Archive for » 2011 «

* Seminar at the Rensselaer Library

This was the second seminar done on Dec 29, 2011 at this library . Three women were present, two of them were in 16 to 20 range. One was in her forties. Their feedback at the end of the seminar is summarized below.

The seminar was …

  • Excellent –  3

I will use this technique to relieve my (concern)

  • Sleeping difficulties/ Pain from recent car accident/ Stress/ Anxiety – 1
  • Anxiety – 1

Comments/ Suggestions (if any)

  • I learned a lot on how to relax

***
E-mail message from the Library

“Everyone loved your program!  Thank you! I learned that you were going to leave hand-outs for us, but somehow they disappeared.  Can you bring bring some at your convenience?”

Jane Chirgwin
Director

* Stress, Anxiety and Sleep improved

An young medical student attended three of my classes (3) over a period of two months. His mother asked me to help him, as she was worried about his anxiety and obesity. At the end of the third class, he made a self assessment of how he practiced and the change in his concerns.  Here is a brief report –

What modes did he practice and when?
Tip mode, segment mode, counting mode and staring mode at night to sleep,  Feeling mode in an emergency during the day and 911 mode when stressed (1). He practiced in the morning and when waiting,  bored and even when working.  He also practiced the loosening exercises from Yoga (gentle stretching movements) 3 times a week, in addition to his daily running (2).

How did he feel in mind and body?
He felt more focused, less stressed and felt rested. He had 8 hours of very good sleep.

What was the change in his concerns?
Stress reduced by 50%
Anxiety reduced by 30%
Sleep problem reduced by 95%

(1) Six modes of ‘Focusing on breathing’
(2) Loosening exercises from Yoga
(3) Seminars and classes

Related pages
Relieving Anxiety and Fear – Success stories
Relieving insomnia – Success stories
Relieving stress – Success stories

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* “My family can’t believe the change”

Feedback from a woman who attended two of my classes over 3 weeks. She is a retired hair dresser referred by Teri Hutson-Mulligan, a diabetes educator at Albany Medical Center to help her improve her breathing. Her problems: Insomnia, hypertension, bottled up anger, obesity and diabetes.

“I really believe the whole learning to breathe idea has helped me to take time for myself. My family can’t believe the change in my attitude about everything and I owe it to you CS.”

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* “I practiced at my Dentist’s office”

I made a follow up visit on Nov 1,2011, to the kid’s group, at the American Cancer Society’s Hope club at Latham NY. There were 10 kids out of which 5 had attended my first session on Oct 4, 2011 (1) and 5 were new. There were 3 other adults. I asked each the five kids and adults who attended my previous session how they practiced the breathing technique and how they felt about it. Some of them said they practiced at bed time and some said they practiced in the morning. One 9 year old girl said she practiced at her dentist’s office, to calm herself. I asked her if she did it on her own or any one suggested to her, to use the technique. She said she did it on her own. See the amazing implication of this –

  • The 9 year old girl learned the technique and experienced its impact for about 2 minutes in a 15 minute group session. She received my 2 page hand out on the technique (2).
  • She clearly understood the technique and liked that brief experience. She internalized the technique, as her own self calming tool.
  • She was so comfortable with the technique that she remembered about it when she felt anxious at her dentist’s appointment and used it on her own to calm herself!

Does it not make sense to equip every child with this technique, as a simple and readily usable self calming tool, available life long, at no cost? Is it not as useful as the basic skills of reading the alphabets and counting the numbers? What an incredibly effective life long technique at no cost!

Some of the kids in this group lost a parent or family member due to cancer. As previously planned, I briefly shared with the group, my personal experience of losing my younger brother of 10 years in the year 1965, due to drowning in a lake (3).

I shared with the group the ‘Segment mode’ of focusing on breathing (4).

(1) Introductory seminar for kids at the Hope club
(2) ‘Calm yourself, anywhere, anytime’
(3) My brother Ramu died at the age of 10
(4) How can I do it?

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* Speak and act with a clear mind, clean heart and compassion

Sometimes we are faced with challenging situations, unable to decide anything. We feel stuck. We need a strategy to get unstuck and keep going. The following approach may be helpful.

Protect yourself with the three  ‘C’ s

1. Clear mind: Seek clarity on facts. Make a reality check on the situation, people, their actions and intentions. Keep on working in this sphere, till you feel confident that you are not imagining things but seeing truth. Make sure you are not in confusion or doubt (1). First task is to achieve this mental clarity. Don’t speak or take any action even now. Read on for the second ‘C’.

2. Clean heart: Check your heart if you have any negative emotions like revenge, hatred, cheating, fear, guilt etc.  Clear your negative emotions as they will surely trip you on the way. The comes the third ‘C’.

3. Compassionate attitude: Check whether you have a compassionate attitude towards ‘yourself’ and ‘others’ who may be affected by your words and actions. If your words and actions are not arising out of compassion to everyone (everyone includes your own self), hold all speech and action. Take time to develop a compassionate attitude (2).

Now speak and act

Once you have put on these triple protections around you – a clear mind, a clean heart and a compassionate attitude, speak and act with confidence and conviction. You can’t do wrong to yourself or anyone. You won’t have regrets. You can stand before GOD and say boldly “I did the right thing. I am proud of my self.”. If you won’t be afraid of facing GOD with conviction, why should you be afraid of any human being?

(1) Is it a snake or a rope?
(2) Read My articles on ‘Relationships’

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* I always leave your class feeling better

Report from a woman who attended my classes

“I want to thank you for taking all the time you have, to talk with me and look into my health problems. You have really taken an interest in me. You have given me a lot of very good advice in all areas of: physical health, mental health andrelaxation methods. You have also been a good friend to talk to, whom I trust to tell all my problems to and I always leave your class feeling better.You have been better for me than any doctor or therapist I have ever had. I have learned a lot from you and have benefited from all you have taught me. I really enjoy our conversations and hope we can stay friends for a long time.” Rita 45 years (Not her real name). Rita attended 7 of my classes over a period of 4 months. She is under disability and taking regular medications for epilepsy, lupus, poor memory and paranoia for many years. For the first time she feels some hope that she can work on her problems.”

* Seminar for kids at the Hope Club

I offered a short seminar of about 30 minutes to the kids and their coordinators and facilitators on Oct 4, 2011, at the ‘Hope club'(1). It was attended by about 10 children and 5 adults. Three of the kids had lost a parent due to cancer and other kids had a cancer survivor as a parent. The proceeding at the seminar is summarized below.

The participants introduced themselves. I demonstrated the ‘Tip Mode’ (2) to them, using one hand. We all practiced together, on one hand, counting the breaths aloud. They did one hand, counting aloud while I was watching their finger movements. Then they alone practiced the technique, till they completed 4 hands (alternating both hands), counting the breaths silently. They were given the choice of keeping the eyes open or closed. Most of them practiced eyes closed. The practice lasted for about  5 minutes. When they opened their eyes all the faces were smiling! This is a common observation.

I asked each participant to share with the group how he or she felt about the experience. They said that they felt relaxed or calm or good.

I asked each of them to share when they intend to use the technique.  Most of them said they would use the technique at bed time. Other ideas were – on waking up, when angry and when stressed.

I distributed a 2 page hand out of the technique “Calm yourself anywhere, anytime” (3), to every participant and the ‘Relax Anywhere, Anytime’ hand out (4) to the adults.

One adult asked whether the breathing should be deep or normal. I clarified that one should breathe normally. One should watch the in and out breaths like watching the waves in the ocean, sitting on the beach. This breathing is a passive observation of the in and out breaths, unlike Yoga breathing, in which the breathing is to be regulated, to meet given guidelines. The facilitators said they would reinforce the practice on the days the kids meet at the club. They would try it during the transitions from one activity to another.

We agreed to meet again after a month, to review the practice and share individual experiences. The tentative date set is Nov 1, 2011.

(1) The Hope club is located at 1 Penny Lane Latham NY 12110 is a part of the American Cancer Society. It offers free programs to support individuals suffering from cancer and their families, including children. I volunteered to offer my periodic seminars and follow up classes at this place to help its members with support from Tracy Pitcher the Director. The children’s programs are coordinated by Alana Streifert.
(2) How can I do it?
(3) Calm yourself anywhere, anytime
(4) How to be calm Anywhere, Anytime
(5) Report on the follow up visit

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* “My depression has lifted”

Feedback from a 70 year old patient of my daughter Padma Sripada M.D:
“The ‘Focusing on breathing’ technique has helped me tremendously. Seven years ago I lost my daughter and I went into a deep depression and chronic anxiety, in spite of medications. I started to use the breathing technique and I got to say they were very helpful. For the first time in 7 years I feel my depression has lifted.”

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Another success story “I stopped antidepressants” 

* My shopping cart pulls to the side

I go to the nearby Walmart store often for fresh milk and vegetables. As soon as I enter, I pull out a cart from the train of stacked carts and go into the aisles, to pick up the stuff. Occasionally, after pushing the cart for a few feet, I realize that wheels are not in alignment, pulling it slightly to left or right. I am not happy with its condition. But having walked a few feet ahead, I am reluctant to walk back to the entrance to replace the defective cart by a good one. So I go ahead and continue the shopping.

If I remain passive and allow the cart to move as it tends to, my cart will soon hit another shopper or the shelving. I silently curse the defective cart and the people who should have have taken such carts out of circulation. To prevent any mishap, I periodically adjust it to go straight ahead. With a number of grumbling adjustments, I complete my shopping and walk out of the store, without any mishap.

One day it occurred to me that my mind sometimes behaves like that defective cart. I am aware of my mental bias pushing me to obviously unwarranted judgments of people. If I go by its dictates, I will definitely regret my judgments and consequent actions. Taking a clue from my experience with the defective carts, whenever I am aware, I ignore the wrong tendency of my mind and make a deliberate effort to judge and act correctly. Due to such repeated efforts, self correction of my mind has become natural and spontaneous, with less regrets.

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Next page: Spiritual articles

* Focus on the Message or the Messenger?

We see this situation often. Consider these scenarios.

  • A sufi teacher (1)  was pointing his crooked index finger, bent due to arthritis, at the moon. He was asking his student to look at the beautiful full moon in the sky. The student was focusing on the crooked index finger. He could not see the moon as he could not detach his attention from the finger. The communication between them was a total failure. Who is responsible? Who is the loser?
  • I receive a partially damaged and dirty envelope from the tax department. I feel like throwing it in the trash bin. But then….What if it is a notice of an audit of my tax return? Or it has a check for the tax refund? Should I ignore the dirty condition of the envelope and open it, pull out the letter and then toss the envelope in the trash bin?
  • I parked my car crossing the dividing line between the two parking spots, close to the entrance of a famous temple and went inside with my family. The adjacent parking space was wasted, as it was risky for any one to park in that narrow space. That being a week end, there were many visitors and the parking was very tight.  When I returned after the worship, I found a paper under the wiper of the wind shield with the pungent message “Stupid! Don’t you know how to park?” I felt very bad. Should I curse the hot blooded person, may be a youngster, for his crude message? Should I regret my negligent parking, depriving another devotee of a convenient parking space? Should I etch this incident in my mind and not repeat the parking negligence any time in future? Should I thank the youngster for teaching me an important lesson that I definitely needed, though in a crude manner? Could I have realized my inappropriate action affecting other people on my own, if I did not get that crude message,from whoever it may be?

(1) Sufism is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a Sufī.

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Parent page: Articles on ‘Relationships’