcome eyestrain during reading, do the following:

  • Breathe naturally; do not hold your breath.
  • Take a meaningful break every 20 minutes or so, and blink your eyes repeatedly.
  • Make sure the lighting is sufficient. Inadequate light is the first factor that tires the eye.
  • Make sure the print is large enough.

It should be pointed out that speed reading may be damaging to the eye, because in speed reading the eye tends to take in a large visual field without focusing on any specific word. Remember, the macula can see small details only one at a time, that is, moving from one point to another. If the macula cannot focus, it does less work, leading to more blurry vision, which ultimately increases eyestrain—and thus a vicious circle of eyestrain and weak vision.

To enhance vision in reading, do the following to focus on the physical aspect of reading:

  • Occasionally read a page upside down, one letter at a time, moving from one point to another.
  • Increase your peripheral vision and stimulate your macula by wearing black cardboard paper to partially cover the eyes.

Do take good care of your vision health; after all, your eyes are one of the most important organs of your body.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Vision Self-Healing Self-Help

Eye exercises, diet, and stress-free living can significantly improve your vision. 

Do you know that your eyes are connected with your mind? You see not just through your eyes, but also through your mind!

Take care of your vision health!

To get your digital copy, click here; to get your paperback copy, click here

Happiness and Relaxation

Happiness comes from a relaxed state of mind. Relaxation, therefore, is an important ingredient of happiness.

The contemporary world is like a pressure cooker full of stress and tension. The problem is that some of us are not even aware of it: we simply accept it as the norm through our conditioned mindset that this is life. Yes, we are living in a high-technology world focusing so much on money, careers, children and families, and love relationships-so much so that we have absolutely no time left for total relaxation to relieve stress.

Are you being stressed without knowing it? Train yourself to read the body signs of stress, such as frequent frowning, finger biting, tension in shoulders, chronic fatigue, sweating, muscle aches and pains. If you are prone to temper tantrums, feeling depressed or insecure, most probably you are under stress and duress. Even if you avoid your friends and people, or go on a shopping spree, you may also be under the influence of stress without being aware of it.
Apparently, there are many solutions to stress: vigorous physical exercise, such as an intense workout session in the gym; going on a vacation; or even watching a movie. Unfortunately, most of these so-called relaxation activities or techniques do not provide any long-term solution to stress. As a matter of fact, many of them provide only a "different" kind of stress. For example, going on a vacation may become stressful while planning and booking the trip, or going through the airport security, among others. It is a myth that they afford relaxation for stress relief; the truth of the matter is that these contemporary solutions only stress us in a different way.

To relieve stress and tension, there is only one solution: follow the ancient wisdom of Tao. In ancient China, Tao was a way of life. This ancient way of life and living was based on the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu, the author of the ancient classic entitled "Tao Te Ching," which was published some 2,600 years ago. This world-famous book with only 5,000 words has been translated into multiple languages due to its profound and intriguing wisdom.

How does this ancient wisdom of Lao Tzu solve our contemporary stress-related everyday life problems?

According to Lao Tzu, stress is all in the mind. What is stress to one individual may not be stress to another. Therefore, you must cope with stress through the human mind—more specifically your mind.

First of all, time stress is the major stress factor in contemporary life and living. Obviously, the pace of life in the time of Lao Tzu some 2,600 years ago was much slower than that in this day and age. But there are only 24 hours in a day-this was true in the past as well as true in the present. Unfortunately, many of us wish we had more than 24 hours a day to finish all our chores. It is this wishful thinking that creates the mental as well as the physical stress. Instead of prioritizing, we want more time to accommodate all our "wants" instead of our "needs." The contemporary mind is pre-conditioned into thinking that "more is better" or "more for more": that is, the more effort we make, the better result or the more we can accomplish. This mindset, however, is contrary to Lao Tzu's wisdom in "less for more." Essentially, he believes that the more effort we exert, the more stress we create for ourselves, leading to more problems, and hence "the less" we are going to accomplish in the end. Lao Tzu believes in "less for more" or "not over-doing" which is doing the minimum. By relaxing and letting things run their natural course without expectation, we, ironically enough, maximize our effort or endeavor.

Time stress is a major stress that deprives us of relaxation: we cannot relax the body and mind, and we simply have no time to relax. But the underlying cause of time stress is not the amount of work that needs to be done or the amount of time we have, but the presence of the ego-self.

What is the ego-self? The ego-self is the self-image we have delusively created for ourselves in our minds. Contemporary wisdom focuses so much on the self, such as self-confidence, that everything around us becomes related to the self. Thus the ego-self is the self-image that we have consciously or subconsciously created in our minds based on our experiences in the past, as well as our expected outcomes projected into the future in our minds. But the past is gone, and the future is uncertain. As a result, the ego-self based on the past and the future is unreal. Without the ego-self, we have no expectations, and with no expectation, we have no stress. If we live only in the present moment, neither recalling the past nor expecting the future, we feel deep relaxation of the body and the mind. With a relaxed mind, we are then able to see more clearly what we must do, and so we need to do only the minimum without creating undue stress.

To sum up, Tao wisdom in letting go the ego-self that will lead to no expectation, resulting in no over-doing, holds the key to total relaxation. To attain this ancient wisdom in relaxation, focus on others, instead of self; live in the present moment, instead of recalling the past and anticipating the future. This can be accomplished through practicing total awareness of body and mind, such as meditation, mindfulness, and compassion.

Stephen Lau 
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 9, 2018

Sudden Death from Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden Death from Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest is a dangerous medical condition that may cause sudden death when the cardiac function stops suddenly. The human heart is an electrical pump that generates electricity in its upper chamber, sending signals through pathways in the heart, thereby instrumental in causing all the muscle cells contract at once in order to produce the heartbeat to pump blood through the heart valves into all the body organs so that they, too, can do their work properly. Cardiac arrest is the malfunctioning of the heart, when the heart stops beating, resulting in loss of consciousness, and thus stopping normal breathing as well as other body functions.

Unfortunately, there are no warning signs prior to a cardiac arrest; in many cases, people may experience dizziness or fainting spells prior to a cardio arrest.

Are you at risk for cardiac arrest? You are if you have heart disease and/or its related problems. With the advancement of medical science, it is not difficult to identify the causes of heart disease and the development of its related health problems. Prevention of heart disease is always better than the cure. Prevention of heart attacks is avoiding sudden death due to cardiac arrest.

Apart from the genetic factor, heart disease is preventable if you are prepared to change your lifestyle. In other words, you play a pivotal part in preventing cardiac arrest, and hence the possibility of sudden death.

To reduce the onset of symptom-free silent myocardial ischemia as well as symptomatic coronary artery disease change your unhealthy diet, especially if you have been eating the unhealthy American diet.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) has contributed to one of the most overfed and undernourished populations in the world. More than 60 million Americans are overweight. Worse, obesity is accompanied by poor nutrition. With the exception of those few individuals suffering from metabolic abnormalities, such as under-active thyroid, obesity is just inexcusable overindulgence of foods loaded with fat and cholesterol. Changing dietary habits is the solution to preventing cardiac arrest, including the potential of sudden death. Dietary therapy may seem to be a simple solution, yet it is difficult to be implemented. You need to be empowered with knowledge of cardiac arrest and its relationship to diet, and must have persistence and perseverance to change your diet.

Dietary therapy is the mainstay of treatment of heart disease; it is always preferred to drug therapy, which is never a long-term solution to health problems. Watch your body weight. Read food labels and consume foods low in calories. Use behavior modification through mind power to create a "thin mind." Reduce your dietary cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day. Avoid foods rich in cholesterol, including meats, egg yolks, dairy products, and organ meats, such as liver. Eat oat bran to facilitate the removal of cholesterol. Avoid saturated fats, which should be less than 10 percent of the total calories consumed. Even polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as soft margarine, vegetable oils, should be reduced to a minimum. The total consumption of fat should be less than 30 percent of the total calories.

In order to reduce the risks of sudden death due to sudden cardio arrest, you must have the mindset to modify your risk factors through lifestyle changes. Of course, you cannot change your genetic factor, the age factor, and the gender factor, but you can certainly change your lifestyle if you wish to. Read my book As If Everything Is A Miracle to find out how you can “rethink” your mind to “renew” your body. Remember, in life, everything is possible if you set your mind to it. Everything begins with the mind: how you think, and how you pre-condition your mind.

Longevity is a blessing, which comes from effort. Do as much as you can to live long and enjoy good health as you continue to age.

Stephen Lau 
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

Monday, April 2, 2018

Tao Wisdom:The Path of Life

Tao Wisdom: The Path of Life

Tao wisdom is the path of life—the life of living as if everything is a miracle. In this day and age, living is not easy, not to mention making a living. Mindfulness holds the key to the art of living well. Tao wisdom is about mindfulness of everyday living.

What Is Tao Wisdom?

Tao wisdom is the wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China, who was author of the immortal classic Tao Te Ching, one of the most translated works in world literature.

The interpretations of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu are as many as its translations. They are all based on their own interpretations of Lao Tzu’s masterpiece with respect to their own views.

Tao or the Way is a means to an end, but not an end itself. That is to say, we follow Tao to some destination, but Tao is neither a destination nor the destination.

Tao is above and beyond human wisdom, but it is not divine wisdom. Simply, Tao may be the Way between human wisdom and divine wisdom. It helps us understand the true nature of man and his role in the world of creation, and thus connects us directly or indirectly to the Creator.

Tao is about the thinking mind. We are human, and it is human nature to follow and cling to human wisdom as a beacon of light to show us the way. As a result, we have developed a conditioned mind of thinking, which only further impairs human wisdom, already frail and fragile as it is due to human imperfections. In contrast to conventional human wisdom, Tao is about reverse thinking that renders the human mind more receptive to spiritual wisdom.

Tao is not a religion, although it has been associated with religions, such as Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism. Tao was never meant to be an object of human pursuit or worship; that is why Tao is also called “the Way” to show us a direction or pathway to divine wisdom. It is just a means to an end, and the end is spiritual wisdom.

Tao is not God’s wisdom; at best, it is only distilled human wisdom that may lead to the ultimate understanding of spiritual wisdom.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau