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Dr K K Aggarwal

According to Deepak Chopra Happiness = The Brain’s Set-Point (S) + Conditions of Living (C) + Voluntary Actions or Choices (V).

1. S: The Brain’s Set-Point: Are the pre conditioning of the body and the mind based on the experiences of this life. We are conditioned by our environment, our people but we have the power to change these responses and reset our “set-point.”  This can be accomplished through meditation and cognitive therapy. The “Set-Point” has been evaluated as making-up 40% of our ability to be happy.

 2. C: Conditions of Living: The conditions and circumstances of living make up 10% of the happiness equation.

 3.  V: Voluntary Choices:  include intentional activities and can be of two types, personal action and fulfillment. This makes 40% of our happiness.

Personal actions include daily activities that bring us happiness, such as sex, eating good food etc. The happiness is short lasting.

Fulfillment, however, gets to our core and what drives us as individuals. These choices give meaningful fulfillment and purpose. The example of this long lasting happiness is when you treat adversity as an opportunity. The fastest way to feel happy is to make someone else happy.

(Excerpts of Deepak Chopra’s talk at IHC)

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In hypertensive patients one should take at least one medication (but not a diuretic) be taken at bedtime rather than taking all medications in the morning.

In an open-label trial of 2156 hypertensive patients with or without chronic kidney disease randomly assigned to take all anti blood pressure drugs in the morning or to take at least one (non-diuretic) at night, bedtime dosing significantly reduced all-cause mortality and the incidence of major heart adverse events [1,2].

Failure of the blood pressure to fall by at least 10 percent during sleep is called “nondipping,” and is a stronger predictor of adverse cardiovascular outcomes than daytime blood pressure.

1. Chronobiol Int 2010; 27:1629.
2. J Am Soc Nephrol 2011; 22:2313.

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We follow a ritual of offering ‘bhog’ to the deity we worship. The ritual also involves sprinkling water all around the place where we sit down to eat food. Many people have advocated that the sprinkling of water is related to preventing ants and insects from approaching the food. But in spiritual language there is a deeper meaning of these rituals.

Bhagwad Gita and Yoga Shastras categorise food into three types corresponding to their properties termed as gunas. Depending upon satoguna, rajoguna and tamoguna, the food items are categorized as satwik, rajsik or tamsik.

Satwik food provides calmness, purity and promotes longevity, intelligence, strength, health, happiness and delight. The examples of satwik food items are fruits, vegetables, leaves, grains, cereals, milk, honey, etc. These items can be consumed as they are. One can also live on satwik food for life.

Rajsik food items possess attributes of negativity, passion and restlessness. Hot, spicy and salty food items with pungent, sour and salt taste promote rajas qualities.

Tamsik food has attributes of inducing sleep, ignorance, dullness and inertia. The examples of tamsik food are meat, onions, garlic, left-over food, etc.

Only satwik food is offered to God. Rajsik and tamsik food is never offered as Bhog. The only persons who were offered tamsik and rajsik food in Ramayana are Ahi Ravana and Kumbhkaran. Both of them were of an evil nature. Kumbhkaran signified tamas and Ahi Ravana, rajas or aggression. Tamsik and rajsik food can be converted into satwik by slow heating, sprouting or keeping them in water overnight. The examples are sprouted wheat and chana (chickpeas), etc.

A mixture of honey, milk, ghee, curd and sugar is called panchamrut and is a routine offering to the God. All the five components have satwik properties and their consumption promotes health.

In Ayurveda, there is a saying that any food item, which grows under the ground, is tamsik in nature and one, which comes from the top of the tree or plant like leaves, flower and fruits are satwik in nature. Satwik food is usually fresh, seasonal and locally grown.

Human beings are made up of body, mind and soul and soul is equated to consciousness or God. Whatever offered to external God if offered to the internal God or consciousness leads to inner happiness. The ritual, therefore, of offering food to God before eating forces us to either eat only satwik food or to include a substantial portion of satwik food in our meals. It helps a person convert his meal into a pure satwik one or at least adding satwik items.

Sprinkling water around the plate is considered an act of purification.

Many people confuse bhog with chadhava or offerings to the deity. While bhog is shared with God, chadhava is the offering of your illness or negative thoughts to the God and you go back with prasada of inner happiness. Many people counter the above argument by saying that alcohol is offered to Bhairon, viewed as a demon God, which means alcohol, is good for health. I personally feel that alcohol is offered to Bhairon not as a bhog but as an offering which means that people who are addicted to alcohol go to Bhairon and give their share of alcohol to him so they can de-addict themselves.

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Low–calorie Soup Good For Health

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Having a bowl of low–calorie soup prior to a meal may help cut the total mealtime intake of amount of food and calories.

As per the PennStateresearchers, diners who were given, low-calorie soup made of chicken broth, broccoli, potato, cauliflower, carrots and butter to volunteers before they ate a lunch, consumed 20 percent fewer calories. The NIH study showed that all versions of soup recipe –– separate broth and vegetables, chunky vegetable soup, chunky-pureed vegetable soup, and pureed vegetable soup proved equally filling.

Consuming a first–course of low–calorie soup, in a variety of forms, can help manage weight. Using this strategy allows people to get an extra course at the meal, while eating fewer total calories.

One should take only low–calorie, broth–based soups that are about 100 to 150 calories per serving and not higher–calorie, cream–based soups.

Remember anything that is bad for your heart is bad for your brain.

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Vasant or Basant or Shree Panchami is a Hindu festival celebrating Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge (wisdom, learning), music and art and is celebrated every year on the fifth day (Panchami) of the Indian month Magh (January-February) and marks the first day of spring.

On this day the children are taught to write their first words; Brahmins are fed; ancestor worship(pitr-tarpan) is performed; the god of love Kamadeva is worshipped; and most educational institutions organise special prayer for “Ma Saraswati”.

The color yellow (vigor, enthusiasm) also plays an important role in this festival, in that people usually wear yellow garments, Saraswati is worshipped dressed in yellow, and yellow sweets are consumed within the families.

This festival is celebrated to invoke wisdom and consciousness in human beings. Saraswati is the one who gives the essence (sara) of our own self (swa).  She is considered as the personification of all knowledge – arts, sciences, crafts and other skills.

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Both rumors and panic reactions are contagious. It just takes one percent of the population to create rumors. Most rumors are not facts. The best way to know whether it’s a rumor or not, is to ask, “Who told you”. The answer invariably will be ‘someone’. Unless somebody has heard it from the horses’ mouth do not believe it. It is a human tendency to add to what one has heard from someone.

Rumors are scientific and are based on the 100th Monkey Phenomenon. Once the target population is sensitized, the rumor spreads like wild fire. In a gathering of 1000 people only 10 persons are required to spread the rumor, and the resultant panic. In a war-like situation, it is easy to spread rumors as the public is sensitized for the same and living in an unknown fear.

Panic attacks are an unexplained and unprovoked fight or flight response. The body suddenly has the physical reaction of a life-threatening situation. Panic attack is usually mistaken (by the sufferer) as a heart attack and can be very frightening. Anxiety can sometimes lead to panic attacks therefore a lot of people with anxiety disorder tend to unfortunately develop panic attacks.

It is an emotion most people experience when they feel they are in danger. The heart rate increases, the muscles tense up, one get a rush of adrenaline and one is ready to fight for the life. This is called the “Fight or Flight” reaction and it gives one the extra strength needed to overcome or escape a dangerous situation.

On the other hand, anxiety disorder is when you have the symptoms but the reason for feeling the “Fight or Flight” reaction is unclear.
A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming fear that comes without warning and without any obvious reason. It is far more intense than the feeling of being ‘stressed out’ that most people experience. Symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Difficulty in breathing, feeling as though you ‘can’t get enough air’
  • Terror that is almost paralyzing
  • Trembling, sweating, shaking
  • Choking, chest pains
  • Hot flashes or sudden chills
  • Tingling in fingers or toes (‘pins and needles’).
  • Fear that you’re going to go crazy or are about to die

In addition to the above symptoms, a panic attack is marked by the following conditions:

  • It occurs suddenly, without any proportion to the actual situation; often, in fact, it’s completely unrelated.
  • It passes off in a few minutes; the body cannot sustain the ‘fight or flight’ response for longer than that. However, repeated attacks can continue to recur for hours.

A panic attack is not dangerous, but it can be terrifying, largely because it feels ‘crazy’ and ‘out of control’. Panic disorder is frightening because of the panic attacks associated with it, and also because if often leads to other complications such as phobias, depression, substance abuse, medical complications, even suicide. Its effects can range from mild word or social impairment to a total inability to face the outside world.

Tips: Be prepared for emergencies. Always keep the first aid kit and a supply of goods and medicines for 1-2 weeks handy than to panic when they are needed.

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Namaskar is a customary greeting when two people meet. It signifies non-arrogance or negation of ego. Namaskar is made of three words:  Namah + Om + Kar.

  • Namah means Not Me. It is a negation of one’s identity and hence of one’s ego or arrogance. It signifies that I am nothing.
  • Om is the sound of life, the primordial sound of nature. In Vedic language it signifies soul, the spirit or the God.
  • Kar means shape/form of or manifestation of. Omkar therefore signifies manifestation of Om; the Universe, the cosmos, Brahma, Shiva or God.  Omkar is omnipresent and omnipotent.

Namaska therefore indicates that I am nothing while the Omkar is every thing. Saying the word Namaskar also gives respect to the other person. That I am nothing and you are God. Vedantic text teaches us to give respect to athithi (Guest) “Atithi Devo Bhava”

When you bow to say namaskar and try to get angry, you find that you cannot do so. The body posture does not allow you to do so. For an angry posture, there must be an expansion of the chest wall and not flexion of the chest wall.

Other School of Thought: Namaskar = Nam + As + Kar

  • Nam is the root form of Namah and has the same meaning as Namah - Not Me (I am nothing).
  • As means “To be” or “To exist”; a word derived from Astitva which means existence.
  • Kar means doer or one who makes or creates. For example, Kar can be seen in the words Kalakar, Chitrakar, Karmkar, Charmkar. In the above words, the suffix kar leads to the meaning of one who creates work.

Askar therefore means the creator of all that exists i.e. God.  Namaskar therefore has the same meaning: I am nothing every thing is the God.

Some people interpret Namah to mean “I Bow to”. Ultimately, the deeper meaning remains the same: “I bow to God.” Here you are considering the other person as God, which is one of Mahavakyas from Chandogya Upanishad in Sam Veda, “Tat Tyam Asi” (you are that).

“I salute the Almighty within you.”

Namaskar is done with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards, in front of the chest. This gesture is called Anjali Mudra (or Pranamasana).

The true Namaste gesture is accompanied by bowing the head and shoulders slightly. This is a gesture that lessens our sense of ego and self-centeredness, requiring some humility to do it well — whereas shaking hands can be quite an arrogant event. It’s a sign of respect and peace.

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Marital disharmony and job dissatisfaction are the two main mental risk factors for the causation of heart attack. Many studies in the past have linked that there is a strong correlation between a nagging wife and early heart attacks in men. Similarly, literature has shown that work related stress is related to early onset of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and heart attacks.

A study fromUniversityCollege,Londonhas shown that chronically stressed workers have a 68% of higher risk of developing heart disease especially in people under the age of 50.

Whether it is stress related chemical changes or stress related behavior linked to heart disease, is yet to be answered. Stress related lifestyle involves eating unhealthy food, smoking, drinking and skipping exercises.

Chemical changes related to chronic stress are increased levels of cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine.

Amongst stress, negative stress is more dangerous than positive stress and amongst negative stress it is jealousy, anger and cynicism which are associated with heart attack.

The answer lies in managing stress by acting on a personal situation and not reacting to it. In children the same type of stress, especially during exam days, can end up with anxiety, insomnia and suicidal attempts.

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