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Decoding subconscious mind: How dreams can be guided by yoga

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BY ANIL K. RAJVANSHI

In 1953 three major events took place. The Everest was conquered by Hillary and Tensing Norgay, Watson and Crick discovered DNA’s structure and a young Ph.D. student Eugene Aserinsky in U.S. discovered rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.  During REM sleep the brain is extremely active and produces dream. This was the beginning of whole area of research in sleep and dreaming. Now almost 60 years later there has been tremendous progress in mountaineering and genetic engineering but sleep and dream remains as much a mystery as before.

In every religion and society dreams and sleep have been thought to be mechanisms to connect the present physical world to that of supernatural.  Before Buddha’s birth his mother Queen Maya dreamt that a white elephant has entered her body. Similarly the mother of Shri Ramakrishna dreamt that a small green figure, whom she identified as God, was telling her that he will be born in her house and even mother Mary dreamt about the birth of Christ. There are other innumerable instances of prophetic dreams in the annals of history of mankind.

Similarly there are many celebrated cases where persons have produced wonderful solutions through their dreams. Kekule’s benzene structure, Mendelyeev’s invention of periodic table, Howe’s invention of sewing machine, Neils Bohr’s atomic model and Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of Dandi March came in their dreams. There are also large number of examples where scientists, inventors and technologists have literally dreamt up solutions to problems which they could not find in the waking state.

How does mind produce such prophetic and solution dreams?

During dreaming there is blockage of sensory inputs and thus the ego sense ‘I’ is absent. The sense of identity ‘I’ comes with the body and the sense organs like eyes, nose, ears, etc. In the absence of ‘I’ during sleep the brain allows free reign to random thought patterns. These thoughts emanating from existing memories from different parts of the brain produce dreams. The dreaming process therefore follows the Maxwellian distribution (the bell curve), where majority of people generally dream about a day’s events and activities. Scientists claim that the day’s learning process is consolidated in the memory during sleep. This type of dreaming process produces disjointed and sometimes nightmare dreams since the random thought patterns produce a surreal movie. Scientists claim that in REM sleep the brain somehow ignores the obvious in favor of the crazy, the unexpected or the bizarre. It is somehow biased towards activating the weak neural connections.

However under certain circumstances, about which very little is known, the brain synchronizes the random thoughts into a powerful single thought. This is almost like a Samadhi where 100 billion neurons of the brain synchronize in a laser like fashion to produce a higher dimensional thought signature. This thought connects us to the higher dimensional space – time continuum from which we get the knowledge and powers of clairvoyance. The probability of this type of synchronization is very small but still is finite and lies at one end of the bell curve. This synchronized thought leads to prophetic and solution dreams. Quite a number of people sometime or the other in their lifetime are blessed and do get such dreams, which help us understand the existence of higher thought and reality. However such prophetic and solution dreams come to those who have a prepared mind and have been thinking deeply about these problems.

What can we do to produce prophetic and solution dreams?

Since the ever present director-the ego sense ‘I’ is absent during the dreaming process, we have no control of over dreams. However, we can control our day’s events which ultimately are reflected in our dreams. Yogi’s have all along claimed that Sanyam which is a combination of contemplation, reflection and Samadhi helps in producing a powerful thought process which ultimately leads to a non-REM or dreamless sleep.

Recent evidence from sleep research corroborates it. Scientists have discovered that REM and non-REM sleep are totally dependent on how active the brain is during daytime. The MRI scans of sleeping volunteers brain show that most of the dreaming activity takes place in the region of the brain which was most active during the day time. Scientists have also discovered that non-REM or slow-wave dreamless sleep occupies the central position in the sleep process. The information and memory consolidation process takes place in the brain only during non-REM sleep. Hence REM sleep is simply a mechanism for the brain to check whether the memory consolidation has taken place. Besides it also helps us remember dreams. Thus to produce happy and productive dreams one needs to be very active mentally and physically during waking hours. Whatever memories we make during daytime are reflected in the dreams including the prophetic dreams. Probably the solution dreams of great inventors also came because of the very active prepared mind during waking hours. There is still no single definite theory of sleep and dreams. However the jigsaw puzzle is slowly being assembled by research inputs from all over the world. As our science and technology advances we will probe deeper into the mysteries of sleep and dream because they provide the best windows for getting a peep into the workings of human mind and ultimately will lead to the discovery of what is thought.

(The author is the Director and Hon. Secretary Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). He could be reached at  anilrajvanshi@gmail.com)

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Know About the Harmful Metals in E-Cigarettes That Can Damage DNA

Harmful metals in e-cigarettes linked to DNA damage

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E-cigarette users are exposed to increased concentrations of potentially harmful levels of metals that are linked to elevated oxidative DNA damage. Pixabay

E-cigarette users are exposed to increased concentrations of potentially harmful levels of metals that are linked to elevated oxidative DNA damage, a new study has found.

For the study, published in the journal BMJ Open Respiratory Research, researchers found that the biomarkers, which reflect exposure, effect, and potential harm, are both elevated in e-cigarette users compared to the other groups and linked to metal exposure and oxidative DNA damage.

“Our study found e-cigarette users are exposed to increased concentrations of potentially harmful levels of metals — especially zinc — that are correlated to elevated oxidative DNA damage,” said the study’s lead researcher Prue Talbot from University of California in the US.

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Metals found in e-cigarettes are correlated to elevated oxidative DNA damage. Pixabay

Zinc, a dietary nutrient, plays key roles in growth, immune function, and wound healing. Too little of this essential trace element can cause death; too much of it can cause disease. Its deficiency, as well as its excess, cause cellular oxidative stress, which, if unchecked, can lead to diseases such as atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, pulmonary fibrosis, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and lung cancer.

Electronic cigarettes consist of a battery, atomizing unit, and refill fluid. Metals in e-cigarette aerosols come mainly from the metal components in the atomizer– nichrome wire, tin solder joints, brass clamps, insulating sheaths, and wicks — as well as the e-fluids that the atomizers heat.

For the study, researchers have examined and quantified urinary biomarkers of effect and potential harm in relation to metals in e-cigarette users.

According to the study, a biomarker is a quantifiable characteristic of a biological process. Biomarkers allow researchers and physicians to measure a biological or chemical substance that is indicative of a person’s physiological state.

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Given the recent deaths and pulmonary illnesses related to e-cigarette usage, everyone should be made aware of the potential health risks linked to e-cigarette usage. Pixabay

Previous e-cigarette studies with humans have examined biomarkers of exposure — for example, nicotine or nicotine metabolites — but none have studied biomarkers of potential harm or shown how this harm correlates with metal exposure.

The biomarkers studied by the researchers were 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), a biomarker of oxidative DNA damage; 8-isoprostane, an indicator of the oxidative degradation of lipids; and metallothionein, a metal response protein.

All three biomarkers were significantly elevated in e-cigarette users compared to the concentrations in cigarette smokers, the researchers said.

Also Read- Higher Intake of Fruits and Dairy Products Reduces Risk of Stroke: Study

“Pregnant women, especially, should not be encouraged to use e-cigarettes,” Talbot said.

“Excess of zinc in their bodies can lead to nausea and diarrhea. Given the recent deaths and pulmonary illnesses related to e-cigarette usage, everyone should be made aware of the potential health risks linked to e-cigarette usage,” Talbot added. (IANS)

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Males Have Higher Risk of Suffering from Cancer: Study

Researchers explain why cancer risk is higher in males

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DNA differences between men and women may explain why cancer risk is higher in males. Pixabay

DNA differences between men and women may explain why cancer risk is higher in males, according to a new study.

In findings published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers have reported that loss of function in certain genes of the sex-determining Y chromosome, which is present only in men, may cause them to have an elevated risk for cancer.

Using data from 9,000 individuals, the researchers studied Y-chromosome gene function in patients with various types of cancer. The findings showed that cancer risk increases with loss of function of six key Y-chromosome genes in various types of cells.

“Recent studies have shown that complete loss of the Y chromosome, which is essential to foetal sex differentiation, occurs, with aging, in the cells of some men,” said study author Juan Ramon Gonzalez from Barcelona Institute for Global Health in Spain.

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Suppression of the Y chromosome can occur as a result of loss of function in the chromosome. Pixabay

“Although the loss of the Y chromosome has previously been associated with higher incidence of cancer, the causes of this association are poorly understood,” Gonzalez added.

These six Y-chromosome genes are involved in cell-cycle regulation, the failure of which can lead to tumour development.

According to the study, understanding the biological differences between men and women in cancer is crucial for the development of personalised lines of treatment and prevention.

“Men are not only at higher risk of cancer than women, they also face a worse prognosis. In fact, these differences partially account for the lower life expectancy of men,” Gonzalez added.

According to the researchers, although men may be more exposed to carcinogens due to the type of work they do and at higher risk because they are less likely to consult a doctor, the study has shown that there are also biological factors that increase cancer risk among men.

“In fact, it seems that one of these factors can be found in the Y chromosome, the very essence of maleness,” said study lead author Alejandro Caceres.

Also Read- Know About the Health Benefits of Green Tea

Suppression of the Y chromosome can occur as a result of loss of function in the chromosome, which would explain previous findings, or as a result of other mechanisms mediated by the chemical (epigenetic) inactivation of the same regions, the research said.

“Certain environmental exposures, for example to tobacco or other harmful substances, could affect chromosome function and lead to epigenetic modifications,” Gonzalez said. (IANS)

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Gandhi’s Teachings Still Relevant, Says Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Bezos also announced that they have decided to double down the investment for the streaming service in the country. The evening wrapped up with a soulful Sufi performance by music maestro AR Rahman

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Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

BY SUGANDHA RAWAL 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos feels his trip to India started off on the right note with kites and says he felt honored to be able to lay a wreath on the memorial of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat in Delhi.

From dressing in ‘desi’ attire to spending time with some kids to showing off his kite-flying skills on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, Bezos made the most of his India trip. He looked back at the time spent in the country during a conversation with superstar Shah Rukh Khan and filmmaker Zoya Akhtar at a glitzy Amazo Prime Video event here.

“Kite flying was fun… Any day when you get fly kite is a good day.. My trip to India started off on the right note with kites,” Bezos said.

Asked about his experience at the Raj Ghat, he said: “It was very peaceful. He truly changed the world and taught us the principle of non-violence. It was a great honour to be there and lay a wreath.”

When SRK asked if Mahatma Gandhi’s teaching still relevant, Bezos said: “It will be relevant forever..They are true but somehow very hard to achieve.”

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos walks onstage in Seattle. Source-VOA

Bezos, who is ranked amongst top most global billionaires, was on a three-day India visit starting from Tuesday. He has been to India several times, and has noticed one thing about the country.

“I noticed certain things that seem to me to be the same. There is so much energy, colour, full of life, and everywhere you go, there is so much diversity…Every time I come here, I find that the people that I talked to, are focused on and interested in being better tomorrow than they are today. Everybody here seems to be focused on self improvement. So, when I come here I get a boost of energy,” he said.

Be in its India slate or global line-up, Amazon has diverse projects added to its library. Bezos says the aim is to make it a ‘talent friendly” studio.

“I think this is a golden age of television. There are really good TV series in terms of quality of the very best movies. Now, the best storytellers are coming to TV. You’re getting the best actors in television. This is one of those businesses where the viewer always look for something a little fresh, so you can never find formula. As soon as you find a formula, it’s not fresh,” he said.

Also Read: Software Giant Microsoft Aims to be ‘Carbon Negative’ by 2030

Bezos continued: “I want us to be known as the most talent friendly studio in the world. And the reason at the end of the day is that it is the talent that makes those stories. Storytelling is the oldest thing that we’ve been doing it.”

“It is one of the hardest things that humans do is tell riveting inspiring stories,” he added.

Bezos also announced that they have decided to double down the investment for the streaming service in the country. The evening wrapped up with a soulful Sufi performance by music maestro AR Rahman. (IANS)