Full Catastrophe Living

Question: I have studied TM, but briefly. I have spent longer on 2 other methods, one being autogenic training. They do not make quite the same claims as TM; however they share with it a non-mechanical approach of understanding what it is to be relaxed.
(All this was quite some while before I got RSI; I have continued with the other methods through it, and became far more able to cope with stress during the couple of years immediately before I got it. It comes up frequently on the Sore hand List. I do not know whether in my case the stress of having to do far too much work, including far too much typing, was as important as the physical trauma. (“Having”: I am not a workaholic!) So do me, one point apart. I believe there are studies that anger – not self-directed – also helps. (I have a second point. Calm leads to fatalism. Or can. Fatalism will not change the working conditions that have brought about RSI.)

Answer: So if your torso is at 30 degrees from the vertical, is the neck vertical or in line with the torso? The former will lead to a head-forward posture that may be continued in more vertical postures, leading to increased neck strain, while the latter is only viable if there is good head/neck support, which is rare in office chairs. Alexander teaching focuses a great deal on the neck and recommends a more or less vertical torso and neck; in fact my teacher recommended a very slight (few degrees) leaning forward from the vertical, although she also suggested frequent changes of position from this as well, to avoid a static posture. I have to disagree here – there are many types of meditation that produce inner changes which reduce stress. In addition, qi gong, tai chi and yoga can all produce changes in stress levels. They may perhaps not be scientifically documented, but they are used in clinical settings for stress management.

For examples of how meditation is used in a US hospital with critically ill patients, see Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which uses a form of meditation called mindfulness that is free of religious associations. Non-meditative types of relaxation may be easier to integrate into a daily work routine, since they do not require a quiet space in which to sit and can be done in as little as five or ten minutes – for example, I found that ten minutes of qi gong in a toilet cubicle could relax me and simply erase forearm pain that had built up through intensive keyboarding. Until someone has researched alternative types of meditation to TM, I don’t think it is justifiable to suggest that this is the only effective kind, although I am sure TM is effective. Some people, including me, would be put off TM by its well-publicized associations with ‘flying’ through psychic energy and the claim that increasing the numbers of Timers in the world directly reduces the crime rate, and would prefer an approach that does not come with so much other baggage. If TM is suggested as the only effective technique, such people would miss out on relaxation and meditation altogether, which is a key part of recovering from RSI IMO. I agree that stress and psychosocial factors seem to play a significant part in RSI, but I don’t think TM is the only solution, as evidenced by many people who have recovered from RSI using alternative types of relaxation and meditation. I was not suggesting that aerobic exercise addresses the same issues as TM – however, I doubt that TM has any effect on built-up toxins, though it perhaps has an effect on future build-ups by reducing stress. The point is that RSI is a very complex disorder and it does not help to suggest that technique X, *to the exclusion of other techniques*, is the best way to recover. Recovery will probably need to include increased levels of exercise, meditation/relaxation, and improved posture education, massage to relieve pain and release muscles, stretching of muscles and nerves, and more.

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