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Dr K K Aggarwal

I want to live after my death

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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In my workshops, whenever I ask delegates as to how long they want to live, the answers I usually get from most of them is 60, 70 or 80 years. While answering they forget that they are only talking about the death of the physical body but what about the mental, social, intellectual and spiritual bodies. It is well known that the soul never dies and so do your Sanskars and good work done. The aim of life should be that one should live even after the death of his or her physical body. It is your good Karmas, which keep your memories alive even after your physical death. It is equally true that your bad Karmas too can make people remember you after death but that is not the purpose of life. We would like to be remembered as Rama and not like Ravana after death. In Vedic language your present is decided by your past and your future is decided by your present. To improve your future you need to work positively in your present. When you start working positively in your present moment, you will start neutralizing your bad karmas. It is like washing a dirty shirt which will not become stain free in one washing. Only with repeated washings can it become stain free. Similarly washing away your bad karmas with good karmas will take time. It is possible that even when one starts doing good Karmas, one may still suffer as the sum total of past karmas may not have been neutralized by that time. For example, if a dacoit surrenders and wants to live a civilian life he may be pardoned to some extent but may still be jailed for some duration of time. In other word he may be pardoned from death sentence and given life sentence. As per Bhagavad Gita, whatever your thoughts are at the time of death will decide the atmosphere you will get in your rebirth. It also says that whatever will be your thoughts throughout your life will be your thoughts at the time of your death. So do not expect that you can acquire positive thoughts at the time of death if you have been thinking negative throughout your life The gist is to start doing good actions in the present.

Psoriasis Update

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Psoriasis is a complex immune–mediated disease and is a common disorder that affects men and women equally. Although it can begin at any age, the peak times for disease onset are young adulthood (ages 20 to 30 years) and late middle age (ages 50 to 69 years). There are multiple clinical subtypes of psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis, the most common presentation of psoriasis, most commonly presents with sharply defined erythematous plaques with overlying silvery scales. The scalp, extensor elbows, knees, and back are common locations for plaque psoriasis lesions. Psoriatic arthritis occurs in about 30% of patients with psoriasis, and precedes the skin manifestations in approximately 15% of patients. A diagnosis of psoriasis can be made by history and physical examination in the vast majority of cases. Occasionally, a skin biopsy is needed to rule out other conditions. Numerous topical and systemic therapies are available for the treatment of psoriasis. Treatment modalities are chosen on the basis of disease severity, relevant comorbidities, patient preference (including cost and convenience), efficacy and evaluation of individual patient response.

Spiritual Prescription: Kayotsarga

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Shavasana is a term used in Hatha Yoga, which means lying like a corpse. In mind body language, it is called mind body relaxation. In terms of psychiatry, it is called progressive muscular relaxation. Mahavira in his teachings called it as Kayotsarga. Kayotsarga does not mean only lying like corpse but also abandonment of the body. It is a state of restful alertness where the mind is alert but the body is at rest. All meditative practices begin with Kayotsarga. It is the very foundation of spiritual sadhana. In terms of physiology it increases alpha rays in the brain and in the language of neurology it creates a parasympathetic state of the body. The process involves lying still and being aware of each and every part of the body getting relaxed gradually and in turn. Awareness or the concentration is on the body being relaxed and the process of relaxation. In yogic language, it is also called as yoga nidra as before completing the process most people fall asleep. This is one procedure, which is often used by counselors in patients with insomnia. During the process of Kayotsarga one is neither in the past nor in the future as one’s awareness is in the present on the process of relaxation. Being in present, it detaches one from attachments and desires and prepares one for the next phase called meditation. One of the mind body principles is that during a state of relaxation and restful alertness, the mind become suggestive. This principle is also used in hypnosis. In fact, the initial trans-state is based on this principle. Kayotsarga is the state of the body required to win over any pain and this is one reason why during any painful procedure the person is often asked to relax and give way. In the process of Kayotsarga as the body is in a deep state of relaxation, all physical and mental sufferings are relieved. With relaxation of the body most pain would disappear. There are several studies, which say that yogic shavasana or Kayotsarga can reduce blood pressure by 20/10 mmHg. The 10-day Vipasana Meditation is also based on prolonged Kayotsarga. It is supposed to be very effective. Slower and deeper breathing is another way of achieving the same benefits as that of Kayotsarga. Both balance prana. Yoga sutras of Patanjali involve both of them before going into meditation. If one practices Kayotsarga, breathing automatically slows down. Kayotsarga is often done in the beginning of dhyana and at the point of culmination of dhyana. Kayotsarga is a state of making body completely free of motion and tension. The fundamental principle of Kayotsarga is slower and deeper breathing. Unless the breathing is slow it is not possible to relax the body. One cannot do Kayotsarga successfully if the breathing is fast. It is also combined with many visualization techniques. Once the full body is relaxed concentrating on a mantra or on a particular portion of the body may help in healing. Dean Ornish in his book reversal of heart disease also used this technique with focus on heart and showed that even heart diseases can regress. Many people use this for relieving migraine. Kayotsarga is the process which distinguishes the body from the soul. The detached feeling of the body is what the first stage of meditation is. Afternoon nap is nothing but Kayotsarga. The best way to rest for a heart patient is to practice Kayotsarga. During the process of Kayotsarga the immunity develops and the prana becomes balanced

Negative stress may lead to heart disease

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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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 suggested 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 from University College, London has shown that chronically stressed workers have a 68% of higher risk of developing heart disease, especially in people under the age of 50. Whether stress–related chemical changes or stress–related behavior is 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

Why do we offer food to God in every pooja?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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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 to these rituals. Bhagwad Gita and Yoga Shastras categorize 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 foods provide calmness, purity and promote longevity, intelligence, strength, health, happiness and delight. Fruits, vegetables, leaves, grains, cereals, milk, honey, etc. are examples of satwik food. 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 foods have 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 is 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.

Preventing age-related macular degeneration

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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• Quit smoking. • Wear sunglasses to protect eyes from sunlight. • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and dark-green leafy vegetables. • Eat fish or other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. • Take antioxidant vitamins and minerals as advised by your doctor. (Source: Harvard Healthbeat)

Should doctors detach themselves?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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In dealing with patients, the traditional Patient–Doctor relationship model has been that doctor should remain cool, calm and collected at all times. The doctor’s approach needs to be strictly scientific, logical, objective, methodical precise and dispassionate. This has been the model since the era of William Osler, the father of modern medicine. The term used is imperturbability, which means coolness and presence of mind under all circumstances. Osler said a rare and precious gift to doctor is right of detachment. The right of detachment insulates doctors and protects them from powerful emotions that patients display in their presence like anger, frustration, grief, rage and bewilderment. It also insulates patients from the rolling emotions that doctors may at times feel towards them. However, a detached attitude also insulates doctors from empathizing with patients. A detached doctor may talk in a language that is over patient’s head. Detachment is not like a light switch that you can turn on and off to suit the situation. Detachment as a practice cannot be in isolation if it becomes your personal style of distracting from the world, it may not be just for the patients but also from your colleague, family friends and even yourself. I recall when I joined by hospital, the first lesson given to me by my boss was not to get unduly attached with patients. As part of etiquettes, we were taught not to socialize with patients. Even today the new American Guidelines talk that doctors should not socialize with their patients on social media including Facebook. Even doctors are human beings and their personal life should not be known to the patients. As far as lawsuits are concerned, it is equally true that known patients file a lawsuit much more than unknown people because over a period of time they know your weakness. One should learn to empathize with the patients and yet be detached from its results. Doctors who follow Bhagawad Gita understand this concept very well.

Honey excellent for Cough

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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A spoonful of honey can quieten children’s’ night time cough and help them and their parents sleep better. When compared to the cough syrup ingredient dextromethorphan or no treatment, honey came out on top. As per a study from Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the results are so strong that it can be said that honey is better than no treatment and dextromethorphan was not. There is currently no proven effective treatment for cough due to an upper respiratory infection like the common cold. While dextromethorphan is widely used, there is no evidence that it works, and it carries risks. Honey is used around the world as a home remedy for cough, and might provide a safe, effective alternative to cough medicine. To investigate, the researchers compared buckwheat honey, a honey–flavoured dextromethorphan preparation, and no treatment in 105 children who had sought treatment for night time coughs due to colds. Among the three groups, children given honey had the greatest reduction in cough frequency and severity, and the most improved sleep, as did their parents. Its sweet, syrupy quality may be soothing to the throat, while its high antioxidant content could also be a factor. Honey also has antimicrobial effects. Honey is not recommended for infants younger below one year of age because of the risk of botulism spores.

Is caffeine good for the health?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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• Caffeine is the most consumed stimulant in the world. • It is consumed in the form of coffee and tea. • At present there is no scientific data for promoting or discouraging coffee and/or tea consumption in the daily diet. • Short–term benefits include mental alertness and improved athletic performance. • Short–term adverse effects including headache, anxiety, tremors, and insomnia. • Long–term adverse effects include generalized anxiety disorder and substance abuse disorders. • Long-term benefits are dose–dependent. Caffeine is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer disease, alcoholic cirrhosis, and gout. Coffee, both caffeinated and decaffeinated, is also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. • Heavy coffee intake may trigger coronary and arrhythmic events in susceptible individuals, although coffee intake is not considered a long–term risk factor for myocardial disease. • Most studies show a modest inverse relationship between coffee consumption and all–cause mortality. • Caffeine withdrawal is a well–documented clinical syndrome with headache being the most common symptom. (Source: Uptodate)

More about Debts

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Hindu scriptures have talked about three types of rins (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, it can be equated to operational software (God), application software (teachers) and computer hardware (parents).

During Sawan, air both in the body as well as in the atmosphere gets vitiated leading to storm of rains, high tides in the ocean and movement related disorders in the body. Ayurveda describes them as vata disorders and homeopathy describes them as Psora disorders. In allopathy, in terms of physical health, it represents dyspepsia, gases, distension, constipation, tachycardia, accelerated hypertension etc. and in terms of mind, it represents instability of mind, irritableness, anger and unsteady mind. This is one reason why in Sawan, auspicious functions are not held, including marriage as a marriage requires lot of cooperation, mental understanding and a steady mind. The mind is more unstable during Sawan is also depicted by the festival Guru Purnima which also falls in Sawan month. It indicates that during Sawan, one requires supervision to tame the mind. The Nag panchami also falls around this season. Nag is a symbolic representation of ego and Nag puja indicates again taming the mind and controlling the ego. Leafy vegetables are not allowed to be eaten during this month as they precipitate Airy disorders. It is also during this month that leafy vegetables contain more worms and their eggs and are unhygienic to eat especially in a community food serving. Sawan is also the month where on every Monday Lord Shiva is worshipped. Lord Shiva represents ability to wind up jobs. The unstable mind in Sawan month does not allow one to take decisive actions. Shiv ki pooja represents that it takes efforts to wind up jobs in Sawan month. During Sawan month, Lord Vishnu is also seen lying under a Sheshnag in an ocean in an open eye meditative pose. The ocean represents the disturbed state of mind, Sheshnag indicates the need to control the ego and meditative pose of Vishnu represents the need to do pranayama and meditation in this season and also it indicates that it is very easy to get dissociated from your consciousness in this month as the ego gets easily activated during this period.

6 ways to ease neck pain

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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1. Don’t stay in one position for too long. 2. Make some ergonomic adjustments. Position your computer monitor at eye level so you can see it easily. Use the hands-free function on your phone or wear a headset. Prop your touch-screen tablet on a pillow so that it sits at a 45° angle, instead of lying flat on your lap. 3. If you wear glasses, keep your prescription up to date. 4. Don’t use too many pillows. 5. Know your limits. 6. Get a good night’s sleep. (Harvard News Letter)

Why Do We Say Aum Shanti Thrice?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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“Trivaram satyam” It is believed that something said thrice comes true. To emphasize a point, we repeat a thing thrice. In the court of law also, one who takes the witness stands says, “I shall speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. Prayer is to get something for which we have an intense desire like Shanti which means “peace” or inner happiness. There is only love in the universe. Hatred is withdrawal of love. It follows the same principle of light and darkness. There is no darkness in the universe it is only absence of light. Similarly there is only peace in the natural environment (both external and internal). Peace naturally exists in a place until someone makes noise (external or internal). Internally peace underlies all agitations and negativity of the mind. When negative thoughts end, peace is the only happening as it was already there. Peace is covered and controlled by kama, krodha, lobha, moha and ahankar. It can be earned by removing these five gateways to the hell. To invoke peace, one meditates or chant prayers. By chanting prayers, one shifts one’s awareness from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode, a state of relaxation. All prayers end by chanting shanti thrice. Some interpret it as if chanting first time loudest, addresses the unseen forces (Aadhidaivik, the natural disasters), second time, addresses the immediate surroundings (Aadhibhautika: external modifiable factors) and softest the last and third time addresses oneself (Aadhyaatmika)

Longer chest pain equals bigger MI risk

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Patients with acute myocardial infarction (MI) have longer duration of chest pain than those without a myocardial infarction. Patients with chest pain of short duration, less than 5 minutes, are unlikely to have an acute infarction and have a good prognosis at 30 days. A single–center study showed that only 8.9% of the patients received a final diagnosis of acute MI, and these patients had a significantly longer duration of chest pain compared with the rest of the cohort (120 versus 40 minutes) according to Carlos Calle–Muller, MD, of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and colleagues. Those who had chest pain lasting less than 5 minutes always had a good outcome, with no acute MIs or deaths within 30 days, as reported in the journal Critical Pathways in Cardiology. If the clinical assessment and ECG are benign, such patients might be able to be discharged directly from the emergency department without stress testing for outpatient follow-up. The median chest pain duration was 180 minutes among the 10 patients who died and only 40 minutes for the others. Among patients with acute MI, longer chest pain duration was not associated with higher 30–day mortality, but it was associated with a higher initial level of cardiac troponin-I.

Managing grief by free expressive writing

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The loss of a loved is often painful. The resultant grief makes it hard to eat, sleep and leads to loss of interest in routine life affecting behavior and judgment. Some can feel agitated or exhausted, to sob unexpectedly, or to withdraw from the world and others may find themselves struggling with feelings of sorrow, numbness, anger, guilt, despair, irritability, relief, or anxiety. It is well known that disclosing deep emotions through writing can boost immune function as well as mood and well–being. Conversely, the stress of holding in strong feelings can increase blood pressure and heart rate and increase muscle tension. One can write on a piece of paper, in your personal book, on the open website with nick name or keep it in the mind. These emotions need not be preserved and the writings can be throw away. In absence of deeply troubling situations, such as suicide or a violent death, which are best explored with the help of an experienced therapist, one can choose writing as a way to express the grief. 1. Start writing for 15 to 30 minutes a day for 3 to 4 days. 2. Continue up to a week if it is helping. 3. Continue writing for 15 to 30 minutes once a week for a month. 4. Writing has stronger effects when it extends over for more number of days. 5. Remember writing about grief and loss can trigger strong emotions (one may cry or feel deeply upset) 6. Many people find journal writing valuable and meaningful and report feeling better afterward. 7. Don’t worry about grammar or sentence structure. 8. Truly let go. Write down how you feel and why you feel that way. You’re writing for yourself, not others