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Dr K K Aggarwal

Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define yoga as restraint of the mental states (Chapter 1.2). In the state of total restraint, the mind is devoid of any external object and is in its true self or the consciousness. To control the mind many Vedic scholars have given their own formulae.

Being in touch with one’s own consciousness requires restraining of the mind, intellect and ego on one hand and the triad of rajas, tamas and satwa on the other hand. Every action leads to a memory, which in turn leads to a desire and with this a vicious cycle starts.

The mental turmoil of thoughts can be equated to the internal noise and the external desires and objects to an external noise.

The process of withdrawing from the external noise with an aim to start a journey inwards the silent field of awareness bypassing the internal noise is called pratihara by Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It involves living in a satwik atmosphere based on the dos and don’ts learnt over a period of time or as told by the scriptures.

To control the inner noise, we either need to neutralize negative thoughts by cultivating opposite thoughts or kill the origin of negative thoughts.

Not allowing thoughts to occur has been one of the strategies mentioned by the scholars. One of them has been neti–neti by Yagnayakya.

The other method is to pass through these inner thoughts and not get disturbed by it and that is what the process of meditation is. This can be equated to a situation where two people are talking in an atmosphere of loud external noise. For proper communication one will have to concentrate on each other’s voice for long till the external noise ceases to disturb. In meditation, one concentrates on the object of concentration to such an extent that the noisy thoughts cease to bother or exist.

One of the ways mentioned by Adi Shankaracharya in Bhaja Govindam and by Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Chapter 2.35) is that whenever one is surrounded by evil or negative thoughts one should think contrary thoughts. For example, if one is feeling greedy, one can think of donating something to somebody. Deepak Chopra in his book Seven Laws of Spiritual Success talks in detail about the importance of giving and sharing. He says you should never visit friends or relations empty handed. You should always carry some gift of nature, which if nothing is available can be a simple smile, compliment or a flower. By repeatedly indulging in positive behavior and thoughts, you can reduce the internal noise, which simplifies the process of meditation or conscious living.

Washing out negative thoughts is another way mentioned by many Vedic scholars. Three minutes writing is one such exercise which anybody can do. Before going to bed, take three minutes to write down all your emotions and then discard the paper. Another exercise is to reward or punish oneself at bed time for the activities done during the day by either patting or slapping yourself.

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

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  1. Make reading food labels a habit. Sodium content is always listed on food labels. Sodium content can vary from brand to brand, so compare and choose the lowest sodium product. Certain foods don’t taste particularly salty but are actually high in sodium, such as cottage cheese, so it’s critical to check labels.
  2. Stick to fresh meats, fruits and vegetables rather than their packaged counterparts, which tend to be higher in sodium.
  3. Avoid spices and seasonings that contain added sodium, for example garlic salt. Choose garlic powder instead.
  4. Many restaurants list the sodium content of their products on their websites, so do your homework before dining out. Also, you can request that your food be prepared without any added salt.
  5. Try to spread your sodium intake out throughout the day; it’s easier on your kidneys than eating lots of salt all at once.
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One should donate blood at least once in a year. Donating blood regularly has been shown in many reports to reduce chances of future heart attacks. Blood donation is also one of the best charities that one can do as it can save multiple lives through various components taken out of a single blood transfusion.

All those who are going for elective surgery should donate their blood well in advance and the same should be used at the time of surgery.

In the current medical tourism scenario, many patients who are Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusion on religious grounds. They do not accept transfusion of whole blood or any of the four major components (blood cells, platelets, plasma and white cells). They are prepared to die rather than receive the blood. They also do not accept transfusion of stored blood including their own due to the belief that blood should not be taken out of the body and stored for any length of time. In such cases, every effort should be made to reduce blood loss, conserve blood and give drugs that can enhance hemoglobin formation.

A new concept called Bloodless Medicine has now become a reality where treatment, surgery and even emergency surgery can be done without using any blood.

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Vanaspati Ghee is never offered to God at the time of Aarti in the Diya or to the dead body at the time of cremation. Only pure ghee is offered.It is considered a bad omen to offer Vanaspati ghee at the time of the last cremation ritual even though the consciousness has left the body.

What is not offered to God should not be offered to our consciousness and that was the reason for this ritual in a temple. Vanaspati ghee increases bad cholesterol and reduces level of good cholesterol in the blood. On the other hand, pure ghee only increases bad cholesterol but does not reduce the level of good cholesterol. The medical recommendation is that one should not take more than 15 ml of oil, ghee, butter or maximum ½ kg in one month.

It is a spiritual crime to offer vanaspati ghee to God.

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Eating white salt is like a slow poison. If the amount of salt is reduced to less than 1 teaspoon per day, a large percentage of people with high blood pressure will have normal blood pressure.

High salt intake via increase in blood pressure leads to kidney damage over a period of time and kidney failure. Consume less, anything which is artificially white in feature, white sugar, white maida and white rice.

Most people who have high salt in their body will have the characteristic feature of having a liking for both ice cold as well as boiling beverages.

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Following are the five types of people:

  1. Nastik: Those who do not believe in God.
  2. Astik: For whom God exists.
  3. Those who believe that God also exists in them (I and the God are the same)
  4. Those who believe in Tat TvamAsi (God not only exists in me but also in you)
  5. Those who believe that God is in everybody

People who believe that God exists are fearful people and they always fear God. People who see God in themselves, live a disciplined Satvik life and do not indulge in activities that are not God-friendly.

People who believe that God is not only in them but also in you, treat every person the same way as they treat themselves. People for whom God is everywhere always work for the welfare of the society.

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

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Anticholinergics, a commonly prescribed group of drugs, may cause elderly people to “slow down” in their daily physical activities.

Two reports from Wake Forest University School of Medicine support findings that anticholinergic drugs used to treat acid reflux, Parkinsons disease and urinary incontinence may cause older people to lose their thinking skills more quickly than those who do not take the medicines.

Anticholinergic drugs work by stopping acetylcholine, a chemical that enhances communication between nerve cells in the brain, from binding to its receptors in nerve cells.

Older adults taking anticholinergics become more likely to walk more slowly and to need help in other daily activities. These results are true even in older adults who have normal memory and thinking abilities.

For older adults taking a moderately anticholinergic medication, or two or more mildly anticholinergic medications, their function is similar to that of someone three to four years older.

Common anticholinergic medicines include nifedipine (antihypertensive), ranitidine (reduces stomach acid) and tolterodine (medication for incontinence).

Cholinesterase inhibitors, a family of drugs used to treat dementia by increasing levels of acetylcholine include donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine and tacrine. About 10 percent of patients may be taking tolterodine and dozepezil together. The two drugs are pharmacological opposites, which led to the hypothesis that the simultaneous treatment of dementia and incontinence could lead to reduced effectiveness of one or both drugs.

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“Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (the whole world is one family) and “Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudavanti” (truth is one but the wise call it by various names) are two basic statements, which come from the ancient Rig Veda and form the fundamentals of Vedic philosophy.

One should do one’s duty with devotion and discipline. This principle can be remembered as the principle of three Ds.

In daily routine, one should remember the purpose for which one is born, which is to fulfill Dharma (duty), Artha(wealth), Kama (desire) and Moksha (liberation). To achieve them, one needs to follow the four Fs: (i) Follow the teacher (ii) Face the negative devils of the mind (iii) Fight till the end, and (iv) Finish at the goal.

The essence of Bhagwad Gita can be summarized in one shloka (Chapter 2.48) where Krishna says to Arjuna “yogastha kuru karmani”, which means ‘concentrate on actions’ (do all actions while remaining in yoga). He further says that one should take success and failure in the same stride. (yogastha: = steadfast in yoga, kuru = perform, karmani = duties or action).

To acquire spiritual health, one should follow three Ss which are: (i) Satsang (company of good people) (ii)Sadhna (hard work), and (iii) Sanskar (good deeds). Adi Shankaracharya in Bhaj Govindam describes them as Satnam or Simran (bhakti, or reciting the name of their God), Satsang (company of good people) and Seva (good karmas).

Before doing any work, one should follow the principles of three Hs: (i) listen with the Head, (ii) follow the Heart to choose one of the choices and (iii) order the Hands to take an action.

The ABCs of a good professional are Availability, Behavior and Competence. Competence comes last; the first is the availability of the professional.

An action should be based on Truth; it should be coming from consciousness and should end in internal bliss. Various Vedic literatures have termed this triad by different names like satha, chitha, ananda, and satyam, shivam sundaram.

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

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