Archive for » May, 2013 «

@ “Thoughts are like dead leaves blowing in the wind” – Alfred’s progress

See (1) to know about Alfred. 

Practices

I had begun to worry about some aches and pains in my neck and hips and so I met with Elisa Cotroneo, a yoga teacher and somatic movement specialist. She was great and gave me some good advice on modifying my morning routine. I have begun to implement these changes and am already feeling an improvement. I have continued to develop the asana which I made up and am finding ever deeper relaxation from its practice.

Regarding your suggestion about extending the sitting meditation
It is interesting because I have begun to do that as a sort of natural progression.  When I find an asana (yoga posture) that makes me particularly tranquil, I will stop counting and continue the pose for some time.  I think these extended time frames are usually only 10-15 minutes now because that is about how long my total meditation time has increased.

Ideas

The Tree Metaphor
When meditating try to experience all those things a tree experiences- the touch of a breeze, sunshine, bird song, roots reaching into the earth, branches to the sky, the weight of being. Avoid all those human overlays such as anger, anticipation, and regret.

Thoughts  vs Ideas
Because we cannot just turn our minds off (and it would be dangerous if we did) I have begun to differentiate between thoughts and ideas as I meditate. My definition of a thought is that it is a fragment of an idea. Thoughts come and go, some good, some bad, like dead leaves blowing in the wind. An idea is a whole thing. It can stand alone like a large smooth rock on the ground. It can be looked at from different sides. The glue that holds an idea together is intuition. Here is an example of an idea – that the tranquility experienced from meditation is a baseline. To achieve tranquility is simply opening a door to a new space. The exploration of that space is what counts. When I meditate I concentrate on that idea (as well as my breath, my body sensations and my state of mindfulness). Keeping that idea in focus allows me to ward off distracting thoughts and achieve tranquility more efficiently.

Results
  • I took a long and stressful (busy traffic and bad weather) car trip helping my son move into a new apartment in Brooklyn. The rented van had extremely uncomfortable seats and we drove for over 7 hours. I used body awareness techniques I have learned from my asanas and ended the trip with no residual body stiffness.
  • I find myself striking up conversations with strangers or people who I hardly know more often.
  • Also, I think I am listening to other people better.

(1) Alfred

 If you like this page share it with your friends. 

Related posts: Alfred’s progress

@ Felt fresh at the end of a 3 hour ‘car trip’ – Alfred’s progress

See (1) to know about Alfred. 

Practices

This week was interesting because I took a trip to the ocean to fish with an old friend. One day I meditated on the sand on a beautiful ocean beach with the sounds of surf and shore birds. The next day I practiced on my friend’s deck in an urban area. The change of place in some ways distracted me a bit but also it made my “journey” different and I learned something from it.

I am doing pretty much the same practice as last week. However I am constantly refining subtle elements such as body scanning, breathing technique and mindfulness.

Ideas

Meditation is considered a practice because it is something that, for most people, must be learned and developed. The natural state of human consciousness is not tranquil and serene. One of our evolutionary inheritances is to be on guard against danger. Although imminent danger is absent from many of our lives, our atavistic memory can keep us in a slightly edgy and nervous state. To achieve calm and clarity of thought through a meditative practice is to rise above these instinctual tendencies. This does not mean that you become blind to reality. By first recognizing needless anxious thought and then redirecting your mind, you are actually becoming more in tune with the real world and gain the additional benefit of well being.

Results

I took a 3 hour car trip and applied calm and alert thought practices while driving. Not only was the trip very pleasant but, in addition, my perception of time became elastic and I felt as fresh when I completed the trip as when I started.

(1) Alfred

If you like this page share it with your friends. 

Posts of Alfred’s progress

@ Breathing in and breathing out as a continuum …Alfred’s progress

See (1) to know about Alfred. 

“I am still keeping at it and expanding my practice every day. My core routine is 10 postures, each held for a minimum of 30 breaths. In between, I stretch in ways my body tells me to, some times rocking gently to loosen things up.

I always play soothing music or chanting; there are great chants on you tube. I was burning incense but have stopped because I find it a distraction.

Each day I discover new ways to attend to the present while meditating. Every day I feel a benefit; sometimes great, sometimes subtle.

Some ideas
  • We can be slaves to time. Being constantly aware of the clock and where you need to be an hour from now, robs you of the present. While meditating, do not fall into the trap of counting breaths, as if they are grocery list on which you are striking off items. Immerse yourself in each breath and adhere to your body’s natural relaxed breathing pattern. Time can become quite elastic when you are not measuring it in your mind. I suspect that the perfect present is infinite.
  • If you have trouble stilling noisy thoughts, try some mental exercises.
    • When you breath in, think of what it feels like to exhale and then, as you exhale think of the feeling of breathing in.
    • Think about the sound of wind on your face, of how sunshine smells and what the color green tastes like. Imagine that your body is floating or rotating slowly. Imagine you are slowly melting into the ground.
  • I realize as I try to attain complete tranquility while meditating, that the way I breathe can disrupt this goal. I have found at times a great rush of peace as I slowly exhale but, as I transition to breathing in, I am susceptible to errant thoughts. In order to avoid this undesirable distraction, I have begun to try to think of breathing in and breathing out as a continuum, rather than a transition. As I breath out and feel peace flow in, I concentrate on holding that feeling and I begin to breath in. I do not concentrate on the change of direction of my breath. This is helping me sustain and deepen the feeling of calmness over multiple breath cycles.
Benefits  I gained
  • I went to a social event where I knew nobody. I felt more relaxed than usual in this situation and felt like I was more focused on the person I was talking to at any given moment.
  • During the day when a worrisome thought clouds my mind, I am better at addressing it and filing it away where it belongs, rather than have it put me in a foul mood.
  • I am more easily amused.”
(1) Alfred

If you like this page share it with your friends.

@ Seminar at the Bethlehem Central Middle School

I offered the first seminar at this school library on May 15, 2013. It was organized by the Bethlehem Healthy Kids Committee. Anna McMahon, a member of this committee and great supporter of this technique was instrumental in setting this up. Seven women, two men and two girls attended. I distributed select handouts from my website to the adults and children. (1) 

 Adults – Feedback

Scanned images of the feedback forms

I came to know about this seminar from

  • Anna McMahon – 2 responses
  • Healthy Kids Committee – 2
  • Husband/ Healthy Kids Committee
  • Posters at the school
  • Times Union – Bethlehem Blog
  • Healthy Kids Committee Face book post

The seminar was …

  • Very useful –  8
  • Useful – 1

I will use this technique to relieve my (concern)

  • Sleep, Stress
  • Sleep and Relaxation
  • Sleep, Stress
  • Stress at work and Insomnia
  • Stress reduction
  • Stress, Anger and Relaxation
  • Headaches, Anxiety, Stress I have with my family
  • Anxiety, Panic
  • Self and Wife

Comments/ Suggestions (if any)

  • I want to practice this and feel better.
  • Wonderful. Very excited to start working on this and looking at your website!
  • Great Presentation.
  • Very practical and user friendly. I look forward to practicing it.
  • I am really looking forward to trying this with stress and sleep.
  • Very helpful. I feel very relaxed after practicing this technique.
  • I had been feeling tense all day, but now I am feeling more relaxed.
  • Helpful. I have used other counting breaths methods but this simplifies the process so the focus is not so much on counting that you forget to breathe and just enough focus on counting and breathing to keep your mind from wandering.
  • Very practical. Great tips and modifications.
 Children – Feedback

Scanned images of the feedback forms

I am in ….

  • Grade 5
  • Grade 4
When I practiced the breathing I felt …
  • Happy, at peace and slightly sleepy
  • Calm and sleepy
I want to try this technique when I….
  • Can’t go to sleep
  • Am stressed at school
I think this practice will help me for ….
  • Sleeping and keeping my cool
  • Going to sleep

(1) Documents for download

If you like this page share it with your friends.

Please send your comments  through the ‘ABOUT – Contact’ page.

Parent page: Past seminars

@ Seminar at Parsons Child and Family Center Albany NY

I offered a lunch time seminar for 30 staff members of Parsons Child and Family Center in Albany NY (1). These are professionals who work with children and families with special needs. This was organized by Marylynne Brady Johnson the Chief Training Officer at  Sidney Albert Training and Research Institute (SATRI). Select set of my hand outs (2) were given to every participant. The scanned images of their feedback forms (without names) and the summary of their responses are presented below. I am grateful to Marylynne for offering me this opportunity. I appreciate the wonderful support from Melissa Mace of SATRI ever  since we started talking  about the seminar and for achieving such a wide participation. The professionals who handle difficult families and children  under challenging situations, experienced the impact of practicing the technique for a few minutes, during the seminar. With such a short experience they felt that this simple technique can help them, as well as their child and adult clients which shows the great potential of this technique.    

Scanned images of the feedback forms

Comments about the seminar

  • Very useful – 25
  • Useful – 4
  • Somewhat useful – 1

Titles of the participants 

  • Clinician – 2
  • Family advocate
  • Secretary
  • Social worker
  • Parent partner
  • Program assistant
  • Supervisor
  • Training coordinator
  • WSP (Waiver Service Provider)
  • HR (Human Relations)
  • HCI (Health Care Integrator)
  • School Psychologist
  • Not mentioned – 17

I will use this technique personally for my (concern) 

  • Sleeping/ sleep/ more restful sleep – Total 5 resposes
  • To get sleep, Relieve anxiety
  • Sleep and Focusing
  • Back pain, Sleep issues
  • Sleep, Relaxation
  • Insomnia, Stress, Eating
  • Insomnia and Relaxation
  • Better sleep and Overall  relaxation
  • Anxiety, Back pain, Sleeping
  • Stress reduction, Meditation and with my children for sleep
  • Insomnia, Grief
  • Chronic pain in hip, elbow and feet
  • Back pain and Stress relief
  • Stress
  • Stress and Focus
  • Stress relief, Dealing with anxiety
  • Anxiety
  • Happiness
  • Self and daughter
  • Work, Clients, Family

I can use this technique professionally for 

  • My clients – 2 responses
  • Myself on the job and with my clients
  • Working with children to relax
  • My clients as a relaxation technique
  • The clients I work with in my practice
  • Help parents learn to relax and lower their stress level
  • Some of the lads  I work with
  • Helping agitated youth
  • Teaching kids before impulses
  • Client use and staff use
  • Helping agitated youth
  • Teaching kids before impulses
  • Stress relief – 2
  • Stress, Anxiety, Smoking cessation
  • Kids/ Stress management
  • Stress and Focus
  • Stress reduction with children
  • Stress, Frustration
  • Centering, Calming and Mindfulness
  • Focus and Calming
  • Calm down
  • Relaxing
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Not mentioned – 6

Comments about the seminar 

  • Very simple approach that any one can use. The simplicity is wonderful.
  • Very clear, simple & useful
  • This seminar was very informative. The challenging part is putting it into practice.
  • So simple but so helpful and useful
  • Very simple & helpful. I know this stress but I forget!
  • Lots of helpful tips.
  • Very relaxing, helpful, excited to try the technique at home
  • I plan to start using this and will remember to be patient with it. I am so glad I came to this workshop. Thank you for sharing.
  • Extremely useful and easy to teach others.
  • Very clear and practical
  • Very informative, explained things very well
  • Calming and informational
  • I enjoyed it, very useful
  • I loved it, so simple. Great presenter. Very personable.
  • Excellent presentation. Very mindful & stress reducing
  • Like that there are several variations/ methods so people can choose one they like best.
  • Excellent presentation, clear and concise.
  • I really like the “nibble on the cookie” metaphor
  • Learned something new. Simple and helpful.
  • Very interesting – 3 responses
  • V. good
  • Good
(1) Parsons Child and Family Center: 60 Academy Rd, Albany, NY 12208

If you like this page share it with your friends.  

@ Stress-relief, as easy as 1,2,3

This is a reproduction of the blog post in the Times Union Newspaper by Anna McMahon (1) who is a practitioner of this technique and also its great supporter. She was instrumental in organizing my seminar at the Bethlehem Central Middle School on May 15, 2013. I am grateful to her for the wonderful encouragement.

____________________________________________________________________

Stress-relief, as easy as 1,2,3
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 by: Anna McMahon

Free presentation: Focusing on Breathing, at Bethlehem Central Middle School (Library Media Center)
Wednesday May 15, 2013 7-8 pm

Presented by Suryanarayana Chennapragada (“C.S.”), at the invitation of Bethlehem Healthy Kids Committee.

We all know that modern life is stressful. Work pressures, school pressures, family and relationship pressures…everyone suffers stresses of one kind or another, and too much stress can lead to health issues such as headaches, insomnia, anxiety or panic attacks.

Relief may be at hand – literally. With the Focusing on Breathing technique (2), instructor Suryanarayana Chennapragada (“C.S” for short), demonstrates how stressful thoughts and feelings can be brought under control through a simple process of focused breathing, using the fingers as counters. No pills, no special equipment, no mystical concepts. If it sounds ridiculously simple, well, it is! Even young children can learn it, and people of any age can practice it.

My personal experience includes using the technique successfully to get to sleep, and to calm myself in anxious situations. A good friend of mine has found relief from debilitating chronic insomnia. On C.S.’s website you will find testimonials from people who have used the technique to overcome numerous problems, including quitting smoking, improving blood pressure, building self-confidence and increasing focus for work or study.

Everyone is welcome to attend the one-hour seminar hosted by Bethlehem Healthy Kids Committee. Come and try the technique, and see if it works for you. You have nothing to lose but your stress!

____________________________________________________________________

If you like this page share it with your friends. 

Please send your comments through the ‘ABOUT – Contact’ page.

(1) Blog link
(2) How to be calm Anywhere, Anytime (24)
(3) Testimonials 2012 (24)

@ Improvements in patience, judging people and pains – Alfred’s progress

See (1) to know about Alfred. 

Meditation practices and experiences

When you count your breaths try not to say the numbers in your mind. You might try replacing one, two and three with red, green blue and as you mark each color in your mind try to visualize it. Or make up three syllables to replace the numbers: aaaa, raaa, hum for example.

When practicing meditation be extremely gentle and loving of yourself. Do not think badly of yourself if your mind strays, simply redirect. If you find a position or mental place that makes you feel good then allow yourself extra time there and try to go deeper into tranquility. When you are done, stretch like a cat in ways that feel good, scratch your scalp with your fingers and pat yourself quickly and firmly all over with your hands.

As a boy I had dreams that I could fly. It was not flying like superman, more like I had figured out the secret to undoing gravity. I would rise up above the sidewalk and slowly float down again; like a slow motion jump. At times I would get quite high up so that the town below me looked like scenery in a model railroad set. These dreams were always elating. I felt like the world was filled with many happy secrets and, maybe, I was able to figure them out. Sometimes I would awake, and in my half sleep, still believe in the possibility of levitating. This belief sometimes carried through the day. Meditation is beginning to create a similar feeling of elation in me. Although I am firmly planted in the “real” world, meditation gives me a glimpse of hidden possibilities and is restoring my belief in magic.

Changes I attribute to my daily meditation
  • Increased patience in traffic and with people
  • I am less likely to judge people in a bad way
  • The stretching has reduced some aches and pains I have had for a long time.

(1) Alfred

If you like this page share it with your friends. 

@ Seminar at the Castleton Library

I offered the first seminar at this library on May 2, 2013. Five people, all women, attended including the Director Amy Peeker. Four of the participants offered feedback which is summarized below.

Scanned images of the feedback forms

I came to know about this seminar from

  • Amy Peeker – the librarian – 3
  • ‘C S’ (my short name)

The seminar was …

  • Very useful –  3
  • No Comment -1

I will use this technique to relieve my (concern)

  • Exercise, Sleeping and Driving
  • Relaxation, Anxiety and Stress
  • Stress management, Anxiety
  • Difficulty some nights in falling asleep

Comments/ Suggestions (if any)

  • Very enjoyable, learned a lot
  • Just using breathing techniques can be so beneficial
  • Very clear explanation on the techniques and provided helpful tools to help individuals implement the techniques
  • Very helpful to actually practice the techniques while being observed to make sure we are doing them correctly. I am going to tell my daughter and mother  who both have sleeping difficulties about the counting techniques.

If you like this page share it with your friends.

Honorarium: I am thankful to the library for voluntarily offering me an honorarium.   

Parent page: Past seminars