Archive for » 2012 «

* Sadness, Anxiety & Tiredness reduced

Feedback from a client who attended 4 of my classes over 2 months (1).

What did she practice? 

  • She mostly practice d the ‘Segment mode’ (2) and ‘Waking up postures on the bed’ (3).
When did she practice? (4)
  • Bed time and on waking up
  • Driving
  • Walking
  • Working
  • Exercising

What benefits did she gain?

  • Confidence: “I feel stronger than at any other time in my life”
  • Weight: “My appetite has improved and I gained back the weight that I recently lost due to the tremendous stress”
  • Assertiveness: “Slowly improving with various people in my life”
  • Anxiety: Reduced by 75%. (5)
  • Tiredness: Reduced by 75%. (6)

(1) Her previous report
(2) How can I focus on breathing?
(3) Waking up practices
(4) Day time practice
(5) Relief from Anxiety – Success stories
(6) Relief from Fatigue – Success stories

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* I was never so calm before

Feedback from a woman who attended series of my classes. She has chronic mood disturbances and taking medication. She has been practicing  ‘Focusing on breathing’ (1) mostly at bedtime along with some complementary practices. Her recent feedback –

“My mind is a lot calmer. I have never been so calm before. I have been talking very balanced with my family members. The diet changes you suggested have helped me a lot.”

(1) ‘Focusing on breathing’

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* Many problems resolved, my face glows

Feedback from an African American client Christine (not her real name) who attended four of my classes over 5 weeks. She reported multiple problems when she came in. She absorbed the techniques and practiced them with all her heart. On my advice, she read most of my articles on Relationships (1). She came out of most problems in a surprisingly short time of 5 weeks. Details –

“I was really stressed out on my job at a medical office, due to my boss. I had to always to prove myself and be constantly on the go. I could never stop to even think where I was and what I was working on.I learned in the classes how take breaths and relax more effectively in my daily life. The breathing techniques I have been using are the ‘Tip mode’ and the ‘Segment mode’ (2), in the morning and night. I also do a lot of breathing  during the day (3).
Due to these practices, my body balance has changed and my mind has become so relaxed that nothing and no one stresses me. I am so calm even when dealing with others at work. My skin complexion has changed. I now have a bright glow in my face.

I thank ‘C S’ (Suryanarayana Chennapragada) for helping me achieve total peace of mind.”

I had a personal interview with her to inquire about the several problems that she had but did not mention in her above feedback. She let me know their status as described below.

Stressful interactions with boss

Before: Her boss was very intimidating and being mean in his daily interactions with her as well as other employees. She used to take his words seriously to her heart and tried to respond to them in all earnestness. As nothing she said or did made any difference to his behavior she was getting angry and frustrated. She used to clench her jaws and grind her teeth.
Now: After practicing the breathing at bedtime and during her interactions with her boss, she stopped taking his mean style seriously. She listens to him and tells herself that he is the one who has the problem, not she. His verbally abusive behavior  has nothing to do with her.

Jaw tension and Grinding of teeth

Now: Reduced by 95%

Migraine pains

Before: Almost every day, lasting for 2 hours.
Now: Once in a while.

Shoulders puffed up

Before: Whenever she heard his mean words, which was every day.
Now: None, in spite of his behavior  being same.

Hears everything in sleep

Before: In her sleep she used to hear all sounds around her. She used to wake up twice in the night.
Now: She sleeps undisturbed,till the alarm goes off. She does not hear any sounds. Recently her husband commented with a surprise that she was able to fall asleep even when the the TV was on. 

Hours of sleep

Before: She used to sleep at 10 and wake up at 3 am and was not able to get sleep for at least 30 minutes, due to her racing mind.
Now: She sleeps undisturbed all through the night, till the alarm goes off at 6 am.

How she felt on waking up 

Before: Felt exhausted
Now: Feels great.

Back pain and Neck pain

Now: She has them only slightly. To avoid neck pain she stopped holding the phone between her cheek and shoulder. Her chronic stress was straining her muscles in her jaws, neck, shoulders and back.

(1) My articles on ‘Relationships’
(2) How can I focus on breathing?
(3) Daytime practice
(4) Releasing tension in the jaws

Related pages
Face looks bright and healthy – Success stories

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* Calmed myself on a scary air flight

This is the first report of its kind. Emily Marynczak (1) shared with me how she used the segment mode of ‘focusing on breathing’ (2) to keep herself calm for about 2 hours, during a scary air flight.

“A year ago I was traveling back home from Ohio. The flight was scheduled to be about two hours long and the weather seemed clear. But shortly after take off, the pilot announced that there was some windy weather that we would have to contend with and he was going to keep the fasten seat belt sign on, until things calmed down. And then the bouncing begun. It felt like the plane would suddenly randomly drop down a few feet – taking everyone’s stomach with it. It felt like the plane was being tossed to and fro- and then up and down. We had non stop turbulence for the entire flight, it was terrifying. (I don’t like flying even on a good day!) It would have been truly horrific for me, had I not had the mental focus that came from ‘counting my breaths’ (2). When the plane first began to bounce, I had my book on my lap but with the first big bounce, my fear began to rise and I was unable to concentrate on my reading. I was starting to feel a bit of panic surface. It was clear that all the people around me were getting very afraid too. I could hear audible gasps with the bigger drops we felt. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to cope.

Then really from a place of desperation, I decided to try ‘counting my breaths’ (2). I needed to focus on something other than the scary thoughts about a plane crash.

I closed my book, closed my eyes and placed my hands comfortably on my lap. I started using the ‘segment mode’ of ‘counting breaths with my left hand (3).

As I finished, I was noticeably calmer. I realized that while I had given my mind the task of moving my fingers with each breath, my mind was occupied and therefore there was no time to worry about the plane falling from the sky. I was so focused on my breathing and my task of moving my fingers that I couldn’t even really take in the stress of the people around me.

I continued counting my breaths in this manner, for the duration of the flight. Every now and then, if the plane leveled off and the winds calmed, I would stop, open my eyes and take in my environment. I took great comfort from knowing that if the wind picked up, I would have a way to cope, something concrete to do that would really help. Sure enough, the winds would pick up and like my life depended on it, I would resume my breath awareness, always starting with my thumb going to my pinky at the top segment. Two hours later, we landed safely.

The passengers on the plane cheered loudly, as they released their stress. As we were getting off the plane, it was obvious that the other passengers were visibly stressed and shaken by this awful flight. But I had a unique sense of calm. I think my calm came from not only the meditative practice of concentrating on my breath and having an anchor for my thoughts with the movements of my fingers, but also from the peace that I got from just knowing that I had something to try, if I felt scared. I am forever indebted to C S (Suryanarayana Chennapragada) for sharing this powerful technique with me. I am forever empowered in my life, to cope with the inevitable stresses that will come my way.

This was the first time that I had really practiced the segment mode of counting breaths on my own.

In my work as a childbirth educator,  I practice this technique as I teach my students, once or twice a month. The version of the counting breaths technique that I had been using a lot, prior to the airplane ride, and still use several times a week, is the version of counting to three, over and over again without using the fingers at all, all in the mind (2).  I practice this technique whenever I want to go to sleep. Sometimes when I start off, I hear the voice of my inner cynic say- “this won’t help you fall asleep.” But I practice it any way and then in the morning I awake refreshed and happy. I know that counting my breaths to three really works. Incorporating the finger movements doesn’t work for me when my goal is to go to sleep. It’s too much effort to contract the muscles of my hand. But as I demonstrated in my airplane story, the extra energy of contracting my fingers in such a deliberate and focused way, was exactly what I needed to use up the extra energy created by the stress I was experiencing.

I am grateful to CS for teaching me these simple yet profound tools.

(1) Emily Marynczak, AAHCC and Bradley Method Certified Birth Instructor #(518) 478-0062. (AAHCC is for American Association for Husband Coached Childbirth)
(2) How can I focus on breathing?
(3) Segment mode’ of  counting breaths as she practiced: “I brought my thumb to the top segment of my pinky finger and with the next breath I moved my finger down to the middle segment of my pinky and with the third breath I moved my thumb to the lowest segment of my pinky finger. With the next breath, I was onto the ring finger and so on, until three segments of all ten fingers had been touched with their own breath.” Also read (2).

Related pages
Seminars and classes 

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* ‘Counting breaths’ during childbirth

‘First of its kind’ feedback from Emily Marynczak, (1) the mom of my grand daughter’s classmate at Robert C.Parker School (2). She herself practices the technique, finds it useful and teaches it to her clients.

“In my work as a childbirth educator, I have been teaching different modes of ‘counting breaths’ technique (3) to my clients. I direct my clients to practice twice a day – once in the morning and once at bedtime. I also direct them to the ‘countingbreaths.com’ web site for further study.

Many of my clients report back that they find the techniques useful on a day to day basis, for calming themselves. I have also had at least a couple of women report back after their births that at various tough moments during their labor, they used counting breaths effectively, for pain management.

When the mind has an anchor, fear is reduced. When fear is reduced in childbirth, the sensations are much more manageable – and potentially even enjoyable.”

(1) Emily Marynczak AAHCC, Bradley Method Childbirth Educator, (518) 478-0062,
(2) Robert C. Parker School, Wynantskill NY
(3) How can I focus on breathing?

Related pages
Emily’s previous report
Lamaze breathing

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* Prostate cancer and ‘Life style factors’

Nutrition and exercise to promote prostate health: Following is an abstract of the key points from the guide by ‘Prostate cancer foundation’ (1)


Understanding the links between Nutrition and Exercise and Prostate cancer

  • Oxidation and inflammation play important roles in the development of prostate cancer.
  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant substances found in colorful fruits and vegetables can counteract the damage caused by oxidation and inflammation.
  • Carcinogens from charred meat can trigger chronic inflammation in the prostate.
  • Using alternate methods to cook meat and increasing cruciferous vegetables can minimize intake of and damage from carcinogens.
  • Sugar is a primary energy source for cancer and stimulates production of insulin, which is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and prostate cancer.
  • Cutting back on sugar intake, maintaining a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise regimen can slow the growth of prostate cancer.

Obesity and metabolism – Where we went wrong

  • Excess fat promotes insulin resistance, which reduces levels of IGF binding proteins that stimulate prostate cancer cell death.
  • Cutting carbohydrate intake can cut down on excess fat and weight and slow tumor growth.
  • Muscle loss due to aging, inactivity, and hormonal therapies can weaken bones and undermine a mechanism to alleviate insulin resistance.

Nutrition at the molecular level

  • Most of our DNA is involved in determining how and when genes are expressed, and can be affected by environmental and nutritional factors.
  • The ability of anti-oxidants to mop up free radicals enables them to play an important role in the fight against cell damage and the development of cancer
  • Organizing phytochemicals by color is an easy way to differentiate between the types of antioxidants and to get a variety of antioxidants into our diet.
Color group Examples Antioxidants
Red Tomatoes, Pink grapefruit, Watermelon Lycopene
Red/ Purple Pomegranates, Grapes, Plums, Berries Anthocuyanins
Orange/ Yellow Carrots, mangoes, Apricots, Cantaloupes, Pumpkins, Sweet potatoes Alpha and Beta carotenes
Yellow/ Green Spinach, Collard, Yellow corn, Green peas, Avocado, Honeywdew melon Lutien and Zeaxanthin
Green Broccoli, Brsussel sprouts, Cabbage, Bok choy, Kale Sulphoraphane, isothiocyanates, Indoles
White/ Green Garlic, Onions, Asparagus, Leeks, Shallots, Chives Allyl Sulphides

The delicate balancing act of supplement use

  • Learning how vitamins are formed, how they act, and how they are cleared from the body can help in understanding how best to ensure the safe use of supplements.
  • Dietary supplements are just that – a supplement to a healthy diet, not a replacement for one.
Supplement   Recommended daily intake (1)    Upper level intake per day (2)
Vitamin A 900 mcg 3000 mcg
Vitamin B6 1.7 mg 100 mg
Vitamin B12 2.4 mcg Not determinable
Vitamin C 90 mg 2000 mg
Vitamin D 400 IU 2000 IU
Calcium 1200 mg 2500 mg
Folic acid 400 mcg 1000 mcg

(1) Adequate intakes to be used as goals for individuals

(2) Maximum level of daily intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse effects; represents total intake from food, water and supplements. Values are healthy males aged 51-70.

Implementing a plan for success

  • Avoiding muscle loss and /or gaining muscle through protein intake and exercise can help in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Increase intake of fruits and vegetables and minimize caloric intake from refined carbohydrates.

Incorporating good nutrition and exercise into your daily routine

  • Lose body fat: eat fewer calories per day that you burn
  • Maintain muscle mass: increase protein intake and exercise
  • Exercise every day: combine cardio fitness and weight training
  • Eat colorful fruits and vegetables: recommended nine servings per day

A commitment for change

  • Making a commitment to change is the first step in successful thrivership
  • Effective change can only be accomplished in stages
  • Learn from mistakes made over time and use the gains to move forward.

The success factors

  • Reduce stress: live a balanced life and take care of yourself
  • Control your environment: plan ahead to eat healthfully and minimize stress
  • Monitor your action: track your behaviour to help chart your progress
  • Establish your support system: maintain healthy relationships with people who understand what you are going through

(1) Source: Nutrition, Exercise and Prostate cancer booklet by Prostate Cancer Foundation. Original text has 27 pages. http://www.pcf.org/atf/cf/%7B7c77d6a2-5859-4d60-af47-132fd0f85892%7D/NUTRITION_EXERCISE_GUIDE.PDF

Also see List of books on ‘CancerPrevention and Control’

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Category: Cancer  Comments off

* Risk factors for death from ‘Cancer’

Many of us are aware of the risk of ‘Heart disease’, know its risk factors like smoking, cholesterol, LDL, stress etc. and take them seriously. But the risk for ‘Cancer’? Not so serious? Wait!

You may be surprised from the US Government data for 2009. According to Center for Disease Control (1), Cancer is the second highest cause of death in the USA, very closely following heart disease. In 2009 heart disease caused 599413 deaths as #1 and Cancer was a close 567628 as #2. Cancer deaths are 95% of heart disease deaths, in spite of all the advances in screening and treatment! How less likely is death from cancer compared with death from heart disease? Hardly any difference.

If cancer is almost as likely to cause death as heart disease, do we know its risk factors? Can we do anything about the risk factors, rather than wait for it to be detected too late, as a death sentence?

I found from my personal experience that these are the popular beliefs and practices

  • Most cancers are genetically influenced and can’t be prevented. Exceptions are caused by smoking, exposure to asbestos and some chemicals.
  • Screening can’t detect all cancers. In some cases, by the time it is detected, it may be too late and it may not be possible to save life, only prolong it by a few years.
  • When it strikes, the treatment options are surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. After successful treatment, its recurrence is very likely and is a life long threat.
  • During and after treatment, hardly any self care prescriptions are given about what a patient can do, to reduce the risk factors and try to prevent its recurrence.

In this context, the book “The Cancer Survivor’s Guide – Foods that help you fight back” (2) by Neal Barnard M.D (3) may deserve your attention. The author cautions that you should involve your doctor in making any dietary changes. Other experts focus on the role of Smoking cessation, Environmental toxins, Exercise, Stress management and Social support in preventing and fighting cancer. Some links are at (4).

I also recommend the guide on “Prostate cancer prevention – Nutrition and Exercise” published by the Prostate cancer foundation (5).

Diet related suggestions from many sources are following. Diet is one of the key factors. Other equally important factors from other sources are exercise, relaxation and social support.

  • Enhance Fiber and cut down Fat: Diets high in fiber and low in fat, reduce the amount of estrogens (female sex hormones) circulating in the bloodstream, reducing the likelihood that cancer cells will multiply or spread. Fiber prevents colon cancer. It strengthens the immune system.
  • Avoid Dairy Products: Typical dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, and so forth) are high in fat and cholesterol. Dairy products appear to play an important role in cancer risk. The Physicians’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study found that men who frequently consume dairy products had a higher prostate cancer risk.
  • Avoid Meat: Many research studies have shown that cancer is more common in populations consuming diets rich in fatty foods, particularly meat, and much less common in countries with diets rich in grains, vegetables, and fruits. This is partly due to the high-fat and fiber-free characteristics of meat compared to plant foods. When meats are cooked, cancer-causing chemicals called heterocyclic amines form within the meat.
  • Increase Antioxidants: They are powerful cancer fighters mainly found in vegetables and fruits. They assist in halting free radical damage, which can otherwise lead to cancer development.
  • Immune system’s role in fighting cancer: Beta-carotene, vitamin C, and zinc can help the immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells. Foods rich in fat and cholesterol can interfere with immunity. Studies show that vegetarians have approximately double the natural killer cell activity (natural killer cells engulf and destroy cancer cells) compared to non-vegetarians.
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Healthy weight control is essential for warding off a variety of chronic diseases, and studies have shown that slimmer people are less likely to develop cancer. In addition, trimming excess weight may also improve survival after cancer has been diagnosed.

(1) CDC
(2) The Cancer Survivor’s Guide – Foods that help you fight back
(3) Neal Barnard
(4)  American Institute for Cancer Research
(5) Prostate cancer prevention – Nutrition and Exercise (Full text)   Abstract of key points

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* Courage to take the decision

Let me know your own experience with this practice. It will be posted without your name. 

  • This is the feedback from a woman who attended two of my classes. She was in distress due to her husband’s insensitive behavior. She used to be submissive to her husband like a door mat. After enduring this for many years, she felt drained and reached a breaking point. She was informally practicing ‘focusing on breathing’ for some time, based on my hand outs (1). Now she wanted to intensify her practice and come out of her distress. She was already seeing a  counselor.  Her goal was to become assertive with her husband. She attended two of my classes.  One week after the first class, she gave this feedback –

“ I think the breathing helped me face a big decision I was afraid to make. It gave me the courage to face what I didn’t want to face. I made the decision and moved out of my home, away from my husband, for now. I’m not sure of the future but my heart told me, this was the right move for now. This is a very hard time in my life and I’m happy to have this skill to help me through. The breathing is helping me stay calm. ”

This is the first feedback of its kind.

(1) How to enjoy quality sleep and conquer insomnia
How to be calm Anywhere, Anytime

Updates

March 12, 2013:“I’m doing okay. Still using the breathing techniques and doing yoga. I’m feeling much better and even a sense of peace, some days.”

Related articles
My articles on ‘Relationships’
The ‘court room’ treatment for stressful thoughts: An effective treatment for your stressful thoughts that repeatedly pop into the mind. The client referred to in this post used this technique on her own, after I introduced it to her by enacting a court scene in my class, picking one stressful thought. She could effectively counter the feeling of guilt she inflicted by  herself and also by the one sided comments of her controlling sister who showed lot of sympathy for her husband but absolutely no concern for her.

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Parent page: Benefits for Mind, Body and Relationships

* “I stopped smoking” said a cashier

I print the hand outs at the local UPS store. The cashier with whom I was meeting often, became friendly. I found him several times outside the store, smoking a  cigarette. He was always looking gloomy. One day I gave him the hand outs (1) and explained the tip mode (3), in a couple of minutes. Whenever I visited the store for printing, I asked him whether he tried the technique and on hearing his negative response, softly urged him to give it a try. For almost a year, he did not believe it was useful and did not try the technique.

Two months back, he said he was practicing the technique in the visualizing mode (2). He was happy with the practice.

In response to my query today, on how his practice was going and how it was helping him, he said with a smile
“It gives me good sleep”. And after a while, he added “I stopped smoking.”

I congratulated him and asked for the details. He said he was smoking 2 to 3 packs a week, before practicing the technique. While continuing the breathing practice, he switched to electronic cigarettes. Now he rarely feels the urge. Even when he gets the urge, he feels too lazy to smoke.

(1) How to enjoy quality sleep and conquer insomni

a
How to be calm Anywhere, Anytime &
How to quit smoking by ‘Focusing on breathing’ 
(2) Visualizing mode
(3) Tip mode

Related pages
Success stories in ‘Quitting smoking’ 

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* I wish I learned this in my teenage.

Testimonial from a person in New Jersey with whom I worked by phone and e-mail. See his previous reports at the end.

“Before I learned ‘counting breaths’, I used to run in the gym. But even after running, I was not able to remove my stress. By learning counting breaths from C S (Suryanarayana Chennapragada) I have been able to de-stress. ‘Counting breaths’ is slowly becoming part of my DNA. I have become a much calmer person. I highly recommend C S’s ‘counting breaths’ class.

I only wish I had learnt this technique in my teenage. It might have completely changed my life. C S is the best Guru I ever had, with lots of patience, extremely humble and always willing to help.”

His previous reports

Related pages
Relief from stress – Success stories

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