Monday, December 12, 2016

What Smiling actually Does to You

Your smile is not just an expression of your happiness. It is a weapon, a tool, a medicine, a therapy, an attack or defense technique (baffled?) a natural technology, a beauty device but above all it is a window to your emotional being. But smiling has many more benefits.

Sometimes you smile because you are happy. But sometimes your smile makes you happy

You smile when you are happy. Did you know you can also turn it the other way around? Yes. You may smile and then feel happier even if you were down in the dumps just before smiling...Test it.
Smile doesn't just signify your happiness - It switches a button in your brain to actually make you feel happy starting a chain reaction of making others feel happy and ultimately making you feel happier.
So by smiling you actually trigger a chemical changes in your brain that affects your thinking, attitude, personality and state of mind.

Rewiring your tendencies 

When you smile your brain mechanically registers this activity and tracks its frequency which in turn subsides the negative emotions rising or residing in your head. So, the more you smile the more effective you get at breaking down the negativity in your brain. If you smile often enough or train yourself to do so, you end up rewiring yourself from negative to positive!

Smile Constipation and Constipation Smile

One may have a constipation smile or smile constipation. Both are different. While former means smiling screwing your mouth as if you're unable to relieve yourself on the toilet effectively enough, the latter means you are capable of smiling but would rather not. Believe me, there are more smile constipated people in the world than people with constipation smile.

You can Train Yourself to Smile 

You can actually train your brain to think positively by smiling more often, just as an athlete trains his body to become stronger by exercise.

Smiling has medical Benefits too, not one but many

Smiling relieves tense muscles and nerves that you get by working hard, straining yourself over much and exposing yourself to emotional or mental stress. You knew your coffee breaks with your colleagues or sharing naughty Whatsapp messages were doing some magic on you. Admit, you didn't know your smile was responsible for it.

Smiling doesn't only relieve stress, it also relaxes heart, lowers blood pressure and is the most effective antidepressant. And it is totally free.

It Enhances your Beauty and Appeal

You actually look prettier when you smile. Your smile automatically forces people to smile back at you, open up towards you and think about you positively and even treat you differently. You’re viewed as attractive, happy and cheerful, open, warm and friendly person. A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that seeing an attractive smiling face activates your orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain that process sensory rewards. This suggests that when you view a person smiling, you actually feel rewarded.

Smiling is Easier

It’s easier to smile than to frown: Scientists have discovered that your body has to work harder and use more muscles to frown than it does to smile.

Real and Fake Smile

You must have heard of 'fake' and 'genuine' smiles! And you have to deal with this phenomena on daily basis. It is the chief cause of subconsciously guiding your intuition why you can't warm up to someone even though he/ she smiles at you quite frequently. Fake smile is when one pretends to smile without any true feeling- so he just lifts up the corners of his mouth, flash a few teeth and shut back; whereas a real smile is like a shaft of light that lights up the entire countenance including the eyes, cheeks, face movement and position.
Smile is like a light bulb that will light you up from inside and out!

It Alters Your Outlook Positively

More recently, psychologists at the University of Sussex in England reported that when we smile, we see other people’s frowns as less severe, and that when we frown we see their smiling faces as less happy.
Now, in a new paper in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, a research team based in London and Madrid has further explored the possibility that when we smile it actually changes the way our brains process other people’s emotions. To do this, they used a technique called EEG (electroencephalography) to record the brainwaves of 25 participants as they looked at photographs of faces that were either smiling or showing a neutral expression.

A Smile has Special Powers

A smile has special powers. You can calm fear, insecurity, hurt and anxiety not only in yourself, but in those around you that are experiencing those feelings. The next time someone is feeling sad, scared, nervous, whatever it may be, try handling them tenderly with a soothing reassuring smile on your face and see how quickly it calms them down!

A Smile can Builds Relationships

Smile helps build better and faster relationships. Now you know why most films involve a smiling girl and someone falls in love with her ...

Where Health Benefits are concerned Even Fake Smiles do the Trick

Some researchers insist that only a genuine smile can benefit you whereas some researchers back up concrete research findings that indicate even a forced smile can make you feel happy, even when your current mood and surroundings suggest otherwise. Smiling for a brief period of time will just as well render its benefits even if it was not genuine.
Just like you use artificial fire to ignite real fire for your barbeque...

Smiling Induces Happiness and Cheerfulness

Smiling reduces stress that your body and mind feel, almost similar to getting good sleep, according to recent studies. And smiling helps to generate more positive emotions within you. That’s why we often feel happier around children – they smile more. On average, they do so 400 times a day. Whilst happy people still smile 40-50 times a day, the average of us only does so 20 times.

Reason or no Reason - Just Smile. That's a Good Reason Enough!

Sometimes smiling for no reason actually becomes the exact reason for smiling more!
So make your smile your doctor and you won't need a doctor. Make it your friend and you won't be friendless.
Just a smile of yours can change your world...or that of others!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Glorious Autumn

Oh what a joy it is to behold with eyes,
The glory of Autumn like a paradise!
The flaming reds, the firy yellows,
The golden oranges, while green mellows;
One by one they take their leave,
Like untrue friends on troubles' eve;
Leaving trees all cold and naked,
Their glory's gone - all dry and waste;
Once so charming - full of color -
Now dying humbly in a haste!
Time to depart - yet so much splendor? 'Tis insane!
And I complain: So much beauty! isn't it all in vain?
But no. Autumn shows us how to die,
In tranquil grace and doesn't defy,
The laws of nature that all must keep,
Whether rich or poor, man or beast;
How I wish when my time comes,
I die too like an Autumn leaf,
Clad in calm, and charm, and beauty, 
Without sorrow, without grief!
Farewell Autumn leaves, go rest in peace.
The trees are strong to deal alone as they please.
When winters are gone and new spring comes
I'll see new leaves again on trees...!

Ratna Srivastava

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Is my Life About Myself or is it About Others?

A few days ago, I received an interesting post on Facebook that set me thinking:

Is it true that we have nothing of our own in our lives? Are we so completely controlled by others?
Really? Well, maybe not....

Birth may be given by others but its your life and your existence- not theirs!

Name may be given by others- but you and your actions make it count. Or not count!

Education may be given by others- but it is you who receive it and benefit by it the most. Or not!

Income may be given by others- but you earn it and you dispense it!

First and last bath is given by others- well here you're helpless. And it is a cultural thing.

Property and belonging after death is taken by others - you're helpless again; Try taking it with you...

If we think it is unfair that others have so much interference in our life then probably we're focusing too much on others instead of focusing on ourselves. We are free independent beings and should stay as such.

And yet! And yet!!

Look at it carefully and we find life is really all about others- so much so that we are incapable of even entering into this world on our own, forget existing in it completely on our own!

Not only we receive our birth, our name, our education and income through others but practically every single thing that we can think of.

We eat food produced ( and cooked) by others, live in house made by others, wear clothes made by others, drive our car or ride a bus made by others, drink water supplied by others, enjoy modern comforts and luxuries all produced/ supplied by others.

Want more? We breathe air produced by others (trees), water by others ( the rivers), food by others ( plants). We need our other half to produce a baby (or adoption agency or technology and fertility experts to do it in case one does not want to depend on a partner). And no matter how much we love ourselves we need others to love us too.

Confess. We couldn't count even if we tried to.

But it is not a problem of something called 'others'. It is law of nature and it is called Interdependence.

It exists everywhere from gigantic planets and galaxies to tiny particles of dust. Everyone and everything is closely interconnected and depends on certain others to survive, to thrive, to sustain, to maintain, to live!

The Earth depends on the sun to heat her up; the oceans depend on the sun to make rains- . The plants depend on us for their co2 and we on them for our oxygen. The flowers depend on bees to pollinate themselves, the bees on flowers to feed. The instances are mind bogglingly complicated, intricate, endless and countless...!

Nature exists in perfect harmony and every living or non living organism on earth including we humans, is wired to depend on others for a harmonious, balanced and synchronized coexistence.

And nature is just one example of interdependence. Family, country, banks, schools, businesses, offices, communities, societies, our bodies, technologies...all are forms of complex interdependence we cannot think to do away with.

Existing completely on our own is unthinkable and even if it were possible it wouldn't be worth that much trouble. When we receive so much from others, is it not fair that we give to others too?

We get so much when we share. When we give, we receive.

Life is all about others. Keep giving and you'll keep getting.
Whichever way we choose to look at it, Nature teaches us to respect what we receive from others and give graciously when it our turn. The more we give- the more we receive. And what else do you think is aforestation, conservation of energy and natural resources and animal and plant protection for?
What do you think is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter all about?

You may live for yourself alone - Try it - It's not even worth trying - your life just won't be self fulfilling and happy.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

How to Boost Your Child's Language Acquisition

Children are born with a built-in mechanism for language acquisition and believe it or not, the process officially begins the moment they are born. New research results claim to confirm language learning beginning while the babies are still in the womb!
Even if left to himself, your child is going to learn his mother tongue at the pace that coincides with his age. Yet, the multilingual world that we live in, places certain challenges for the little child who often has to grapple with two or three or even four or five different languages simultaneously that may need a little bit of help from your side to overcome. These steps are so easy you barely notice you even do them.

Avoid Baby Talk:

Cooing and babbling with your baby in sweeter than honey tones, is different and distorting simple words to sound far removed from their original pronunciation is different; while the former is helpful for establishing emotional bonds and base for language learning, the latter is restrictive for baby's correct speech development.  It is the cutest thing in the world to hear a toddler says choo choo for train or moo moo for cow, but he says it because that's what he has heard which is why he has never tried how to form 'train' or 'cow' with his tongue. A baby's tongue becomes stronger and trained when trying to produce or imitate sounds. You keep saying choo choo and moo moo to him and he shall keep saying choo and moo well into his preschool stage. 
Sticking to real words with real sounds helps him learn the right words with right sounds which in the long run helps him process the underlying sound and word patterns of the language he hears and learns to speak. 
Baby talk is cute but dangerously restrictive for children's speech and language development.

Expose him to Target language or languages. Lots of it.

The more you expose your child to conversations, stories, friends, read-alouds, songs and rhymes or interactive games, the more he learns. Everything that comes out of your mouth (or that of people around the child) and enters his ears helps him get the hang of language whether just one or multiple languages. Did you know? A child is well able to differentiate between separate languages and their vocal ques.

Friends. Play dates

Throw your child in the company of another child speaking a different language and your child may throw you a bigger surprise a few days later by rattling off  foreign words or even sentences! Children learn at an amazingly faster pace when they have a friend they can play with which is why play groups, kindergartens, play dates etc are all hot bed of language learning for children.

Talk Talk and Talk

The more he listens, the more he is stores sounds in his mental hard disk. Every language operates on a different sound system producing different sound combinations and the child can understand it very well. Any language learning's first step is to listen to it. So indulge in conversing with your child, talking to him about things around him or just read to him or associate your actions with gestures and sounds and you may be pretty sure not a word nor a sound has been missed.

Read to Them

Reading is actually extremely good and beneficial for babies and children for language acquisition. They may not understand what's being read but the sound of reading, the way words appear on your mouth while pronouncing them is what's doing the trick helping them to imitate you. Reading aloud to kids at later stage does the same: help them latch on to that language's particular sounds and underlying word and sentence formation pattern.

Associate your words with Gestures, Expressions and Actions

This is very important and much used by language teachers irrespective of the age of their students. For example you say No and and you vigorously shake your head or you say 'sí' and you nod your head. When you associate your conversations with corresponding gestures you help your child comprehend what you're trying to say even when he doesn't understand the language. Next time you say  'sí' and he can reason that nodding your head means 'yes' so 'sí' means yes. Hurrah!

Moderate Your Speech to Suit his Ears and Years:

Adults often use phrases and expressions that may be muddling for children and hinder their grasp. Example: 'I'll never do it!' This sentence spoken in disappointment, meaning you may miss your target, will confuse the child into thinking you will never do it as if it were a mistake. Another Example: A sarcastic expression 'Its the best pudding I've ever eaten!' when you mean to say its the worst, may go totally missing on the child.

Keep Your Language Free From Idioms, Adages and Proverbs

We're so used to punctuating our speech with idioms and adages that we don't even notice when we use them. Yet, to children who are gradually climbing up their language ladder may get a few serious jolts as they interpret language very literally. Traditionally, idioms are multi-word expressions whose idiomatic meaning cannot be deduced from the meaning of their parts. For example, we cannot infer the idiomatic meaning of the idiom 'Bite the dust (“cease to exist”) based on the meanings of the words bite, the, dust.
Curiosity killed the cat; A child may not be able to figure out who or what is 'Curiosity' and why she should hurt the cat.
'Jump. Its a piece of cake.' And you force your child to wonder where's the piece of cake.
The typical age at which children begin to understand puns and idioms is 7-8 years.

Avoid using too complex sentences

For the same reason as above, try to avoid using complex sentence structures while conversing to him. It helps the child to understand simply and correctly and avoids misleading confuions. Moreover speaking in short simple sentences helps him latch on to basic grammar and the language syntax giving him a strong and solid base.

Expand his Vocabulary

Use real words with real sounds and stay away from cutie cutie baby talk. This helps extend his vocabulary. In the initial stages of language development children communicate by just naming an object, a feeling or an expression. Example: 'Cold!' to tell you he's feeling cold, or ' Ball' to tell you he wants to play with a ball. This is followed by linking two or more words together. Example: 'Play ball!' ( I want to play with a ball.')  or 'Me cold!' meaning I'm feeling cold. At this stage helping your child pick up a good vocabulary is enormously beneficial to his expressing himself, being able to communicate effectively and to get hold of the language faster. Besides he will learn and reproduce real accent the way adults learning a foreign language cannot.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Starry Night

A Starry Night 

I and he, he and I,
Lay beneath a starry sky;

The night was chilled, our hearts on fire,
Swimming in oceans of desire;

And he said: 'You're mine. Mine forever!'
'Yes,' I whispered, 'Your's forever!'

We took our vows under the stars,
Became one till death only do us part;

He's my dream, my guide, my heart and soul,
My life's mainstay; he makes me whole;

Beside him I'll walk, sink or swim,
He's only for me, I'm only for him;

With him I laugh, with him I cry,
In his arms I wish to live, in his arms I wish to die...!

I wrote this poem last Friday 7th October while driving to work. 
It is dedicated to my husband...!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sleep: Some interesting Facts ( All Sketches by me)

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book."
-Irish Proverb

In the morning you beg to sleep more, in the afternoon you are dying to sleep and at night you refuse to sleep.

Ask teenagers: what they would not give to keep sleep at bay? Ask working adults: what would we not give in exchange for a few more minutes to sleep?

Ever experienced Yog Nidra or Yogic sleep? I have done. Several times. I was meditating and slipped in yogic sleep: it felt like I had slipped into a box of vaccuum: totally dark (words like dark and black do not even begin to describe it), totally empty, totally restful, totally motionless, totally sound less, totally dreamless, just a state of deepest rest. And someone calls out your name and you come out of it realizing you were awake recollecting that something strange had happened to you.

In Hindi it is called Samadhi!

Yog Nidra is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. One appears to be sleeping but the unconscious mind is functioning at a deeper level. It is a sleep with a trace o deep awareness. In normal sleep you lose track of ourselves but in Yog Nidra you don't. Its funny because you have not been sleeping and yet been in a state that's way deeper than your normal deep sleep!

45 minutes of Yog Nidra is as restorative as 3 hours of sleep.

The hours that children spend asleep influence their ability to perform on cognitive tasks. Children who sleep through the night and have few night waking episodes have higher cognitive attainments and easier temperaments than other children.

Sleep also influences language development. To test this, researchers taught infants a faux language and observed their recollection of the rules for that language. Infants who slept within four hours of learning the language could remember the language rules better, while infants who stayed awake longer did not recall those rules as well. There is also a relationship between infants' vocabulary and sleeping: infants who sleep longer at night at 12 months have better vocabularies at 26 months. Source: Wikipedia

Benefits of Sleep: Good adequate sleep improves memory, boosts creativity, improves performance of athletes or even common workers, improves performance of children in class, helps increase attention and focus, lowers stress and anxiety levels and blood pressure and helps treat depression.

Sleep hygiene: Sleep hygiene constitutes of establishing healthy rules to induce regular healthy sleep so you stay healthy. If you are a baby or a child, it also helps your parents stay sane!
The rules include preparing a good sleep environment, establishing a sleep ritual consisting of bathing, changing in night clothes, reading a bedtime story, playing sleep music and saying goodnight. 

Beauty Sleep: Want more benefits out of your sleep? Go to sleep.
A good sleep rejuvenates your tired skin and gives your complexion a healthy glow. In fact it even helps your eyes appear brighter and hair bouncier.

Most major diseases in the world like hypertension, cancer, high blood pressure, heart diseases, depression, mental diseases, anxiety and stress disorders, even simple fevers, cold and flue etc. to name a few, lists good restful healthy sleep as necessary for their treatment. 

Social jet lag: If you wake up at a different hour during the weekdays and a totally different one on weekends you may be suffering with social jet lag which is quite similar to travel jet lag except that in travel jet lag you physically change time zones whereas in social jet lag you stay at the same place.

Sleep Debt: Sleep debt is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. Too much sleep debt results in serious physical and mental fatigue and significantly reduced performance levels.

Dysania: Dysania is the state of finding it hard getting up out of bed in the morning. 

My personal peculiarity: All my life I have been catching the sun leave its bed sleepily, give a big yawn, stretch itself and say good morning to me personally . When I allow him to catch me in bed instead I feel I lost the day. 
I love to rise early when the sky is still ink black. The phenomena of witnessing the rising sun, its first ray of light, the chirping birds and the gradual lightening of the sky holds a special place in my morning rituals...
It fills me with joy in my heart, a song on my lips and a spring in my step that others get through their cup of coffee. Early rising is my cup of coffee. More than that.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Rain, The Beautiful Rain!

It's been raining since yesterday and all I have done is just to admire the beauty of it, its sweet melodious rhythmic music, its hard-to-miss earthy smell and the distinct connection that it establishes with my inner self.

Listening to the sounds of rain is like deciphering the language of nature!

Have you ever noticed, it has a unique quality of accompanying you in your various moods and emotions. When you're sad rain seem to sympathize and console you, when you are happy it seems to celebrate with you!

 When you're in a romantic mood, it heightens the essence of togetherness, deepens your desires and brightens the fire of love!

 When you're calm, it serenely slides you into introspection and meditation!

When you're scared with challenges of life, it seems to hold your fingers protectively as if to tell you hey, you're not alone; I'm with you!

Rain has its own language. Listen to it and you will be amazed at what you will find.

The closer you are to nature, the closer you get to your inner self, to your real YOU!

(All photographs are my current originals.)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

How to Encourage Your Child to Read

The greatest gift that a parent can give to his child is the love for reading! Other than 'love' of course.

The more a child reads the more he learns and the smarter he becomes. Above all, his love for reading earns him life long joys and a lifelong companionship that is second to none.

Give him an Early Start:

Its never too early to start. The earlier, the better. Even though babies as young as 1 month are hardly capable of understanding a complex thing such as reading, reading to them distinctly benefits them. They start learning to focus their sight on the book, listen to the sounds of reading, decode expressions of the reader and the very ritual of reading activity.
You do it for two days and watch your little one reach out for a book with a heavenly toothless smile and you know exactly what he is trying to say: Read to me!

Choose Age Appropriate Book:

A great deal of science goes into making age appropriate books for children as every age group has its own specific characteristics and limitations. Baby books are specially designed with large colorful pictures of objects that a baby already knows in his world and thick stiff laminated pages that he can turn himself or toss around without damaging them the core idea being to get him used to books and the joys that reading them brings. As a child's vocabulary grows he is able to comprehend simple story line and text supporting pictures. So reading a 10 paged book about dancing monkeys may be more enjoyable to a two year old than The Little Red Riding Hood.

Choose Books According to his Likes:

A child who finds cars or vehicles more interesting will definitely react positively to a book about cars or vehicles, airplanes, police, machines etc rather than fairy, witch, spell book. Choosing according to a child's personal interests helps boost his interest in books and reading. Do it the other way round and you may be putting him off ...

Keep Upgrading. Keep Experimenting:

A child who loves car books, if only listens to car books will probably stay at car books. On the other hand, gentle upgrading from your side to trucks, buses, airplanes and so on will help him widen his interest area and develop his ability to accept and learn more things rather than staying fixed at one.
The key is in your hands!

Build the Right Environment and Conditions:

A child is more likely to have interest in reading if he has lots of books in his house rather than having too little or none. Providing a book rich environment is directly proportionate to child's interest in books and reading. A child who grows up near animals and nature, appreciates animals and nature. One growing up close to electric gadgets has a natural affinity with gadgets and technology. Same could be said about music, art...or weapons. A point to remember here is if you have too many other interesting (to him) things around him such as audio books, cartoon programs, toys with audio visual technology etc then books may not be able to take a front row.