May 3, 2017: A new study has found engaging in a simple meditation exercise for 10 minutes a day can reduce symptoms in people with anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders are marked by repetitive, anxious, often baseless thoughts and fears about the future. Canadian researchers say one in four people will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
The worrying can become obsessive and prevent anxious individuals from focusing on work and other important activities.
But engaging in a simple daily meditation exercise for 10 minutes, according to researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario Canada, may help people keep their minds from wandering, improving their performance on tasks.
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The participants in a study conducted by Mengran Xu and colleagues engaged in something called mindful meditation.
Mindfulness is commonly defined as paying attention on purpose and staying in the present moment without judgment.
Xu is a clinical psychologist at Waterloo who led a study of people with symptoms of anxiety, published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.
“We know that anxious people in general, if you ask them to stay on task, it is hard for them. Their minds tend to wander. They tend to worry. But those people who practice mindfulness didn’t. They were able to stay on task.”
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In the study, 82 people with anxiety were asked to perform a computer task that required concentration. They were periodically interrupted to gauge the volunteers’ ability to stay focused.
Half the group was then assigned to listen to an audio book and the other half to engage in a mindful, meditative activity, paying attention to their breathing, for approximately 10 minutes.
Then they were reassessed using the computer task.
Xu said there was a noticeable difference in performance between anxious people who did the simple meditation and those who did not.
“The anxious people who listened to the audio book, they performed much worse over time while the anxious people who practiced mindfulness meditation, they were able to in a way improve and maintain their performance on the task,” said Xu.
By increasing awareness of the present moment, researchers found a reduction in the frequency of repetitive, off-task thinking in people with anxiety disorders.
Xu said that wandering thoughts account for nearly half of a person’s stream of consciousness.
In people with anxiety disorder, the thoughts tend to occur over and over again, causing worry.
By learning to reign in repetitive thoughts with a simple, 10-minute mind exercise, the findings suggest those with an anxiety disorder may be able to improve their productivity and even safety, so their minds don’t wander while driving a car, for example. (VOA)
Picking up cleaning equipment and getting down to clear clutter around oneself could be one possible way to cope with stress. Many health opinions suggest stress cleaning is an actual issue many people worldwide face. But, what really is stress cleaning?
“The act of cleaning, if done within limits, can bring an added benefit of exercise, which can be great for relieving stress, so called ‘stress-cleaning’. Response to stress can be subjective, for example, some people can comfort eat or exercise or some may resort to cleaning as a way of stress-busting”, states Dr Santosh Bangar, Consultant Psychiatrist, Global Hospital, Mumbai told IANSlife.
A cluttered house can lead to negative emotions like irritability, tension, worry, whereas a clean space is more likely to be linked to positive emotions like feeling happy, calm and a sense of wellbeing. People can experience a feeling of achievement or pride, enhanced self-esteem after a cleaning-up session.
What causes it?
Our brain responds to stress with a fight or flight reaction by the amygdala, which is associated with facilitating emotions like fear or anxiety. Another brain area called the prefrontal cortex regulating emotions gets deactivated and works less. So, while the stress is getting triggered, the system supposed to keep it in check is slowing down!
Why it could be good and bad?
The response to stress is subjective, as some people can respond well to stress or even thrive (healthy stress), while other people’s emotions can be excessive leading to a full blown panic attack, characterised by shaking of body, dryness of mouth, sweating, palpitations, rapid breathing, feeling of impending doom. If excessive stress goes undetected or untreated, it may have number of physical and mental health complications.
Depression, anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, substance misuse, sleep disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and suicide in extreme cases are known complications of untreated and persistent stress. Stress cleaning can worsen or induce OCD, Dr Bangar says.
The physical health complications include, impaired blood sugar or diabetes, high blood pressure or hypertension, heart attack, impaired fat levels and uncommonly various forms of cancers.
Various forms of relaxation techniques are useful in dealing with stress, one such being ‘stress-cleaning’ or ‘stress-baking’ during periods of social isolation or lockdown. Others can be meditation, for example, mindfulness, yoga or deep breathing exercise. Listening to soothing music, taking regular exercise are other ways of managing stress at home. Reduce caffeine, smoking and alcohol intake, getting a refreshing sleep and eating a balanced diet can go long way to reduce stress. Of course, if these measures are not enough, then one must seek specialist professional help at the earliest. (IANS)
As the coronavirus pandemic dominates global news in the United States, progress toward the next presidential election scheduled to be held on November 3 moves slowly forward. President Donald Trump had no real opposition in the Republican party and is running for re-election. And it has now become apparent that former Vice President Joe Biden will be his opponent as the Democratic candidate for president.
What would a Trump victory bode for the future of US-India relations? What would a Biden victory bode? Let me answer each of those questions in turn.
Given the love fests of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston, Texas, in which Trump participated in September of 2019, and Trump’s ‘Namaste Trump’ event hosted by Modi in India in February of this year, it might be assumed that the future for US-India relations is a splendid one. This would be an incorrect assumption.
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Both of these events were more symbolic than substantive. Trump’s participation in them undoubtedly helped to persuade some — perhaps many — Indian American Modi supporters who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 to cast their ballots for Trump in 2020. Trump’s campaign team took steps to ensure this by holding an event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in which a group of prominent Indian Americans announced their plans to work for his re-election and to mobilize Indian Americans on his behalf.
To understand the future potential of India’s relations with the US. with Trump as president, however, it is necessary to look beyond these political moves and to examine the present state of those relations and Trump’s personal style.
In a word, the best way to characterize the current relations between the US and India is “functional”. The relationship was relatively good for the first two years of Trump’s presidency. In fact, near the end of 2018, Alice Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, was quoted in the media s saying: “This has been a landmark year for US-India ties as we build out stronger relationships across the board.”
Then, in 2019, the relations went off the track in the first half of the year after the US and India got into a tit-for-tat tariff war after the US terminated India’s Generalized System of Preferences which allowed India to send certain goods to the US duty-free. There have been continuing efforts to structure a “modest” trade deal since then. It was thought there might be some type of deal done in September of 2019 while Modi was in the US by year’s end, and then during Trump’s India visit. But, as of today, there is still no deal.
This inability to get any meaningful trade agreement in place speaks volumes about India’s potential future relations with India with Trump as president. So, too does Trump’s style.
Trump’s campaign slogans this time around are “Keep America Great” and “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” Trump is not a policy wonk and most of his effort will go toward “America First”. This involves making the US more isolated by withdrawing from international agreements, restructuring trade agreements, emphasizing building walls to stop immigrants at the border, using tariffs to block trade with countries who are taking away American jobs, and confronting businesses who are allegedlly stealing American trade secrets.
This perspective suggests what India can expect for its relations with the US if it has to deal with Trump for a second term as president. The relations will stay functional at best. As I have said before, that’s because the words partnership, cooperation and collaboration are not in Trump’s vocabulary. Nationalism, isolationism and protectionism are.
Joe Biden stands in stark contrast to President Trump both professionally and personally. Biden is a strategic thinker and doer with a solid eight-year track record of leadership experience as Vice-President in forging alliances that have made a difference around the world and he has also been a long-standing friend of India.
He was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leading advocate for the Congressional passage of the Indo-US civic nuclear deal in 2005. At a dinner convened 10 years later in 2015 by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Vice President Biden discussed the tremendous joint progress that had been made by the two countries in the past and declared “We are on the cusp of a sea change decade.”
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Early in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in July of 2019, in laying out his foreign policy vision, Biden stated that the US had to reach out to India and other Asian partners to strengthen ties with them. The items on Biden’s foreign policy agenda for strengthening which are of importance for India include climate change, nuclear proliferation and cyberwarfare.
During his vice presidency, Biden worked side by side with President Barack Obama to do things that would contribute to achieving Obama’s vision stated in 2010 of India and America being “indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of our time.” In 2020, those challenges are even greater than they were a decade ago.
That is why it is so essential that India and the US develop a strategic relationship that enables them to become those indispensable partners. That can happen if Biden assumes the presidency on January 20, 2021. It cannot happen if Donald Trump remains as president for a second term.
The results of this upcoming election in the US matter greatly for the future of the United States. They matter greatly for the future of India-US relations as well. Time and the American electorate will tell what that future will be. (IANS)
Snake brain lacks limbic system and cortex. Therefore, snakes cannot think and cannot have emotions. This means that a snake will do whatever it has to, without emotions. Even if you feed him, he will not develop loyalty towards you. He has no emotions for the people who feed him and the people who keep him as a pet. Snakes are usually solitary, they have no friends, and they do not socialize. Their brain does not understand communication and cannot process emotions. They have no attachment to other snakes and their own offspring. They do not bond with their mates. They are incapable of taking revenge.
They have no ears, arms, legs. They can sense the vibrations in the air. They are very good hunters. They can slither, glide, dart through the water, and climb up. They have no eyelids and stare fixedly.
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Their metabolism is very low and therefore their internal organs stay alive longer. They feel pain and fear long after decapitation and retain reflexes hours after death.
Snakes do not hoard and do not build. They do not kill or eat each other. They just fight and try to survive. They may hibernate together in large numbers as at that time there is no competition for food.
Snakes have only R (Reptilian) complex as the brain. This complex performs basic functions like fight or flight, hunger, temperature control, keeping safe and defending territory.
The limbic system controls mood and memory. It is responsible for mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, memory issues, and emotional imbalance. Cats, dogs, horses have limbic system surrounding the R complex.
Humans have one extra part of the brain called cortex. This is the outermost part of the brain. It is responsible for complex social interactions. The human brain is larger in relation to body size than the brain of animals. Monkeys and chimpanzees have smaller cortex as compared to humans.
A meditating person is supposed to quieten his or her mind, control emotions, and focus inwards. This means that he is not supposed to use the limbic system and cortex. The limbic system is the source of mood, emotions, or concern for loved ones. It means a person who is meditating is like a snake, with function up to the spinal cord and R complex.
Man is thought to be more developed than other animals because man has the capability to think, feel, make informed decisions, do complex interactions, etc. yet paradoxically we are told not to use this capability during meditation. While praying we are supposed to surrender completely to Ishwar. By suppressing, this capability to think about past, present, and future, enlightenment comes, the third eye opens, and the understanding of universe happens.
Remember, coiled snake like form of kundalini which goes from Muladhar chakra to top chakra during awakening.
Coming back to a snake, they are sacred for many. People worship them, offer them milk, and even keep them as pets. Vishnu is often depicted lying on Shesnag , who has a thousand heads. Shiva is depicted wearing Vasuki snake around his neck. There is a snake over Shivling. Ganesh is often depicted with a snake, which forms a circle around his belly. Kartikey is often shown with a peacock and a snake.
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I heard stories of Icchadhari naagins (snake). As per beliefs, snakes become icchadhari if they do penance for 100 yrs. and get blessings from Shiv.
Aadi shesha took revenge and killed Meghnath who had a boon that he can only be killed by a person who has stayed away from his wife for 14 yrs. Aadi shesha took human avatar as Laxman and stayed away from his wife for 14 yrs.
People believe that snakes guard wealth. Some believe that snakes are always paired and if someone kills one snake, the other comes back to take revenge.
There is a festival called Nag Panchami. On this day people worship snakes, offer them milk, sweets, sesame seed ladoos, etc. People do not dig or plow on this day to avoid any harm to snakes.
Shetpal village in the Sholapur district of Pune, Maharastra, India has many poisonous snakes. They roam freely in houses and outside. Snakes sleep with people in the house. People worship them and offer them milk, eggs, etc. There is a specific place in the house for snakes to rest. These poisonous snakes rarely bite village residents.
There are Naga temples in India where people worship snakes to attain or restore fertility.
Snakes appear in medical symbol also. It represents longevity, immortality, healing, and fertility.
So, there is a conflict here between people’s beliefs, practices, and science.
Science says that snakes are reptiles. They have no mammary glands and therefore cannot produce milk. In addition, they cannot digest milk. They are cold-blooded carnivores. So, what is the point of offering milk to snakes?
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Baby snakes do not depend on their mother’s milk to survive. They absorb the rest of the yolk in their eggs before hatching, and they can survive off the yolk for weeks. Baby snakes are usually independent since birth. They do not receive any teaching from their parents. If they do not guard their own children, how do they guard wealth?
Snakes have no affinity for people around them, worshiping them or keeping them as a pet. How do they answer human prayers and decide not to harm humans? Snakes do keep a check on the population of some insects and animals. However, are predators as well as prey.
Snakes do not live in pairs and have no way to think about revenge. According to science, if they are trying to mate, they may come to the place where the other snake was killed but that is not for revenge. They just follow the odor left by the killed snake.
So, again same question- why Vishnu, Shiv, Ganesh, Karthikeya have snakes and why are snakes considered sacred? I do not know the answer. I am guessing that snakes are able to attain ‘moksha’ easily because of their inability to do some things, which humans can. They do not struggle to choose between right and wrong, they are not attached to anything, they are detached from all emotional bonding. So, spiritually they may be nearer to Ishwar (God). There is some matching of frequency and vibration that makes them quiet and calm when they are near Devtas.
In case of Shiv ji, people say that Vasuki represents awakened kundalini at top chakra. Vasuki’s three coils around neck represent past, present, and future. Some say that Vasuki provided coolness to Shiv’s neck when he was drinking poison during samundra manthan. However, these beliefs do not explain Vishnu laying on snake or Ganesh wearing snake around his belly.
Bharti Raizada is a Chicago-based physician with special interest in spirituality and alien phenomena.