Sunday, September 26, 2010

Life: Gross and Subtle

Life is complex, its nature is duality, it's complicated, unpredictable, and it's multi-dimensional. But more than that, life is a combination of the subtle and the gross. The gross, though easy to comprehend, has its own set of problems and the subtle is difficult to comprehend.

For example, the body is gross, the mind is subtle. Again, the mind is gross in comparison to the soul, or being. While moving from thoughts to words to actions, we are moving from subtle to gross. Actions and words are such that anyone can understand and control them, but thoughts are difficult to control or understand. Emotions, feelings, and intuition belong to the subtle world, while doing is usually of the gross world. Even in emotions, anger, jealousy, greed, and worry are gross and easy to acquire, while love, patience, honesty, forgiveness and altruism are subtle, and difficult to cultivate.

The gross elements in life are useful, but without the subtle elements, their use is limited or is accompanied by much pain and sorrow. For example, any medicine that doctors use to cure an illness is a gross thing. While medicines do their job quickly and efficiently, they also cause a lot of side effects, and can even prove fatal. The same effect or cure can be achieved by going deep into the mind, using positive thoughts, energies, emotions and feelings to boost one's own immunity and fight the disease. This subtle level treatment is without any side effects, but takes time, and is not possible for everyone. Only those who are highly meditative and who can see inward, can harness their subtle energies and bring them together in a strong manner, to achieve this. But one can at least combine both, to get better results.

Once we are aware that life has these components, we can literally feel the days when the body is loaded with negative energy, and is feeling unmotivated, lethargic, tired, listless, and futile. Such are the periods when you need to sit quietly and meditate, go deep into your inner recesses, and find your innermost being or soul, which is a powerhouse of energy. If we don't, then these frustrations will eventually act on our appetite, sleep and our immunity, making us victims of disease — stress, acidity, hypertension, insomnia, diabetes and cancer.

A rose is the gross element. Its fragrance is the subtle element. A flower is incomplete without fragrance. Similarly, human beings can exist as physical bodies for 70 or 80 years, but they can be fruitful, or life can be meaningful, and they can be existentially successful only if they are able to discover their fragrance. A human being is declared as being alive or dead only on the basis of the presence or absence of his sukshma sharira or subtle energy. Apart from this subtle energy running through us, there is no difference between someone alive or dead.

Our aim should be to acknowledge and get in tune with this subtle force or energy, what is known as prana, or soul or atma. It is by connecting to this that we get an inkling of the subtle elements, and can harness unlimited potential and energy, to live our lives with joy, happiness, good health and peace. Otherwise, we will go on living at the gross level, finding life only good in phases, often finding life meaningless and frustrating.

Read more: Life, gross and subtle - The Times of India

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rewire Brain - Eight Tips

We exercise for a good bod, we take treatments to enhance beauty but what do we do for our brain? Cracking a puzzle or a game of Whac-a-Mole can actually help enhance your brain but this is not enough. There is some extra effort which one needs to put in, to get the winners brain.

According to the authors of a new book, ‘The Winner’s Brain’, the brain of successful people function differently from those of the average.

Assistant neuroscience professor Mark Fenske, claim that one can actually rewire his/her brain and even physically change it.

They sought input from other brain experts and of individuals whom they categorized as, “winners” and have put down eight “win factors.”

They claim that these eight points can graduate ones brain from average to winning brain.

Eight tips for winning brains:

Observation: Observation is one of the key identification of one's brain ability. To check yours, try and interpret people’s facial expressions and body language by watching scenes from a movie on mute. Then turn on the volume and match your interpretation with the movie.With this practice you can actually enhance your observation skills.

Motivation: A huge task is capable enough of demotivating you. At this time even if you finish the job, it surely will be of worst quality. The same work if broken up in parts, will look easy. If a work seems tiring to you, break it up and finish it. Extend the division of work over time. This heightens your brains capacity.

Focus: Never force your brain. Concentration is important but sometimes excess of concentration makes your brain stop working. At such a time, take a break and give your brain time to rejuvenate and you will notice that solution to problems coming automatically.

Emotional balance: At the time of a crisis, emotions take over your thinking capabilities. You should practice managing your emotions by changing your perspective of the situation. If you take the crisis as a challenge, things will look easy.

Memory: Like you edit mistakes while writing, edit your brain memory. An unpleasant event, a unfavorable situation or a dark past, just shed them and say 'I will never think of you again.' This will give space to your brain to do more important tasks.

Resilience: When you’re in a tough situation, think of a “resilience role model,” like a parent, teacher or mentor. Try imagining what they would have done in a similar situation. You will be surprised to see, how solutions pour in.

Adaptability: To adapt to a new surrounding, one needs peace of mind. This peace can only be received by regular Yoga and meditation. Try a few minutes of meditation in a day to calm your brain. Studies prove that regular practice increase cortical thickness in as little as eight weeks.

Brain care: 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, three times a week, will also workout your brain. Exercise regulated the blood circulation in the brain thus making your nerves active.

Take these eight steps, to win over over brain and life.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Must you exercise. Here's why.....

Remember the wonderful physical benefits of exercise

  • Improved heart and lung function
  • Healthier complexion
  • Better sex life (and more chance of getting one!)
  • Better digestion (and bowel function)
  • Brighter eyes
  • Slimmer and more toned body
  • Deeper, more refreshing sleep
  • More attractive appearance
  • Increased youthfulness
  • More efficient metabolism – you even burn more calories betweenexercise sessions!

I love the thought that, for almost twenty-four hours after an exercise session, you’re burning off more calories than you would have been. Even while sleeping!

Re-read this list between exercise sessions. Keep it fresh in your mind.

Remember the plentiful psychological benefits of regular exercise

  • Better mood: Physical movement is the quickest way to produce serotonin (the brain’s ‘happiness chemical’). The more intense the movement, the higher the production of serotonin. Regular exercise three times a week has been found to be more effective at lifting depression than taking antidepressants (1).
  • Self-confidence: Regular exercise gives you a sense of self-mastery, increased confidence, and higher self-esteem. This can have knock-on benefits to other areas of life.
  • Stress management: Exercise makes you better at dealing with stress. Under pressure, fit people show less physical tension and a lower resting heart rate than less fit individuals.
  • Increased intelligence: Working out improves your brain’s performance as well as your body. You can become smarter, and improve your memory and other mental functions! Chess champions often up their physical exercise program before big tournaments.

Vary your exercise routine

Take a week off from the gym or the aerobics class and go jogging in the park instead to get the additional mood-boosting effects of being in nature. A night of dancing is also great exercise. Do some gardening. Take the dog out for a run. Mix it up. Variation is the spice of exercise motivation.

Visualize yourself exercising

The body does what the mind envisions. You are much more likely to do something – anything – if you first strongly imagine seeing yourself doing it (2). The better able you are to visualize yourself exercising (as if watching yourself from the outside), the more motivated you’ll actually be to do it. You’ll have set yourself a mental blueprint that now wants to be activated.

Happily, I’m now at the point where I don’t actually have to feel super-motivated to exercise; it’s something I just do. And I feel bad if I don’t do it. Imagine not cleaning your teeth for a few days. You’d probably be quite keen to get back to it.

Right. With all this in mind, I’m feeling extremely motivated and am off for my daily run. : ) (Seriously.)

Full post can be found on :

Exercising better than Antidepressants

James A. Blumenthal, Ph.D. and his colleagues surprised many people in 1999 when they demonstrated that regular exercise is more effective than antidepressant medications for patients with major depression. The researchers studied 156 older adults diagnosed with major depression, assigning them to receive the antidepressant Zoloft (setraline), 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, or both. According to Blumenthal, “Our findings suggest that a modest exercise program is an effective, robust treatment for patients with major depression who are positively inclined to participate in it. The benefits of exercise are likely to endure particularly among those who adopt it as a regular, ongoing life activity.” A follow-up study in 2000 showed that patients who maintained their exercise patterns were doing much better than those who were just taking medication.