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Dr K K Aggarwal

Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee

Inspirational: If and When Planted

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What is “if and when” planted? The short stories below are examples of planting “if and when”.

Karen, one of my coworkers was stressed about where she was living. She hated the apartment she was in and complained every day about it. One day over coffee, I asked her why she didn’t look for another apartment – it seemed like an easy solution to me. Karen’s reply to this was, “I will look for another apartment when I come back from vacation.”

Sam hated his job. He dreaded getting up in the morning. He hated the work he was doing and it started to take a toll on him. He had a love for photography and was currently taking a two–year course to obtain his certificate. Every night he complained about his work. After listening to his complaints for a month, I asked him why he didn’t finish his course and start a small business doing photography on the weekends. His reply, “if only I had more time to finish my course. When I finish my course I will start a business.”

Sarah had saved all her life and now was retired and living comfortably. The house she bought had a dishwasher in it; however, the dishwasher was old and didn’t work. She hated doing dishes, and every time we visited with her she complained about doing the dishes. One night, I asked her, “Why don’t you buy a new dishwasher Sarah.”

Her reply, “I have been thinking about it, if they would only come on sale I would.”

Larry worked for a company that allowed early retirement. Larry had both the years of service and his age, which allowed him to retire, but at a reduced pension. He was having difficulty coping with all the changes that were being made in his work. He had a couple of mild attacks, not a heart attack but similar to one. He called me and we talked for hours. I was worried about the stress of his job and the effects it was having on his health. “Why don’t you retire Harry? Do something that you have always wanted to do,” I asked. Harry’s reply to my question was, “If only I was older then I would get my full pension.” I got bolder in my conversation with him, “But Harry, you have your house paid off, you have no bills, the kids are grown up. You could sell your house and downsize, it really is not worth your health is it? Harry then said, “When the summer comes maybe I will.”

All of these stories have the same theme running through them. There is a proverb that says it all: If and when were planted, and nothing grew.”

Now a year later, Karen is still living in the apartment she hates! Sam is still complaining about his job and still has not finished his course! Sarah is still washing dishes! Larry is still working and his health is not what it used to be!

The sad part of all of these stories is that all of these people had a lot of stress in their lives that they could have taken action to reduce. But, all of them defeated themselves by thinking “if” or “when”. Life is too short for “if’s and when’s”.

The next time you are in a stressful situation and you find yourself saying or thinking – “if or when” – remember the saying, “If and when were planted and nothing grew!”

Change your thinking and take action, so that you can reduce your stress right now.

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Hindu scriptures have talked about three types of rin (debts): Dev rin, Pitra rin and Rishi rin.

God or the devtas gave us the consciousness, parents gave us our body and teachers gave us the knowledge or intellect.

In Vedic language, our body is a mix of mind, body and soul which can be equated to three rins of mind (teachers), body (parents) and soul (Rishi & Gods). In computer language, this can be equated to operational software (God), application software (teachers) and computer hardware (parents).

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eWellness: The Science of Hygiene

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All of us are taught about hygienic living and this subject should be included as a chapter in the curriculum of every school. There are many different kinds of hygiene.

Respiratory hygiene: This is important to prevent cross infection, specifically, from flu and related respiratory illness. Keep a distance of minimum 3 ft, from a person who is coughing, sneezing or singing. Most respiratory particles are more than 5 microns in size and do not travel a distance of more than 3 ft. This respiratory hygiene, however, will not prevent transmission of the tuberculosis bacteria, which are less than 5 microns and keep circulating in the area.

Hand hygiene: This is the fundamental principle for any disease prevention and the catch phrase is “before and after”, i.e. one should wash hands before and after eating food, touching any infected material, seeing a patient or after normal evacuation of stool in the morning.

Food hygiene: This means maintaining hygiene at home while cutting, serving and eating food. While cutting a vegetable, the surface or the cutting board should be clean and hygienic including the knife, hands, water, utensils etc. If that hygiene is not possible, follow the formula of ‘boil it, heat it, peel it, cook it or forget it’. This means that any food which has been boiled, heated or peeled is safe for eating. Peeling means removing the skin of a fruit such as banana or oranges.

Water hygiene: This involves drinking safe water, safe drinking glass, proper washing of glass, not washing multiple glasses in the same utensil and picking up glasses properly. People often try to pick up four glasses of water at the same time with one finger in each glass.

Sexual hygiene: This involves washing local areas before and after sexual contact.

Body hygiene: This involves 16 upchars, as mentioned in mythology. Out of these 16 basic steps, some are related to body hygiene and they involve washing feet first and then hands followed by mouth and finally the body. Washing of the feet is the most important as they are the ones which carry infections into one’s house.

Cleaning of mouth is cleaning the teeth with one finger, gums with two fingers, tongue with three fingers and palate with thumb.

Abhishekam or the snana of the body involves multiple steps. Ancient steps have been washing the body with milk water (rose water etc.) followed by rubbing with curd (soap), honey (moisturizers), ghee (oil), sugar (the drying agent) and finally with milk water again. This facilitates natural bathing and not dependent on soap.

Nail hygiene: This is also a very important hygiene, especially for food handlers, because they are responsible for causation of water and food disease. It is important that they be given typhoid vaccines and de-worming tablets every three months.

Another important hygiene to be observed at our homes is that of the servants or the help. They are often provided soap at the start of the month and they are supposed to use that bar of soap for a month. If by any chance, they lose that soap in 2-3 weeks’ time, they are apprehensive in asking the owners for soap. As a result, they may wash their hands without soap for the next 2-3 weeks, which includes washing of hands in morning.

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Inspirational: Temper Control

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There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the fence.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily, gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said “you have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.”
You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. Make sure you control your temper the next time you are tempted to say something you will regret later.

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To be in a state of happiness, bliss and ananda is what the ultimate goal of life is. Everybody is born with certain inherent powers, which if cultivated in the right direction will lead to inner happiness.

The ancient Shiva Sutra text talks about the concept of Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is silence, Shakti is power; Shiva is creativity, Shakti is creation; Shiva is love, Shakti is loving.

In computer term Shiva is the knowledge or the information and Shakti is the operational software. Shiva and Shakti both together form consciousness, in other words, the soul.

Shiva sutra – teaching about Shiva – describes five inherent powers of Shakti which everybody is born with and these are “Chitta Shakti”, “Ananda Shakti”, “Gyan (Gnana) Shakti”, “Ichha Shakti” and “Kriya Shakti”.

Kriya Shakti is the one which is most visible. Kriya is not same as karma. Karma is action born of cause and effect. Kriya Shakti is at the level of body and mind. Ichha Shakti is the inherent desire, which controls the mind. Gyan Shakti is the inherent desire to learn and is at the level of intellect. Both Ananda and Chitta Shakti are at the level of consciousness and represents the desires or aim to be blissful.

These five powers also decide the needs of a person, which can be at the level of physical body, mind, intellect, ego or the soul. The needs activate the Shakti, which in turn leads to action. The purpose of life should be to direct the needs and Shaktis towards the soul and not towards ego.

The power of Kriya Shakti should have all the actions directed towards the soul; Gyan Shakti should be directed towards the knowledge of the true self; Ichha Shakti towards the desire or intention to unite with the self; Anand Shakti and Chitta Shakti towards the awareness of God and to experience the bliss of God. All thoughts, speech or actions in life should be directed on two basic goals providing happiness to others and ending up with self-happiness. Every action and relationship in life should involve these five powers to attain inner happiness.

Most computers in the body require a key to get activated and the key in the case of Shakti is “intention or intent”. Intentions are something, which are under the control of a person, or one can practice control over them.

“Intention” always requires the association of its buddy “attention” with it. Attention is the focus of action on that particular intention. The combination of intention and attention can change perceptions of life and ultimately change the reality. It has been an old Upanishad saying that you are what your thoughts are. Right intention leads to the right thought; the right thought to right action; the right action to the right habit; the right habit to the right character and the right character leads you to what you are. The punch-line, therefore, is to have right intention which should be directed towards one of the five Shakti to acquire spiritual well-being.

Health is not mere absence of disease but a state of physical, mental, social, environmental and spiritual well-being. Spiritual wellbeing has now been added as the fifth dimension of the health. It has been said that the body is the largest pharmaceutical armamentarium in the world and has the capacity to produce each and every drug available in the universe. This is based on the fact that no drug can go into the body without a receptor. The very fact the body has a receptor for every drug means that it has the capacity to produce that drug.

All yogic paths to liberation are also directed towards these Shaktis. One adopts karma Marg by activating Kriya Shakti, Gyan Marg by activating Gyan Shakti and Bhakti Marg by activating Ichha Shakti.

Faulty lifestyle also involves distractions of three of these powers: Ichha, Gyan or Kriya Shakti.

Correct lifestyle involves the correct use of Kriya Shakti in doing actions, correct use of Gyan Shakti by acquiring knowledge about self and healthy behavior and correct use of Ichha Shakti by learning the do’s and don’ts of life and controlling the mind towards various addictions of life which can be addition of food, sex, drugs, alcohol, smoking, sleeping, not walking and or eating faulty Rajsik cum Tamsik high refined carbohydrate diet.

 

 

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eWellness: Tackling obesity in children

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More than 30% people of the society including children have potbelly abdominal obesity. India is witnessing an epidemic of metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by abdominal obesity, high triglyceride, low good cholesterol, high blood pressure and high sugar.

Abdominal girth of more than 90 cm in men and 80 cm in women indicates that the person is vulnerable to future heart attack.

Normal weight obesity is the new epidemic of the society. A person could be obese even if his/her body weight was within the normal range. An extra inch of fat around the abdomen increases the chances of heart disease by 1.5 times.

Normally once the height stops growing, most organs will also stop growing. The weight of the heart, liver of kidney cannot increase after that. Only muscles can build up to some extent. The only thing, after that stage, which can increase the weight of the body, is deposition of fat. Therefore any weight gain after puberty is invariably due to fat. Though the overall weight can be in the acceptable normal range but any weight gain within that range will be abnormal for that person. One should not gain weight of more than 5 kg after the age of 20 years in males and 18 years in females. After the age of 50, the weight should reduce and not increase.

Potbelly obesity is linked to eating refined carbohydrates and not animal fats. General obesity is linked to eating animal fats.

Refined carbohydrate includes white rice, white maida and white sugar. Brown sugar is better than white sugar. Refined carbohydrates are called bad carbohydrates and animal fat is called bad fat.

Trans fat or vanaspati is bad for health. Trans fats increase the levels of bad cholesterol and reduce good cholesterol in the body.

Reduction in weight can reduce snoring, pain of arthritis, blood pressure and control uncontrolled diabetes.

Some key points

  • Skip carbohydrates once in a week.
  • Combine a sweet food with bitter food (prefer aloo methi over aloo matar).
  • Consume green bitter items in foods such as karela, methi, palak, bhindi etc.
  • Do not eat trans fats (vanaspati).
  • Do not consume more than 80 ml of soft drink in a day.
  • Do not consume sweets with more than 30% sugar.
  • Avoid maida, rice and white sugar.
  • Walk, walk and walk…
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Eating high fiber diet

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• There are two types of fibers. One is soluble and the other is insoluble.

• Soluble fiber includes those that are made up of carbohydrates and absorb water. Examples are oats, barley and legumes.

• Insoluble fiber comes from plant cells and does not dissolve in water. Examples are wheat, ragi and other grains.

• Traditionally, fiber is insoluble fiber.

• Dietary fiber is a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber.

• The recommended intake of dietary fiber is 20–35 gm in a day.

• Eating a high–fiber diet both can prevent constipation, reduce cholesterol, and help in reversing obesity and heart diseases in children and adults.

• A high–fiber diet should be a balanced diet with food from all food groups.

• The common sources of fiber are whole grain produce and cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

• Raw vegetables such as carrot, garlic or cherry tomatoes are rich in fiber.

• Salads with dark green lettuce provide high fiber content.

• Eating whole wheat bread or with added fiber is a rich source of fiber.

• Prefer brown rice over white rice.

• You can eat whole wheat carbohydrates, bran muffins, bran cereals or oat meals.

• Avoid eating refined white flour, cereals and other starches.

• If juices are to be taken, one should take 4–6 ozs.

• Fruits are better than juices • Try to develop a taste for bran by starting with 2–4 tablespoons every day.

• Mix a high fiber cereal with a regular cereal.

• Isabgol is a fiber supplement.

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The classical description of ‘who we are comes’ from Adi Shankaracharya’s Bhaja Govindam, where he says that even the wife refuses to touch the same physical body after death, and if she touches it, a ritual bath has to be taken. This means physical body is not what we are.

If we weigh physical body before and after death there will be no difference. The life force also called consciousness or atman has no weight, shape or dimensions.

In Bhagavad Gita, in Chapter 2, Krishna describes its characteristics as “fire cannot burn it, air cannot dry it, weapons cannot cut it, and water cannot wet it. It is omnipotent, omnipresence and omniscient”.

Though modern medicine may not talk about soul but it does differentiate life and death based on certain parameters.

Vedic description describes five different movement forces in the body: apana vayu expulses urine, stool, baby and menses; samana vayu controls the intestinal movements; vyana vayu controls the circulatory system; udana vayu controls the neurological impulses and the connection between soul and spirit; and prana vayu controls the brain stem reflexes.

Soul or consciousness is linked to udana vayu and prana vayu. The best description of these five forces apart from Ayurveda text comes from prasannopanishad.

A patient with brain stem death can be kept on ventilator for months together, as the body has normal vyana vayu, sana vayu and apana vayus. The patient will therefore, maintain blood pressure, GI functions, urinary functions and reproductive functions. These three vayus are controlled by the atmospheric oxygen and not by the life force.

Can anyone remember the weight, height, abdominal circumference or size of collar, waist or shoes of Lord Krishna? He is only known only from his actions and the soul profile.

All of us have physical, mental, intellectual, ego and soul characteristics. Soul characteristics are same in all and are positive. The examples are love, compassion, care, humility, etc. These soul characteristics are influenced by the subtle mind, intellect and ego characteristics.

While introducing ourselves, most of the times we talk about define our intellectual or ego profile and not the soul profile. When we describe our status, house, car or money, we are describing our ego profile and not the soul profile. Our aim in life should be to understand our soul profile, as without the soul nobody will come near us. The very same people will dispose off our body at the earliest opportunity they get.

Most of us correlate life span with the life span of the physical body, which has to perish sooner or later. When we ask people how long they want to live, their usual answers are 60 years, 70 years, 80 years or 90 years. Nobody thinks beyond physical death. People like Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, and Mother Teresa are not dead. Though their physical body does not exist, their good karmas, work, memories and the soul profiles are still alive.

The purpose of life should be to create an atmosphere or an aura in such a way that the society remembers us after the death of our physical body. This is only possible when we shift our thinking from the ego profile to the soul profile.

Soul is nothing but an energized field of information and can be equated to the live information fed in any computer or mobile phone. Both computer and mobile phones with and without information weigh the same. Similarly, weight of radio does not change whether the radio is on or off. The live data information in the TV, radio or mobile phone can be termed as their soul. A computer without this soul is useless, so are the mobile and radio sets.

The information is always static and still without any movements. This information in a computer requires a software to run. The static soul in our body also requires a software called life force.

Soul, thus can be described as a combination of the life force and the static information. In Hindu mythology this is called shiva and shakti. Some people describe them as prana and chitta. In vedic philosophy by controlling prana one can control chitta and vice versa.

For a computer to operate, two softwares are required: operational software and application software. Operational software makes the computer do basic work and application software helps one to manipulate the data the way one wants.

All of us our born with the operational software or the life force. We develop and create our own application software over a period of time by using the triad of action, memory and desires.

To understand oneself, therefore, one needs to control our own application software and do not let them go beyond its desired scope of work.

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