By Dr Pooja Maddela
The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.
Although it is difficult to pinpoint the physical base or location of awareness, it is perhaps the most precious thing concealed within our brains. And it is something that the individual alone can feel and experience. Each of us cherishes it highly, yet it is private.
(His Holiness the Dalai Lama)
The cultivation of inner awareness leads to the enhancement of general health including improved digestive function.
Inner awareness can increase the benefits of health giving foods we eat, as well as the curative effects of medicinal herbs and spices we consume. Awareness also boosts immunity and promotes healing.
So, how do we improve ‘awareness’?
The best way is through a relaxed state of mind. In fact, for gaining the maximum benefits of spices/herbs that you ingest, via awareness and optimal absorption, digestion and elimination, performing deep abdominal breathing and mental relaxation is necessary. Following is a simple yet profoundly powerful technique that will bring numerous benefits into your life including increased awareness and enhanced digestive function.
Five Steps to Achieve Awareness
Practice every day for best results
- Lie down on your back, feet wider than hip width apart, hands slightly away from the body. Close your eyes if you are comfortable.
- Shift your awareness to your abdomen and perform deep abdominal breathing
- With inhalation your abdomen rises, with exhalation your abdomen sinks
- Keep focusing on your breathing
- Perform 6-10 breaths
On this path effort never goes to waste, and there
is no failure. Even a little effort toward spiritual
awareness will protect you from the greatest fear.
TURMERIC IMAGE: By Simon A. Eugster (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
Other content is an excerpt adapted from ‘Avena’ Journal of the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists with permission from the editor.
By Dr Pooja Maddela
Botanical Name: Curcuma longa
Other Common Names: Haridra, Indian Saffron
Part Used: Rhizome
Turmeric is best known in the West as a common culinary spice native
to India which is now extensively used in cooking worldwide. Turmeric
is also used in both traditional and modern-day cultures for a variety of
purposes including ceremonies, dyes, food colouring, and cosmetics. It is
also highly valued by some indigenous cultures for its powerful medicinal
properties. Turmeric belongs to the Zingiberaceae family along with ginger
and cardamom, plants which also possess useful medicinal properties.
Our ancestors have passed on the art of using turmeric as an ingredient in
cooking which has proven to be a blessing for modern living. Turmeric has
also been used traditionally as a treatment both internally and topically for
a wide range of ailments.
Turmeric is an antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent and
in Traditional Chinese Medicine it has been used as a treatment for depression.
Recent studies have identified anti-cancer properties. Laboratory and animal
studies have identified ‘curcumin’ (one of the main active constituents)
to have potent antioxidant properties – and the antioxidant properties of
curcumin have shown promise as a cancer preventative research into the
healing properties of Turmeric is ongoing.
Following are some traditional recipes from India using Turmeric to treat
common health problems.
Turmeric Herb for Common Ailments
1. Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder and 1/2 teaspoon of
powdered black pepper to a glass of warm milk
2. Mix it well
3. Drink twice a day
1. Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a tablespoon full of lemon
juice in a bowl
2. Mix well and apply it on affected area
3. After 10 to 15min wash it with cold water
4. It is most effective when applied before going to bed
1. In a bowl take a teaspoon of turmeric powder, add little water
2. Mix it well into a fine paste
3. Clean the abrasion and apply the turmeric paste
4. Allow it to dry and wash it off with cold water
1. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of warm milk
2. Mix it well
3. Drink twice a day
4. Taken early morning on an empty stomach is more effective
As part of his Masters in Health Science Dr Sridhar has surveyed people with Parkinson’s Disease.
Dr Sridhar examined the hypothesis that perceptions cause diseases. The survey asks those participating to record what they habitually think over a four week period – for instance about work, relationships, thoughts of the past, future, finances, health etc.
“There is a fundamental hypothesis in terms of Parkinson’s diagnosis that thought patterns – and physical responses to that thinking – may be associated with Parkinson’s,” explains Sridhar.
He says while many studies on Parkinson’s have focused on external agents such as exposure to pesticides and heavy metals, there have been no studies examining the psyche of those with the illness.
by Dr Pooja Maddela
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” – Buddha
Yoga and Quality of Life
Quality of life can be enhanced by the quality of our perception and level of awareness. Our perception capabilities depend upon our state of mind. Purity of thought can create pure states of mind which in turn directs our body to feel stable and comfortable. Living in the present moment is nothing but a celebration of who we are. When we know that we do not have control over our past and future, it is always good to focus on ‘now’. This awareness in the present moment is key to finding happiness in our lives which in turn enhances the quality of life. By changing our perception, we can change our consciousness and this will bring transformation in our lives.
Change of perception = change in consciousness = quality of life.
If we are happy because of something, then it is temporary. We should not identify with things that we have. Yoga teaches us to be content with what we have. This brings satisfaction to our life and leads to a reduction in our cravings or desires. By practicing santosha (contentment) we achieve true happiness which is permanent. When we taste the sweetness of life through happiness and the bitterness of life through acceptance then there is no fear of death and we can accept dying as a natural process.
Role of Detachment
Attachment to material things and family can leads to the manifestation of disease. (P. V. Karambelkar). For example, grief due to the death of a spouse can lead to the development of lung problems. So it is all about how we perceive things that happen in life. It is not wrong to have money and things. It is the attachment towards those things that create problems. Through the practice of contentment we get rid of attachment and develop detachment and are able to be in the present moment of life. This will help us to accept everything in life including death. (Swami Satyananda Saraswati, 2006).
Role of Mind
Our mind has the power to achieve everything. We need to learn how to use it and also to believe in the power of our mind. According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras the root cause of unhappiness is ignorance of one’s real nature. It can be solved only by knowing the true self. We need to eliminate raga (the attitude of liking for our choice) and dwesha (dislike for something) in order to achieve a pure state of mind. When there is balance in these, then there can be balance of mind. The Yogic view is that suffering arises because of avidya (ignorance). It is a mistaken idea which leads to the ‘I feeling’ and the consequent attachment, hatred and clinging in life. All these are the root causes of pain. To overcome pain we need to cultivate wisdom.
A caring approach and love can bring transformation in anything. There is nothing that is impossible if we make our mind positive. Quality of life is not just about maintaining one’s health and happiness. It is also about looking after others as we look after ourselves. Not harming anyone through words, thoughts and actions will result in a feeling of evenness or equanimity towards all beings. We need to show and share love with family members and others. Love within the home makes a lot of difference in our lives. Where there is love there is unity and love has the power to change consciousness and bring quality to our lives.
The following asanas (positions) and practices can help enhance our quality of life.
1. Simple joint movements:
Releases energy blockages and supplies prana in the body.
2. Chest openers:
Maintains the energy field of the heart and gets rid of attachment. Cultivates kindness and compassion, keeps our lungs and heart in balance.
3. Camel riding:
Releases prana in the spinal column and soothes the nervous system.
4. A twist:
Keeps our liver happy and releases anger. Twists are cleansing for the body.
5. Co-ordination movements:
Helps one to focus in the present moment.
Deep abdominal breaths, left and right nostril breaths, alternate nostril breathing helps to calm the mind and think more clearly.
Aum Sound has the power to vibrate every cell in the body and brings transformation in the mind.
Five minutes of silence everyday is very good to restore the energy in the body and helps to quieten the mind.
“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.” – William Allen White
originally posted at Ganga Prem Hospice
P. V. Karambelkar. Patanjali Yoga Sutras (pp. 35 – 37)
Swami Satyananda Saraswati. (2006) Four Chapters of Freedom (pp. 65 – 67)
Muktibodananda, S, S., (2004). Swara Yoga.
Muktihodhananda, S., (1993). Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Nagarathna, R., & Nagendra, H. R. (2001). Integrated Approach of Yoga Therapy for Positive Health.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati., (2004) Yoga and Kriya
Swami Satyananda Saraswati., (2002) Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha Munger.