Archive for June, 2011


yoga for controlling anger

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1061211/asp/atleisure/story_7103091.asp

Advasana

Lie down on your stomach, with the forehead resting on the floor. The big toes should be touching each other and the heels should be allowed to flop to the sides. If you find difficulty in breathing, place a pillow under the chest.Breathing: As you breathe naturally and without extra effort, notice the gentle rising and falling of the spinal column. Surrender yourself to the floor and gradually start breathing longer and deeper. Try to breathe steadily. You can continue in this position for as long as you wish.Benefits: This is a position of surrender and makes the mind calm down rapidly. If you have a short temper, this asana will help to a great extent. When you feel that you are on the verge of an emotional outburst, move away from the situation and lie down in advasana. Keep focusing on the incoming and outgoing breath rather than your agitated thoughts. Shashankasana (Rabbit posture)

You can easily visualise an angry person, animal or bird, but you will find it very difficult to visualise an angry rabbit. This is what Shashankasana helps you to achieve.

Do this asana for a few minutes every day. If you find it difficult to bring your forehead to the floor, use a cushion for support. Keep the big toes together and the heels outwards and sit with the buttocks in the space between the heels. Try to settle down in this posture, allowing the spinal column to stretch fully. Continue sitting in this manner for a few minutes.

Breathing: Breathe in a relaxed and normal manner. Sheetali Pranayama Sit in any comfortable cross-legged posture, close your eyes and relax the body. Put your tongue out as much as possible and turn the sides of the tongue upwards, trying to bring the edges together to form a tube.Breathing: Inhale deeply through this tube, draw in the tongue, close your mouth and then exhale through the nostrils. When you are inhaling through the tube, there should be a sound of air rushing in. Once again, open the mouth, form the tube, inhale, close the mouth and exhale through the nostrils. Continue this for one to two minutes.

During the summers, you can do this pranayama for a longer period.

WARNING: People with low blood pressure and respiratory tract disorders should avoid doing this asana. Those with heart diseases should not attempt breath retention.The best time for this pranayama is late at night — before you retire for the day, or early in the morning — when it is relatively silent outside. If you are extremely tensed up, you can do it for up to half-an-hour. However, it must be done sitting down. Once again, if you have heart ailments, avoid breath retention.

dharma

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level2_lamrim/overview/general/4_thoughts_turn_mind_dharma.html

The Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind to the Dharma

Alexander Berzin
Morelia, Mexico, May 30, 2000
Lightly edited course transcript

Preliminaries

I like to begin classes with a set of preliminaries. These are various methods to help us quiet down and get into an appropriate state of mind for meditating or listening to teachings. In order to be able to get into something fully we need to enter into it slowly and appropriately. That is purpose of preliminaries.

There are many different ways to get into a state of mind conducive for meditating or for listening. I usually follow just one of many possibilities. This method starts with counting the breath. When we are very distracted emotionally or mentally, from our work, from traveling here or whatever, it is very important to first quiet down into a neutral state. This helps us to relax. The way that we do this is to breathe normally through the nose, which means not too quickly, not too slowly, not too deeply and not too shallowly. The cycle is to first breathe out, then allow a slight pause and, because we have made a slight pause, we naturally breathe in more deeply. That is a much more relaxed way of breathing deeply than consciously taking a deep breath. As we breathe back in, we count it as one in our minds. Then, without holding the breath we breathe out. We repeat this cycle eleven times and then repeat the count of eleven two or three times, depending on our speed. The numbers don’t really matter. We can count up to any number. We do not need to get superstitious about it. The point is to occupy the verbal energy of our mind with something so that we are not thinking something else while focusing on the breath. Let us do that please.

Once we have quieted down, we try to get our energies, our mind and emotions, going in a positive way. We do this by affirming our motivation. Why we are here? What do we want to gain or to accomplish by being here, or by meditating? We are here to learn more methods to apply to ourselves personally to help us in our lives. We are not just coming for entertainment or amusement or for intellectual knowledge. We are here to learn something practical. It is the same thing when meditating. It is not just for relaxation or a hobby or sport. We meditate to try to help ourselves to develop beneficial habits for use in our lives. We don’t do it to please our teacher. We are doing it because we are convinced that it is beneficial. We want to listen to something practical because we would like to be able to deal with difficulties in our lives more skillfully, and not just make our lives a little bit better, but eventually go all the way and get free of all the difficulties we have. We would like to learn methods that will help us to become Buddhas so that we can really be of best help to everyone.

When we reaffirm our motivation, not only do we look at what we are doing here at a teaching, but it is important also to look at the final aim. Although we may aim for liberation and enlightenment it is not going to happen overnight and miracles normally do not happen. Dharma is not magic. We are not going to learn magic means that will suddenly free us from all our suffering. It is not that we learn some methods and day-by-day it is going to get better and better. We need to be realistic. Realistically speaking, as we know from our own life experience, the moods and events in our lives go up and down, and they will continue to go up and down. We can hope that things will get better in the long run; but from day to day, we are going to have difficult moments. It is not that all of a sudden we will never get upset again. If we approach learning Dharma methods and in practicing them in meditation and in daily life in a realistic, down to earth way, we will not get discouraged. Even when really difficult things come up in life and even if we still get upset we are not thrown off course. This is our motivation. This is our aim. This is our understanding of what we can gain from coming to teachings and meditating and practicing.

It is important to remind ourselves of this by reviewing and thinking about it. Let’s say we are very upset before a meditation session. Instead of taking refuge in food, friends, sex, television or beer we take refuge in the Dharma and meditate to help us get over being upset. Even in that situation we need to be very careful not to expect that it will be like taking a shot of heroin, as if we could sit and meditate and feel high and joyous and all of our problems would be gone. If that does happen, be suspicious. If we do the meditation properly, sure we may feel better. But it might not make us feel a hundred percent better. Unless we are super-advanced, the unpleasant mood will likely come back. As I often repeat, “What do you expect from samsara?”

When we reaffirm our motivation we say, “Okay, I am going to do this because it will help me. I will try to apply these things properly to help me get free from this difficulty that I experience and to eventually be of help to others.” Whether we feel better a half hour from now or not is not the point. That is not our main focus. We are going in a certain direction in life and this is what we are doing to go further in that direction. The direction is refuge. Each time we listen to teachings or meditate, we take another step in that direction. We keep going, despite the ups and downs. That is realistic. Let us reaffirm that for a moment.

Then we make the conscious decision to meditate with concentration. This means that if our attention wanders we will bring it back, if we get sleepy we will try to wake ourselves up. To help our minds to be clearer we sit up straight and to help our minds be clearer we can use the visualization of a camera coming into focus.

Then there is a fine adjustment that we can make. First, we try to lift the energies in our body if we are feeling a bit heavy and our energies are too low. For this, we focus on the point between our eyebrows with our eyes looking upwards but our heads staying level.

Then to ground our energies if they are running a bit wild in our bodies and we are bit stressed, we focus on the navel with our eyes looking downwards but our heads staying level. We breathe in normally and hold our breath until we need to breathe out.

Introduction

This evening I have been asked to speak about another aspect of preliminaries, namely the four thoughts that turn the mind to the Dharma. Specifically, the four thoughts are:

  1. thinking about appreciating the precious human life,
  2. thinking about death and impermanence, that the opportunities that we have now with this precious existence are not going to last,
  3. thinking about the laws of karma and cause and effect, in other words how our behavior affects what we experience,
  4. thinking about the disadvantages of samsara, of uncontrollably recurring rebirth.

If we appreciate the opportunities that we have now with this precious human life and if we recognize and acknowledge the fact that this life is not going to last and that we are going to die sometime, if we recognize that our behavior is going to shape our experience in this life and also after we die in future lives, and if we realize that no matter what we experience in the future, because it will arise from behaving from confusion, will have a lot of difficulties and troubles, then we will turn our minds to the Dharma.

crises…..

The same philosophy can apply to not-so-famous women facing infidelity or other crises that destroy their dreams and upend their lives. These crises can be opportunities to find your true calling, says Susan Piver, author of “The Wisdom of a Broken Heart.” If you don’t remember what makes you happy, imagine figuring it out and starting the seeds of a new life. (Again, this advice doesn’t apply if you are facing threats to your safety.)

Wait to make big decisions. If you’re not facing financial ruin or the threat of violence, wait at least a few months for the pain and anxiety to settle down. In the fog of pain, people make rash decisions. One of  author Laura Munson’s friends was so unhappy in her life that she decided she had to get out of her marriage. She didn’t realize she didn’t really want out until she was gone. You need to figure out what you want.

Focus on the present moment. When the crazy thoughts are going through you head about who did what to who, and why didn’t you say that perfect comeback line, Piver suggests taking out a piece of paper and writing down five things that you notice are actually happening around you.

They’re usually pretty ordinary — cars driving by, the dog barking, a child playing with dolls. Go a little deeper and notice three things a little more carefully. Write those observations down. That list, part of a group of exercises in her book, isn’t ever as crazy as what’s in your head. It can have a calming effect.

Create something now. Take charge of your own joy. Munson didn’t simply plan a summer of fun for her family. She thought deliberately about what she could do to make herself and her two children happy during their financially strapped summer in their Montana town.

It was often as simple as taking three deep breaths or walking down the block. Sometimes she walked to a beautiful place or visited friends who helped keep the focus on herself, instead of trashing the husband. She turned on the sprinklers and watched her kids get soaked. She bought many tomatoes and canned tomato sauce. “Do something that is positive and nurturing to you,” she says.

Give up on the dream. Many people create a storyline or myth for their lives that says they will be powerful when they are pretty or handsome, skinny, married, a parent, or have the “right” job or salary.

“If you’re only powerful when it goes a certain way, then what happens when you lose your job?” asks Munson. Do you not matter anymore? Figure out the myths you tell yourself about your definition of success before you can move on.

Look for your truth. Take some quiet time in prayer or meditation to get through other people’s voices, and what the culture says about what your life should be like, to your essential truth.

“The advice for anyone going through a trauma is to allow the sorrow and vision for what you thought life should be to dissolve and see what’s left,” says Piver. “You have all the knowledge you need to solve your problems inside of you.”

Choose your own feelings. It’s incredibly hard to do, but Munson says it’s essential. After all, we only truly believe other people’s mean comments about ourselves when we think they’re true — that we’re unlovable or fat or nagging or mean-spirited.

“What if someone told you when you were 12 that nobody can make you feel mad, make you cry just by what they say?” she asks. “What if we had really understood that no one could make you feel emotionally anything?” Repeat after me: Those barbs are not necessarily true.

Do not play the victim. You are only a victim in an emotional crisis if you choose to be. “When we get into reaction and escalating the drama, it only hurts us,” says Munson. “There is a time and place for anger, but I want to powerfully choose those moments — I don’t want to feel like they’re choosing me.”

http://www.lifeoptimizer.org/2007/12/18/the-5-best-techniques-to-control-and-calm-your-mind/

You are not your thoughts.

What is the biggest obstacle most people face in achieving personal mastery?

Your mind; your thoughts. When you master your mind, everything else begins to fall into place.

But the moment we look at our mind, we begin to see how wild it is. Modern psychology estimates that we have 40 to 60 thousand thoughts a day, and most of them are repetitious, useless – and often, unhappy.

In my quest to control our monkey mind, I’ve taken from the best systems – from modern Cognitive Psychology, to the ancient spiritual systems – in particular, the Buddhist Sutra on the Removal of Distracting Thoughts.

Here are the results – five levels, arranged according to how unruly your thoughts are. First a warning – it is easy to get anxious and jump ahead to the more advanced levels, thinking that your mind is wilder than it really is. Please don’t, and give each level an earnest effort over a few days.

The first level – Reflect on the positive counterpart

It stands to reason that the thoughts you most want to remove would be negative: fears, anxieties, anger, lust, revenge, pride.

And therefore the easiest way to counteract them is to reflect on the opposite. What is the positive counterpart to your affliction?

Just a few examples then: If you hate someone, then reflect on love. Think kind and loving thoughts about them . Visualise yourself in a calm environment, a mental “happy place”.

On the deeper level, feel the counteracting emotion completely. Simply drench yourself with it. Imagine it as an energy, a light, a waterfall – anything that works best for you – and imagine yourself being surrounded from the inside and outside with it. This might be hard initially, but that’s normal. Keep trying, and you’ll get it.

Often, it is good to get your body into it as well. Get some exercise, put on some music and relax, or take a break from whatever you have to do.

The second level – Reflect directly on the misery

The next level goes a touch deeper. Look past the thoughts themselves, and see what they are costing you.

…………………………….. What would happen if you didn’t stop, if you indulged in your thoughts?

Maybe you would get fired for doing a bad job. Maybe you would actually go and punch your boss in the face. Maybe your wife would divorce you if you slept with your neighbour.

Simply realise how much misery it is already causing you, and how much it can cause you if you kept on doing it. Feel it. Feel the hatred or the lust or the jealousy or the fear totally.

The Buddha used the metaphor of a well-dressed young person, who finds him or herself with the carcass of a snake around their neck. The disgust is sometimes enough to make them throw the dead animal off them.

The third level – Letting them slide

This level is about simply letting your thoughts slide by without attaching to them. Thoughts are just thoughts. You are not your thoughts. You don’t have to believe them; you don’t have to fight them; you don’t have to cling to them. They are just thoughts, and they only have power if you give them power.

Visualise a large blank screen, and see your thoughts as little ants scurrying across. Prodding or playing with those ants make them lose their way and they can’t find their way off the screen. So: don’t judge, don’t analyse, don’t hate. You don’t have to believe them, if they are saying you are stupid, or weak. You don’t have to cling to them, if they are saying you are brilliant and handsome. These are all forms of playing with your ants.

Think of a spoilt brat who is jumping up and down, trying to make you angry while you are trying to watch the television. The more you get affected by it, the more he enjoys it, and the more he will do it. Just tune it out and enjoy yourself. Or smile at the child, let him know he can’t affect you, and after a while he’ll give up and find something else to do.

The fourth level – The source of the thoughts

The first thing we have to realise is that thoughts always have a source – our emotions. The two are inextricably linked; they feed each other in one giant cycle.

What is causing your thoughts? If your mind is filled with images and thoughts of lust, then there is the emotion of lust behind it. If you think a lot of cruelty and hatred, then the emotion of anger is right there underneath it.

Emotions are your body’s reaction to your mind. At this level, one of the most powerful, we shall simply cut to the root of the issue.

How do we deal with our emotions? The most simple way – and yet no one ever says it! Simply feel it. Bring it to the surface, find the emotion, and feel it.

Feel it, simply as an emotion, a sensation. Emotions and feelings are not wrong or right, good or bad. They simply are. They are just emotions. Even the most murderous rage is not wrong – it is only bad if you act on it. Just embrace it, let it be there. Don’t push it away or judge it. Relax into it, loosen any tightened muscles, and remember to keep breathing normally. Ride the wave, and let it pass. Don’t think about it – thinking about it will make you want to act on it.

Often times, these emotions run deep, and can take a lot of work to uncover and heal with your conscious embrace. But the journey is worth it – it is one of the best ways, perhaps the only way, of dealing with your emotions.

Heal the emotions, and the thoughts they cause will disappear.

The fifth level – Beating down the bad thoughts

This level is the hardest, and draws upon the techniques of modern psychology. It is hard and painful, and should be reserved for the most extreme cases. Think of this level as a big strong man beating down a weaker man, with pure brute force.

At this level, simply force yourself to stop thinking about it.

1. The Howitzer Mantra. Any time you catch yourself with a thought you don’t want, interrupt it with a prepared mantra. Make it a forceful phrase, one that works and feels right for you. “Stop!” “Enough!” “No more!”

2. The Rubber Band. Wear a rubber band around your wrist. And every time you catch yourself with a negative thought, snap the rubber band. It hurts a little bit, and you are telling your system that such thoughts hurt. Like a puppy that has been punished, it will eventually stop.

3. Filling in the gap. An important thing to note is that once you stop your thoughts, a space is created. If you don’t fill that gap in, the distracting thoughts will return to fill it. So find something nice to think about. A pleasant memory or perhaps an affirmation to fill that hole. A final option would be to simply focus on the gap, enjoying the pause in your thoughts, the silence. Doing so will slowly expand it – making the next gap, when it comes, even longer.

nature

http://www.hindu.com/mag/2011/06/05/stories/2011060550220400.htm

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/56601/how_to_take_up_ballet_as_an_adult_or_pg2.html?cat=4

How to Take Up Ballet as an Adult

Ballet Isn’t Just for Kids! You Can Begin This Fulfilling Hobby at Anytime in Your Life!

http://www.amazon.com/Joffrey-Ballet-Schools-Ballet-Fit/dp/0312194706!

http://karmelajohnson.com/2010/03/24/yoga-and-ballet-why-theyre-surprisingly-similar/

http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/info/downward-facing-dog.asp

http://www.hindu.com/mag/2011/06/05/stories/2011060550280600.htm

 

Neck and shoulder

Neck Isometrics: Place your hands against the back of your head. Begin putting forward pressure against the back of your head and resist the movement with your neck muscles. Hold for a count of 10. Repeat 5-8 times.

Shoulder stretches: Clasp hands behind the back and raise the hand till you feel a mild stretch over the chest and shoulders. Hold for a count of 10 and relax, Repeat 2-3 times

 

Hamstrings stretch

Straighten your knee as you gently curl your toes in until your feel a mild stretch over the back of thigh. Hold for a count of 10 and relax. Repeat 2-3 times. Repeat with the other leg.

 

Wall Squats

Lean on a wall with your feet apart. Slide down on wall till mid way and hold for a count of 10 and push up to the standing position. Relax for a count of three and begin again. Repeat 5-8 times.

 

Wall push-ups

Facing the wall, lean forward and place your palms flat against the wall at about shoulder height and shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows as you lower your upper body toward the wall in a slow and controlled motion. Hold for a count of 10. Repeat 5-8 times. 

 

 

hindu articles

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/article2097654.ece

Witness to History:The City Hall; Belfast Castle.Photos: Kumar Iyengar

Belfast Castle located at the foot of Cave Hill is a fairy tale castle. The climb up Cave Hill affords a breathtaking view of Belfast Lough (the Irish name for Lake) and the city of Belfast. On a clear day you can even see the Mountains of Mourne (made famous by C.S.Lewis)!

links

http://www.mariashriver.com/blog/2011/06/10-tips-managing-change-your-life

http://www.e-lane.info/time-management/time-management-how-to-handle-disruptions-in-your-daily-schedule/

http://www.personal-development.com/chuck/learning-self-discipline.htm

http://www.poetry-archive.com/collections/nature_poems.html

LINES COMPOSED IN A WOOD ON A WINDY DAY

by: Anne Bronte (1820-1849)

Y soul is awakened, my spirit is soaring
And carried aloft on the wings of the breeze;
For above and around me the wild wind is roaring,
Arousing to rapture the earth and the seas.

The long withered grass in the sunshine is glancing,
The bare trees are tossing their branches on high;
The dead leaves beneath them are merrily dancing,
The white clouds are scudding across the blue sky

I wish I could see how the ocean is lashing
The foam of its billows to whirlwinds of spray;
I wish I could see how its proud waves are dashing,
And hear the wild roar of their thunder to-day!

E  from http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/article2091979.ece

If you were made, like I was, to study John Keats at school, the chances are you will remember that vivid stanza in hisOde To A Nightingale, in which he longs for a draught of vintage cooled in the “deep-delved earth” and tasting of “flora and the country green.”

It never occurred to me to wonder then, as I do now, what wine he could have been thirsting for. He yearned for a “beaker full of the warm South” that had “beaded bubbles winking at the brim” and left his mouth “purple-stained.” A red bubbly? That doesn’t make sense.

There must be a rational literary interpretation that irons out this incongruity. But lets leave that aside and focus on the subject at hand — the association between wine and literature.

Wine has inspired some of our best writers to write elegies in verse and prose. The great Pablo Neruda who wrote many Odes, devoted one highly embroidered and metaphor-filled poem to wine, describing it as a “starry child of earth” and “soft as lascivious velvet” and comparing the line of his love’s hip to the “brimming curve of the wine goblet.”

In what are now much-quoted quotes, Robert Louis Stevenson described wine as “bottled poetry” and the astronomer Galileo wrote that “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”

And, contemporary novelist Jay McInerney is much more than just one of the world’s finest wine critics; he is also a damn fine writer, whose prose is luminous with wit and intelligence.

Why does any of this matter, you may well ask. The short answer is that it makes wine so much more colourful, expansive and interesting; that it shows wine had had and continues to have a way of coaxing the muse and stimulating intellectual curiosity; that it is so much more than just an alcoholic drink.

silences

http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/m_r/olsen/silences.htm

That suicide of the creative process Hemingway describes so accurately in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” He had destroyed his talent himself–by not using it, by betrayals of himself and what he believed in, by drinking so much that he blunted the edge of his perceptions, by laziness, by sloth, by snobbery, by hook and by crook, selling vitality, trading it for security, for comfort. Almost unnoted are the foreground silences, before the achievement. George Eliot, Joseph Conrad, Isak Dinesen, Sherwood Anderson, Dorothy Richardson, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, A. E. Coppard, Angus Wilson, Joyce Cary—all close to, or in their forties before they came published writers; Lampedusa, Maria Dermout (The Ten Thousand Things). Laura Ingalls Wilder, the “children’s writer,” in their sixties. Very close to this last grouping are the silences where the lives never came to writing. Among these, the mute inglorious Miltons: those whose waking hours are all struggle for existence; the barely educated; the illiterate; women. Their silence the silence of centuries as to how life was, is, for most of humanity.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-literaryreview/article2078123.ece

The Pulitzer citation describes it as, “an elegant inquiry, at once clinical and personal, into the long history of an insidious disease that, despite treatment breakthroughs, still bedevils medical science.”

Delectable prose

“Elegant” is an apposite description of the New York-based oncologist’s prose, whether he is rephrasing Tolstoy: “Normal cells are identically normal; malignant cells become unhappily malignant in unique ways”; or explaining the book’s provocative title: “This book is a ‘biography’ in the truest sense of the word – an attempt to enter the mind of this immortal illness, to understand its personality, to demystify its behaviour”; or extrapolating, from cancer’s ability to mutate, into the realm of philosophy: “If we, as a species, are the ultimate product of Darwinian selection, then so, too, is this incredible disease that lurks inside us.”

Mukherjee weaves together multiple stories about medical advances, doctors and scientists, and the patients who teach us something in the living or dying.Emperoris a historical account of cancer; we understand how cancer rose to prominence as a leading cause of death – as a direct result of human beings living longer now, and more likely to develop cancer. A greater understanding of the disease however comes with the caveat, the more you know, the more aware you are of how much you don’t know.

Another doctor/author who combines the three key ingredients that makeEmperorsuch an un-putdownable read — medical expertise, literary elegance and the ability to tell a story — is Abraham Verghese. His first two books,My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story of a Town and Its People in the Age of AIDSandThe Tennis Partnerare gripping and finely crafted — more, they are candid and compassionate.

Addressing our fears

By dealing with two of the worst monsters of our time, AIDS and addiction, Verghese’s books address some of our darkest fears, whether our own demons or those of our loved ones.

A couple of years ago Verghese took the plunge into fiction withCutting For Stone, which borrowed elements from his personal history to tell the story of a family enmeshed in the world of medicine across multiple lands including India, a mission hospital in Ethiopia and an inner-city hospital in New York City. Verghese has previously written that “to tell a life story [is] to engage in a form of seduction”; no surprise that he has his readers hooked.

Do Indian doctors make good writers? While more research — blind tests, even — would be needed to prove or disprove the assertion, another hyphenate making the bestseller lists is general surgeon and MacArthur fellow Atul Gawande, author ofThe Checklist Manifesto,BetterandComplications.

The Checklist Manifestois an unusual exploration of the power of the to-do list. The author uses his own experiences to show that surgery today, for example, is far too multifaceted a task to perform without a detailed checklist. We fail, not because we don’t have the knowledge, but because we haven’t developed a methodical system to use that knowledge.

Doctors aside, medical writers also come from the world of journalism, such as Lisa Sanders. Her claim to fame is that her Diagnosis column for theNY Timeswas the inspiration for the popular TV drama, HouseMD, for which she serves as technical advisor. Her book,Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosislooks at how misdiagnosis can be at the root of medical errors. She suggests that tests/scans can’t be the only basis for diagnosis; a doctor needs to employ a full range of techniques from the physical exam to listening to the patient’s story.

The doctor’s story is worth listening to, as well, hence the popularity of the medical memoir. InHeart Matters: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon, author Kathy Magliato strikes a chord when she describes “the thrill of touching the human heart”. As one of the world’s very few female heart surgeons, she offers a different viewpoint on what is largely regarded as a male preserve.

Author Tim Parks inTeach Us to Sit Stillshares how reading a famous self-help book,A Headache in the Pelvishelped with his chronic pelvic pain syndrome. There’s a book out there on pretty much any medical condition you want; for example, while on pelvic pain, you could find a purely woman-centric one on the subject such asEnding Female Pain: A Woman’s Manual – The Ultimate Self-Help Guide for Women Suffering from Chronic Pelvic and Sexual Painby Isa Herrera.

Medical books deal with a subject close to our hearts — us, we, ourselves. Perhaps the ones we are most drawn to – thrillers aside – are those that give us a deeper insight into how the mind-body machine works, why we are sick, how we can get better — and, unhappily, sometimes, why we can’t. The doctor-author hyphenates are some of the most talented storytellers in this field; so when you next get a prescription from your doctor, bear in mind that within that undecipherable scrawl could lurk the beginnings of a literary masterpiece.

http://www.thehindu.com/books/into-shakespeares-world/article2073422.ece

One day, Paul Collins, author of strange biographies such as interesting, droll failures who didn’t change the world and lover of old and odd books, decided to move with his family from San Francisco to the book town of Hay-on-Wye in Wales. He felt overcome by a powerful feeling to relocate, buy a house there and write. But he also wanted to move his library there, some few thousand books.

Collins doesn’t cram his books with everything he finds out, so it doesn’t feel geeky. The narrative is airy, light, slimmed-down, not thick and intricate. Yet, once you get over the disappointment that he isn’t telling you everything he knows, you feel grateful that he lets you finish his book. He’s a cool literary detective, laconic and terse with sharing his deep and wily knowledge of the case he’s investigating, parting with the facts — often amusing new trivia — just when you think he’s rambling on. Take his new book,The Book of William: How Shakespeare’s First Folio Conquered the World, where a reader, even a Shakespeare scholar, can discover things about the creation of the First Folio and its ensuing bibliographical history that is obscure, hidden, surprising. Research that isn’t wide or common knowledge; details he pursued and teased out.

, “reclining on a velvet pillow, where it luxuriates like a monarch…a stout, unadorned leather binding…

Collins is an impassioned literary detective who chases after details, and ends up finding so many, that his telling becomes rambling marginalia. So, this isn’t just a bibliographical history of theFirst Folio, but also a witty, intriguing and finely detailed peek into Shakespeareana.

Collins points to Samuel Johnson’s own food-stained Folio copy, remarking: “Books bear a tangible presence alongside their ineffable quality of thought: they have a body and a soul.”

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-literaryreview/article2078122.ece

The author cleverly portrays Ratnesh to be a seedy, uncouth, unpleasant scoundrel and a hardened opportunist. Amit on the other hand, is well to do and well connected with Indian diplomats and people of influence. However, he too turns out to be disappointingly shallow and calculating.

It’s one thing to weave in the history of a tourist’s background as part of the story, but to guess at their circumstances and stereotype people from different nations comes through as a bit insular and parochial.

This is yet another book that portrays today’s modern Indian women as hesitantly liberated. There is a tendency to dabble in the swirl of western lifestyle until incident catalyses their return with the swiftness of a boomerang. Seetha’s problem seems to be her loneliness in a lifestyle she is only getting accustomed to, and a lack of kindred spirits to help her along in the process. The women in the diplomat party are clearly people not in her league. The IT scene tends to produce a plethora of fine, sensitive, educated people who travel in groups and are willing to create a ready ecosystem in which a fresh contractor from India can survive. Not so for Seetha.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-literaryreview/article2078120.ece

Regional language literature has always been a vast reservoir of wealth waiting to be explored and, no matter how much of it is translated into English, only the tip of the iceberg emerges. Hindi writing, in particular, holds an embarrassment of riches that is just begging to be tapped.

Translator and daughter Ira Pande returns with Shivani’sApradhini: Women without Men. As the title suggests clearly, the book revolves entirely around women and twists in circumstances that often make ordinary women rebel against the parameters of acceptability set down by society. And step shockingly out of line. Told lucidly and laced around her true life journalistic investigations, the stories inApradhinichill the bone with their stark simplicity and brutal honesty. There is no attempt to sensationalise the author’s encounters with prison inmates, no indulging in maudlin emotions either, merely a threadbare account of the lives led by women in the shadows of crime.

Also featured here are stories about tricksters in the guise of innocent women, the ambiguous life of a madwoman and the tragic results of excessive irreverence. An entire story is dedicated to the hardships faced by the author’s mother and the magnanimity of spirit that survived all odds.

The author has a sharp ear for unspoken words and a keen eye that reads between the lines. Without saying anything concrete, she conjures up the horrors of Indian prisons and the plight of rural women who continue to be at the receiving end of immense social injustice. Domestic violence is depicted, terrifyingly, as a casual and regular occurrence; it is the outer limit of endurance that is the deciding factor of fates. Author interviews and a body of information etch the persona of the late Shivani very satisfyingly.

This book is to be read at the reader’s own peril. A bleak and joyless journey, one capable of evoking deep emotions…. Of these, guilt is likely to ride highest; that such a parallel world exists so close to the familiar one we recognise and yet one is helpless to do much about it. A compelling book but one that could make one a prisoner of one’s own conscience.