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Blind-sight is enough to pick emotions?

What if someone says that you don’t require to looking at faces consciously (of other person) pick emotions on them? It is really possible for us and if yes then exactly how? These are the two basic questions Prof. Dr. Beatrice D. Gelder (Renowned Cognitive Neuroscientist and Neurophysiologist) and her team has conducted an elaborate experiment at Tilburg University to find answers for. What they call this amazing (or “supernatural”) ability to pick emotions without clear visual clues is as ‘blind sight’. Really interesting!
Faces with emotional expressions on them
She conducted an experiment on numerous subjects (or persons) having or suffering from blind sight - a phenomenon in which visual cortex in one hemisphere of brain gets damaged due to stroke leading to deficiency of conscious visual perception or clue collection. The team found that subjects responded unconsciously when emotionally charged faces were shown to an eye of subjects suffering from the blind sight phenomenon.
Bodies expressing different emotions
Short clip on this experiment was broadcasted in an episode “Is there a Sixth Sense?” of a famous scientist documentary series called as “Through the wormhole”. Please view this clip thoroughly to understand what she and her team tried to reveal or unearth circuits or parts inside our brain that help us to decode emotional clues on faces and bodies of others without conscious or visual perception of stimulus.

[Prof. Dr. Beatrice D. Gelder currently works in Maastricht University, The Netherlands. She once had written me an email about this site, commenting as “Very Interesting”, when she was working in Tilburg University, The Netherlands. Know more about her on Wikipedia.]

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Turtle Effect: Body response under threat

We all remember our good old childhood days and especially cheerful play time with our family and friends. Out of many amusing and thrilling activates that each of us might have had, tossing in air and catching back in repetition done by elders was mixed with excitement and fear. Even though the vertical distance a child is tossed at isn’t unsafe but definitely frightening for it. Almost every child on this planet might have experienced the mixed feelings deep inside even though it couldn’t explain it into words. Still, that very mixed feeling thrills and amuses or most of us in our routine life.

We like to get scared but obviously in a controlled situation and we’re ready to pay for same too. In fact, whole multimillionaire amusement industry has spread its roots over the planet by scaring and thrilling us only. Now, this same industry is looking forward to scare and amuse us above surface of earth. I’m talking about space tourism or zero-gravity experience that a person other than astronauts could enjoy. I really don’t know the exact date I could (afford) fly in an outer space but I always wanted to take similar kind of experience on ground.

Recently, I got an opportunity to visit Adlabs Imagica - an amusement park which is located near Khopoli (Mumbai) and close to Yashwantrao Chavan Expressway. Coincidentally, my wife was with me to experience an enormous thrill of different rides and simulations. By taking three different roller coaster rides, I could test my courage and also feel the thrill deep inside my gut. Almost everybody was screaming and shouting till each ride coming to an end. Even after trying harder, we couldn’t stop ourselves by doing so because body was in total control of an unconscious mind.

While coming down from height quickly, moving faster on banked turns and getting rolled   in 360 degrees on steel rail; our bodies were getting hurled or tossed and pushed abruptly in almost every direction. Many of us must have felt mild, moderate or strong tingling sensation inside stomach especially while looking down at steep slope from very highest points but suddenly realizing that we cannot escape from moving seat going down on same path. Body’s quickest (within milliseconds) and natural response in this kind of situation is to protect itself from potential harm that might cause by falling down from above. Watch this video clip and experience what a rider might be feeling.

Even if we consciously know that we won’t fall off (of course, until protecting arrangement malfunctions) the seat, we tightly grip the straps, bars and railings to avoid falling. While going down deep from above or taking a dive, we unconsciously push our bodies towards the back of seat to minimize gravitational drag and retain center of gravity at its place as much as possible. Most astounding thing we can easily observe or realize is that most riders on roller coaster or inside any threatening simulators pull all movable parts of body inside and towards torso (an upper body).

This phenomenon is called as ‘Turtle Effect’ because a turtle does same in face of danger. It pulls all movable body parts (legs, tail and neck) inside its shell to avoid potentials injuries to them and thus increase chances of survival. We clearly know that we don’t carry any natural or artificial shell or armor like a turtle all the time and also we walk on two feet only. Still, we protect our neck by raising both shoulder high as if they are about to touch ears. We clench our feasts and tug or keep our forearms close to our neck. We clasp our legs together, pull them towards abdomen, lock them at ankles and grip them tightly sometimes.

How this response might have evolved in us at first place? It has evolved in us the same way we’ve evolved into humans from creatures. Our remotest ancestors didn’t roam on two feet (limbs) but four. In fact, they used to roam and forage inside oceans only with help of fins before evolving into land roaming quadrupedal (four limbed/legged) amphibians. Let me make it clear here that our remotest ancestors weren’t fishes but they were having overall philological features almost similar to a fish - except the ability to breathe by nose.

Retreated Turtle
Vertebral and quadrupedal body structure i. e. ability to adopt different postures with the help of spine or backbone (vertebras connected in an elongated shape) and roam on limbs, ultimately led to development of ribcage - an astounding structure made up of bones to cover and protect different life supporting organs. Still, stomach remained unprotected because of its functions like storing food, digesting it and exerting wastage. Since stomach needs to expand and contract in cycles, any solid structure or protection can hinder its normal functions.

In face of any physical risk or an advance of a predator, only thing any vertebral and tetra-pedal creatures can do is to pull all moving body parts inside to provide protection to them and also to cover exposed stomach. Thus two great goals are met while defending most of the body and multiplying the chances of survival. This strategy was further inherited by all descending species that evolved to roam on land and fly in the sky and climb on trees. As we evolved from the greater apes, we still adopt same defense tactics that was evolved before millions of years ago.

If you get an opportunity to ride a roller coaster or seat inside a scary and body shaking simulator, try to keep all your movable body parts in perfectly normal position. You may not because of unconscious suggestions you might get from deep inside. Since we are not designed to fly and dive from tens and hundreds of feet like bird, our body tries to protect itself from falling on ground and getting hurt by either moving hands rapidly like a birds or getting itself pulled inside like a turtle.

[Special Thanks to Mr. Joe Navarro, Former FBI Special Agent and Pioneer of Nonverbal Communication, for coining term 'Turtle Effect' with respect to nonverbal behavior.]

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Couple in trouble?

When a man and a woman fall in love with each other it speaks loudly through their body language. Love doesn't remain hidden or suppressed for a long time and shows up in one or other form. People start talking about them and different stories are shared or gossiped. Eventually, we come to know that the couple has decided to live with each other. Knot is tied between both of them and they are officially declared as a married couple. Some couples may choose to stay in a short-term or uncommitted 'venture' but still they have to make some adjustments. Relationship between a man and woman is natural and wonderful but it is also filled with challenges and uncertainties.

every romantic relation has a glorious and rosy beginning, not all stories progress ahead very pleasantly. Every couple experiences rough days, monotonousness or stagnation in their relationship but their mindset determines future of their relationship. Those who give each other enough time to develop healthy and positive outlook towards each other, survive through rough patches and keep flourishing in unimagined ways. However, not every person is same when it comes to managing impulses and guiding oneself into a right direction. When many things go beyond peaceful compromise, a couple starts moving into a disappointing stage - separation.
"What exactly went wrong?"
In daily routine, both men and women often get busy with their tasks at hands in such a way that they could hardly pay attention at each other. Traditionally, it’s the woman who starts filling unsafe when enough attention is not paid at her and some fruitful conversation doesn’t take place between a husband and wife. Sometimes, one partner starts drifting away and taking less interest into an existing relationship. Many people, mostly men, get into a shock after coming to know that their partner is no longer enthusiastic in the relationship they both had set out for. Unlike flashy and telling courtship signs, a man and woman drift away from each other silently. Shouldn’t there be any signs or clues prior to separation?

Expression of Contempt
According to Prof. Dr. John Gottman (a psychologist well known for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction), a telling sign for a couple on verge of separation is not anger and sadness but contempt and disgust. Unlike pair bonding facial expressions, gestures and maneuvers; contempt and disgust convey unconscious disliking or disrespectful attitude towards each other. One partner may not realize that the other is expressing contempt and/or disgust during regular interaction but identifying these alarming emotions on face (and body) can help in saving a troubled relationship. Moreover, contempt and/or disgust are expressed not only by couples in rocking relationship but also by any two persons irrespective of their genders.
Expression of Disgust

Contempt can be a result of suppressed anger and/or heightened social status and desirability level of one or both partners. It can be readily observed in today’s liberal environment that allows both partners to scale professional, social and economical heights along with many potential partners at their respective workplaces. On the other hand, disgust simply means - “I don’t want to stay by your smell”. It’s a state of utter dislike but not disagreement with the other person. Disgust is also related with the signature smell (pheromone) that body of one person generated and another person inhales unconsciously. Pheromones haves greater role to play in romantic lives.

More often these two expressions are given away by one or both partners during every single face to face interaction and also while discussing about partner with some other person; more there are chances of separation in future. Out of these two alarming expressions, women are more likely to express disgust and men are more likely to express contempt on their faces unconsciously. Women too can show contempt like men do.

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Body Language of Narcissist

Can you spot a narcissist - a self-loving, selfish and egocentric person by observing its behavior? Both self-confessed and unidentified narcissists are all around us and we’re likely to face them at almost every location and in different situations on this planet. A narcissist person isn’t a subject to run away from or hate but actually the person needs great amount of help, care and sympathy from other people to overcome narcissism. Like every other person, a narcissist also makes for living and struggles for survival. But what’s so wrong with that kind of person after all?
"I, Me and Myself!"
Everybody has core sense of being in existence and defensiveness which is very crucial for physical survival for every living and flourishing creature and not just so called “most intelligent creatures on earth” - human beings. Could you believe that everybody, including you and me, possess certain level of narcissism or self-love? When put on a scale of narcissism, every person would find itself at different point on it. If you really want to know then you can undergo a test by following this link and giving honest answers only.

Only thing is that few of us are highly self-loving persons and this very obsession make them as clinically narcissist personality. Principally what every highly narcissist person does most of time is attracting attention of others towards oneself and at some extent - exploit others for getting  attention paid at. They have a definite plan, strategy or mission to get identified in a crowd. They may look very charming, intelligent and tidy by their appearance. At some extent, narcissist men or women standout in being a magnet for members of an apposite gender - especially those with low self-esteem.
"Who else without ME?"
Unlike open-ended and “away from once body” gestures, they gesticulate in such way that their palms face their own bodies most of time. They try to accentuate their presence and make maneuvers that saliently convey to others, “Hey, I’m here! Aren’t you looking at me?”. They would invade your space suddenly and remind that you didn’t greet them as per their own expectations. They would raise they voice to make their presence felt without any hesitation about their contributing to noise pollution. They would put on glossy or gleaming cloths and carry costly accessories so that people should praise them.

Some of behavioral symptoms of a highly narcissist men or women, like trying to attract attention of others in crowd or raising oneself above others, can be observed in a person who is courting or wooing partners. Only difference is that courting or flirting person pays equal attention at potential partner, remains submissive yet appealing, tries to coordinate with movements and expressions of deserving partner (i. e. “mirroring”) and appears to inviting or accepting. Narcissist person tries to overrate oneself and creates a scene of having a great level of self-esteem which narcissist lacks at first place.

Another remarkable characteristic of a highly narcissist person is that he/she tries to take credit of what has been achieved by others in an obvious manner. They would come forth to shake their hands with you and say, “It was only me to encourage you from the beginning.” or “It has happened because of my company.” or “It happened because I greeted you in the beginning”. They wouldn’t make statements like “Didn’t I tell you that you could make it?” or “You has those qualities and potential.”. They would keep reminding you about what ‘favors’ they had done(?).

If you want a list of overall behavioral symptoms then here it goes:

1) Person has an extravagant sense of self-importance. Person tries to exaggerate achievements and talents with expectations of being recognized as superior without any achievements.

2) Person is preoccupied with fantasies and dreams of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love and always tries to pursue them.

3) Person believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by or should associate with other special people or institutions.

4) Person requires excessive admiration and appreciation. In fact, he/she seeks every opportunity of getting admired.

5) Person has a very strong sense of entitlement i. e. unreasonable expectations of special treatment or compliance with his or her expectations.

6) Person exploits others to achieve or fulfill his own goals and purposes. Such person often roams only with those appreciate him or her and follow instructions.

7) Person lacks empathy and appears unwilling to recognize feelings and needs of others. Such person creates a group of underachievers and stands in its center.

8) Person is often envious or jealous of others and believes that others are envious of him or her on contrary.

9) Person regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes. He denies or ignores existence of those person who reminds him or her about own shortcomings.

10) Person looks very charming and witty but always tries to make fun of others. Such person greets others in a way that he or she’s doing favor on them.

There are number of reasons that turn a tender, loving and easy going child turns into a highly (or “clinically”) narcissist person in future. Narcissist persons aren’t like psychopaths who have cruel intentions in their minds but actually they are victims of biological, genetic, psychological and environmental factors that shape their personalities in an egocentric manner - exactly like the prince (or princess) who falls in love with his (or her) own reflection in water.

By the way, we all are narcissist but some are beyond normal level of narcissism.

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Self-communication by gesturing

Let it be nonverbal, spoken or written, communication is vastest domain of our life. Many of us think that any exchange with only others is communication but this is not true at all. We communicate with ourselves too and on both cognitive (related to perception, learning and reasoning) and emotive (related with emotions) terms. We communicate with ourselves too but as per situational demand only. We communicate with ourselves in different situations the same way we emphasize, reiterate, remind and draw focus of others at something or somebody by using hand gestures and through touching ourselves or others.

Have you ever noticed yourself stroking or rubbing you chin when you're thinking deeply and trying to understand something complex? Have you ever tried to locate or find something without making any pointing or allocating gestures by your hands? If you try to refrain yourself from not making any hand gestures to remind, allocate, symbolize or illustrate something; you would experience that you're not able to perform many tasks more efficiently or quickly. So the question is - Why shouldn't we be able to emphasize, reiterate, remind and draw focus at without making hand gestures?

Development of cognitive abilities and intelligence is strongly related with pattern recognition, spatial allocation and co-relation among different entities that we come across throughout our life. We get inputs through different senses but vision has greatest share - almost 90% in a visually fit person. Everything we capture through eyes is stored inside our brain (visual cortex) in form of blueprints, maps or something alike. Representation of complex ideas or illustrations is entirely based upon our visual memory. It means that we can explain something based upon what we've saw or observed till date.

So what could be the purpose of hand gestures, touching or even some facial emblems during conversation? Pointing at something, mimicking to position or hold something in front of ourselves (by hand) and representing different things through hand gestures helps us to recall and also strengthen graphical memories related with entities. It's a kind of close loop communication we do with ourselves. Also, others can easily understand graphical representation over words so we share our memories with them.
Spatial Gesturing: Sensing space around yourself.
[This article is based on an email communication with my friend - a doctoral candidate and nonverbal communication researcher from Grand Canyon University located in Phoenix (AZ), United States]

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Should leaders show emotions?

Modern world and especially workplace has remained not so formal as compared to former generations. We’re witnessing, adapting and adjusting ourselves with new ‘styles’ of leadership. We observe political, corporate and social leaders involving with sub-ordinates more and more than only discussing about serious stuff with others or their superiors. However, core requisites for being a good, result oriented and accepted (being accepted by followers is very crucial) leader haven’t changed much since hundreds, thousands and perhaps millions of years.
A good leader should be master of its own emotional expressions.
First of all, any leader shouldn’t assume himself/herself as superhuman entity or alien being altogether. Like any other human being, a leader has emotions and ways to express them. Showing and expressing emotions verbally, nonverbally and para linguistically should be used mostly to make followers and sub-ordinates aware of true potentials they have and different areas they could improve. Throwing speech in an upbeat and firm tone of voice is what good leader can do to motivate its followers and sub-ordinates. We see this in movies - a knight provoking its soldiers to fight with enemy when their morale is down.
Each emotion has a purpose.
Every emotion serves a unique survival and socialization purpose. Throughout million years of our evolutionary history, we've learned and got in heredity the ability and skill to express, read emotions and also control their expressions on purpose i.e. voluntarily manipulation of emotional expressions. A leader has to have all these skills. Although most part of emotional expression is entirely unconscious, degree and validity of every expression is entirely contextual - kind of situation, cultural & gender norms, people involved into it, necessity of own (of a leader) involvement and severity & scale of potential outcome of any emotional expression. Context has greater importance when we try to necessitate and also validate an expression of any emotion.

A leader should be motivator.
A leader should be more skilled and also quick (as compared to its followers, sub-ordinates or team members) in picking emotional clues and react to them appropriately - more specifically in constructive manner. If a leader wants to express emotions then he/she should be well aware of contextual factors (as mentioned above) before expressing any emotion. Sometimes, not expressing emotion at the moment it induces in subconscious mind and conveying a message to sub-ordinates or team members at any other time through a different channel (verbal or nonverbal) could be wise decision. A leader has to gain reasonable mastery in in reacting appropriately to something at first place.

If a leader wants to restrain itself from expressing emotion on face, it can act upon them constructively. Facial emblems, postures, body movements and gestures can be used more effectively to convey emotional message to people. A leader should express its emotions but should keep their expressions in check as much as possible so that they don’t create mess. Yelling, shouting, grunting and taking out frustration is not expected at workplaces or in public. Negative emotions shouldn't be expressed openly.

[This article is my comment under a question "Should a leader show emotion?" posted by Stephen Manallack (Australia), Consultant in Communication and author of "Soft Skills for a Flat World" book in a Indian Leadership Network group on LinkedIn.]

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1) Basic Emotional Expressions 2) Recognizing emotional expressions: Scientific viewpoints  3) Emotional Intelligence and Success

Good posture is everything

You can conduct seemingly easy experiment on your own after reading this article. Fill a glass with water (on any other liquid) and hold it in one of your hands. You can choose any other (light or moderate weighted) object too for this experiment. You might be thinking that what this fellow is asking me to do is what you do routinely - holding a glass, cup, mug or bottle in hand to drink water, tea, coffee or other beverages. You might be holding or handling these kinds of containers for less than 2 or 3 minutes on average at a single instance. What’s so different with this so-called experiment then? Specifications of the experiments are not over yet.

I’m asking you to hold any object by stretching the hand straight and away from your body. You have to keep your hand steady and not let it bend at elbow. Obviously, you shouldn’t take support of anything and also take breaks
at all. To arrive at a conclusion of the experiment, you should hold the object until you start feeling trembling, pains and tingling sensation in muscles of your hand. Why supposedly strong muscles, which have been sophisticatedly designed to lift heavy load than that of one you’ve hold in your hand, started to ache after few minutes only? Answer to this question, which you would know after going through rest of this article, is definitely eye-opening.

Ancestors used to walk on four feet (limbs).
Before evolving into tree dwelling apes, our remote ancestors used to roam on four limbs. As we can easily observe, vertebral column i.e. backbone or spine of all four limbed (legged) animals remains horizontal. Standing and walking on four legs (i.e. quadrupedal anatomy) offers them more flexibility, good balancing ability and capacity to attain more speed while running. That’s why the fastest animal on earth is cheetah and not us. Almost all quadrupedal creatures can achieve balance and walk on their feet within just few minutes or hours after taking birth.

"Human body's are more vulnerable due to its bipedal anatomy. The kind of posture one adopts conveys his/her confidence."

On the other hand, we have a unique ability to stand and walk on two hind limbs or legs (i.e. bipedal anatomy) that we feel very proud about. This kind of anatomy allowed us to lift different things by forelimbs or hands, carry them, observe much clearly over a large distance with wider angle, climb flexibly and move from one location to other by spending less amount of energy. Moreover, bipedal anatomy gave men broader shoulders and women wider hips. However, bipedal anatomy also posed many weaknesses and challenges on human body.
Spinal sections and curves
Probably you might know that spine has four different sections and curves - Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar and Sacral. While standing, taking rest, walking or running on four legs; quadrupedal creatures hardly have to pay conscious attention at their body posture and natural curves of spine. Watch carefully at your dog or cat when it seats, stands or moves. Only in the condition of not having enough energy and essential body parts unfit or in a bad shape (infested, deformed, amputated or wounded), bad body posture could negatively affect speed of roaming, ability to perform different tasks and ultimately the four spinal curves.

We too are not exception to this but I believe that humans suffer from spine related pains, deformities and decay by most. Unlike four legged creatures, we need to maintain accurate balance along with keeping upper body erect to carry our different kinds of static and dynamic tasks. To be able to adjust ourselves with various operational demands, we eventually alter spinal curves, distance between two vertebrae and pressure on whole vertebral column. We twist, jerk, pull or burden it instantaneously, momentarily or over a considerable amount of time.

"Pat your back on your own frequently because it reduces issue of frozen shoulders. Simple idea but great effect!"

As many anatomists would agree, our lower section of our back is not much perfectly designed (or not ‘evolved’ correctly through millions of years). When it comes to perform activities by adapting an erect posture, this very design defect speaks (and also ‘hurts’) very loudly. Perhaps only human baby needs to learn and also practice to walk on two feet. Ability to stand and walk with perfectly erect posture comes only after few years after baby's birth. We insist on good posture because it’s an inevitable part of influence and impression in society but we hardly relate it with health.

Vertebral column or spine is a bridge of life force that flows between brain and other body parts. Vertebrae i. e. one of the bony segments of the spinal column that rests on other vertebrae with soft disk or cushion in between, is one of the biggest and also complex structures. It connects whole body with brain and also provides energy and signals to different body parts through spinal cord. Both stagnant life style and exhaustive workout done by adapting wrong postures accelerate the process of spinal decay and deformation.

Like any other moving body part that is made up of blood veins, nerves, bones, tendons (band of inelastic tissue that connects muscles with bones) and muscles; spine or backbone is spring like construction but little more composite. One question might be raising in your mind - Why we experience inflammation and pains in back, neck or arms only few minutes after applying pressure or strain? Crucial importance of good posture, workout and physical activities won’t make sense properly until we don’t get answer of this big question.

"Musculo-tendon pains and inflammation, if persisted over a long time, can lead to performance degradation and most importantly - deterioration of self-confidence."

Bone, tendon and muscles: All tied up together
Composed by elastic and fibrous tissues, muscles have their own dynamics and chemical processes. Muscles remain fit and also painless when they are moved in regular intervals because only movements ensure supply of blood and oxygen. Lactic acid gets generated as by-product of exercise but it also needs to get washed out through adequate blood circulation. Holding any body part in a one position or configuration and putting strain on it in repetition causes contraction of muscles and ultimately disturbance in process of circulation of blood and oxygen. In absence of nutrition and accumulation of lactic acid, muscles start to ail, tingle and inflame. If muscular pain is not relived within proper time then it badly affects not only muscles but also tendons and nerves.
Which posture you think is correct one?
"Incorrectly lifted load of 5 kilos puts pressure of 80 kilos on lumbar area i.e. 15 times higher than original weight."

Spinal column is surrounded by muscles and tissues which provide support to the structure. While sitting at one location for a long time in any particular posture, we put pressure on our whole spinal structure and thus kicking off vicious process of musculo-tendon decay. Upper body weight also adds to the pressure, which is felt in lower back and abdominal region. If posture isn’t changed or any body movements are not made to re-establish sufficient blood supply then not just spine but all related body parts get exhausted and start to ail. Over a considerable amount of time (in months or years), person working  stagnantly starts to feel lack of energy, enthusiasm and lightness from inside.

"Nearly more than 80% of today's youngsters in cities suffer from pains in back, neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, palms and feet. Only reason is stagnation and wasting time with computers, cell phones and television."

Although we all love luxury and relaxation, it's crucial that our body is moved and not stagnated for a long time. In fact, stagnation deteriorates it much faster as compared to a lifestyle filled with movements and actions. While sitting, walking or doing different tasks; only good body posture ensures spinal health and continuity of liveliness. Try to remain in a good posture as much as possible because it’s not just healthy but impressive too. Respect your body and pay attention at your posture. Be smart and stay healthy for a long time!
Good and impressive sitting body posture with and without computer
 "Stagnant lifestyle coupled with bad static and dynamic postures make situation worse or nightmarish."

Over 2 - 3 years in past, I've gone through worst health conditions. Pains, swelling, inflammation of muscles and tendons in back, neck, shoulders and wrists was about to put me out of action permanently. However, excruciating conditions taught me a great lesson of life. I've successfully recovered from severe back pains by adopting proper posture, changing it frequently and doing rigorous exercise on regular basis. Good posture is a health insurance and very impressive too! It has changed my life and also how people perceive me socially.

Would you still like to conduct the experiment, mentioned in first two paragraphs? Certainly not I guess. If you want to test that how your muscles and tendons respond to long lasting stagnation, go ahead and try it out carefully. It would end in ailing but I'm sure that you would become more conscious about your body and its dynamics. Your valuable feedback and suggestions are most welcome.

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Shivaji Maharaj: Superior in Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal Communication cannot be limited to body language, facial expressions, para language, cultural norms, etiquette, impressionism and attire only. It’s the broadest domain that includes different entities, techniques, operations and methods to convey wordless messages, indications, signals and clues from source to destination. Without any doubt, tactical rewards are assured after thoroughly studying, discovering potentials of and applying various elements of nonverbal communication in practical life. After successfully exchanging nonverbal messages and decoding them accurately in lesser amount of time, many success stories could be written in an unbelievable manner.

You might know that torches can be used to send messages or signals especially in darkness by waving or moving them symbolically. Perhaps, you’ve might seen people doing so in movies only. What if a King utilizes smoke and cannons to convey encoded messages for achieving something incredible which his enemies cannot think about same at first place? This is what was exactly happening during 17th century in Maratha Empire of medieval India.

A great King Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who intelligently studied and utilized different entities for spreading encoded signals to its army and allies scattered miles away from the locations where messages were initiated. This was really a greatest achievement at the time when exchange taking place among individuals located at different geographical locations wasn’t rapid and advanced.

Messengers covering distance on their feet and riding on horses or other animals were employed to exchange written and oral messages. Messages were also used to be sent by employing pigeons, hawks or eagles. Still, it used to take hours, days and sometimes months for successful exchange of message from one point to another. There were many hurdles, hazards and physical limitations for exchanging message by these ways. Moreover, it was not assured that a message makes to its destination and person for which it is intended due to of potential interception.

Only way was to send some encoded visual or auditory (sounds) messages or signals from one location. Torches can be used to send encoded signals from one point to another but over a certain distance due to limitation of visibility. So what Shivaji and his men did to convey messages that let them to excel in tactical communication? They might have used other entities, methods and techniques but any written evidences haven’t found yet. Let’s see how they used colored smoke and sounds generated by firing cannons for signaling.

Signals given by firing cannons: Shivaji and his army fought many wars but the battle of Paawan Khind (Khind - a narrow passageway in mountainous terrain) became legendary in war history of Maratha Empire. Also, it’s really interesting to know that how Shivaji could send a crucial signal to his fighting men much quickly in that critical situation.

During the secret escape from Panhalgad (a mountainous fort situated near Kolhapur), he and some 600 soldiers headed towards Vishalgad (another mountainous fort) through thick forest at a night with full moon in sky. On their way, they eventually found that enemy troops were pursuing them and getting closer progressively. King Shivaji had to reach on Vishalgad at any cost so Bajiprabhu Deshpande (a legendary warrior) and few men decided stay at Paawan khind (a narrow mountain pass) and fight with enemy. He kindly requested Shivaji and other men to keep moving towards Vishalgad safely.

With heavy heart, Shivaji had to keep moving on with his 300 committed men left behind to fight with some 3,000 enemy soldiers. Unlike other kings, the king was deeply concerned about those men who had decided to create barrier between him and enemy troops. After reaching at destination safely, Shivaji couldn’t waste time in attempt of saving lives of gallantry warriors. Paawan khind (a narrow mountain pass) was located few kilometers away from Vishalgad so he could send messengers on horseback to convey the message.
A cannon: Fastest way to send sound across miles
He told them to keep fighting until he doesn’t reach at Vishalgad and fires few rounds of cannon as signal of his successful appearance at the destination. He asked his men to retreat immediately after hearing the sound. Why did he choose only cannons to send them the signal? Crisscrossing hills, forest and valleys were greatest barrier for visual signals. Hence only large and bustling sound could travel the distance and terrain much quickly. That was a true tactically nonverbal message!

Even though they were deeply wounded, Shivaji's gallantry soldiers kept fighting with high spirit until they heard the roaring sounds by firing cannons at Vishalgad. Finally, all 300 men including Bajiprabhu Deshpande scarified themselves happily to safeguard the great Maratha Empire.

Signals given by colored smoke: Shivaji conquered, built and repaired more than 300 forts as guarding posts of his vast empire that was constantly being spied, invaded and attacked by other empires. As forts were separated from each other over miles, sending audio signals reaching at destination quickly wasn’t possible. Hence he came up with an excellent idea. He ordered the men guarding forts to use smoke for sending signals among forts. Going further, he invented an encoded messaging system by generating colored smoke. His men discovered trees, bushes and shrubs that could generate smoke in different colors.
Colored smoke: Easily visible from a long distances
As it has been found in historical documents, white colored smoke was used to convey positive messages e. g. victory, conquer, allying or expansion of empire. On the other hand, black colored smoke was used to convey negative messages e.g. defeat, retreat, betrayal or death of soldiers. After watching colored smoke rising upward from a fort, guards at different forts used to generate smoke with same color to pass on the message to other forts. Just within few hours or a day, a message initiated from one fort could reach to another which was located hundreds or thousands miles away from first one.

Prescribed codes for bodily conduct: Shivaji asked his delegates, representatives and messengers to adopt an upright seating posture in meetings. He also asked them to avoid doing uncontrolled and immature body movements, facial expressions, gestures and eye contacts. According to him, any message to servants should be conveyed through subtle gestures, expressions or emblems only to accomplish the intended tasks.

This article is dedicated to the great King - Shivaji Maharaj (Maharaj - a Sanskrit word synonymous to "King"), his gallantry soldiers and intelligence personals. Shivaji was not only a brave Indian warrior to shape the sovereign empire but also a great visionary, engineer, entrepreneur and strategist to inspire many. He was openly appreciated and accredited by many world famous historians, travelers, politicians and academics.

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