7 Qualities Of Truly Great Leaders

by Rajeev Kurapati

Champions are driven by a creative impulse to fulfill missions of personal improvement and human advancement.

Being a true champion means understanding yourself in relation to the greater puzzle of life. From this wisdom springs your life’s true purpose. A champion doesn’t get distracted by the temptations of the ego. A champion transcends beyond the shallow, self-fulfilling desire to simply win someone over.

Here are seven qualities that define what it is to be a champion in my latest blog featured on MindBodyGreen.com. 

Continue reading

Join our list

Subscribe to our mailing list and get updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Changing Dynamics of Marriage Explained

by Rajeev Kurapati

We take great comfort in treating marriage as a timeless tradition. Overtime, people have adopted their lifestyles for staying in a long-term relationship, sometimes for convenience, other times for a mutually beneficial social support. And then there are those who stay in marriage for the respect and legal protection a marriage provides.

It is interesting to see just how people have changed their conventional roles within their relationships to make the concept of eternal monogamy work.

Photograph: Jens Bonnke

Photograph: Jens Bonnke

Click here to read the complete article on MORE magazine.

Throughout history, civilizations have invented various ways to nurture and protect this institution of marriage in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged. If we look back, we will discover how different tribes adopted laws that governed marital status of couple. One such tribe is early Celtic civilization in Great Britain.

Read the here to see just how different, yet so similar, marriage once was: Marriage Laws in Celtic Britain.

Continue reading

Join our list

Subscribe to our mailing list and get updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

All You Need to Know About Sleep

by Rajeev Kurapati
Sleep Phases II, Andrei Buryak.

Sleep Phases II, Andrei Buryak.

In the TED speech Why do we sleep? by circadian neuroscientist, Russell Foster shares three popular theories about why we sleep and busts a few myths about how much sleep we need at different ages.

SLEEP Must know facts

  1. The average person spends 36 percent of his/her lifetime asleep.
  2. If you live to 90, about 30 years of that will be spent entirely asleep.
  3. Our attitude towards sleep in the 20th century: We used Thomas Edison’s light bulb to invade the night and we occupied the dark, and in the process, we have treated sleep more like an illness than a necessity.
  4. While we tend to think that we don’t do much when we are asleep,  there is actually a lot happening in our brain – some areas are even more active during sleep than during our wake state.
  5. Within the brain, the set of genes associated with restoration and rebuilding metabolic pathways have been shown to be turned on only during sleep.
  6. Most important activity that sleep confers is memory consolidation. Not simply laying down memory and recalling it, but the ability to come up with anything from novel ideas to solutions to complex problems is hugely enhanced by a night’s sleep. Important neural connections are improved while less important ones fade away.
  7. Sleep deprivation and weight gain: If you sleep around five hours or less every night, you have a 50 percent increased likelihood of being obese. The reason? Sleep loss gives rise to release of the hormone ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Ghrelin makes the brain crave carbohydrates and particularly sugars. There is and undeniable correlation between sleep deprivation and a predisposition for weight gain.

How much sleep is right for me?

  • It depends on two factors: The quality of sleep and the amount of sleep.
  • If you wake up with a headache, need lots of stimulants to keep awake, are grumpy and irritable, it means that either you had less sleep than your body requires, your quality of sleep is poor or both.

A huge sector of our society is sleep deprived. Lets look at our sleep-o-meter:

  1. In the 1950s, reliable data suggests that most of us were getting around eight hours of sleep a night. Nowadays, we sleep one and a half to two hours less every night.
  2. Teenagers need about nine hours of sleep for full brain performance. Many of them, on a school night, are only getting five hours of sleep. It’s simply not enough.
  3. About 20 percent of the working population works a night shift. Our body clock does not shift to the demands of working at night. It’s locked onto the same light-dark cycle as the rest of us. So, when a shift worker goes home to try to sleep during the day, desperately tired, the body clock is saying “wake up. It’s time to be awake.” So the quality of sleep you get during the day is relatively poor. This impairs memory consolidation, recall, creative thinking, problem solving aptitude, and appetite. This lack of restorative sleep also increases impulsiveness and overall poor judgment.
The Sleeping Gypsy - Rousseau Henri

The Sleeping Gypsy – Rousseau Henri

Some myths about Sleep:

  1. Teenagers are lazy: No, they are not. They have a biological predisposition to go to bed early and wake up late. This is because their brains need that much restoration for memory consolidation, building up creative skills for their young brains to face challenges ahead. So, give them a break!
  2. Old people need less sleep: Not true. The sleep demands do not decrease with age. What’s different though is that sleep duration becomes less robust. Elderly individuals wake up after about five hours of sleep. While they sleep in fragments, the overall sleep requirements remain the same.

So, take sleep seriously. Don’t ignore what your body is telling you. A good night’s sleep improves your concentration, attention, decision-making, creativity, social skills and thus, improves your overall health and well being.  

Sleep well and be healthy ! 

Teenagers are lazy: No, they are not. They have a biological predisposition to go to bed early and wake up late.

Old people need less sleep: Not true. The sleep demands do not decrease with age.

Russell Foster studies sleep and its role in our lives.

Continue reading

Join our list

Subscribe to our mailing list and get updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

What Do Meditation And Sex Have In Common?

by Rajeev Kurapati

Orgasms are a result of sensory stimulation that culminates in climactic bliss. It isn’t difficult to comprehend why many yearn for such a blissful, albeit fleeting, state.

The goal of any species is to make more copies of itself. From an evolutionary standpoint, orgasm acts as a motivator, a reward, to reproduce. Why? Because physical union is the only means to “spread the seed” for many species. The desire to experience this unique sensation persuades us to reproduce because sex is the gateway to this euphoria. This is why when we are adolescents and young adults, a stage in out life with highest reproductive success, our minds strategically make this sensory gratification such a high priority.

As our reproductive capacity dwindles, so does our instinct to seek out a mate for physical union. While seemingly all animals possess this instinct, there’s something special only humans have; the ability to interpret it, not merely experience it.

Now, why is this discussion important to the understanding of our health and well-being? Because understanding the orgasm helps us to understand ourselves. Yes, that is true. Keep reading:

The orgasm carries with it the esteemed connotation of absolute pleasure — it’s placed on a pedestal of sexual euphoria. While we like to paint the sensation with graphic undertones of lust, the neurobiology of the climax is far less provocative.

At its core, the orgasm is much less about what it makes us feel than what it allows us NOT to feel.

With all of the hype surrounding the sensation, we can’t help but wonder: What is it about experiencing an orgasm that keeps us coming back for more?

Pleasure is typified by three things:

An escape from self-awareness: We are liberated from our burdensome egos. The weight of our constant internal criticism is lifted as our self-observer takes a brief hiatus from incessant doubt.

Decreased sense of pain: Relief from pain is an immediate trigger for the sensation of pleasure.

Alteration in bodily perception: Our inhibitions are lowered to the point of bliss. This break from self-scrutiny allows us a passing moment in a heavenly utopia.

The only other time we are able to feel such emancipating ecstasy is during an experience that is seemingly polar opposite to that of orgasm-inducing intercourse — meditation. “Bliss, both sacred and profane, shares the diminution of self-awareness,” according to a popular study.

Meditation allows us to experience the trinity of bliss: decreased self-awareness, lowered inhibition, and elimination of pain. The only difference between orgasmic and meditative states is that while sex leads to the physical union of two individuals, meditative processes, like those practiced by Tibetan Buddhist monks, diminish self-awareness by allowing our mind to focus beyond self-identification and shift our focus to the macro universe. Meditation, like the orgasm, allows us to ignore the disruptions of emotion and focus on the experience at hand. In both cases, we are freed from the burden of self-preoccupation.

While the blissful corporal experience resulting from an orgasm has an evolutionary purpose (to make more humanity), the reason behind such a blissful state is due to diminution of self-awareness that can be re-experienced at a mental level by practicing mindful meditation.

Meditation allows us to shift our attention from our ego-driven selves to the world around us. Try to make it a habit to remove the distractions of incessant self-critiquing.

Sacred or profane, the reason behind such a blissful experience is going beyond the confines of self-identification. Expand your awareness. Take time each day to think about the world around you; take a break from always thinking emotionally about yourself.

The reason behind such a blissful state is due to diminution of self-awareness that can be re-experienced at a mental level by practicing mindful meditation.

Read this on MindBodyGreen.com
Continue reading

Join our list

Subscribe to our mailing list and get updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Saints and Doctors: What’s the Connection?

by Rajeev Kurapati

To approve sainthood to a pope, the Vatican only needs one miracle. And there we have it, a new saint.

Pope John Paul was named a saint by Francis after a Costa Rican woman is said to have been cured from a brain aneurysm after praying to John Paul in 2011. His first miracle, curing a French nun of Parkinson’s disease, was also confirmed.

What makes a religious or sacred act holy is evidence of a miracle. We all need evidence – and there is, indeed, evidence.

To institutionalize a belief, a procedure must be followed, just as in any other organized entity. When declaring someone a saint, the Vatican is required to certify that a “miracle” was performed through the intercession of the candidate – a medically inexplicable cure that is lasting, immediate and directly linked to prayers offered by the faithful. The process is comparable to a peer-review procedure – one pope endorses another to promote him to sainthood.

The anointing of sainthood appears to be merely another step in the hierarchy of the church – similar to the rankings of priest, deacon, and pope. The rather mechanical process evokes a much deeper inquiry not about the basics of sainthood, but the purpose behind it. We can’t help but wonder: Do miracles happen?

Here’s a tale from my every-day life:

Part of my job as an attending physician at a hospital is to run codes. At this particular time as the doctor on duty, we had a 73-year-old male patient who was deteriorating quickly – his breath labored and his pulse gone. He coded several times and was revived with shocks. About 45 minutes into the whole exercise, we deemed the attempt futile. Although the patient had a faint pulse, his blood pressure was not detectable. Most other vital parameters were rock bottom; oxygen saturation levels were too bad. Everything about his situation rendered a sustainable recovery impossible,.. or so we thought.

The next morning, a member of the nursing staff was shocked to hear the patient, who had nearly been declared deceased just hours earlier, utter the words “I’m hungry, as if he woke from his deep slumber.

I’d call that a miracle.  

I don’t know if there was any “guiding hand” involved in the process, or it was just a mere coincidence that modern medicine fails to explain.

A miracle is something that seems logically impossible.

Our human intellect can’t fathom such an occurrence as possible. In these cases, we tend to attribute bad events to fate and “miracles” to divine intervention.

Should we dismiss both the good and the bad “unexplainables” as merely random? More over: What makes a few cells of a 5-year-old turn against themselves to become cancerous – ultimately robbing a child of the chance to experience what life on Earth has to offer? And, if these cells can turn against themselves to become cancerous, can they become buddies again, morphing back into healthy cells? It’s possible, but also worth asking: Is it possible that faith plays a role in these kinds of “miracles”?

Miracles defy the natural order – brain aneurysms aren’t supposed to “go away” and Parkinson’s isn’t supposed to be cured. But, what do we call it when the natural order takes a turn for the worse – when a healthy father’s heart stops beating with a sudden phone call that is daughter has been kidnapped and killed. We don’t call this a miracle. We call it a disaster.

Intense anguish, like grief felt after the death of a loved one, can cause a seemingly healthy heart to come to a complete standstill. Grief can evoke the same symptoms as a heart attack – chest pains, trouble breathing. It’s estimated that about 2% of heart attacks in the US are actually caused by “broken heart syndrome.” A body in seemingly health physical condition suffers this heart ache not by way of a blocked blood vessel, but proved by a surge in stress hormone like adrenaline that overwhelms the heart making it temporarily weak.

If such intense stress can break you, why can’t intense hope heal you?

To some, this hope comes in the form of faith. What cures the faithful is not merely a strong conviction in an ideal, but the intense hope triggered by belief.

It’s almost true. Sometimes it’s your faith that activates “miracles.” Miracles break the laws of nature as we know them – hiding behind the curtains of our perceptions. We’re oblivious to our role in miracles, so when they occur, we call it chance.

For a lot of us, our convictions in a higher being or lack thereof, serve as the vantage point to which we view the world around us. Anything that occurs outside of the bounds of our perception is looked at with suspicion or cynicism. We make the observational error of assuming that only what we understand is legitimate and that anything beyond our comprehension is merely a sham.

You don’t need glorious labels such as that of a saint or guru to not only wish, but evoke goodness onto the world. A life without mystery is not worth living – it is that which occurs outside of our comfort zone that makes life exciting.

People with faith in an underlying force have more room for the mysteries of life than those who refuse to believe in anything transcendent. Belief and hope has the power to liberate us from the cynicism of our minds and to open up our hearts to the possibility of miracles.

The Doctor exhibited 1891. Sir Luke Fildes 1843-1927. Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894

The Doctor exhibited 1891. Sir Luke Fildes 1843-1927. Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894

Continue reading

Join our list

Subscribe to our mailing list and get updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.