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Dr K K Aggarwal

Definition of Health

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Health is not mere absence of disease; it is a state of physical, mental, social, spiritual, environmental and financial well-being. Allopathy does not define all aspects of health.

During MBBS, medical students are taught more about the physical health. Social and mental health are covered only in few lectures. Community health is a separate subject but never given its due importance. Spiritual health is not defined at all and financial health is hardly covered.

Yet, in day-to-day practice it is the social, financial, spiritual and community health, which is the most important during patient-doctor communication. It is incorporated in the four basic purposes: dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

Dharma and artha together form the basis of karma which is righteous earning. You are what your deep rooted desires are. Most of the diseases today can be traced to a particular emotion, positive or negative. Anger and jealously are related with heart attack, fear with blood pressure, greed & possessiveness with heart failure. Unless the mind is healthy, one cannot be free of diseases.

The best description of health comes from Ayurveda. In Sanskrit health means swasthya, which means establishment in the self. One is established in the self when there is a union of mind, body and soul. Most symbols of health are established around a shaft with two snakes and two wings. The shaft represents the body, two snakes represent the duality of mind and the two wings represent the freedom of soul.

Sushrut Samhita in Chapter 15 shloka 10 defines the ayurvedic person as under:

Samadosha, samagnischa,

Samadhatumalkriyah,

Prasannatmendriyamanah,

Swastha iti abhidhiyate.

From the Ayurvedic point of view, for a person to be healthy, he must have balanced doshas, balanced agni, balanced dhatus, normal functioning of malkriyas and mind, body, spirit and indriyas full of bliss and happiness.

Human body is made up of structures (Kapha) that perform two basic functions: firstly, metabolism (pitta) and movement (vata). Vata, pitta and kapha are called doshas in Ayurveda. Samana dosha means balance of structures, metabolism and movement functions in the body. Agni in Ayurveda is said to be in balance when a person has normal tejas and a good appetite.

Ayurveda describes seven dhatus: rasa, rakta, mamsa, medha, asthi, majja, shukra and they are required to be in balance. They are equivalent to various tissues in the human body.

Ayurveda necessitates proper functioning of natural urges like urination, stool, sweating and breathing and that is what balances in malakriya means.

Ayurveda says for a person to be healthy he has to be mentally and spiritually healthy which will only happen when his or her indriyas are cheerful, full of bliss and devoid of any negativities. For indriyas to be in balance one has to learn to control over the lust cum desires, greed and ego. This can be done by learning regular pranayama, learning the do’s and don’ts in life, living in a disciplined atmosphere and learn to live in the present.

Regular pranayama shifts one from sympathetic to para sympathetic mode, balances the mind and thoughts and helps in removing negative thoughts from the mind. For living a disabled life one can follow the yama and niyama of yoga sutras of Patanjali or dos and don’ts taught by various religious gurus, leaders and principles of naturopathy. Living in the present means conscious or meditative living. This involves either learning meditation 20 minutes twice a day or learning subtle mental exercises like mind–body relaxation, yogic shavasana, self–hypnotic exercises, etc.

According to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a person who eats thrice a day is a rogi, twice a day is a bhogi and once a day is yogi. The take home message is: to live more, eat less.

Swar yoga defines the importance of respiration and longevity. According to this yoga shastra, everybody has a fixed number of breaths to be taken during the life span.

Lesser the number a person takes in a minute more is the life. It also forms the basis of pranayama which is nothing but longer and deeper breathing with reduced respiratory rate. To be healthy one can remember to follow the principle of moderation and variety in diet & exercise, regular pranayama & meditation and positive thinking.

 

Science behind complacency

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One should never be complacent as it may end up in a disaster or a failure. It is a common occurrence in the Indian cricket team who after winning a few matches becomes complacent and then starts behaving miserably.

Complacency leads to euphoria with resultant sympathetic over activity which can impair performance and also can cause performance anxiety. The classical tale of rabbit and tortoise explains this phenomenon where a non-complacent tortoise wins the race from the rabbit. Apart from Cricket this is also seen commonly in Indian politics. A team after winning election becomes complacent and instead of working for the welfare of the society, it starts taking public for granted and ends up in disaster later.

Inaugurating a symposium on prayer, faith, meditation and healing, Prof. B.M. Hegde, Chairman Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, Mangalore Kendra said that every hospital should have a prayer room where people from every religion can pray.

The symposium was organised by Heart Care Foundation of India jointly with Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan at Bhawan’s Auditorium and was participated by speakers from various religions.

Moderating the session, Padma Shri & Dr. BC Roy National Awardee, Dr. KK Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India said that often doctors get request from the patients and relations either to let them pray or have the doctors pray for them or with them. There are studies which show that prayer has a positive healing effect.

Dr. Aggarwal said that both prayer and meditation shifts one from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode and helps in healing. Positive faith in doctors and drugs also has a healing effect.

In a joint statement Mr. Ashok PradhanMr. G C GarekhanMr. J Veeraraghavanfrom Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan said that spiritually religions and cultural beliefs always play significant role in the lives of patients who are seriously ill and dying. They said that the wishes of the dying patients and their relations should be respected and their spiritual needs must be taken care of.

On the subject of praying with the patients Rev. Ivan Moses said that in Christianity dying patient’s request for the healthcare professional to pray with him or her is usually honoured. If the doctor is uncomfortable with the request to pray with the patient, he or she can sit by in silence as the patient prays in the patient’s language and tradition.

Maulana Dr. Mufti Mohammad Ahmad said that in Islam doctors may pray for patients and they are encouraged to. Islam also believes that patients should not only pray for themselves but also for other fellow patients.

Prof. Sunil Kumar and Dr Nirmal Jit Singh said that in Hinduism and Sikhism there are no specific guidelines issued to physicians praying together with the patients. But both religions believe in prayers when the person is sick.