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Dr K K Aggarwal

Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee

The Science Behind Bhabhuti and Ash

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Lord Shiva is known to have Bhabhuti on his skin. Many people believe that Ash or Bhabhuti reminds one that the human body is perishable and will be converted into Ash ultimately after the death of the physical body.

But there is also another meaning behind this mythological ritual of applying Ash onto the body.

Fire in mythology means the fire of knowledge, knowledge about the true self-consciousness. Knowing about true self is obstructed by negative thoughts, animal tendency, egoistic vanities and foolish attachments.

Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha and Ahankara fall into the same category. Burning negative tendency, animal behavior, ego and attachment into the fire of knowledge is what spirituality is. Once you burn your negative tendencies in the fire of knowledge, the resultant Ash or Bhabhuti which is to be ingested as the Prasad is what Rishi Munis gave to their seekers.

Rishis are different from Pandits as Pandits are the ones who have knowledge but may not have spiritual experiences.

Rishi Munis have both the knowledge and the personal experiences. The Rishi Munis are the ones who have learnt to burn their negative tendencies and ego into an Ash and help their followers in turn to burn their negative tendencies.

The Ash given to their seekers is a constant reminder that the seekers need to burn their negative tendencies and convert them into the same Ash.

Expressive writing can relieve stress

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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

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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 ever do

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  • Swimming. It is a perfect exercise. Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight-bearing.
  • Strength training. Lifting light weights won’t bulk up your muscles, but it will keep them strong. If you don’t use muscles, they will lose their strength over time.
  • Walking. Walking is simple yet powerful. It can help you stay trim, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift your mood and lower your risk for diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
  • Kegel exercises. These exercises won’t help you look better, but they do something just as important — strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way toward preventing incontinence. While many women are familiar with these exercises, they can benefit men too.

To do a Kegel exercise correctly, squeeze and release the muscles you would use to stop urination or prevent you from passing gas. Alternate quick squeezes and releases with longer contractions that you hold for 10 seconds, and then release for 10 seconds. Work up to three sets of 10–15 Kegel exercises each day.

(Source: Harvard HealthBeat)

Think positive and think different

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The mantra to acquire spiritual health is to think positive and differently. When you think positive, it creates positive hormones and takes you from sympathetic mode to parasympathetic mode. When you think different, it gives you opportunities and from multiple options available, you can ask your heart to choose one of them.

Thinking positive was a message given by Lord Buddha and thinking different by Adi Shankaracharya.

The candle light march for justice in the Jessica Lal murder case has been picked up by most of the protest campaigns because it was positive and different.

I have seen three examples in my life where I used this approach of thinking positively and thinking differently, which prolonged the life of those persons. My grandfather-in-law at the age of 85 thought it is time to go but when we made him work positively and differently, he die at the age of 100 years. He was asked to teach youngsters law, write to the Prime Minister every day on certain issues and find matrimonial matches for the youngest persons in the family.

In other two cases, one was suffering from terminal prostate cancer and the other terminal brain cancer. The first one lived for ten years as did the other person.

Both were told that they had a very early cancer and that was cured by a surgery.

When you think different, it creates creativity and when it is with positive attitude, it is accepted by all.

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

Guidelines about Eating

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  • Eat only when you are hungry.
  • Do not eat for pleasure, social obligations or emotional satisfaction.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Eat less; dinner less than lunch.
  • Take small mouthfuls each time; chew each morsel well, swallow it and only then take the next morsel.
  • Do not eat while watching television, driving a car or watching sports events. The mind is absorbed in these activities and one does not know what and how much one has eaten.
  • Do not talk while eating and never enter into heated arguments. The stomach has ears and can listen to your conversation. It will accordingly send signals to the mind and heart.
  • Plan and decide in advance what and how much food you will be eating.
  • Use low fat or skimmed mild dairy products. Use oils which are liquid at room temperature for cooking.
  • Do not take red meat and if you are a non-vegetarian, you may take poultry meat or fish.
  • Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya Jivo Brahmaiva Na Aparah – Brahman only exists truly, the world is false, and the individual soul is Brahman only and no other.
  • Ekam evadvitiyam brahma – Brahman is one, without a second (There is one absolute reality, without any secondary parts).
  • Sarvam khalvidam brahma – all of this is brahman.

Women Beware of Heart Disease

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Cardiovascular disease is very common in women. The warning signals of heart attack include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

However, women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as:

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Pain in one or both arms.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Sweating.
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness.
  • Unusual fatigue.

In the presence of any of the above, one should not wait for more than five minutes and get to a hospital right away.

More than 80% of cardiac events in women can be prevented by modifying diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking.

Negative thoughts are absence of positive thoughts

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Darkness cannot be removed physically; it can only be removed by switching light or going into sunlight or lighting fire. Similarly, negative thoughts are absence of positive thoughts.

In Bhagavad Gita also, it has been said that the period of Uttarayana with longer days, the first half at full moon, in the presence of light or agni, one acquires more positive thoughts as compared in Dakshinayana before Amavasya or no moon or in absence of light.

Bhagavad Gita also says that whatever you think the whole life, you think at the time of death and if at the time of death you have positive thoughts, you are likely to get Moksha. That may be the reason why in Hindu mythology it is said that just before the death, we should light a diya or chant in front of agni (fire) so that dying person’s thoughts become positive.

In computer language, it can be explained as follows: When you open a file repeatedly, it becomes a priority file and comes in search engine on priority as compared to other files.

Sangat and smoking

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Sewa, Simran and Sangat are the three principles of life as per the Vedic literature. Even Adi Shankaracharya described Sangat as the main force for living a spiritual life.

Sangat is the company of people you live with. Living in the company of good people makes one good and the reverse is also true.

The same is now being proved in the allopathic context. A research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that when one person quits smoking, then others are likely to follow. One person quitting can cause a ripple effect, making others more likely to kick the habit.

  1. If your spouse stops smoking, youre 67% less likely to continue smoking.
  2. If your friend kicks the habit, its about 36% less likely that youll be smoking.
  3. When a sibling gives up cigarettes, your risk of smoking decreases by 25%.
  4. Your risk of smoking drops by 34% if a co-worker in a small office quits smoking. Its sort of like watching dominoes. If one falls, it very quickly causes others to fall.

People should be treated in groups, rather than as individuals. Friends and family need to be involved. If you want to quit, try to get close friends and family to quit as well.

Quitting smoking may have the side benefit of improving social well-being, just as it improves physical health.

Spiritual Prescriptions: Satsang

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Satsang is a common household word and is often organized in residential colonies. Traditionally, Satsang means the regular meeting of a group of elderly or women of an area with a common intention of attaining inner happiness or peace through Bhajans or devotional songs for a particular God or Gods. In Satsang, people realize that it is the Self, communing with Self.

The Sanskrit word ‘Satsang’ literally means gathering together for guidance, mutual support or in search of truth. It may involve talking together, eating together, working together, listening together or praying together.

Most scriptures describe Sat and Asat. They discriminate that this world is Maya (Asat) and God is Divine. Furthermore, they state that Maya is not yours; Divine is yours.

Sang means to join, not just coming close, but to join. And how do you join? Only with love, which acts as glue. So Satsang is: Sat—Divine. Sang—loving association. In non-traditional Satsang, people verbally express themselves to others in an uninhibited way. Here, each participant talks free of judgment of others, and self. In this way, each person is able to see many viewpoints, which may serve to diminish the rigidity of their own.

Satsang is one way of acquiring spiritual well-being. Many scientific studies have shown that when mediation or chanting is done in groups, it has more benefits than when done individually. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi once said that if 1% of the population meditates or chants together, it will have a positive influence on the entire society.

Satsang also helps in creating a network of people with different unique talents. Satsangi groups are often considered in a very deep-rooted friendship.

Adi Shankaracharya, in his book Bhaja Govindam, also talks about Satsang in combination with Sewa and Simran and says that together the three enable one to attain spiritual well-being. Nirankaris and Sikhs also give importance to Satsang and in fact every true Sikh is supposed to regularly participate in the Gurudwara.

Chanting of mantras or listening to discourses in a Satsang helps to understand spirituality through Gyan Marga. Group chanting continued on a regular basis is one of the ways of meditation mentioned in the Shastras. It shifts consciousness from sympathetic to the parasympathetic mode.

Satsang also inculcates in us, one of the laws of Ganesha, the law of big ears, which teaches everyone to have the patience to listen to others.

In Satsang, nobody is small or big, everybody has a right to discuss or give his or her views. Over a period of time, most people who regularly attend Satsang, start working from the level of their spirit and not the ego.The medical educational programs of doctors of today can be called Medical Satsangs as whatever is discussed is for the welfare of the society.

Types of smokers

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  • Light: < 10 cigarettes per day
  • Heavy: > 25 cigarettes a day
  • Chippers: Very light smokers (< 5 cigarettes a day) who regularly use tobacco without developing dependence
  • Light and intermittent smokers: 1-39 cigarettes per week, or an average of 10 cigarettes per day or 1-4 grams of tobacco per day and have never smoked daily.
  • Low-level smokers: < 20 cigarettes per day and < 1 pack per week
  • Low-rate smokers: < 5 cigarettes per day and never more than 10 cigarettes per day
  • Non-daily smokers: smoke < 7 days per week and may smoke < 3 packs per week
  • Occasional smokers: < 5 cigarettes per day and smoke < 3 times per week, usually dependent on circumstances such as partying or drinking or after meals
  • Social smokers: < 5 cigarettes per day and < 7 days per week in last two years and have never exceeded that limit.

Types of smokers

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  • Light: < 10 cigarettes per day
  • Heavy: > 25 cigarettes a day
  • Chippers: Very light smokers (< 5 cigarettes a day) who regularly use tobacco without developing dependence
  • Light and intermittent smokers: 1-39 cigarettes per week, or an average of 10 cigarettes per day or 1-4 grams of tobacco per day and have never smoked daily.
  • Low-level smokers: < 20 cigarettes per day and < 1 pack per week
  • Low-rate smokers: < 5 cigarettes per day and never more than 10 cigarettes per day
  • Non-daily smokers: smoke < 7 days per week and may smoke < 3 packs per week
  • Occasional smokers: < 5 cigarettes per day and smoke < 3 times per week, usually dependent on circumstances such as partying or drinking or after meals
  • Social smokers: < 5 cigarettes per day and < 7 days per week in last two years and have never exceeded that limit.

Why do we Ring the Bell in a Temple?

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The vibrations of the ringing bell produce the auspicious primordial sound ‘Om’, thus creating a connection between the deity and the mind. As we start the daily ritualistic worship (pooja), we ring the bell, chanting:

Aagamaarthamtu devaanaam

gamanaarthamtu rakshasaam

Kurve ghantaaravam tatra

devataahvaahna lakshanam

“I ring this bell indicating the invocation of divinity, so that virtuous and noble forces enter (my home and heart); And the demonic and evil forces from within and without, depart.”

5 steps to lower Alzheimer’s risk

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  1. Maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Check your waistline.
  3. Eat mindfully. Emphasize colorful, vitamin-packed vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fish, lean poultry, tofu, and beans and other legumes as protein sources; plus healthy fats. Cut down on unnecessary calories from sweets, sodas, refined grains like white bread or white rice, unhealthy fats, fried and fast foods, and mindless snacking. Keep a close eye on portion sizes, too.
  4. Exercise regularly. Aim for 2½ to 5 hours weekly of brisk walking (at 4 mph). Or try a vigorous exercise like jogging (at 6 mph) for half that time.
  5. Keep an eye on important health numbers. In addition to watching your weight and waistline, keep a watch on your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and blood sugar numbers.

(HealthBeat)