Header image alt text

Dr K K Aggarwal

Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee

Expressive writing can relieve stress

Filed Under Wellness  | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off on Expressive writing can relieve stress

One can significantly boost mental and physical health by spending 30 minutes each day for four days to write out the innermost thoughts and feelings.

This so-called expressive writing requires only pen and a paper.

In expressive writing therapy, patients are encouraged to express whatever is on their mind, letting their hopes and fears flow out in a natural, unrestrained way. It is like keeping a journal, but more focused on the things that might be bothering one or triggering stress.

Understanding exact speech

Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals  | Tagged With: , , , | | Comments Off on Understanding exact speech

Upanishads, Yoga sutras of Patanjali and teachings of Gautam Buddha, all talk about “the right speech”. As per Gautam Buddha, the right speech has three components:

  • It should be based on truthfulness.
  • It should be necessary.
  • It should be kind.

All three have to be in the same sequence with truthfulness taking the top ranking. For example, when a patient asks a doctor, “Am I going to die in the next few weeks or will I survive longer?” The truth may be that he is serious enough and may not survive but it is not necessary to speak the truth and also it is not kind. Therefore, that truth should not be spoken.

Lord Krishna in Mahabharata explained when not to speak the truth and when to speak a lie. The truth which is going to harm the society may not be spoken and a lie which can save the life of a person without harming others may be spoken.

  • A truth which is necessary and kind may be spoken.
  • A truth which is not necessary but kind may not be spoken.
  • A truth which is necessary but not kind may not be spoken.
  • A truth which is neither necessary nor kind may not be spoken.

Four of the best exercises you can do

Filed Under Wellness  | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off on Four of the best exercises you can do

  • Swimming. It is the perfect exercise. Swimming is good for those who have arthritis as it is less weight-bearing.
  • Strength training. Lifting light weights will help keep your muscles strong. Our muscles tend to lose their strength over time if we don’t use them.
  • Walking. Walking is a simple exercise. It can help one stay fit, improves cholesterol levels, strengthens bones, keeps blood pressure under control, elevates the mood and decreases the risk of diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
  • Kegel exercises. These exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles and vital for preventing incontinence. These exercisescan benefit both men and women.

What is the correct way of doing a Kegel exercise? Squeeze and release the muscles that you would use to stop urination or prevent yourself from passing gas. Alternate quick squeezes and releases with longer contractions that can be held for 10 seconds, and then released for 10 seconds. Do about three sets of 10-15 Kegel exercises every day.

(Source: Harvard HealthBeat)

Let the mud settle down

Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals  | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off on Let the mud settle down

Once, while traveling, Buddha passed a lake. He asked his disciple to get him some water from that lake as he was thirsty.

The disciple noticed some people washing clothes in the water. At that very moment, a bullock cart also crossed through the lake.

The water became muddy and turbid. The disciple thought to himself that he could not take such muddy water to Buddha to drink.

So, he came back to tell Buddha that the water was muddy and wasn’t fit for drinking.

After about an hour, Buddha asked his disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water. This time the disciple noted that the water in the lake was absolutely clear. The mud had settled down and the water was now fit for drinking. He collected some water in a pot and brought it for Buddha to drink.

Buddha looked at the water and asked the disciple whether he understood what he did to make the water clean. He let it be, and the mud settled down on its own and the water got clear… Our mind is also like that.

When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it some time. It will settle down on its own. No effort is required to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.

Do we get a human birth every time we will die?

Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals  | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off on Do we get a human birth every time we will die?

As per Vedic sciences, Hindu philosophy believes in rebirth unless your Sanchit and Prarabdha Karmas are totally exhausted.

It also believes in liberation in which once your past karma’s debt is over, you do not take a rebirth.

Garuda Purana, on the other hand, says that you can take a birth in animal species which means you can be born like a donkey or a dog. Vedic science, on the other hand, says that once you get a human body, you will either be liberated or get another human body only.

Garuda Purana message can be read and interpreted in a different perspective. In mythology, humans are linked to animal tendencies. For example, bull is linked to sexual and non-sexual desires, peacock to vanity, etc. Probably, people who wrote Garuda Purana meant that if you do not live according to the Shastras, you will end up in getting another human body but with animal tendencies and behavior.

In Paralysis, Act Fast

Filed Under Wellness  | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off on In Paralysis, Act Fast

Brain attack should be tackled like a heart attack. As time is brain, a patient with suspected paralysis/stroke or brain attack should be shifted to hospital at the earliest and given a clot dissolving therapy if the CT scan is negative for brain hemorrhage. Prevention for paralysis is the same as prevention for heart attack. All patients with paralysis should be investigated for underlying heart disease and all patients with heart diseases should undergo testing to detect blockages in the neck artery, which can cause future paralysis.

Facts

  • One should rule out brain hemorrhage as soon as possible.
  • Obtain emergent brain imaging (with CT or MRI) and other important laboratory studies, including cardiac monitoring during the first 24 hours after the onset of ischemic stroke.
  • Check glucose and correct high or low sugar. If the blood sugar is over 180 mg/dL, start insulin.
  • Maintain normothermia for at least the first several days after an acute stroke.
  • For patients with acute ischemic stroke who are not treated with thrombolytic therapy, treat high blood pressure only if the hypertension is extreme (systolic blood pressure >220 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure >120 mmHg), or if there is another clear indication, such as active ischemic coronary disease, heart failure, aortic dissection, hypertensive encephalopathy, acute renal failure, or pre–eclampsia/eclampsia.
  • For patients with acute ischemic stroke who will receive thrombolytic therapy, antihypertensive treatment should be given so that systolic blood pressure is ≤185 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure is ≤110 mmHg.
  • Antithrombotic therapy should be initiated within 48 hours of stroke onset.
  • For patients receiving statin therapy prior to stroke onset, it should be continued.

You can only hate somebody whom you have loved. Hatred, therefore, is withdrawal of love.

Love is the opposite of fear and not hate. Most of us assume that love and hatred are opposite to each other but hatred is withdrawal of love and manifestation of fear; it’s not opposite.

In spirituality, you cannot have love and fear together. Love means being in touch with your consciousness. Love is total absence of fear.

As per mythology, there are only two emotions and they are emotions of love and emotions of fear. All other emotions are their sub-categories. For example, love can be categorized into joy, peacefulness, happiness, forgiveness. Fear, on the other hand, can give rise to hatred, depression, guilt, inadequacy, discontentment, prejudice, anger, etc.

In Ayurveda, fear is linked with Vata disorder, Pitta with anger and Kapha with attachment and possessiveness.

Again, as per Ayurveda, fear is linked with large intestine, pitta with small intestine and kapha with stomach and upper GI systems.

Fear in Vedic sciences is linked with Mooldhara Chakra, the first chakra with the sound LUM and love is linked to the Heart, the fourth Heart Anhata Chakra with its sound Yum. In terms of Vedic sciences, in Chakra meditation, Mooldhara chakra has the opposite characteristics of Anhata or Heart Chakra. Therefore, the sounds LUM and YUM are often chanted together.

Fear or love have different chemistry. Fear is based on adrenaline and love is based on endorphins. Fear is related to adrenaline based fight and flight.

The most important fear in body is fear of death. If that fear goes, one attains spirituality.

In the Sikh prayer “Ik Onkaar Sat Naam Kartaa Purakh Nirbh-a-o Nirvair Akaal Moorat Ajoonee Saibhn Gur Parsaad Jap…………”

‘Nirbhay’ means free of fear. Once one is in touch with consciousness, the fear goes away.

When there is fear, there is no love and when there is no love, there is fear. Fear and love cannot be experienced at the same time.

Why do we put on Tilak on the forehead?

Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals  | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off on Why do we put on Tilak on the forehead?

The Tilak is a mark of auspiciousness and invokes a feeling of respect in the wearer and others. It is recognized as a religious mark. Its form and color vary according to one’s caste, religious sect or the form of worship of the person in question.

Tilak is applied on the forehead with sandal paste, sacred ash or kumkum, a red turmeric powder. In a wedding, a Kumkum tilak is applied on the forehead of both the bride and groom.

In earlier times, the four castes (based on varna or color) – Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra – applied marks differently. The Brahmin applied a white chandan mark signifying purity, as his profession was of a priestly or academic nature. The Kshatriya applied a red kumkum mark signifying valor as he belonged to the warrior race. The Vaishya wore a yellow kesar or turmeric mark signifying prosperity as he was a businessman or trader devoted to creation of wealth. The Shudra applied a black bhasma, kasturi or charcoal mark signifying service as he supported the work of the other three castes.

The devotees of Shiva apply sacred ashes (Bhasma) on the forehead as a Tripundra (three parallel horizontal lines); the devotees of Vishnu apply sandal paste (Chandan) in the shape of “U” and the worshippers of Devi or Shakti apply Kumkum.

The tilak is applied in the spot between the eyebrows, which is the seat of memory and thought. It is known as the Aajna Chakra in the language of Yoga. The Tilak is applied with the prayer – “May I remember the Lord. May this pious feeling pervade all my activities. May I be righteous in my deeds.” Even when we temporarily forget this prayerful attitude, the mark on another reminds us of our resolve. The tilak is thus a blessing of the Lord and a protection against wrong tendencies and forces. The entire body emanates energy in the form of electromagnetic waves – the forehead and the spot between the eyebrows especially so. That is why worry generates heat and causes a headache. The tilak cools the forehead, protects the wearer and prevents energy loss. Sometimes the entire forehead is covered with chandan or bhasma.

Using plastic reusable “stick bindis” is not very beneficial, even though it serves the purpose of decoration.

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

Cough Hygiene

Filed Under Wellness  | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off on Cough Hygiene

  • When you cough or sneeze, you tend to expel out respiratory waste, which can be droplets (larger than 5 microns) or airborne droplet nuclei less than 5 microns; both have different implications.
  • Droplets remain suspended in the air only for a limited period and exposure of less than 3 feet is usually required for human to human transmission of droplet-borne respiratory organisms. In flu, this can be up to 6 feet. The examples of droplet infections are meningitis, influenza, rubella (German measles), etc.
  • No precautions need to be taken by a person, who is at a distance of 6-10 feet away from the patient. But, if a person is sitting or working even at a distance of 3-6 feet, the non-coughing person should wear a simple mask.
  • Airborne droplet nuclei, which carry respiratory secretions smaller than 5 microns can remain suspended in the air for extended period and can cause infections to people who are standing even more than 10 feet away. The example of airborne droplet nuclei infections are TB, measles, chickenpox and SARS.
  • Patients with these diseases need to be placed in an isolation room. And, all those people who are looking after these patients must use a safe N95 mask.
  • In normal house with open windows, there is a constant exchange of air, which prevents spread of infections, but in rooms with air conditioners (ACs) with no air exchange, infections can spread from one person to another.
  • When sitting in an air conditioned atmosphere, the setting of the AC should be such that the same air is not circulated and fresh air is allowed to exchange. Split ACs, therefore, are more dangerous than the window ACs.
  • In an office with split AC, if one employee is suffering from any of the droplet nuclei disease, he/she can transmit infection to others. Therefore, patients with confirmed TB, measles, chickenpox and SARS should not be allowed to work in offices with split ACs.

Walking Tips

Filed Under Wellness  | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off on Walking Tips

  • Walking requires no special clothes or equipment, and it’s free.
  • Make walking fun by going to places you enjoy.
  • Walk with someone else to enjoy a chat, or listen to your favorite music, but also listen to the sounds around you.
  • Keep safety in mind as you plan when and where to walk.
  • Carry a phone and ID with you.
  • Inform someone about your walking time and route.
  • If it’s dark outside when you go for a walk, wear a reflective vest or brightly colored clothing.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.

Definition of Health

Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals  | Tagged With: , , , | | Comments Off on Definition of Health

Health is not mere absence of disease; it is a state of physical, mental, social, spiritual, environmental and financial wellbeing. All aspects of health are not defined in allopathy.

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 are most important during patient-doctor communication. It is incorporated in the four basic purposes: dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

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

The best description of health comes from Ayurveda. In Sanskrit, health means swasthya, or establishment in the self. Being established in the self means 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 an Ayurvedic point of view, for a person to be healthy, he/she 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), which have two basic functions to perform; metabolism (pitta) and movement (vata). Vata, pitta and kapha are the three doshas in Ayurveda. Samana dosha signifies balance of structures, metabolism and movement functions in the body. Agni in Ayurveda is considered to be in balance when a person has normal tejas and a good appetite.In Ayurveda,there are seven dhatus: rasa, rakta, mamsa, medha, asthi, majja, shukra.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 balance in malakriya means.

Ayurveda says, for a person to be healthy, he/she 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 takes one from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic mode, balances the mind and thoughts and helps get rid of negative thoughts from the mind. For living a disabled life, one can follow the yama and niyama of yoga sutras of Patanjali or do’s 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 min 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 one has to 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 and exercise, regular pranayama and meditation and positive thinking.

Ten Golden Rules for preventing CKD

Filed Under Wellness  | Tagged With: , | | Comments Off on Ten Golden Rules for preventing CKD

Kidney diseases are silent killers. There are several easy ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease.

  1. Keep active: Keeping fit helps to reduce the blood pressure and therefore reduces the risk of chronic kidney Disease.
  2. Keep fasting sugar < 80 mg%: Nearly half of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage. Kidney damage due to diabetes can be reduced or prevented if detected early.
  3. Keep lower BP < 80 mm Hg: High blood pressure is a common cause of kidney damage. High blood pressure can cause kidney damage when associated with other factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases.
  4. Keep your abdominal circumference < 80 cm: Eat healthy and keep your weight in check. This can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and other conditions associated with chronic kidney disease. Reduce your salt intake. The recommended sodium intake is 5-6 grams of salt per day (about a teaspoon). Limit the intake of processed and restaurant food and avoid adding salt to your food.
  5. Drink adequate fluids: Drink 1.5 to 2 litres (3 to 4 pints) of water per day. Intake of adequate amount of fluid helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea and toxins from the body which leads to a significantly lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease. One should not advocate aggressive fluid loading, as it can have side effects. People who have already suffered a kidney stone must drink 2 to 3 litres of water a day to decrease the risk of forming a new stone.
  6. Do not smoke: It slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. Smoking tends to increase the risk of kidney cancer by about 50%.
  7. Do not take over-the-counter pain killers: Common drugs such non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are known to cause kidney damage if taken regularly.
  8. If you have a kidney disease, ask your doctor for ACE inhibitors.
  9. Know your eGFR = 140 – age x body weight (in kg)/72 × serum creatinine (x 0.85 if female)
  10. Keep your LDL levels < 80 mg%.

Training in any field requires gaining knowledge, skills and positive mental attitude towards the object of learning.

The knowledge is everything about what and why. In Yoga, it correlates with the Gyan (Gnana) Marg. The skill is all about how to do it and correlates with Karma Marg.

A positive mental attitude is linked to willingness to do any work or in other words, one’s Astha in that action. In Yoga, it is synonymous with Bhakti Marg.

In Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna talks about all the principles of management, including how to train and develop an individual.

The development teaches and increases one’s intelligence quotient (IQ), physical quotient (PQ), emotional quotient (EQ) and moral quotient (MQ).

OTC does not mean that these drugs can be taken without a doctors advice

Filed Under Wellness  | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off on OTC does not mean that these drugs can be taken without a doctors advice

An over-the-counter antacid is often used to relieve mild cases of heartburn or acid reflux. Though they are available without a doctor’s prescription, they should be taken only under a doctor’s advice. As per American Academy of Family Physicians:

  • There are different types of antacids, which work in different ways.
  • Always consult your doctor before taking an antacid.
  • To manage an ulcer, an antacid may need to be taken along with an antibiotic.
  • If one needs more calcium to help strengthen bones, one should take an antacid that contains calcium carbonate.
  • Antacids may have minor side effects such as nausea, headache, diarrhea or constipation in some patients.
  • Read the label carefully to make sure that one is not allergic to any of the ingredients.
  • People with kidney disease may not be able to take all sorts of antacids.
  • An antacid may interact with other medications.

Why are coconut and the kalash used in all poojas?

Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals  | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off on Why are coconut and the kalash used in all poojas?

‘If nature wanted you to drink coconut water in non-coastal areas it would not have grown coconuts in the coastal areas’ is a common naturopathic saying. Coconut water is the treatment for most humidity-related illnesses in coastal areas. It is sterile water and has been used in surgical practice as a sterile fluid. It is also used as a replacement for oral rehydration solution. Hence, because of its many uses, it is regarded as the ‘Tree of Life’.

Coconut is one of the most common offerings in a temple, weddings, and festivals. It is offered in all sacrificial fires whilst performing the Homa(fire rituals). The coconut is usually split and placed before the Lord and is later distributed as Prasadam. The fibrous outer covering of the dried coconut is removed except for a tuft on the top.

The marks on the coconut make it look like a human head. The splitting of a coconut symbolizes the conquest of the ego. The outer covering represents the body, the juice within, one’s inner tendencies (vasanas) and the white kernel, the mind. Be as firm as the outer shell of the coconut but at the same time be as soft like the inner fruit of the coconut.

Also, a coconut – Sriphala(fruit of the gods) – is the only fruit used to symbolize God while worshipping any deity. It is used in the making of a Purna-Kumbha (‘purna’ = full, ‘kumbha’ = pot or kalash), an independent object of worship. The earthen pot full of water and with fresh mango leaves and a coconut on top is placed in front of the main deity or by the side of the deity before starting any Pooja. The pot symbolizes Mother Earth; water, the life-giver; the leaves, life (air); and the coconut, divine consciousness (space). All religious rituals start with the worship of the kalash with coconut as symbol of Lord Ganesha. The coconut is also worshipped as symbol of the Godhead – the three eyes are symbolic of the eyes of Lord Shiva (Trayambaka – Rudra). Sage Vishwamitra grew the first coconut tree on this earth by the power of his tapa.

The hard shell inspires one to have tolerance and work hard for attaining success.

The coconut also symbolizes selfless service. Every part of the tree, whether it is the trunk, leaves, fruit, or coir,is used to make thatches, mats, tasty dishes, oil, soap, etc.

Coconut water is used in the preparation of many Ayurveda drugs. The kernel is used to gain strength and improve eyesight. Its water is nourishing. Coconut oil is used to nourish the hair. It has glucose, phosphorous and carbohydrates. Germs cannot penetrate its hard kernel. Ancient Indian healers burnt its outer shell to prepare tooth powder, eyebrow creams and ointments for burns. Coconut milk is made by grating the endocarp and mixing it with warm water. This produces a thick, white liquid called coconut milk which is extensively used in Asian cooking, for example, in curries. Water from the unripe coconut is drunk fresh as a refreshing drink.

Tender coconut water is used in the rituals of abhishek, since it is believed to bestow spiritual growth on the seeker.

On the auspicious occasion of Rakhi Purnima (Rakshabandhan), coconuts are thrown into the sea as offerings to Varuna, God of the Sea. In western India, this festival is called Nariyal Purnima (Coconut Full Moon).

The Chhandogya Upanishad by Swami Krishnananda (78) talks about another quality of the coconut that has a spiritual resonance: “The coconut that is raw sticks to the shell. That is the condition of the bound soul. Consciousness sticks to the shell of this body. But in the case of the liberated soul, it is inside the body, no doubt, but is not sticking to the body, even as the dry coconut is not touching the shell. It makes a sound inside if we shake it. It is detached from the shell, though it is there tentatively. Even so, consciousness is not confined to the body, even though it is inside.”

In the Chidakasha Gita by ParamahansaNityananda, the coconut tree is described as a state of meditation: “At another time all feeling comes to a standstill. Sometime the body becomes quite motionless like a coconut tree”.

Ganesha’s favorite food is made up of a sweet core of candied coconut pulp covered with a layer made of white flour. The insipid outer shell is said to represent the gross physical body, the sweet inside stands for the resplendent soul.

When the Asuras and the Devas churned the milky ocean, Lord Dhanwantri appeared bearing the pot of nectar, which blessed one with everlasting life. Thus, the kalasha also symbolizes immortality.