Breathe. Think. Move.  Three simple words repeated over and over again by Leo, my Yoga teacher.  There is no better instruction for Yoga than those three words…in that order.  The first step or the starting point is to breathe, followed by a thought and finally a movement.  The Latin word for breath is spiritus.  Thinking is carried out by the mind, and finally movement is carried out by the body.  I repeated the three words to myself in silence.  “Why?” I asked myself, if the key to Yoga is spirit, mind and body, do we get it wrong by telling ourselves that it’s all about body, mind and spirit?  We get it backwards and that could make all the difference in the world.

The breath is the starting point, without the breath there is no rational thought.  The mind cannot think straight when there is a lack of oxygen.  The breath is the spiritual energy of the Yoga…the foundational component.  Everything is built on the breath yet we tend to put the most emphasis on the physical…the tangible…the material components.

The edict,  form follows function applies here.  So many of us want to look good but we fail to apply the fundamental principles to get it right…whether that be in in Yoga class or at work or in life.

Most of us get the order of things wrong…we want to start every meal with the desert. 

At Yoga I am pretty good at focusing on the breath, but on this day I was even better because this new insight allowed my mind to  focus even more acutely.  After all what are we, but our minds?  I felt as if the roof had been lifted.  My postures were better…I looked better, I felt better.

At the midpoint of the class Leo started to speak more about a stable base.  I thought more about a secure base.  How wonderful it would be to go through life knowing I had a secure base.  Would that make a difference in my life?

Dentists who practice with an understanding of occlusal principles know that the masticatory system is built around a secure base…so is Yoga, and so is life.

Mindfulness is all the rage these days, yet how can we apply mindfulness without the energy to overcome the distractions of our monkey minds…our comparing minds.

Comparing minds?  Like when you are watching someone else’s postures rather than your own, or looking at someone else’s dentistry on Facebook, or just constantly counting everyone else’s crayons.

In order to slow all that down we need a secure base.  That secure base is the breath…the spirit.  That’s why it comes first.

Viktor Frankl said:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

 It is in that space that we get to use our minds…our rational minds rather than our monkey or comparing minds.  That’s mindfulness, and that is where form follows function…but it requires a secure base…the spirit.

Society teaches us to envy those with great wealth (great postures too)…but I have always wondered about the man who doesn’t have any invisible means of support.

Take the time to build the foundation in everything you do.  Use the spirit, the breath to take control of the mind.  Reap the external rewards by paying attention to the natural order of things.








negative+reviewYou have to have a strong stomach to check yourself out on Yelp or some of the other review sites that have become so popular in this digital age.  I recently visited a few sites to see what people were saying about me…and boy, was I surprised.

Now I will say that I have a massive number of positive reviews gathered through the years but sitting right on top were two very stinging reviews…that made me quiver when I read them.  Who knew?

In defense of one, it was written by a dentist/patient who had become a real pain in the you-know-what.  I knew him from my gym and he came in as a patient.  He constantly told me how to do my job until I got sick and tired of him.  His response: to write a scathing review on a few online sites.  My initial response was to ignore.

The second review stung a bit more because it was by a patient who I had made complete dentures for, over one year ago.  She said I was a nice enough guy, but the teeth were terrible and now she goes around toothless, because I didn’t know what I was doing.  I remember her as a polite woman who rarely came in for adjustments.  Then I find out how she really felt.

I scrolled down to see if there were others.  Sure enough I found various words like insensitive, expensive and even dictatorial.

All of these were buried in a sea of really good reviews.

So how should I feel?  There is an old saying:

One thousand compliments = 1 insult.

I love Paul Simon, and when I read the reviews I kept hearing his tune, Something So Right, in my head:

When something goes wrong
I’m the first to admit it
I’m the first to admit it
But the last one to know
When something goes right
Oh, it’s likely to lose me
It’s apt to confuse me
It’s such an unusual sight
Oh, I can’t, I can’t get used to something so right
Something so right

In other words having a “negative bias” is just one of the flaws of being human.  Is this the plight of so many dentists?  Or how about other small business owners like barbers and restaurant owners?

Should we care about this online nonsense?  Many small business owners say they ignore it…but they shouldn’t, because in today’s world 80% of people base their buying decisions on reviews.

Taking a positive spin on bad reviews can actually help your business.

Bill Tancer, author of the book, Everyone’s a Critic, advises small business owners to chill out because “bad reviews will happen.”  Don’t we all get suspicious these days when there are 100% positive reviews?  A bad review, here and there, can actually add credibility.  Even best selling authors like John Grisham get bad reviews, and hey, not everyone loved The Godfather.

Another point Tancer makes is that sometimes the bad reviews force you to take a look in the mirror.  Sometimes the criticism is valid, and if you use the review as data then that’s a first step in improving your business.  Sometimes you have to pay exorbitant consulting fees to find out what our angry patients are willing to tell us for free.

Reviews, good and bad are not going to go away.  The future will be more rather than less dependency on reviews and review sites.  Hopefully, as the Internet evolves there will be more fairness in terms of “bilateral reviews,” a place where the business owner can respond without sounding like sour grapes.

Until then, it’s all about freedom of speech.  Reviews can’t be suppressed.  We can drive positive reviews as many of us do, and I feel that is our best strategy at the moment.

One last little story.  I was reading my reviews and found one from a temporary dental assistant.  She obviously didn’t like me, and she used the review site to tell the world what a jerk I was.  I have no idea who she was…I remembered none of it.  Either I was having a bad day or the agency sent me a real loser (I know most dentists will guess the latter).  Anyway, I called the agency and told them that if they didn’t put a stop to that method of feedback I wouldn’t use them anymore…the owner immediately went to the site and wrote the nicest review for me that contraindicated the one written by the miffed assistant.

There are things we can do…we too have freedom of speech


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