I recently graduated and became a fully certified Bio Dynamic Craniosacral Therapist. It’s quite a mouthful isn’t it?! You need to study quite a lot of anatomy and physiology for this course… Here is a fascinating essay that I wrote as part of my homework.
Btw, in case you are wondering what exactly is bio dynamic Craniosacral therapy… Will make a video about it as soon as WCF 2016 is done!
The spinal cord starts at the base of the brain and runs through our backs with nerves emanating from it that go to every single body organ and part. This forms the nervous system that through this sophisticated network of nerves relays information from different parts of the body to the brain and from the brain to various parts of the body. The nervous system is completely electrical in nature.
The endocrine system on the other hand is completely chemical in nature, and influences almost every cell, organ and function of our bodies. It plays a role in regulating mood, growth and development, sexual functions, tissue function and the reproductive process. In general the endocrine system watches over the “slower” functions of our bodies, like cell growth for example. “Faster” functions like breathing and body movement are controlled by the nervous system. Both the nervous system and the endocrine system are totally separate systems of the body, but they have to work in tandem to help the body function properly as a whole.
Fundamentally, the endocrine system is made up of hormones and glands. The hormones are the body’s chemical messengers that move thru the blood stream and transfer information and instructions from one set of cells to another. Many, many different types of hormones move thru the blood stream at any given point in time, but each type is designed to affect only certain types of cells.
A gland is a group of cells that produces and secretes these hormones. The endocrine glands that make up the endocrine system release more than 20 major hormones directly into the blood stream.
The major glands of the human endocrine system are:
Thyroid and Parathyroid
The Hypothalamus is located just above the brain stem. It is an almond shaped little gland and it’s main function is to maintain homeostasis or the stability of the internal environment of the body. The hypothalamus is the main link between the endocrine and nervous systems of the body. It controls the pituitary gland by creating chemicals that either stimulate or suppress the hormone secretions from the pituitary.
The Pituitary gland is as small as a pea. Located at the base of the brain, just beneath the hypothalamus it is often called the Master Gland because it creates the hormones that control almost all the other glands of the endocrine system.
The production and secretion of the pituitary hormones are subject to changes in environment, like changes in seasons and emotions. The hypothalamus steps in here and provides this information to the pituitary which it gets from its (the hypothalamus’s) connections to the nervous system of the body.
The pituitary secretes hormones that:
Stimulates growth of bone and tissues,
Play a role in the body’s handling of nutrients and minerals
Activates milk production in women who are breast feeding,
Stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones,
Stimulates the adrenals to produce their hormones,
Reduce feeling of pain,
Signals the reproductive organs to make sex hormones,
Controls the ovulation and menstrual cycle in women,
Help control the balance of water in the body,
Trigger the contractions of the uterus in a woman having a baby
So you can see that almost nothing in the body moves (or stops moving) without the go ahead of the pituitary and that doesn’t happen unless the hypothalamus tell the pituitary to make it happen!
The mysterious Pineal gland is 1/3rd of an inch long and shaped like a pinecone from where it get’s its name. It secretes just one hormone – Melatonin that affects our awake-sleep cycles. Less of it is secreted during the day, more during the night and the secretion is dependent on light. It was the last discovered gland and has an aura of mystery surrounding it. Much is still unknown about it and many have linked it to “higher consciousness”. It is the gland that is most affected by Yoga, meditation and other spiritual practices.
It’s almost unbelievable that three little clusters of cells, one the size of an almond, the other the size of a pea and the last a tiny pinecone control almost everything that happens in the body!! An almond, a pea and a pinecone make us tick!!
It’s something we all know, right?
Negative times a negative equals positive.
Of course, we know that!
Except when someone innocently asks us why.
And continues asking, if negative times a negative is positive, why is positive times a positive not negative?
What kind of a question is that?! EVERYONE knows negative times negative equals positive, negative times positive equals negative, positive times negative equals negative and negative times negative equals positive. Turns out not many people know the reason. It’s just something we have been told and we learn it by rote and that’s it.
It’s inspired by Gowri. He asked this question to me and stumped me, because even after having a Master’s degree in Maths from IIT B, I didn’t quite know the answer. I had to think and do a bit of reading before my solution was born
There are many ways to show all of the above, but here is my super simple and fairly elegant explanation.
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Dinesh and I had a delightful trip to Delhi. Avinash, Sandeep, Mahika, Jitesh and a host of others organized some Art of Living events for us – courses, follow ups, refreshers. All were really great and quite intense!
We stayed at Prama bhabhi and Ranji bhai’s beautiful home, which is even prettier now because their kitchen has had a full on renovation. Rupal engineered the entire project and it’s become a dream kitchen to cook in. I had to tear myself away from it, to do all the other fun stuff we did.
This time we wanted to eat something different when we went out to have food. We decided to have parsi food. I have always been suspicious of dhansakh and dhan dar patio that I myself have not cooked, because time and again, various restaurants that claim to serve parsi food have let me down quite dramatically.
We stumbled upon an absolute gem of a restaurant. It’s called Rustom’s and they serve authentic parsi cuisine. Their zomato score is not so good, but I just had a good feel about the place. So we went there and what a great decision that was!
We had the most amazingly tasty parsi food ever! Parsi food is traditionally non vegetarian, but they had quite an extensive set of choices for us vegetarians. Their dhansakh was perfect. Their patra nu paneer (a thin slice of paneer coated in spicy and sweet coriander mint chutney, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed) was made in heaven. The dhan dar patio was outstanding. Even the fizzy drinks were reminiscent of the times I used to go for weddings. It was a meal of pure nostalgia and great delight for me, and a gastronomical adventure for those who had not had parsi food before. Their desserts for vegetarians are limited to kulfi and a sweet semolina pudding called Sagan no Ravo.
It was so good, that we went once more taking the whole gang with us and everyone was bowled over by the attention to detail and the fabulous taste that this little place had to offer. If you go there, and you must, tell Kainaz the owner that we sent you. She must remember the 2 guys in long hair and flowing kurtas and their hungry, noisy little group!
While driving around, I saw a billboard advertising Disney’s stage musical Beauty and the Beast in India with a full Indian cast. I wanted to see it and so Shavina, Aadya (her daughter), Dinesh and me went to see it… with very little expectations to tell you the truth.
It was better than anything I could have imagined! The sets are humungous and ooze with charm. They are state of the art. Better than anything I have seen in New York or London. Meher Mistry as Belle was absolutely enchanting. Singing perfectly and acting superbly. Gaston and the Beast were a little let down, but that was ok. Lumiere, cogsworth and Mrs. Potts were brilliantly cast and a pleasure to watch and listen to. The rest of the 100+ cast were excellent dancers… I am running out of superlatives here. Bottom line – go see it!
Delhi was very cold and that’s exactly how I like it. Ranji bhai has himself made a quaint fireplace and when it is lit up and warming the room, everything Christmassy and New Yearsy wells up in my mind and heart.
We are back in Bangalore now, waiting for the New Year, which we will welcome the way we have done for the past two decades. With a Guru Pooja and some silence.
This year (well, technically next year) the Winter Break, which is the adv course Dinesh and I teach at this wonderful time of the year is from 5th to 9th of January 2016.
Have a Blessed, Merry Christmas and a Fantabulous New Year!!
Bawa n Dinesh
PS Our flights are booked to Delhi on the 10th of March. We will be there for the World Culture Festival 11th, 12th and 13th. Everyone come… It will be fantastic to see all of you there!
Episode 7 of the Star Wars Saga. There are many references to Episodes 4, 5 and 6 and you will enjoy this movie much, much more if you have watched these older movies. But, it works very well even if this is your first foray into the Star Wars Universe.
We went with a mixed group. Few of us are Star Wars junkies and few others had never heard of Star Wars before. We all totally enjoyed the movie!
How soon people forget… The dark side, the Jedi, the light … It’s all true. It all really happened. Ever wondered what happened next?
The Force Awakens is kind of a continuation of the story of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo. They are all much, much older and it won’t be much of a spoiler if I tell you that Luke has grown a beard and looks more like Obi-wan Kenobi than Obi-wan ever did.
Set in the background of the earlier movies (episodes 4, 5 and 6, not 1, 2 and 3 which everyone would prefer to forget were ever made), this movie starts the story of Rey, a scavenger on the desert planet of Jakka, very similar to Tatooine where Luke comes from and Finn who is a stormtrooper. Yup, you get to see what a stormtrooper looks like when his helmet is removed! And a very cool little droid called BB-8. He is orange and white and he rolls instead of trundling like R2-D2.
Kylo Ren represents the dark side, a confused soul who has turned to the dark but still feels the call of the light… telling you anything more about him will spoil the movie for you.
The acting of the younger set is superb and the older lot, Luke, Leia and Han are played by the original cast from the earlier movies is absolutely polished and full of panache. They are old, they know it and they carry it with grace and don’t try to hide it in the least.
John William’s music is as usual perfectly done with sweeping orchestral scores that breathe life into the tender scenes as well as the full on action.
The movie making is much, much more like Episodes 4, 5 and 6, with a return to sets instead of too much CGI and that is very welcome. Everything looks much more real.
The attention to detail is exceptional. You know the director, the cast and the crew for this movie are passionate about the Star Wars Universe. It’s full of relics and references from the past movies, which are incidental for new people and nostalgic for the ones like me who loved this far, far away galaxy from a long, long time ago…
Go watch with old friends and new…
and May the Force be with You!!
PS There is a huge celebration for all those who serve the Light in Delhi in March 2016. It’s called the World Culture Festival – 11th, 12th and 13th… See you there. Bring your sabers!
This is in response to a question about why Indians are consuming more meat compared to our western counterparts of late.
I feel meat eating has been equated to wealth in many minds. I remember once when Dinesh had gone to Africa to a small village, they were going to slaughter a goat in his honour. He convinced them that it was not required, that he was vegetarian, and one goat lived on at least for some more time.
Why does Sri Sri Ravi Shankar travel in “attention grabbing” cars or fly in choppers? Why can’t He travel in cheaper cars?
Got asked this question on Quora.
Here is my answer:
Here is a scenario:
This Navaratri, I decided to do something different than the usual fasting… Something that would be longer lasting, than just starving myself and giving myself a headache at the end of it (Pitta… Need regular food, otherwise I explode)
So for each day of Navaratri, I am going to imbibe a new good habit. Stuff I know I should be doing, but don’t.
Will keep adding my new habits everyday …
Day 1: Visiting our Ashram Ganesha every day. It somehow rounds off the day for me, and brings a sense of sacredness… Feels really nice!
Day 2: Brushing my teeth every night. I know I should be doing this, but I usually remember when I am tucked up in bed and so end up not doing it. Fought the Tamas, got out of bed, brushed teeth and wrote this line too!
Day 3: Bhanu Didi had made an absolutely brilliant album (music by the super talented B. Prasanna with whom I made the Sri Symphonic Bhajans album) called Cosmic Resonance. It’s a collection of mantras of Shiva and Devi, amazingly arranged and enchantingly sung.
One of the mantras is the Devi Kavacham. Guurdev was mentioning that whoever listens to the Devi Kavacham on a regular basis will be granted victory and success in whatever they do.
My good habit for Day 3 is to listen to the Devi Kavacham everyday. It’s so pretty and the Devi’s armour would be great to have on my side!!
You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZ58d2YotY4
Day 4: To read at least a page of Knowledge everyday, first thing in the morning. In case you are wondering, I pick and choose between Gurudev’s Knowledge Sheets, The Bhagavad Geeta (I only read the translation, not the interpretation, Gita Press Bhagavad Geeta books are the best!) and Yoga Vasishtha.
Day 5: Eating a bowl of fresh fruit every morning… It’s recommended that you eat three or four varieties of fruits, and those fruits should be of different colours.
Daily having fruits for an appreciably long time ensures your body detoxes and makes your liver really happy!
Day 6: Last month, I had a splitting headache and couldn’t sleep the entire night. I sat on our balcony around 5:00 am and watched the world come alive… I watched a sunrise after a very long time, and it was such a magical, delightful, wonderful experience … My good habit for Day 6 is to watch a sunrise at least once a week!
Day 7: Our family spent the entire month of May in Matheran when we were children, a beautiful, idyllic hill station very close to Bombay. There are no motorised vehicles allowed in Matheran and the only way to get around is to walk, ride a horse or sit in a hand pulled rickshaw…
Of course, we would walk all the time and everywhere. That’s where I developed my love for walking in the woods so to speak and ashram is such a perfect place to go for long walks… yet i don’t do it as often as I know I should … My good habit for Day 7 is go for walks every day… especially when I am in a walk friendly place like our wonderful, enchanting Bangalore Ashram!
Day 8: is the Day of Chandi Homa – The culmination, The Super Biggie!!
It’s the day when people who have been fasting, get back to eating rather dramatically! There is typically an 18 course meal for lunch and you don’t need dinner that evening, or breakfast and lunch on the next day
My good habit for Day 8 is to eat smaller and more frequent meals and eat them slowly and really savour the taste of the meals that are so lovingly cooked for me (or by me). I had been doing that for some time and was feeling so nice, then the bad habit of eating too much break fast started… And it goes pretty much down hill after that…
So fruits first thing in the morning, followed by a small servings of good food 4 to 5 times in the day seems to be the way to keep my stomach really happy and loose weight in the bargain!
A gulp of freshly squeezed lemon juice with a few teaspoons of water at the start of the day also helps big time and I am going to restart that as well.
Day 9: The last day and the last night of this enchanting magical time… I think my good habit for day 9 is to make sure i follow the ones I created for myself on the earlier 8 days …
Have a wonderfilled year ahead … Shanti Rastu, Tushti Rastu, Pooshti Rastu!!
All the very, very Best!
A little known fact about Gandhiji is that he used to meditate daily for about an hour. He was once known to have said, “I am so busy today that I can’t meditate for an hour. I will have to meditate for two hours!”. He knew the power of meditation and personally, I feel that’s how he managed to be who he was and do what he did.
Here is a story from Gandhiji’s life you may not find in any history text book. His secretary accompanied him on a trip to some hill station. During the train ride Gandhiji was dictating a letter to his secretary. The train was labouriously climbing up the mountain, when there was a sudden noise and their railway carriage stopped and slowly started moving in the opposite direction… Something had happened and the carriage had separated from the main train and was now moving downwards, slowly but surely gaining speed.
There was panic and pandemonium in the compartment as it hurtled down the tracks. Gandhiji calmly continued to dictate the letter to his secretary.
The secretary was aghast. He said we may all die in a few minutes and you want me to continue writing this letter?!
Gandhiji replied – You are right, we may die in a few minutes, and if that happens, it really doesn’t matter what we do right now… but if we don’t (die) then we are wasting all this time! And he continued dictating the letter…
This is really Living in the Present Moment!
Btw, if you are wondering how I got to hear about this story, it’s from the secretary himself – Pt. Sudhakar Chaturvedi. He is still alive, lives in Bangalore, and is perhaps India’s oldest living person.
28th September was promising to be an incredibly busy day. Everything we had planned for Dinesh’s 40th birthday was going to come together all at once. I didn’t see much point in pretending that there was no surprise, so I just told dinesh point blank that he was to leave Vyas Kuteer and come back only a little before midnight. So he knew there was a surprise, but he had no idea at all about what it was!
We all decided that we would gift him a fantastic home theatre system. Complete with a huge screen and a 1080p 3D projector. I must have badgered everyone I knew who was into any sort of electronics. I spent hours on the net researching which projector was the best to get. Finally, I zeroed in on a brilliant Sony. Went to watch a live demo and was completely sold on it. Then came the tricky part. To get everything ready so that Dinesh has no clue about it.
I had always wanted wooden flooring in our hall and thought this was the perfect chance to do some interiors. That would act as a decoy for Dinesh. So while there was all the work happening in plain sight, there was also some secret wiring happening also in plain sight. Shavina gifted us two beautiful recliner chairs. I had Dinesh believe that those were his birthday present and unfortunately they came in too early…
On the 28th after shooing Dinesh out of the house, we went to work to clean everything up. Wooden flooring can leave a lot of debris everywhere. After about 5 hours of sweeping, mopping, cleaning, sweating and throwing junk out of the house, the projector people came to set it up.
Instead of an 11 foot screen, they got a 12 foot one and so the carpentry had to be hastily redone. Holes were drilled and things were slid into place. The screen looked amazing and the projector delivered better picture quality than most theatres in India. With the recliners, it’s the perfect set up. Only while getting this setup done, my immaculately cleaned hall looked like a war zone all over again.
We had another round of cleaning, dusting, mopping to get everything in perfect order and it was only at 11 pm that the house was totally clean and ready to be decorated. Rajiv, Rima, Ankita, Gowri and me were the cleaner uppers and Tanu, Upasana, Hema and some others were the decoraters.
All our friends started to troop in around this time and in true Art of Living style immediately became hosts instead of guests. Everyone rushed around getting everything in place…
At 5 minutes to midnight, Dinesh showed up at Vyas Kuteer. We blindfolded him, and took him into the hall and sat him down on the recliner. Then everyone shouted and he had to guess the names of all the people who were there. Some people had arrived earlier and spent the day hiding from him in the ashram. He managed to get a few names right. Then we started Mamma Mia the movie. He heard the familiar music and there was a smile on his face. I think he was expecting to see some video we may have made for him. As we removed his blind fold and he saw the humungous screen and the movie come alive right there in our hall and all the people who loved us so dearly there with us, he did a double take and made a sound that can be described only as an utterly pleasant shocked laugh – You had to be there to see his face! Everyone shouted above the din of the movie Happy Birthday Dinesh Dada!!!
We watched for a bit, then we went up to the terrace which was romantically lit up with candles. It looked like a dream out of some fairy tale. A lovely breeze wafted around us as Dinesh saw his birthday cake or rather cakes. Café Vishala team had outdone themselves by making 40 cupcakes ranging from white chocolate to dark chocolate – 40 shades of Chocolate!! This was combined with some delicious dips and home made bread. And chocolate ice cream made with jaggery instead of sugar!
The one person who was missing from the celebration was Rupal. She had sent a voice recording to be played to Dinesh while cutting the cake. And as the voice note was getting over, she suddenly stepped out from the shadows. She had been there all along!! What a total surprise!!!
We talked and joked and sang and laughed and told stories and then did it all over again.
We slept that night only because of sheer exhaustion.
The next day Gurudev met everyone and that was the icing on the cake!! It was so wonderful to be with all our friends again and feel the love and joy and blessings from them.
Dinesh and I must surely have done some utterly wonderful things in many lifetimes to be blessed with such fierce love from so many, many fantastic people!!
Happy 40th to the most fabulous, amazing, wonderfilled person I have the privilege of knowing!!
Many dear friends had gathered in Vyas Kuteer to wish me on my birthday that was imminent. Around 11 pm on the 21st of September this year, I decided to oil my hair and shampoo them. As soon as I announced this, there was a sudden frenzy of action that started around me.
I watched bemused as someone walked in with candles, someone else with matches, yet another asking if I had “soothing” music. Turned out that their surprise birthday gift for me was giving me a full salon treatment right in my own bedroom, in my own lounging chair! Only it was supposed to happen the next day. When the night before I said I was going to shampoo my hair, Project Hair Spa was instantly preponed by a few hours.
Tanu made up a heavenly smelling concoction of honey, vanilla, cinnamon, banana, milk and olive oil. It was good enough to eat. Ankita had a bite and said if there is any left over, she would have it as dessert. The goo was put in my hair, rubbed into my scalp and I was asked to sit quietly and pretend to listen to music. They couldn’t find any spa music so they decided on ambient sounds that are plentiful and really relaxing at night in the ashram. Besides, you don’t need a music system or a play list.
I sat smelling deliciously of cupcakes, slowly getting cravings for pastries and cinnamon bread. Meanwhile I was given a pedicure by Ankita. She said my feet were softer than her hands and went thru the motions of putting whatever foot cream she could lay her hands on.
The real drama began once the 45 minutes were up. I was ceremoniously escorted into the bathroom, made to sit on a stool, asked to bend over and warm water was gently sloshed on my head with the aim of washing out the cake mix.
A bit of it came out. A lot of it didn’t.
The gentle sloshing intensified.
Some more of the goo reluctantly left my tresses. Quite a bit of it resolutely stuck on. The banana bits had got well and truly tangled into my hair. No amount of water was dislodging them.
I was told to relax and close my eyes, as a distressed whispered conference happened a few inches above my head. They all decided that next time, they would whirr the bananas in a mixie before putting it into the hair. Meanwhile, I was still hunched over with someone pouring water and trying to tease stubborn bits of banana out.
We should put lemon. Dandruff comes out with lemon, surely so will the banana.
Shall we put in some curd and see what happens?
Let’s just put a lot of shampoo…
In a few minutes, I had soapy banana bits, soaking in luxurious lather. Water managed to get the lather out. The banana bits just got well shampooed.
Then some of Upasana’s neurons made a few wild connections with some half forgotten dendrites, and she suddenly exclaimed let’s use conditioner and a comb. Conditioner was liberally massaged into the hair. Then slowly and carefully, my hair was combed down with a fine toothed comb and the banana bits finally bid adieu to my head. After this, they left me to shave and shower which I did and came out feeling gloriously warm and cuddly.
Amazingly, I lost hardly any hair and when everything was done, my hair felt like a dream. Soft and wavy and smooth and silky. The spa succeeded beyond all expectations! It was really a fantastic birthday gift!!
Dinesh was with Gurudev and I refused to start my birthday without him. He came back from Gurudev around 1 am. Then we did Guru Pooja. A lovely meditative Pooja, followed by Ganesha’s aarti, followed by the Devi Kavacham that Bhanu didi has sung so melodiously in her CD Cosmic Resonance. We all slipped into a twilight of meditation and sleep, enveloped in the warm glow of love that everyone was feeling for everyone.
Then as we came out of that scrumptious state of Being, Kamesh said there was cake on the terrace. And so, everyone trooped put onto the terrace, and I cut my birthday cake which was incidentally made right before me and stored in the fridge as I was having dinner that night at Café Vishala. Loud singing, even louder laughter happened as everyone tucked into that really tasty cake and soon just one piece was left.
Gowri points to a huge carton and says bau open your birthday gift. I said why have you guys got such a HUGE box for an iPad Pro? (Hint, Hint!) … I cut the tape open and out jumped Abhi! He had a party popper in his hand that refused to pop as he shouted Happy Birthday BAUUUUUU!!!!
What a fantastic surprise!! The popper finally popped showering all of us with confetti and good wishes. Then I realized that abhi had been taped into the carton for over 2 hours. He had a pillow with him and said he even went to sleep for a while. The loud singing was to wake him up. He had the last piece of cake.
What a fabulous start to a year. This is precisely how birthdays should be. Full of crazy surprises, wonderful food, heartfelt love and the best of friends!! Thank you very much to everyone who planned this wild and whacky birthday for me, and to all of you who wished me and made my day so very special!! You guys totally rock!
PS Dinesh wrote a poem for me – It’s on his facebook page – Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/dineshghodke