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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)

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Why do We do the Ritual of Namaskar or Namaste?

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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.

Negative Stress May Lead To Heart Disease

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Test Blood Sugar in All Hospitalized Patients

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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]

 

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