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By Nithin Sridhar


During a time when people across the world are struggling hard to manage work-related stress and balance professional and personal lives, Mirabai Bush has helped thousands to harmonize their lives and optimize their outputs through contemplation and mindfulness practices.

She is the co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and teaches contemplative practices and develops programs that apply contemplative principles to organizational life. She had also helped Google create its ‘Search Inside Yourself’ program, and was one among those who introduced Buddhist practices in the West in the 1970’s.

She traces her spiritual practices to her root-teacher, Neem Karoli Baba and other masters in India from whom she learned various Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices. In an exclusive interview with NewsGram she spoke about her life, her work, and her stay in India way back in 1970’s.

Interview with Mirabai Bush- Part 1

Mirabai Bush and Google program ‘Search Inside Yourself’

Speaking about the Google program ‘Search Inside Yourself’ that she had helped create, Mirabai Bush said that it was the first of its kind based on the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness is one of the parts of the Buddhist Vipasana meditation and in the US, the term is mostly used to mean focused awareness, usually on the breath.


But, Google, she said, created an emotional intelligence program based on mindfulness. She added: “We realized that the young engineers at Google were very focused and good at creating algorithms, but what they needed to work on was self-awareness and awareness about others that would help them work better in teams. So, we developed a program that uses mindfulness along with practices like loving kindness and compassion, and then we translated it into activities like mindful listening, mindful emailing etc.”

The program aimed at helping people understand themselves better so that they could understand others better and communicate with them in a better manner. She said that the first course was launched in 2008, and has been extremely successful with at least 3000 Googlers from around the world taking the course till now. She added that a book titled ‘Search Inside Yourself’ has also been written by Chade-Meng Tan, who was her partner in the program. A leadership institute has also been started wherein people from outside Google are trained in the program.

Mirabai Bush and the practice of Mindfulness

Elaborating on the concept of mindfulness, Mirabai Bush said: “Mindfulness is taught throughout Buddhism, but in the US, it is usually understood as a way of bringing full focus to the present moment without judgment, or being fully present in the moment without judgment.”

One basic way, she said, by which this mindfulness could be cultivated was by sitting quietly, closing one’s eyes, bringing the awareness to the breathing, and by letting go of the thoughts that arise without any judgment. But, she stressed on the fact that mindfulness is neither an attempt at emptying the mind, nor an attempt at attaining a blissful state. Instead, it is just an attempt at seeing things just as they are. Whenever a thought or an emotion arises, a practitioner will simply let it go and bring back the attention to the breath.


“But,” she said: “breath focus is just a technique to use; the real mindfulness in everyday life is to be able to bring attention to whatever it is you are working on in your workplace, the person who is speaking to you, or the thoughts in your mind while you work through something. That’s the mindful state.”

Regarding the similarities between mindfulness practices and the Hindu and Buddhist practices of yoga and dhyana (meditation), she said that Hatha Yoga is a very good practice for becoming aware, if it is properly practiced in that manner. If one becomes aware of the sensations in the body while doing asanas (postures), that is exactly the same thing as mindfulness.

But at the same time, some of the practitioners (of yoga) concentrate on being absorbed in certain states. Mindfulness on the other hand is not about being absorbed into any state, but being present with everything that is happening. Hence, there is a difference between the two. But, mindfulness is more rooted in Buddhist practices.

Many people from the west had gone to India in 1970 and studied Buddhism in monasteries. But, when they came back to the west, they did not bring back the forms of Buddhism that were practiced in everyday life. They only brought back what they learned in monasteries like various forms of focused meditation.

She added that mindfulness in the west is not understood the way it is understood by the Buddhist scholars. In the West, it is a generalized term. Jon Kabat-Zinn was one of the first people to coin the term ‘mindfulness’. While he was teaching these practices to those who were in a lot of pain and stress, he focused on the calming and stabilizing aspect of meditation and called it ‘mindfulness’.

More in the Series:

Mirabai Bush speaks on her stay in India and the Guatemala Project (Part 2)

Mirabai Bush speaks on Yoga and its uprooting (Part 3)

Mirabai Bush speaks on Right Livelihood & Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (Part 4)

Mirabai Bush speaks about her root-teacher Neem Karoli Baba (Part 5)


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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Anti-viral drug Molnupiravir may emerge as the game changer in the fight against Covid-19.

Anti-viral drug Molnupiravir may emerge as the game-changer in the fight against Covid-19 as studies suggest it can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death in newly diagnosed patients, an expert says.

Distinguished cardiologist and health systems expert Dr. Krishna Reddy Nallamalla believes that Molnupiravir as an effective oral drug for the treatment of Covid-19 assumes significance as cases are still being reported despite vaccines, which are not as effective against the spread of the virus and have lower efficacy against certain variants.

Almost two years since the onset of the pandemic, the world has reported close to 250 million positive cases and 5 million deaths, while half a million cases are still being reported every day.

"We have face masks, vaccines, and steroids to fight the pandemic. We also have the expensive injectable antiviral drug Remedesivir and the monoclonal antibody cocktail for those who can afford these. Most of the oral drugs, including chloroquine, ivermectin, anti-HIV drugs, anti-hepatitis drugs.. did not stand the scrutiny of scientific studies. Some others had weak evidence to be of large-scale," said Dr. Krishna Reddy, who is also President of InOrder, a nonprofit institute working to strengthen systems to secure the health and Regional Director (South Asia) of global health non-profit, ACCESS Health International.

"Despite the development of Covid-19 vaccines in a record time period, the world continues to witness daily positive cases of half a million. While vaccines have been effective against moderate to severe illness, they have not been as effective against the spread of the virus. In addition, the efficacy is lower against certain new variants. Another growing concern has been the rapid decline in neutralizing antibodies within six months after the second dose necessitating the booster dose in people at high risk," he said.

He also pointed out that the inequity in access to vaccines has been glaring within and between countries.

On how Molnupiravir helps, Krishna Reddy said that the basic building blocks of coronavirus are ribonucleic acids (RNA), and their analogs can produce mutations that are lethal to the virus. While Remedesivir is an analog and is demonstrated to reduce hospital stay in moderately-ill Covid patients, it is expensive and has to be given through the intravenous route.

"Molnupiravir was earlier developed as an oral drug against influenza. It is also an analog of ribonucleic acids, similar to Remedesivir. In a preprint published in June, virus isolation was noted in 1.6 per cent of those patients receiving Molnupiravir compared to 16.7 per cent of those receiving placebo on day 3 and 0 per cent and 11.1 per cent respectively on day 5," Krishna Reddy said.

Merck and Ridgeback have announced on October 11, the submission of an emergency use authorization application to the US FDA for the treatment of mild to moderate cases (room air oxygen saturation more than 93 per cent at rest).

The submission is based on positive results from a planned interim analysis from the phase 3 MOVe-OUT clinical trial, which evaluated Molnupiravir in non-hospitalized adults with mild to moderate Covid illness who were at risk to progress to severe Covid requiring hospitalization.

In the interim analysis, there was a 50 per cent reduction in risk of hospitalization or death (7.3 per cent with drug vs 14.1 per cent with placebo) with Molnupiravir. Full results of the trial are awaited.

Merck has previously announced that it has entered into non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements for Molnupiravir with six established Indian generic manufacturers to accelerate the availability of the drug in more than 100 low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), following approval or EUA by their respective regulatory bodies.

The arrival of an effective and affordable oral drug has long been awaited in the fight against Covid-19 across the world and more so in LMIC which are yet to receive sufficient quantities of vaccines.

There is also growing concerned about the duration of efficacy of the vaccines and their efficacy against new variants. Many rich countries have started booster doses while many developing countries are still waiting for their first doses.

Krishna Reddy believes that India is in a unique position to supply the needed vaccines to countries awaiting them and also the affordable generic oral Molnupiravir, to derive significant geopolitical mileage.

"Reaching the milestone of one billion vaccine doses, India has exhibited remarkable resilience despite the devastating second wave that was driven by the Delta variant. It has restarted its vaccine exports to other countries. It is in a position to start exports of the new effective oral drug that the world has been eagerly awaiting," he added. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, Coronavirus, Medicines, Molnupiravir


Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Char Dham Yatra resumed on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.

As weather cleared up in Uttarakhand, Char Dham Yatra restored on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.

According to sources, road leading to Badrinath has been repaired and helicopter service has also resumed.

Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Dungi village and met families of people who were missing after the landslip incident, and consoled them.

Dhami assured them of all possible assistance. Two people from the village are still reported to be missing.

Pilgrims were seen leaving from Rishikesh Char Dham Bus terminal and Haridwar bus station for the pilgrimage since morning.

As per the state government, various departments -- Devasthanam Board, police are assisting the pilgrims.

Police Chowki Yatra Bus Terminal, Rishikesh, was announcing passenger-information via loudspeaker.

Free RT-PCR tests of pilgrims were being conducted at Rishikesh bus terminal.

Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board's media in-charge Dr Harish Gaur said pilgrimage was on in Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, while for Kedarnath, helicopter service was also available.

Though the weather was cold in all dhams, thankfully there was no rain, he added.

Portals of the temple in Badrinath will close on November 20, Gangotri on November 5, while that of Kedarnath and Yamunotri on November 6.

Uttarakhand floods, triggered by a major downpour from October 17 to 19, have claimed 65 lives so far, 3,500 people have been rescued while 16,000 evacuated to safety.

Seventeen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), seven teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 15 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and 5,000 police personnel have been engaged in rescue and relief operations.

The state has already been provided with Rs 250 crore Disaster Fund which is being used for relief works.

To prevent spread of the diseases, the Central and state governments have decided to send medical teams to the affected areas.

Snapped power lines will be restored at the earliest, the government assured.

The state government said that as soon as alert for heavy rainfall was issued, the Incident Response System was activated at state and district levels, and pilgrims were halted at safer places. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Uttarakhand, India, Char Dham Yatra, PushkarDhami, Rishikesh.


Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.

The Centre has continued the Naga peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) leaders, but negotiations face roadblocks as the Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.

The sources aware of these developments said that the Centre was hopeful that a successful solution of the six decades-long peace talks would arrive at a logical conclusion, but in the recent statements, Naga leaders have accused the Centre of offering post-solution options.

Sources quoting the stand of Naga leaders said that NSCN's stand was loud and clear that it would not follow the forbidden route to the Naga solution that was linked to foregoing the Naga national flag and Constitution, which is the face of the Naga political struggle and identity.

The Naga leaders have also said that the Centre has been using divisive policy and flattery in the name of finding the Naga political solution when the matters heated up.

When the Centre resumed the peace process in September this year and sent the former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) A.K. Mishra as the Ministry of Home Affairs' emissary to the rebel outfit's chief negotiator and general secretary T. Muivah, he assured him (Muivah) that the peace talks would be initiated under the original framework signed in 2015, a source in the Naga rebel group said.

"Here we are talking about the Naga national flag and Yehzabo (Constitution), the two issues that are holding up the Naga solution under the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks in Delhi.

"The chequered history of the Indo-Naga political issue is clear enough before us, with accords and agreements that were never meant to be implemented in letter and spirit", an important office-bearer of the rebel outfit said while criticizing the governments' stand.

Accusing the Centre, he further accused the Centre of persuading the Naga people again to accept whatever is being offered to hurry up the Naga talks.

On the invitation of the Centre, the senior leaders of the NSCN-IM including T. Muivah arrived in the national capital on October 6 this year to hold another round of talks with the Centre.

Both, the Centre and the Naga leaders had indicated their keenness on resolving this long pending issue by the end of this year in an amicable manner.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, who is also chairman of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had been actively involved in the resumption of the peace talks and taking it forward to a logical conclusion.

Soon after the transfer of Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who was appointed as the Centre's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks on August 29, 2014, to Tamil Nadu, the peace talks resumed on September 20 in Kohima when the Centre representative met the Naga leaders and invited them to visit Delhi for further rounds of peace talks.

The NSCN-IM and the other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997 and over 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre have been held in the past in successive governments. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Nagaland, India, Constitution, Politics, Flag.