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Dr K K Aggarwal

During a marriage ceremony, swastika is painted on the wall or entrance of the house to wish the well-being and happiness of the newly weds. The word swastika means auspicious in the Sanskrit language. It is regarded as a divine sign by Hindus and is usually found in temples, symbolizing the four directions making it universal. It sends out pure vibrations for universal peace and prosperity.

The lines turning inwards tell us that each individual being a part of the Universe has to turn inwards in order to attain salvation. Each person has to strive for his or her self-realization by turning inwards.

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Many people do not realize that lack of sufficient sleep can trigger mild to potentially life–threatening consequences, from weight gain to a heart attack. Recently I came across an article in the Harvard Health Newsletter (Health Beat) and thought of sharing the information with you all.

Viral infections: Anecdotal evidence supports the belief that when you’re tired and run–down, you’re more likely to get sick. A 2009 study in Archives of Internal Medicine provides some proof. Researchers followed the sleep habits of 153 men and women for two weeks, then quarantined them for five days and exposed them to cold viruses. People who slept an average of less than seven hours per night were three times as likely to get sick as those who averaged at least eight hours.

Weight gain: Not getting enough sleep makes you more likely to gain weight, according to a 2008 review article in the journal Obesity that analyzed observations from 36 different studies of sleep duration and body weight.

This association is especially strong among children. Lack of sufficient sleep tends to disrupt hormones that control hunger and appetite, and the resulting daytime fatigue often discourages you from exercising. Excess weight, in turn, increases the risk of a number of health problems.

Diabetes: A 2009 report in Diabetes Care found a sharp increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes in people with persistent insomnia. People who had insomnia for a year or longer and who slept less than five hours per night had a three-fold higher risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those who had no sleep complaints and who slept six or more hours every night. As with overweight and obesity (which are also closely linked to type 2 diabetes), the underlying cause is thought to involve a disruption of the normal hormonal regulation of the body due to inadequate sleep.

High blood pressure: Researchers involved in the diabetes study also evaluated risk of high blood pressure among the same group of people, which included more than 1,700 randomly chosen men and women from ruralPennsylvania. As described in a 2009 article in the journal Sleep, the researchers found the risk of high blood pressure was three–and–a–half times greater among insomniacs who routinely slept less than six hours per night compared with normal sleepers who slept six or more hours nightly.

Heart disease: A number of studies have linked short–term sleep deprivation with several well–known risk factors for heart disease, including higher cholesterol levels, higher triglyceride levels, and higher blood pressure.

One such report, published in a 2009 issue of Sleep, included more than 98,000 Japanese men and women ages 40 to 79 who were followed for just over 14 years. Compared with women who snoozed for seven hours, women who got no more than four hours of shut–eye were twice as likely to die from heart disease, the researchers found.

Sleep apnea is a common cause of poor sleep, a life–threatening condition in which breathing stops or becomes shallower hundreds of times each night also increases heart disease risk. In the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort study, people with severe sleep apnea were three times more likely to die of heart disease during 18 years of follow–up than those without apnea. When researchers excluded those who used a breathing machine (a common apnea treatment), the risk jumped to more than five times higher. Apnea spells can trigger arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), and the condition also increases the risk of stroke and heart failure.

Mental illness: A study of about 1,000 adults ages 21 to 30 found that, compared with normal sleepers, those who reported a history of insomnia during an interview were four times as likely to develop major depression by the time of a second interview three years later. Two studies in young people–one involving 300 pairs of young twins, and another including about 1,000 teenagers–found that sleep problems developed before a diagnosis of major depression and (to a lesser extent) anxiety. Sleep problems in teenagers preceded depression 69% of the time and anxiety disorders 27% of the time.

Mortality: In the Japanese heart disease study (described above), short sleepers of both genders had a 1.3–fold increase in mortality compared with those who got sufficient sleep. According to a 2009 study of 6,400 men and women whom researchers followed for an average of eight years, severe sleep apnea raises the risk of dying early by 46%. Although only about 8% of the men in the study had severe apnea, those who did and who were between 40 and 70 years of age were twice as likely to die from any cause as healthy men in the same age group.

It is clear that getting enough sleep is just as important as other vital elements of good health, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and practicing good dental hygiene.

In short, sleep is not a luxury but a basic component of a healthy lifestyle.

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Whenever we pray, think of God, undertake an internal healing procedure, make love, kiss someone, or meditate, we automatically close our eyes. It is a common Vedic saying that the soul resides in the heart and all the feelings are felt at the level of heart.

Most learning procedures in meditation involves sitting in an erect, straight posture,  closing the eyes, withdrawing from the world and concentrating on the object of concentration. Yoga Sutra of Patanjali describes pratihara (withdrawal of senses) as one of the seven limbs of yoga: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratihara, Dharma, Dhyana and Samadhi.

After pranayama, one needs to withdraw from the world and the senses and then begin dhyana on the object of concentration. The process of pratihara becomes easy and is initiated with the closing of the eyes. The inward journey starts with the detachment of the body from the external world and in yogic language, it is called Kayotsarga, the first step of meditation..

Even when the process of hypnosis is begun, a person is made to lie down, look at the roof and withdraw from the world. The procedure involves asking the person to gently roll the eyeball up until he goes into a trance. Rolling of the eyeballs upward has the same physiological significance as that of closing the eyes.

When we close our eyes, there is a suppression of sympathetic nervous system and activation of parasympathetic nervous system. The blood pressure and pulse reduce and skin resistance goes up. A person goes into a progressive phase of internal and muscular relaxation. The inward journey is a journey towards restful alertness where the body is restful yet the consciousness is alert. The intention is to relax the body and than the attention is focused on the object of concentration. Most visualization and meditation techniques involve closing of the eyes.

By detaching from the external stimuli, the activities of the five senses are suppressed and ones awareness shifts from a disturbed to an undisturbed state of consciousness. This inner journey helps in producing a state of ritam bhara pragya where the inner vibrations of the body are in symphony with the vibrations of the nature.

People who visit Vaishno Devi by traveling long distances on foot enter the cave and as soon as they have the darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi, they close their eyes. This is natural and instant. Even though Maa Vaishno Devi cannot be felt in the murti, her presence is felt in the heart and that presence can only be felt by closing the eyes.

Most yogic techniques like shavasana, yoga nidra, body-mind relaxation, progressive muscular relaxation, hypnosis involves closing the eyes in the very first step. Daytime nap is also incomplete without closing the eyes. Shok Sabha and two minutes silence are also practiced with the eyes closed. When we think of someone or try to remember something, the body automatically closes the eyes and one starts exploring the hidden memories. To recall something, one has to withdraw from the external world through its five senses.

Only advanced yogis or rishis acquire the power where with eyes opened they are in a state of Ritam, Bhara, Pragya. These yogic powers are acquired by practicing advanced sutra meditation for hours, days and years.  Lord Shiva is often portrayed in a meditative pose sitting on Kailash Parvat with his eyes semi opened. But for ordinary persons like us where the aim is to be in that phase only for 20 minutes twice in a day, the best is to close our eyes as the first step towards the process of meditation.

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Curcumin, one of the principal components of turmeric, delays the liver damage that eventually causes cirrhosis, suggests preliminary experimental research in the journal Gut. Curcumin, gives turmeric its bright yellow pigment. It has anti–inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The researchers evaluated its effect in delaying the damage caused by progressive inflammatory conditions of the liver including primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis.They analysed tissue and blood samples from mice with chronic liver inflammation before and after adding curcumin to their diet for a period of four and a period of eight weeks.

They showed that the curcumin diet significantly reduced bile duct blockage and curbed liver cell damage and scarring by interfering with several chemical signalling pathways involved in the inflammatory process.These effects were clear at both four and eight weeks. No such effects were seen in mice fed a normal diet.The current treatment for inflammatory liver disease involves ursodeoxycholic acid. The other alternative is a liver transplant.

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Flame is the “flame” of true knowledge. At the end of any aarati, we place our hands over the flame and then touch our eyes and the top of the head. It means – “May the light that illuminated the Lord light up my vision; May my vision be divine and my thoughts noble and beautiful”

The philosophical meaning of aarati extends further. The sun, moon, stars, lightning and fire are the natural sources of light. The Lord is the source of these wondrous phenomena of the universe. It is due to Him alone that all else exists and shines.

As we light up the Lord with the flame of the aarati, we turn our attention to the very source of all light which symbolizes knowledge and life. Also, the Sun is the presiding deity of the intellect, the moon, that of the mind, and fire, that of speech. The Lord is the supreme consciousness that illuminates all of them. Without Him, the intellect cannot think and neither can the mind feel nor the tongue speak. The Lord is beyond the mind, intellect and speech.

How can these finite equipments illuminate the Lord? Therefore, as we perform the aarati we chant:

Na tatra suryo bhaati na chandra taarakam
Nemaa vidyuto bhaanti kutoyamagnib
Tameva bhaantam anubhaati sarvam
Tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhaati

“He is there where the sun does not shine, Nor the moon, stars and lightning. Then what to talk of this small flame (in my hand), Everything (in the universe) shines only after the Lord, And by His light alone are we all illumined”

In our spiritual progress, even as we serve the Guru and society, we should willingly sacrifice ourselves and all we have, to spread the “perfume” of love to all.

We often wait a long while to see the illuminated Lord but when the aarati is actually performed, our eyes close automatically as if to look within. This is to signify that each of us is a temple of the Lord.

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Hyperglycemia in hospitalized patients is associated with a greater risk for complications, as reported by Umpierrez and colleagues in the March 2002 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

1.     All patients, independent of a prior diagnosis of diabetes, should undergo blood glucose testing on admission.

2.     Hyperglycemia is linked to prolonged hospital stay, increased incidence of infections and death in non-critically ill hospitalized patients.

3.     Hyperglycemia affects 32% to 38% of patients in community hospitals and is not restricted to individuals with a history of diabetes.

4.     Better blood sugar control is associated with fewer hospital complications in general medicine and surgery patients.

5.     All diabetics or hyperglycemia (glucose > 140 mg/dL) should get A1C tested if not tested in last 2 or 3 months.

6.     For most hospitalized patients with noncritical illness, the pre meal glucose target is less than 140 mg/dL and the target for a random blood glucose level is less than 180 mg/dL.

7.     Anti diabetic treatment should be reevaluated when glucose levels drop below 100 mg/dL and should be modified if glucose levels are below 70 mg/dL.

8.     One should go for tighter control of blood sugar in patients not prone to hypoglycemia

9.     One should opt for a higher target range (200 mg/dL) for patients with terminal illness or limited life expectancy, or who are at high risk for hypoglycemia.

10.  Patients with diabetes who receive insulin at home should receive a scheduled regimen of subcutaneous insulin during hospitalization.

11.  To prevent peri operative hyperglycemia, all patients with type 1 diabetes and most patients with type 2 diabetes who undergo surgery, should be treated with intravenous continuous insulin infusion or subcutaneous basal insulin with as-needed bolus insulin.

12.  All patients with high glucose values (140 mg/dL]) on admission, and all patients receiving enteral or parenteral nutrition, should be monitored with bedside capillary point-of-care glucose testing, independent of diabetes history.

13.  At least 1 to 2 hours before intravenous continuous insulin infusion is discontinued, all patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes should be transitioned to scheduled subcutaneous insulin therapy.

[Source: The Clinical Guidelines Subcommittee of The Endocrine Society, American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the American Association of Diabetes Education, the European Society of Endocrinology, and the Society of Hospital Medicine, January 2012 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism]


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Mauni amavasya is observed on the “No Moon day” in Magha Month (January – February) as the most auspicious day during Kumbh Mela to perform ritual bath (mental detoxification). The word Mauni and Mauna is derived from ‘muni’, which means a spiritual performer who practices silence as a part of his daily spiritual rituals.

In all religious spiritual traditions whether Christian, Hindu, Islamic or Buddhist, the voluntary act of non-speaking is an integral part of religion, being practiced in the form of silent retreats, Read more

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Here is the evidence:
1. Women’s Health Initiative Observational study database of more than 65,000 post menopausal women without prior heart disease has shown that each 10 μg/m3 increase in pollution concentration increases the risk of any cardiovascular event by 1.24, death from heart disease by 1.76 ad paralysis by 1.35.
2. Mortality data from nearly 450,000 patients in the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II database has shown that fine particulate matter =2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) is associated with the risk of death from cardiovascular causes (relative risk 1.2).
3. In Dublin, Ireland ban on coal sales led to a 70 percent reduction in black smoke concentrations and adjusted cardiovascular deaths fell by 10.3 percent in the six years after the ban.
4. Short–term exposure to air pollutants (both ozone and fine particulate matter) is associated with acute coronary ischemic events.
5. A short–term increase in fine ambient particulate matter has been shown to precipitate acute ischemic coronary events.
6. Carbon particulates in the air from the burning of fossil fuels, wood, and other materials scatter and absorb UVB rays. Ozone absorbs UVB radiation, so holes in the ozone layer can lower vitamin D levels and future heart disease.
Possible mechanisms by which fine particulate air pollution may increase the risk of heart disease are:
• An increase in mean resting arterial blood pressure through an increase in sympathetic tone and/or the modulation of basal systemic vascular tone
• An increase in the likelihood of intravascular thrombosis through transient increases in plasma viscosity and impaired endothelial dysfunction
• Initiation and promotion of atherosclerosis

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