As I sit down to write on music and its relevance in our lives, the first thing I am aware of is the cacophony of various sounds around me. Seated on a bean bag with my device, trying to pen down my thoughts, I cannot but feel a tad irritable as the sounds from the construction site nearby intrude into my consciousness. ‘Whirr, whirr, whirr. Tap, tap, tap. Thud, thud, thud’. But having practised mindfulness through meditation for over a decade and a half, I realise that I have to stop being reactive, and quietly listen instead.
I had planned to write a piece about interludes. And here I am, on the verge of pushing away the very inspiration that the moment was offering me. Every sound that is threatening to interrupt my flow of thoughts is, in fact, an example of how our lives are filled with interludes. Almost all sounds around me, periodic thuds from the construction work, rhythmic rattling of the fan, and cooing of birds, consist of interplay of sounds and silences. And as annoying as they may be, I realise this cyclical play of sounds and interludes just represents the very nature of our lives. Literally and metaphorically, it brings balance to our lives.
In music, interludes are the life breath. Pauses and silences in between melodies are the building blocks for creating the conflict-resolution cycle in music. After the momentum of a piece of music builds up to a crescendo, it is the long, pregnant pause preceding the culmination that is critical to the rush of satisfaction that comes when we hear the finale note.
Even when we hear people speak, it is the poignant pauses that serve to emphasise their most significant points. The obvious example that comes to mind is Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech. Filled with distinct pauses, it illustrates how the interplay of words and silence is the hallmark of great oratory.
Whenever I have had powerful experiences in my concerts or in imparting music through teaching or demonstrations, it has been when I have shown the listener interplay between musical parts and pauses. The ‘Shadaj’ or Sa, which is often the culmination note in many Raaga presentations, usually follows after a short pause of intense anticipation. When it is finally given to the listener, one can only describe the feeling as utter bliss.
I cannot help but notice analogies in daily life too. Starting from aspects of our anatomy like the heartbeat, menstrual cycle, and circadian rhythms such as the sleep-wake cycle, this prevalence of alternating patterns extends right up to the waxing and waning of the moon, day and night, and the seasons. The isolation resulting from Covid-19 is no exception to this. As the world hurtled towards an impulsive, fast, and self-indulgent way of life, the period of isolation post the Covid-19 outbreak ended up driving us into silence, humility and self-reflection. I do not think beautiful music is only made up of beautiful sounds. Music that touches the soul can do so due to the interlude of silences that help us appreciate those sounds.
A steady stream of even the most beautiful melodies cannot make sense without the silences in the right places. The silences help us anticipate and appreciate the climaxes of sounds that follow. Using silences well is an essential building block to music. Rhythm excites us for the very same reason. It is the even pauses between the beats, and the predictability of the next beat after the pause that allows us to connect with the rhythm and the minds of others listening to it. In Indian Classical taal ‘Sum’ and ‘Khaali’ do this job. Interludes signify balance, and in this balance lies a middle path, one that holds much promise, as much in music as in life. It is in this balance that we find genuine love, peace and the true song of life!
The writer is a vocalist of Hindustani and Carnatic Classical music with over three decades’ experience. She is also the founder of Music Vruksh, a venture to make classical accessible for its aesthetic and wellness benefits.
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RBI IMPOSES MONETARY PENALTY ON TWO PAYMENT SYSTEM OPERATORS
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed a monetary penalty on two payment system operators for deficiencies in regulatory compliance.
A statement issued by the RBI today read, “The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had, by an order dated October 01, 2021, imposed a monetary penalty of Rs1 crore (Rupees one crore only) on Paytm Payments Bank Limited (PPBL), for an offence committed of the nature referred to in Section 26 (2) of Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 (PSS Act).” It further said, “A Compounding Order dated October 7, 2021, was also issued to Western Union Financial Services Inc (WUFSI), a Money Transfer Service – cross-border inbound service (customer to customer only) operator – imposing a penalty of Rs 27,78,750 for non-compliance with certain provisions of the directions contained in the Master Direction on Money Transfer Service Scheme (MTSS Directions) dated February 22, 2017.”
The RBI further stated that the penalties have been imposed in the exercise of powers vested in RBI under the provisions of Section 30 and Section 31 of the PSS Act.
This action is based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the entities with their customers, it added.
The RBI further informed that on examination of PPBL’s application for issue of final Certificate of Authorisation (CoA), it was observed that PPBL had submitted information that did not reflect the factual position.
As this was an offence of the nature referred to in Section 26 (2) of the PSS Act, a notice was issued to PPBL. After reviewing the written responses and oral submissions made during the personal hearing, the RBI-determined that the aforementioned charge was substantiated and warranted the imposition of a monetary penalty.
The RBI further stated that the Western Union Financial Services (WUFSI) had reported instances of breach of the ceiling of 30 remittances per beneficiary during the calendar years 2019 and 2020 and filed an application for compounding of the violation.
The RBI-determined that the aforementioned non-compliance warranted the imposition of a monetary penalty after analysing the compounding application, and oral submissions made during the personal hearing, it added.
Apple’s Yearly Bonanza -iPhone 13 Pro, Pro Max, and a lot more
Apple’s much awaited September announcement, they introduced iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, redesigned inside and out, both models introduce an all-new Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion featuring an adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz. The pro camera system gets all new Ultra-Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras, powered by the performance of A15 Bionic. Video now gets Cinematic mode for beautiful depth-of-field transitions, macro video. Both models also offer end-to-end pro workflows in Dolby Vision, and for the first time. iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max also include 5G with more bands for better coverage, big improvements to battery life for the best battery life ever on iPhone with iPhone 13 Pro Max, new storage capacity of 1TB, and the Ceramic Shield front cover, tougher than any smartphone glass.
iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max will be available in four finishes, including graphite, gold, silver, and the all-new sierra blue. Pre-orders begin Friday, September 17, with availability beginning Friday, September 24.
- Customers can get iPhone 13 Pro for INR 119900and iPhone 13 Pro Max for INR 129900from apple.com/in/store.
- iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are also available through Apple Authorised Resellers and select carriers.
Apple introduces iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini, featuring a sleek and durable design, an advanced new dual-camera system for improved photos and videos in low light, and introducing Cinematic mode. The device would be available in five gorgeous new colours.
Both models get advanced dual-camera system with a new Wide camera with bigger pixels and sensor-shift optical image stabilisation (OIS) offering improvements in low-light photos and videos. iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini also boast super-fast performance and power efficiency with A15 Bionic, longer battery life, a brighter Super Retina XDR display, double the entry-level storage at 128GB, and IP68 rating for water resistance, and an advanced 5G experience.
iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini will be available in pink, blue, midnight, starlight, and (PRODUCT)RED,1 with pre-orders beginning Friday, September 17, and availability beginning Friday, September 24.
Apple announced Apple Watch Series 7, featuring a reengineered Always-On Retina display with significantly more screen area and thinner borders. The narrower borders allow the display to maximize screen area, while minimally changing the dimensions of the watch itself. The design of Apple Watch Series 7 is refined with softer, more rounded corners, and the display has a unique refractive edge that makes full-screen watch faces and apps appear to seamlessly connect with the curvature of the case. Apple Watch Series 7 also features a user interface optimized for the larger display, offering greater readability and ease of use, plus two unique watch faces Contour and Modular Duo designed specifically for the new device. With the improvements to the display, users benefit from the same all-day 18-hour battery life,1 now complemented by 33 percent faster charging.
It is the first Apple Watch to have an IP6X certification for resistance to dust and maintains a WR50 water resistance rating.2
Apple Watch Series 7 introduces five beautiful new aluminum case finishes, along with a range of new band colors and styles.
- All Apple Watch Series 7 models will be available later this year.
- Apple Watch SE with USB-C charging cable, new Apple Watch bands, and Apple Watch Nike bands will be available to order from apple.com/store, with availability in stores coming soon.
Apple introduced the powerful new iPad mini with a larger 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display in four finishes. Featuring the brand new A15 Bionic chip, the new iPad mini delivers up to 80 percent faster performance than the previous generation. A new USB-C port allows faster connectivity, and cellular models with 5G bring more flexible mobile workflows. New advanced cameras, Center Stage, and support for Apple Pencil (2nd generation). The new iPad mini is available to order, and will be in stores beginning Friday, September 24.
Apple introduced the new iPad (9th generation), featuring the powerful A13 Bionic chip that packs even more performance and capability into the most popular iPad, all while retaining its all-day battery life. 1 Starting at just INR 30900, the new iPad features a 10.2-inch Retina display with True Tone, a 12MP Ultra-Wide front camera with Centre Stage, support for Apple Pencil (1st generation) and Smart Keyboard, the intuitive iPadOS 15, and twice the storage of the previous generation. The new iPad is available to order on apple.com, and in stores beginning Friday, September 24.
The use of natural ingredients and therapies in daily needs to stable mental wellbeing
Our physical body responds to our mind’s interpretation of external sensory perceptions. Most of us feel good when we see a beautiful scene, a happy expression makes us feel relaxed, music has the ability to sooth us or excite us and even sadden us at times. Tasty food makes us feel pleasure and aroma therapy is based on the ability of pleasant sensory perceptions of smell to affect our mood and emotions.
So it’s but obvious that natural environment around us can be modulated to produce greater mental well-being. That’s why we look for green surroundings, peaceful ambience, more spacious and bright places to live and travel to, add plants to our interiors, and aroma diffusers to our offices and temples.
Alternative and natural therapies are based on adding elements in our environment that are known to enhance a sense of well-being. These can include one or several sense organs.
- Touch- A massage always works wonders when we feel tightness in our muscles. From Ayurveda to Physiotherapy, acupressure to socio cultural practices of massage, all rely on touch and pressure modalities to induce relaxation in body which has positive feedback effect of relaxing the mind and giving a sense of well-being. Many research papers have been published on effect of touch in modulation of feelings and emotions in normal population as well as people suffering from autism, mood disorders and even physical symptoms like pain and paresthesias .
- Vision- How do we feel looking at a dark, dirty space? And now imagine looking at blue skies, blooming flowers, gurgling waterfalls! ‘A thing of beauty’ is not just joyful for poets and writers but for everyone. Visual Imagery related relaxation techniques are based on using calming visions to help in relaxation exercised. Similarly, watching violence in real or virtual world increased release of adrenaline and other stress hormones which cause physical and mental stress leading to mood disturbance, anger, irritability and consequent physical manifestations of body aches, headaches and gastrointestinal side effects. Therapies and therapy environment are thus kept simple, spacious and pleasant to senses to induce a sense of well-being both as part of natural loving or illness management.
- Hearing- The energy of sound is used widely in medical fields for how it affects cellular vibrations and hormonal secretions. Use of music is an age old method of improving mental well-being. From chanting mantras to latest sound baths, all rely on how pleasant sounds make us feel better. The negative impact of harsh sounds is all too understood and has even be utilised for criminal interrogation as means of breaking down people. The opposite is obviously true as well and hospitals, ICUs in modern medical facilities and surgeons in operation theatres use music to uplift mood and enhance positivity.
- Taste- According to Ayurvedic system of living,Food makes us who we are and various flavours and combinations of edible products have the ability to affect our emotions. In psychiatric parlance, the disorders around stress eating and impact of sweet and bitter flavours is widely studied. It’s also well known that mood affects the taste of food. Alternative therapies have thus used taste and aromas to help create positive and relaxed mental states. Similarly, the distinct categories of sattvik, rajasik and tamasik food in Ayurveda focuses on how food habits affect us both physically and mentally.
- Smell- Aroma therapies need no introduction. Smells are potent memory stimulants and emotions of. certain remote past are often felt intensely if associated with a certain smell. Thus use of lavender fragrance for calming the mind and inducing sleep, Jasmine fragrance for uplifting mood and desire, cinnamon fragrance for improving concentration etc are commonly known applications to improve mental well-being.
Other than the sensory impressions, natural therapy relies on diet, exercises and daily rituals which are supposed to improve wellness and keep illness at bay. The use of fresh and locally available ingredients, evidence based use of herbs and spices for boosting relaxation and immunity, yogic poses and breathing techniques and daily rituals of bathing and grooming along with spiritual norms and practices like prayer, gratitude and faith etc all come together to maintain a healthy lifestyle for a healthy mind and body.
Lower Back Pain: The 10 prominent causes of it
In India, 20 percent people of 16-34 age group are treated for back and neck conditions in India. The percentage of young population going for back pain treatment is the highest, whereas, 45% people neglect their pain for more than 7 weeks which results to delayed treatment. Seeing the prevalence, the question arises how does lower back pain happen? Our lower back has a complex structure and it’s made up of the five lumbar vertebrae – L1 – L5. These are held together to form a column, by muscles and ligaments. The lumbar spine provides support for the back and takes most of the weight of the upper body. Therefore, the lower back is more prone to back pain than the upper back because the lower part of the back bears the mechanical load.
Here are the 10 prominent causes of lower back pain, and some of them are connected to the spinal cord and nerves and others are linked to conditions:
Trauma or injury:
injury to low back and occur with small simple falls at home for example while walking down fast from the stairs or slipping in the bathroom.
While road traffic accidents can cause very bad back injuries right from simple fractures to complete spinal cord injuries paralysing people.
Sports injuries often result in sprains and tears in muscles/ ligaments of the lumbar spine. More Violent injury can cause an intervertebral disc to move out of its place like a toothpaste coming out of the tube and it creates pressure on the spinal cord.
Stooping or bad posture the next most common cause of low back pain. Most people which is entry lifestyle tend to slouch, while sitting for long hours and even while watching TV they do not take proper lumbar support. Long hours of continuous sitting can cause abnormal strain on the disc and can weaken the spinal muscles leading to backpain.
With age, our joints gradually deteriorate due to general wear and tear. The intervertebral discs also similarly start to shrink and the nerve roots become strained. Even mobility of the spine is lost and it becomes stiff. In such a scenario, the spinal canal becomes narrowed, causing a serious condition where intense pressure on the spinal cord causes pain, numbness and difficulty walking called as neurogenic claudication.
Vitamin D deficiency
Recognise to be another major cause for unexplained low back pain, vitamin D deficiency has come as an epidermic and can simply be treated by checking and confirming the low levels and proper exercise and supplementation of vitamin D.
Osteoarthritis and other type of arthritis including Rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis eventually affect our lower back. When arthritis occurs, it causes inflammation within the joints, erosion of cartilage and bone and consequent pain weakness of muscles.
Referred pain from abdomen or Kidney Stones.
When there is no structural or functional issue in the spine, still low back can happen due to referred in from Indra abdominal organs and kidney stones. Kidney stones can cause pain in the mod and lower back.
Backache or back pain is quite common during pregnancy, especially in the early stages. When a woman conceives, the ligaments become softer and it starts getting stretched to get her all set for the labour. This can put a strain on the joints of your lower back and pelvis, which can cause back pain.
Many spinal tumours don’t have any symptoms but there are some that cause extreme back pain and neurological shortfalls including numbness and weakness. The location of the tumour in the spine plays a crucial role. It actually destroys the healthy tissue uch as the vertebrae (bones) in the spine, leading to back pain. About 70% of spinal tumors are located in the thoracic spine, which is located in the upper and middle part of the body.
Cauda equina syndrome
This is a emergency condition in which ruptured disc presses on the spinal cord causing symptoms in the lower limbs, and sometimes the bowel and bladder. If untreated it can result in permanent neurological damage and needs urgent surgical intervention.
Challenges in Dementia care during Covid-19 pandemic
Covid-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented threat especially to the elderly suffering from neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s. There is an additional burden of stigma, abuse, ageism, financial impoverishment, loneliness attached to dementia. Disruption of nonessential healthcare services like closure of Daycare centre due to fear of infection affected the treatment and care of the Alzheimer’s patients. A delay of few weeks to months may prove critical for people living with dementia. Especially an early diagnosis window of opportunity is lost.
Persons living with Dementia find it harder to comply with social distancing, usage of mask, gloves or sanitisation. The difficulty in comprehension of the above information manifests as agitation, restlessness, aggression and other problematic behavioural symptoms. Some older adults with dementia are often frail, with impaired mobility, respiratory reflexes are at a high risk of infection and mortality. As a result the caregivers role has become more challenging as dementia patients may not learn properly the use personal protection elements, such as wearing facial masks, washing hands, and keeping social distance and complying with other safeguarding procedures .
These patients are likely to experience additional distress owing to absence of relatives, friends and neighbours who would normally visit them. There is also a strict limitations of social activities such as going for a walk, visit to a place of worship, going for a holiday or shopping which they did on regular basis. This social isolation is linked to more confusion in the patients with Dementia and may result in greater agitation and aggression as well as other unexplained behaviour.
Before pandemic engaging in social activities, preforming cognitive and physical activities and having productive daily routine had been the mainstay therapy. But now and during Pandemic lockdown all that reversed and strict social isolation had to be observed along with other quarantine guidelines. We encourage providing interaction with loved ones, friends and pets on digital services like zoom, FaceTime to the people living with dementia. Also most religious places are zooming their daily prayer services on digital platforms like YouTube which can be easily watched at their convenience. All the above activities increases the “contact time” for people living with dementia. This will help in improving the behaviour issues in the patient and reducing the stress on the caregivers.
As a precaution Vaccinations for all Dementia patients, their prime caregivers as well as family members is recommended. This would give them a good protection from infection. Visitors to the patient should also be vaccinated. They should be wearing a mask for the entire duration of the visit. The place where the visitation is held should be well ventilated preferably outdoors. If the visitor has been exposed to anyone with the virus prior to 14 days , then postpone the visit. Inform the family member immediately if the visitor develops a fever or symptoms consistent with Covid 19 within 14 days of the visit. Check the temperature of the visitor or the caregiver before they enter the home. Ensure that they wash their hands upon arrival and regularly throughout the time they are with the patient. The caregivers as well as the visitors should be made aware that information delivery to people living with dementia must be preformed slowly with frequent pauses, in short simple sentences preferably with the use of audio visual aids.
During highly contagious stage of pandemic we advise the family that there is always a possibility that the caregiver might himself/ herself get infected with the pandemic and is unable to provide required support. Alternate sources of care including friends, relatives or volunteers need to be planned and prepared in advance. Since Dementia care in India is delivered mostly by informal caregivers usually family and women ( wife, daughter, daughter in law, sister) there is an increased burnout strain on them during pandemic due to higher dependency needs.
During and after the pandemic caregiver support is essential. Our team of counsellors at Alzheimer’s Related Disorders Society of India -Delhi Chapter have continuously provided that extra support to the families of dementia patients through tele- counselling and video consultation. We wish to resume our Day care services as early as possible with due precautions and integration with tele- medication to reduce the delay in early diagnosis and care.
The article has been compiled by Renu Vohra, Member Secretary, Alzheimer’s Related Disorders Society of India, Delhi Chapter.
Meditation for a stable mind
Spiritual study and meditation stabilise our minds and help us move through times of confusion. We all know the feeling when we come to a fork in the road and suddenly face a choice. At a moment like this it is not practical, and can even be dangerous, to stop and figure it out, because there may be cars behind us. A sensible person will pull the car to the side of the road, put the car in neutral and give himself time to decide which is the right way to go.
The same happens in other parts of our lives. Some people get confused very quickly. Spiritually, when there is confusion, the best thing to do is to pull back from the situation, sit quietly and take the mind into even one moment of peace and silence. Just this one moment can bring great clarity.
Confusion is a subtle form of fear that brings anxiety. Perhaps something on the news disturbs us and we start imagining that the same thing could happen to us. It has never happened, and it is most unlikely that it will ever happen, but it creates anxiety, nevertheless. We begin to assume that it may happen and imagine how it would feel. When we invoke spiritual methods of regular and frequent moments of meditation, stillness, silence and peace, the mind comes to understand that everything will be alright, and even if such a thing did happen, we would know how to handle it at that time. The mind becomes calm and we stop worrying.
Spiritual study and meditation are invaluable practices to stabilise the mind and strengthen the awareness that we are able to deal with anything life may present to us.
Meditation links us with God and we then develop a state of peace so deep that we become unshakeable in the face of anything. We need this quality of mind because uncertain and unpredictable situations can happen at any time. Scenes are continuously changing. Even as they change, we have to remain stable and cultivate the ability to adapt, change, grow and thrive.
We can start with just a moment and then move to many moments of silence and peace throughout the day. This practice of meditation, coupled with deep spiritual understanding of how and why the world is changing the way it is, allows us to sustain an inner state of stability, tolerance and deep peace regardless of what is happening around us.
B.K. Mohini is the Additional Administrative Head of the Brahma Kumaris.
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