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Dr K K Aggarwal

Science behind regrets

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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In a US–based study, dying people were asked about their regrets, if any. The top five regrets were:

  1. I wish I had the courage to live a life I wanted to live and not what others expected me to live.
  2. I wish I had worked harder.
  3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish I had let myself to be happier.

Regrets are always based on suppression of emotions or non–fulfillment of desires and needs. These need-based desires can be at the level of physical body, mind, intellect, ego or the soul. Therefore, regrets can be at any of these levels.

I did a survey of 15 of my patients and asked them a simple question that if they come to know that they are going to die in next 24 hours, what would be their biggest regret.

Only one of them, a doctor said that she would have no regrets.

Only one person expressed a physical regret and that was from a Yoga expert who said that her regret was not getting married till that day.

Mental regrets were two.

  1. A state trading businessman said, “I wish I could have taken care of my parents.”
  2. A homeopathic doctor said, “I wish I could have given more time to my family.”

Intellectual regrets were three.

  1. A lawyer said, “I wish I could have become something in life.”
  2. A businessman said, “I wish I could have helped more people.”
  3. A retired revenue inspector said, “I wish I had married off my younger child.”

Egoistic regrets were two.

  1. One fashion designer said, “I wish I could have become a singer.”
  2. A housewife said, “I wish I could have become a dietician.”

Spiritual regrets were six.

  1. A Consultant Government Liaison officer said, “I wish I could have made my family members happy.”
  2. A businessman said, “I wish I could have meditated more.”
  3. A Homeopathic doctor said, “I wish I could have spent more time with my family.”
  4. A reception executive said, “I wish I could have spent more time with my parents.”
  5. An entertainment CEO said, “I wish I could have taken my parents for a pilgrimage.”
  6. A fashion designer said, “I wish I could have worked more for the animals.”

In a very popular and successful movie, Kal Ho Na Ho, the hero was to die in the next 40 days. When asked to remember the days of his life, he could not remember 20 ecstatic instances in life.

This is what happens with each one of us where we waste all our days and cannot remember more than 50 or even 20 of such instances. If we are given 40 days to live and if we live every day ecstatically, we can get inner happiness. Therefore, we should learn to live in the present instead of having a habit of postponing everything we do.

We should learn to prioritize our work and do difficult work first or else we would be in a state of constant worry till that work is over.

I teach my patients that they should practice confession exercise and one confession is to talk about your regrets and take them as challenge and finish before the next Tuesday. When working, there are three things which are to be remembered – passion, profession and fashion. Profession is at the level of mind, ego and spirit.

We should convert our profession in such a manner that it is fashionable and passionate. Passion means working from the heart and profession means working from mind and intellect and fashion means working the same at the level of ego which is based on show–off.(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).

Why Do We Close Our Eyes For Meditation?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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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 start 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.

In the initiation of hypnosis also, a person is asked to lie down, look at the roof and withdraw from the world. He is then asked to gently roll the eyeball up until he goes into a trans. Upward rolling of the eyeballs 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. During this period, blood pressure and pulse reduces 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 then 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, one suppresses the activities of the five senses and shifts ones awareness from disturbed to undisturbed state of consciousness. The inner journey helps in producing a state of ritam bhara pragya where the inner vibrations of the body become 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 see the darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi they close their eyes. This is natural and instant. Because Maa Vaishno Devi is not felt in the murti but 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 2 minutes maun sabha 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. For recalling anything one must 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 ritambhara pragya. These yogic powers are acquired by practicing advanced sutra meditation for hours, days and years.  Lord Shiva has been shown in a meditative pose sitting on Kailash Parvat with the eyes semi opened. But for ordinary persons like us where the aim is to be in that phase only for 20 min. twice a day, the best is to close our eyes as the first step towards the process of meditation.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).