Sub Logo

Dr K K Aggarwal

Spirituality, the key to health

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , , | | Comments Off on Spirituality, the key to health

To stay healthy, one needs to eat right, get plenty of exercise and rest and avoid bad habits such as smoking. But, now it is said that “what you believe in” can have a big impact on health and longevity. Many studies show that patients with strong spirituality can improve their health from a variety of chronic conditions, like hypertension, heart disease, recovery from surgery and more.

Research indicates there are real health benefits from spirituality:

  1. People with high levels of religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is a hormone the body releases in response to stress.
  2. Positive thinking produces nearly a 30% drop in perception of pain.
  3. Spirituality and the practice of religion have recently been associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Those who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who don’t. Regular participation lowers mortality rate by about 12% a year.
  5. People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation feel more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith.
  6. Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habit.
  7. Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all go down, which decreases the body’s stress response.
  8. Spirituality can affect immune-system function. Spirituality, faith, church attendance improves immune function in ways that can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells.
  9. Prayer heals the heart.
  10. Positive talking and thinking in the ICU produces better results.

Spirituality is what brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind-body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.

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

Spirituality is friendly to Wellbeing

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , , , | | Comments Off on Spirituality is friendly to Wellbeing

What you believe in may impact health and longevity. Spirituality and religion have been shown to have a positive association with well-being and better health outcomes.

Spirituality and the practice of religion have been associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Positive thinking results in almost 30% decrease in pain perception. People who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who do not participate. Regular participation in such activities reduces mortality rate by about 12% a year. 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.

Spirituality can influence function of the immune system, which can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells.

Patients who undergo cardiac rehabilitation feel more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they keep strong faith. Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habit.

Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. It shifts one from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode, which is the relaxed state. It is healing and allows one to make better and correct, consciousness-based choices. People who are very religious or deeply spiritual have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is a hormone released in the body in response to stress. When the body is relaxed, the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all go down, which decrease the body’s stress response. This is also why most of our temples are located in distant places. The silence of the spiritual atmosphere reduces the internal noise and helps us onward in our inner journey.

The Mantra to acquire spiritual health is to think positive and differently. It is very difficult to remove negative thoughts but it is very easy to cultivate positive thoughts. Persistent negative thoughts creates sympathetic over activity and leads to lifestyle disorders like blood pressure, acidity, depression, diabetes and heart blockages.

Spirituality is what brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.

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

Spirituality is the key to health

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , , | | Comments Off on Spirituality is the key to health

To stay healthy, one needs to eat right, get plenty of exercise and rest, and avoid bad habits such as smoking. But, now it is said that “what you believe in” can have a big impact on health and longevity. There have been a lot of studies that show how patients with strong spirituality can improve their health from a variety of chronic conditions, like hypertension, heart disease, recover from surgery and more.

Research indicates there are real health benefits from spirituality.

  1. People with high levels of religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is a hormone released by the body in response to stress.
  2. Positive thinking produces nearly a 30% drop in perception of pain.
  3. Spirituality and the practice of religion have recently been associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Those who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who dont. Regular participation lowers mortality rate by about 12% a year.
  5. People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation are more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith.
  6. Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habit.
  7. Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all go down, which decrease the bodys stress response.
  8. Spirituality can affect immune system function. Spirituality, faith, church attendance improves immune function in ways that can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells.
  9. Prayer heals the heart.
  10. Positive talking and thinking in the ICU produces better results.

Spirituality is what brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.

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

The Allopathic Ramayana

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , , | | Comments Off on The Allopathic Ramayana

Navratras to Diwali is the season of revisiting the messages from Ramayana, the largest epic of our country which was once classified as one of the Puranas.

One can understand the story of Ramayana as the story of mind, body and soul and the story of causation and prevention of a disease, where the soul is represented as Rama and the physical body as Sita. Body is made up of five elements with earth being the predominant. Sita was the daughter of earth (prithvi).

Soul and body can only unite in presence of a determined mind holding them together. Determination means “aim” and in Hindi it is called “lakshya”. The mind with a defined aim, therefore, represents “Lakshmana”.

Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, therefore, represent the union of mind, body and soul. The three will stay together as long as one has his/her 10 senses (five motor and five sensory) under control. Senses are Chanchal like horses. Chariot of two horses is called Rath and chariot of the 10 horses is called “Dasharatha”. Therefore, mind, body and soul will be together with the resultant health only if the body is ruled by “Dasharatha” by controlling all the ten senses.

The next part of Ramayana talks about the causation of disease and worries. The causative factors are “kama, lobha and ahankar”. In Ramayana kama is depicted by Kaikeyi, lobha by Mareech and ahankaara by Ravana. Ramayana would not have happened with any one of them not being there. The sum total of the three is responsible for any disease or miseries in life.

When kama (Kaikeyi) predominates, senses (Dasharatha) have to die. When moha (Mareech) dominates, the mind (Lakshman) gets diverted and when Ahankar (Ravana) takes over, it controls the body (Sita) and makes the mind (Lakshman) and soul (Rama) wander.

The next part of Ramayana is how to win over ego or Ravana. The first step is to win over the mind by controlling the prana Vayu component of the body by indulging in Pranayama. In Ramayana context it means winning over Hanumana, the son of Vayu. Once he is controlled, all the thoughts representing as the Vanar Sena (Chanchal natures) get controlled.

The next step is to control the intellect (King Sugriva). He can only be influenced by killing lust (Bali), who is living with Sugriv’s wife. Lust cannot be killed from front and has to be killed from behind and that is what Rama does to Bali. Killing of the lust from behind is depicted as Pratyahara in Yoga and means living a disciplined satvik lifestyle.

The next step is to follow “one point contemplation” or living in the present. In the context of Ramayana, it represents one point determination or “the war over Lanka”. Once that happens firstly the tamas (Kumbkaran), than the rajas (Meghnad) and finally the ahankar (Ravana) dies. Both tamas and ego dies automatically by the consciousness (Rama) but for killing the rajas one has to conquer it with the mind (Lakshmana).

Once this happen the Satwa or Vibhishana takes over and the mind, body and soul are reunited leading to inner happiness again.

Lastly when Rama, Lakshman and Sita go back to their journey of life, back to Ayodhya, Hanuman goes with them as in Ayodhya, Dasharatha is no more.

If you cannot control your 10 senses by yourself you need to continue Pranayama or carry Hanuman with you for life. These are what the spiritual message from Ramayana.

Why Spirituality is Happiness Friendly

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , , , , | | Comments Off on Why Spirituality is Happiness Friendly

  1. What you believe in can have a big impact on health and longevity. People with high levels of religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is a hormone the body releases in response to stress.
  2. Positive thinking produces nearly a 30 percent drop in perception of pain.
  3. Spirituality and the practice of religion is associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Those who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who don’t. Regular participation lowers mortality rate by about 12 percent a year.
  5. People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation feels more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith.
  6. Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habit.
  7. Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all go down, which decreases the body’s stress response.
  8. Spirituality can affect immune-system function. Spirituality, faith, church attendance improves immune function in ways that can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells.
  9. Prayer heals the heart. Positive talking and thinking in the ICU produces better results.
  10. Spirituality is what brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.

Definition of Health

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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 well–being. All aspects of health are not defined in Allopathy.

During MBBS, medical students are taught more about physical health. Social and mental healthcare is covered only in few lectures. Community health is a separate subject but is 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 and 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 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; 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 balance in malakriya means.

Ayurveda says for a person to be healthy he/she has to be mentally and spiritually healthy, which will only be possible 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 lust and desires, greed and ego. This can be done by learning regular pranayama, learning the dos and don’ts in life, living in a disciplined atmosphere and learn to live in the present.

Regular pranayama shifts one from sympathetic to parasympathetic 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–daily 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 should follow the principle of moderation and variety in diet and exercise, regular pranayama and meditation and positive thinking.

Definition of Health

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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 well being. All aspects of health are not defined in allopathy.

During MBBS, medical students are taught more about physical health. Social and mental healthcare is covered only in few lectures. Community health is a separate subject but is 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 and 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 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; 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 balance in malakriya means.

Ayurveda says for a person to be healthy he⁄she has to be mentally and spiritually healthy, which will only be possible 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 lust and desires, greed and ego. This can be done by learning regular pranayama, learning the dos and don’ts in life, living in a disciplined atmosphere and learn to live in the present.

Regular pranayama shifts one from sympathetic to parasympathetic 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 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 should follow the principle of moderation and variety in diet and exercise, regular pranayama and meditation and positive thinking.

Spirituality The Key To Health

By Dr K K Aggarwal
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , , , , | | Comments Off on Spirituality The Key To Health

To stay healthy, one needs to eat right, get plenty of exercise and rest, and avoid bad habits such as smoking. But, now it is said that “what you believe in” can have a big impact on health and longevity.
There have been a lot of studies that show how patients with strong spirituality can improve their health from a variety of chronic conditions, like hypertension, heart disease, recover from surgery and more.
Research indicates there are real health benefits from spirituality:

1. People with high levels of religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is a hormone the body releases in response to stress.

2. Positive thinking produces nearly a 30 percent drop in perception of pain.

3. Spirituality and the practice of religion have recently been associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Those who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who don’t. Regular participation lowers mortality rate by about 12 percent a year.

5. People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation are more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith.

6. Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habit.

7. Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all go down, which decreases the body’s stress response.

8. Spirituality can affect immune–system function. Spirituality, faith, church attendance improves immune function in ways that can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells.

9. Prayer heals the heart.

10. Positive talking and thinking in the ICU produces better results.

Spirituality is what brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.

Why cricketers do not commit suicide

By
Filed Under Wellness | Tagged With: , , , , | | Comments Off on Why cricketers do not commit suicide

In an analysis of all 61 cine star celebrity deaths by Heart Care Foundation of India, it was found that 8 out of 61 committed suicide and another 2 survived a severe depression.  Till now, the medical profession, especially the initial years, was perceived as the most suicide prone profession.  Would the film industry today acknowledge that depression and suicides are very common as compared to other professions?  When we compare the film industry and the current IPL cricket industry, we find that both of them deal with stress and strains of life.

Cricketers face the stresses of being left out from the final XI, losing a match or scoring a duck or getting out on a score of 99. The stress in cricket is even more as the person is playing for the country.  But even with similar levels of stress, cricketers do not get depressed or commit suicide.  One reason may be that cricket as a game is more disciplined, requires a constant practice, regular physical fitness and exercise, not eating refined carbohydrates as has been advocated by the cricket academy and regular presence of counselors in every academy where they are attached.  Counseling sessions are often held before and after the game. On the other hand, in the film industry people are more isolated, self-centered with no food discipline or sessions of yoga, pranayama and meditation. Seniors often suppress the newcomers/juniors.  The expectation from juniors by seniors is much more in the cine industry.  Its not only suicides, other lifestyle disorders too are much more common in the film industry than that in cricket industry or any other profession.  Three major causes of death in the cine industry are heart attacks, cancer and depression or suicide.  All three are related to lifestyle disorders.

The time has come for the film industry to come out with policies and guidelines on how to reduce this stress.

Hanuman: The Spiritual Journey to Lanka

By
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , , | | Comments Off on Hanuman: The Spiritual Journey to Lanka

Hanuman is the typical example of one who has control over the breath, the one who has obtained all the Siddhi powers after mastering the mind using the breath control. Therefore, he was called as the ‘son of the wind’.

Monkey represents a wandering animal and symbolizes thoughts of the mind, which are wavering or ‘chanchal’.

When the monkey army under the control of Sugriva (intellect) was in trouble and did not know how to look for Sita, Jambvan reminded Hanuman about his hidden spiritual powers at that time. And then Hanuman traveled the ocean and reached Lanka.

The whole process represents the process and the steps of breathing pranayama and breathing meditation.

The Ocean represents the ‘wavering mind’. The reminder to Hanuman represents the INTENTION to meditate. Using Hanuman (breathing) makes it easier to cross the Ocean and attain a controlled state of mind.

While doing breathing pranayama in the initial process, one is bound to face obstruction or obstacles to the breathing sadhna. The same is represented by hanuman encounters with Mainaka Mountain, Sarasa or ‘sursa’ the mother of snakes, and Singhika or Simhika the demon.

The spiritual obstacles are the tendencies to rest (tamas), the ego and the desires. ‘MainakaMountain’ represents the tamas, ‘Sursa’ the ego and ‘Simhika’ the desires.

Initially, Hanuman is obstructed by theMainakaMountainand asked to rest. But Hanuman willfully avoids it and continues the journey, signifying that tamas has to be willfully controlled by the mind during Sadhna.

Next, the mother of the snake ‘the Sursa’ obstructed him. Snake in Vedantic language represents the uncontrolled mind or the ego. Ego becomes bigger and bigger if you try to defend it and can only be controlled by humility. This is what Hanuman did. Till he was trying to fight ‘sursa’ by expanding his size, she was reciprocating by increasing her size. But when Hanuman became small (humility) and came out of her mouth, she lost the battle.

The last obstacle was ‘Simhika’ the demon. She had the power of catching flying creatures’ by holding their shadows in the water. Desires have to be killed and this is what Hanuman did to her.

While meditating on the breath one gets tendencies to sleep (tamas), and gets disturbed with the ego or desires (rajas). The same should be tackled before one attains control of the mind. The process involves concentrating on the breath and giving preference to the breath over the disturbing thoughts.

Pending work can disturb your dreams as the very thought of a pending work is converted into a file and stored in the hard disk of your human body. In relaxed state, the pending work will keep on sending signals or reminders to the mind.

When we sleep, we experience two types of sleeps, one is a dream state and second is a non-dream state. During dream state of sleep, we experience rapid eye movements. The initial part of the sleep has more non-dream states than the dream state in the ratio of 45:15 and in the later part of the sleep, at the time of getting up, the ratio is 15:45. If we get up during a dream state in the morning, it is likely we are aware of the dream.

A relaxed mind is creative mind is a well known Upanishad saying. The thought of pending work will invariably be present in the dream state of sleep. Priority of pending work will also show priority on the dreams.

 Also when one is totally relaxed or in deep meditation, the pending works will come and disturb the thoughts. They can even disturb the meditative process. Even if you just note down and write the pending works and not finish them, they will lose their priority in the dreams.

If you have a flight to catch in the morning and have a fear that you will miss the flight, this will invariably come in your dreams and disturb your night. Similarly, unfulfilled desires/fear including guilt can be experienced during the dreams.

Pranayama, sleep or deeper breathing which is a parasympathetic state of mind is the dream state of sleep.

Spirituality The Key To Health

By
Filed Under Spirituality - Science Behind Rituals | Tagged With: , , | | Comments Off on Spirituality The Key To Health

To stay healthy, one needs to eat right, get plenty of exercise and rest, and avoid bad habits such as smoking. But, now it is said that “what you believe in” can have a big impact on health and longevity.

There have been a lot of studies, that show how patients with strong spirituality can improve their health from a variety of chronic conditions, like hypertension, heart disease, recovery from surgery and more.

Research indicates there are real health benefits from spirituality:

  1. People with high levels of religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is a hormone the body releases in response to stress.
  2. Positive thinking produces nearly a 30 percent drop in perception of pain.
  3. Spirituality and the practice of religion have recently been associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Those who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who don’t. Regular participation lowers mortality rate by about 12 percent a year.
  5. People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation feel more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith.
  6. Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habit.
  7. Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all go down, which decreases the body’s stress response.
  8. Spirituality can affect immune-system function. Spirituality, faith, church attendance improves immune function in ways that can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells.
  9. Prayer heals the heart.
  10. Positive talking and thinking in the ICU produces better results.

Spirituality is what brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.

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 begin 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, the first step of meditation..

Even when the process of hypnosis is begun, a person is made to lie down, look at the roof and withdraw from the world. The procedure involves asking the person to gently roll the eyeball up until he goes into a trance. Rolling of the eyeballs upward 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. The blood pressure and pulse reduce 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 than 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, the activities of the five senses are suppressed and ones awareness shifts from a disturbed to an undisturbed state of consciousness. This inner journey helps in producing a state of ritam bhara pragya where the inner vibrations of the body are 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 have the darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi, they close their eyes. This is natural and instant. Even though Maa Vaishno Devi cannot be felt in the murti, 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 two minutes silence 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. To recall something, one has to 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 Ritam, Bhara, Pragya. These yogic powers are acquired by practicing advanced sutra meditation for hours, days and years.  Lord Shiva is often portrayed in a meditative pose sitting on Kailash Parvat with his eyes semi opened. But for ordinary persons like us where the aim is to be in that phase only for 20 minutes twice in a day, the best is to close our eyes as the first step towards the process of meditation.

Health is not mere absence of disease; it is a state of physical, mental, social, spiritual, environmental and financial well being. All aspects of health are not defined in allopathy. During MBBS, medical students are taught more about the physical health. Social and mental health is 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 today 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 forms the basis of karma which 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 health as under:

Samadosha, samagnischa,
Samadhatumalkriyah,
Prasannatmendriyamanah,
Swastha iti abhidhiyate.

From Ayurveda point of view for a person to be healthy 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; 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, majja, asthi, 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 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 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 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 & exercise, regular pranayama & meditation and positive thinking.

To live above the age of 80 without a heart attack, one need to have ideal health parameters and life style and both can be remembered with the formula of eighty.

Health Parameters: In order to achieve this, it is advisable to maintain fasting blood sugar (FBS) (mg%), fasting low-density lipoprotein (LDL) bad cholesterol (mg/dL), diastolic lower blood pressure (mm Hg), resting heart rate, and abdominal girth (cm) all below 80.  Apart one should also keep the kidney and ling functions above 80.

1. Abdominal (Waist) Circumference: Increase in abdominal obesity (also called central adiposity or visceral, android, or male-type obesity) is associated with an increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Patients with abdominal obesity are more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia.

2. Abdominal obesity is assessed by measuring body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. The waist circumference is measured with a flexible tape placed on a horizontal plane at the level of the iliac crest as seen from the anterior view. In adults with a BMI above 23 kg/m2, waist circumference >80 cm is associated with a greater risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia (abnormal cholesterol levels), and heart disease.

3.  Blood Pressure: Diastolic lower blood pressure should be kept below 80 mm Hg. If it is between 80 and 90 mm Hg, it is called pre hypertension and if it is above 90 mm Hg, it is called hypertension. A person with pre hypertension is three times more likely to develop heart attack and 1.7 times more likely to develop heart disease than a person whose diastolic lower blood pressure is <80 mm Hg. If pre hypertension is aggressively treated, 45% of all heart attacks can be prevented.

4.  According to the guidelines of The 2007 United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), individuals with diastolic lower blood pressure <80 mm Hg are recommended for screening every 2 years, whereas individuals with diastolic lower blood pressure between 80 and 89 mm Hg are recommended for yearly screening. Patients with pre hypertension have a greater prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors than those with normal blood pressures. Presence of at least one adverse risk factor (high cholesterol levels, overweight/obesity, and diabetes mellitus) is significantly more likely among pre hypertensive patients than normotensive individuals. There is an association between pre hypertension and microalbuminuria (presence of albumin in urine in micro amounts), which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and early cardiovascular mortality.

5. Blood Sugar: Fasting blood sugar above 80 mg% increases the risk of macrovascular diseases (heart attack, paralysis, and peripheral vascular disease), but not microvascular diseases (retinopathy, neuropathy, and nephropathy- eye, nerve and kidney involvement). However, Fasting blood sugar above 126 mg% increases the risk for both macrovascular and microvascular diseases. For optimum cardiovascular protection, the blood sugar should be below 80 mg%.

6.  Cholesterol: The optimal value for LDL bad cholesterol is < 80 mg% for Indian population,  A one standard deviation (38.5 mg/dL) LDL increase is associated with an age-adjusted relative risk for heart disease of 1.42 for men and 1.37 for women.  Patients at high risk of developing heart disease might also be expected to benefit from more intensive lipid-lowering therapy. Such patients should be treated with the lowest dose of a statin that reduces their LDL-C below 80

7. Resting heart rate: Higher the resting heart rate more the chances of sudden death. Ideal rate is to keep it lower than 80 per minute.

8.  Kidney functions: If the kidney functions are below 80% the person is at risk for heart blockages.

9.  Lung functions: One should keep the lung capacity above 80% to get the maximum benefit of Pranayama.

Healthy life style: Again whatever you do follow the principle of 80.

1. Diet: Eating fewer calories has been shown to reduce the chances of developing heart attack. One gram of food contains six calories on an average ( 9 grams in fat, 4 each in carbohydrates and proteins). One should not eat more than 80 g or 80 ml of caloric food in any meal. The less you eat the more you olive is a Vedic saying.

Also it’s a Vedic saying that one should not eat cereals ( wheat, rice) for up to 80 days in a year and was the basis for Vedic spiritual fasts. Eating cereals every day especially the refined carbohydrates ( white sugar white maida and white rice) is responsible for high insulin levels  with insulin resistance.

2. Exercise: Adequate walking cum exercise duration per day is 80 minutes. Cardiovascular training exercise involves walking 80 steps a minute for 80 minutes a week.  Cardiovascular exercise involves attaining 80% of target heart rate (220- age is 100% target heart rate).

3. Time to yourself: One should give atleast 80 minutes of time to oneself in a day

(includes time for meditation,  getting absorbed in the present work, relaxing, fulfilling your hobby etc). This can also be done  smiling and laughing when ever an opportunity arises to 80 times a day.

4. Pranayama: One should do 80 alternate nostril pranayama a day. Or one should do 80 UMMMMM chanting a day.

5. Alcohol: For those who consume social drinks (with no contraindications) the dose is less than 80 g in 1 week (10 g is 30 mL 80 proof whisky). In women, it is 80 g in 2 weeks. Also one should not take more than 80 mL of whisky in 1 day (males). For females it is half of that of males.

6. Clapping: those who believe that clapping is good for the health should do 80 clapping a day.