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* Traditional style of teaching meditation failed

Today a woman in her fifties came to my classes interested in learning and practicing meditation. Her case is a classic instance showing how traditional way of teaching this great technique lets down the genuinely interested beginners with potential. After learning ‘focusing on breathing’ in my classes, she could make a successful beginning on the path of meditation and making progress in relieving her problems (6). 

Asked how she knew about my classes she explained. She searched on-line for Diwali (An Indian Festival of Lights) (1). She found the local Indian residents’ website and in it, found my classes under ‘Stress management’ (2).  Asked about her interest in the ‘focusing on breathing’ technique, she said that she attended the 10 day residential program of  ‘Vipassana’ (also called insight meditation)   at a nearby center, 7 years back (3) (4). During the program, she was asked to sit on the floor and practice the ancient technique for hours. She was given minimal food for breakfast and lunch and an apple for dinner. She successfully endured the rigors of the program in spite of the the mental and physical demands on her. At the end of the program, she was asked to practice at home, for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. She found the practice useful and liked it but could not practice at home, under the guidelines given to her. She therefore totally gave up on it!

While I was in India, I knew 4 people in the company I worked for who did the same program earnestly for 10 days  but never practiced at home. One of them even did the program twice but could not practice at home due to the time pressure of job and family with children.

This is the reason why I have adopted the unconventional method of teaching the technique (5). In my seminars and classes, I ask the clients to practice the first step of of ‘focusing on breathing’ sitting in chairs or sofas, using their fingers. At the end, I suggest that they practice the technique at home, lying in the bed at night, to fall asleep! After they get used to the practice and get hooked on it, they  are likely to advance to the next steps as explained in this website (5).

(1) Diwali (Indian Festival of Lights)
(2) management
(3) How Can I Focus On Breathing?
(4) Vipassana (Insight meditation)
(5) Why do most people accumulate stress and suffer?
(6) Insomnia, Anger and Anxiety relieved

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@ Much easier to deal with the “stressors”

Feedback from a participant in my recent seminar.

“I have been using the techniques (1) and believe me…they came in handy…as my daughter (who is dealing with MS) fell and went to the ER by ambulance Tuesday morning. She had 8 stitches and they did not admit her, just observed her for the day…and then sent her home. So, for the past few days, I have been busy caring for her and helping my granddaughter.

She seems better now, and I am now taking the time to catch up with things in my life. It is much easier to deal with those “stressors” with your breathing techniques!! (1)”

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(1) How Can I Focus On Breathing?

Category: Relaxation to Meditation  Tags: , , ,  Comments off

@ Seminar at the East Greenbush Library

I offered the 9th seminar at East Greenbush Community Library (1) on October 22, 2013 from 7 to 8.30 pm. Attended by total 20 adults, 18 female and 2 male. A set of my key handouts (2) was distributed to every participant.

Scanned images of the Feedback forms

Summary of the Feedback

I knew about this seminar from 

  • Library newsletter – 10
  • Library website – 3
  • Sign in the library – 2
  • Facebook/ Library home page
  • The Advertiser newspaper
  • The Hindu Center
  • My daughter
  • Friend

This seminar is …

  • I loved it – 1
  • Very useful – 14
  • Useful – 5

I will use this technique for my (concern) 

  • Pain, Sleep
  • Sleep
  • Fibromyalgia  and insomnia
  • To sleep + Relax
  • Sleep
  • Stress & Lack of sleep
  • Falling and staying asleep
  • Insomnia and stress
  • Relaxation, Sleep inducement
  • Restful sleep and alertness
  • Back pain and stress
  • Stress, migraines and back pain
  • Work stress
  • Migraines, stress and muscle stiffness
  • Stress
  • Back pain
  • Mindfulness
  • Mind clarification
  • Relaxation

Comments about the seminar 

  • It was very helpful, handouts are wonderful, atmosphere was calm even though we were sitting in a library
  • Handouts are very helpful, easy to refresh/ remember
  • Wonderful, excellent instructor, great handouts. Please do another follow up session.
  • Great, so easy something I can do so easily
  • Very friendly and informative and easy to understand
  • Presenter was often difficult to understand but was  good at demonstrating the techniques
  • It was very beneficial. Things like breathing appear simple but they are not.
  • Good, entertaining and useful
  • A very helpful was to relax, increase sleep etc.
  • Thank you.I am looking forward to trying these techniques.
  • Very interesting
  • I enjoyed it
  • Very relaxing
  • Thank you – Will try daily
  • Very good seminar, the hour went quickly and the content fit well in that time frame.
  • Very good
  • The information I have had before in things I read but have not been practicing
  • Interesting, worthwhile
  • Calming, relaxing, meditation techniques usually warn about falling asleep

(1) East Greenbush Community Library
(2) Documents for download – All handouts

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Related pages
Public Seminars

@ Seminar at ‘Venture Inward’

I offered the first seminar at ‘Venture Inward’ (2) on October 21, 2013 from 7 to 8.30 pm. This was set up by Margaret Kaufman owner of this business and a Hypnotherapist. Attended by total 9 adults, 7 female and 2 male. A set of my key handouts (1) was distributed to every participant. 

Scanned images of the Feedback forms

Summary of the Feedback

I knew about this seminar from 

  • E-mail from ‘Venture Inward’ – 7
  • ‘Meet up’ website (See (3)
  • A friend

This seminar is …

  • Extremely useful
  • Very useful – 8

I will use this technique for my (concern) 

  • Stress management/ reduction – 3
  • Anxiety
  • Making life more simple
  • Panic attacks
  • Relaxation and sleeping
  • Anxiety, Panic attacks and Stress
  • No Comment

Comments about the seminar 

  • Very calming, easy to follow. C S made it seem so easy yet so worthwhile
  • It was very good
  • Very useful
  • Moronically simple yet works liker a charm
  • Fun, interesting
  • Will use with patients I work with
  • Very well done, interesting
  • Very good, thank you
Nov 1, 2013: Received this mail from Margaret Kaufmnan who organized this seminar “Last Friday evening, Emily (name changed) attended our meditation circle and commented on how wonderful your “Focus on Breathing” program was and how impressed she was with your knowledge, instruction, patience and  gentle and encouraging interest in everyone.”

(1) Documents for download – All handouts
(2) ‘Venture Inward’ at 568 Columbia Turnpike East Greenbush NY 12061

Related pages
Public Seminars

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@ Mindfulness at Robert C. Parker School

Here is a wonderful blog by Meg Taylor Head of Robert C. Parker School (1) on how the school is introducing mindfulness in various modes. Focusing on breathing (2) is a popular mode in the elementary grades, now being extended to the middle school.

” Learning to channel attention to productive tasks, to sustain motivation when work becomes demanding, and to handle the frustrations of sharing, learning, and communicating with peers are skills that depend on the ability to understand and manage emotions.

As one part of our effort to help children build emotional resiliency and self control, we use mindfulness techniques with them every day. Our faculty has worked with C S Rao (3), a grandparent in our school, to learn a form of breathing (2) that allows us to quickly relax and tune out distractions. He calls it ‘Counting Breaths’ (2) and it has the effect of feeding oxygen to the brain, calming emotions, clearing a busy mind, and giving a sense of peace and focus.

Teachers have adapted CS’s ideas for classroom practice. In Pre K 3, a chime is rung and children breathe smoothly and quietly, as the chime sound diminishes.

In Pre K 4, students use the image of falling leaves while they breathe.

In K-1, Liliana has adopted the language “going into your silence” as children sit quietly in both mind and body and breath slowly.

Grade 2-3’s practice taking five slow clearing breaths as do the 4-5’s. (4)

This year middle school teachers are going to teach the students CS’s method of using the fingers to count breaths. As CS says, the technique can be used anytime – when you can’t sleep at night, or if you are feeling anxious (5). And it works! I use it in the middle of the night when my mind is racing (6).

The effect with children is very positive. They have a strategy to calm themselves that they can use anywhere. It is a great tool for successfully negotiating frustrations, stress and anxiety and gaining attentiveness and focus. Having the ability to be mindful gives children confidence that they can handle difficult things (7). That is a gift for any individual.

You can read more in this complex and fascinating article “Why Teaching Mindfulness Benefits Students’ Learning”, in Mind/Shift (8).”

(1) Perspectives on Parker Blogspot
(2) How Can I Focus On Breathing?
(3) Suryanarayana Chennapragada
(4) Breathing breaks in the classroom – Report by Lynn Schuster
(5) Daytime practice
(6) How to Enjoy Quality Sleep and Conquer Insomnia?
(7) Benefits for Mind, Body and Relationships
(8) “Why Teaching Mindfulness Benefits Students’ Learning”  Post in Mind/Shift

Related pages
Training children

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@ Getting off the Hypertension Medication

Feedback from a client, a patient of my daughter Padma Sripada MD (3) who attended 4 of my classes. Before attending the classes he was under severe stress due to his fiancee’s verbally abusive behavior. Practicing the breathing technique (1) and adopting my suggestions for effectively dealing with his fiancee (2), helped him take a decision to break off the toxic relationship. Apparently the relief from breaking off the stressful relationship combined with the relief from overall anxiety by practicing the technique resulted in significantly lowering his long standing high BP (high blood pressure/Hypertension) (4).  His recent mail reads –

“I met with Dr Padma Sripada this morning.  My BP was 140/90 – not too bad since I have not been taking my BP medication for the last 6 weeks. Also I have been eating out for the last 2 weeks due to my kitchen being remodeled. She has lowered my dose and said that once my stress is over and if it is OK,  I can stop taking the BP medication altogether.”

(1) How can I focus on breathing?
(2) Relationship related articles
(3) Padma Sripada MD
(4) He was under medication for high BP for more than 6 years. The BP readings over the last 6 months were – 135/98, 175/124, 172/109 and 163/111.

Related pages
His previous feedback
Relief from Hypertension – Success stories

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@ Anger, Anxiety and Disturbed thoughts relieved

Feedback from a young man who attended 2 of my classes after practicing the technique (1) on his own, using my handouts (2) for about 9 months. 

He reported improvement on a host of mental, physical and relationship issues. Also a dramatic reduction in the following concerns that he experienced before practicing the techniques. His previous reports are at (3).

  • Anger: Relieved by 80%
  • Anxiety and Stress: Relieved by 70%
  • Disturbing thoughts and feelings: Relieved by 95%

Before: “Something very bad happen every day.”

Now: “So much less. Most situations, I can handle and working on the ones I have problems with.” 

For the first time in many years, he is now thinking of a career plan for which he had no inclination due to his depression, anxiety and stress.

(1) How can I focus on breathing?
Waking up routine
(2) Documents for download
(3) Insomnia and stress relieved
Cutting down mental health medicines

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@ Insomnia and stress relieved

I was periodically meeting an young person in a store. He was obese. I gave him my handouts (2) and suggested to try the technique (1) at night, to enjoy good sleep (4).  Whenever I met him on business, I inquired about his practice and spoke a few encouraging words. I also loaned him two books on eating healthy (6). He practiced the ‘focusing on breathing’ technique (1) by himself for about 9 months. He told me that he had severe insomnia and depression for many years and was on medication. He shared the following feedback when he came to my first class. His previous report on cutting down his mental health medicines is at (5). 


Before: He had insomnia almost all his life. Sometimes he could not sleep for two days in a row.

Now: He has been using the segment mode (3) and enjoying sound sleep.  His insomnia is completely resolved.

 Stress at work

Before: He works in a packing and shipping store. Being the person responsible for handling customer complaints about damaged parcels, he had to face the angry outbursts of some customers, sometimes even threatening physical gestures. Such situations were unnerving and extremely  stressful to him.

Now: He is able to keep his cool in such situations. The claims due to damaged parcels upset the owner of the store as she had to bear the losses. She used to take out her frustration on the employees. One day all the employees were almost walking out of the store. This guy was the one who kept his cool and persuaded the other employees to stay back, explaining that the owner was behaving like that due to her own stress and she did not mean to hurt their feelings. He is surprised at this dramatic change in his own attitude and attributes it to his practicing this calming technique.

(1) How can I focus on breathing?
(2) Documents for download
(3) Segment mode
(4) Hows to enjoy quality sleep and conquer insomnia?
(5) His previous feedback on cutting down mental health medicines
(6) Two books:  “Eat more, Weigh less” by Dean Ornish M.D and “Mindless eating” by Brain Wansink Ph.D. He liked these books and started using the ideas from them, like cutting down his meat consumption. He also started practicing Yoga at home using a DVD. He lost about 20 lbs. as  a result.

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@ Calm serenity is the human base-line emotional state – Alfred’s progress

Please see (1) to know about Alfred.

“I have not sent you much lately but it is not because I have neglected my meditation practice. I am still at it for about an hour a day and continue to reap the rewards. Here is a short essay that, I think, encapsulates where I am at currently.

The Purpose of Meditation
Because of the strong interest I have developed in meditation I had begun to read about it. Some of what I read has been rewarding in that others have expressed insights that I had arrived at independently. This makes me feel that I am on a good path. However, much of the literature is contradictory and can create confusion. For example some practitioners of mindfulness meditation insist that you should be in a sitting posture and your eyes should be open. Others say any posture that is effective can be used and the eyes can be shut. Confusion sows doubt and doubt erodes successful effort. So, for now, I have stopped reading and am following my own path.

My path
What keeps me most focused is always bringing back to mind the purpose of my meditation. This purpose was always there but, with practice has clarified. I believe that the calm serenity I often achieve through meditation is the human base-line emotional state. When the business of life overwhelms us this tranquility is superimposed upon by agitation, excitement and stress. I also believe that emotional honesty and wisdom are best accessed from the tranquil base-line state. This fairly simple premise is the purpose of my mediation and by keeping it in mind I can redirect my attention appropriately when I stray.”

(1) Alfred

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@ My anger is reduced by 70%

Feedback from client who attended  3 of my classes over a period of 2 months. He was feeling angry with his wife for spending lot of time in forcing their daughter aged 6 to eat when she was not inclined.  He did not want to be angry. He also had stress at work. 

  • Regularly practicing the ‘Segment mode’ at bedtime
  • Practicing the ‘Segment mode’ in the morning only on week ends

Anger: Reduced by 70%

Sleep: Before, I was waking up a few times regularly in the night even for small disturbances. Now it happens sometimes.

My goals now
  • Reduce stress (Mostly due to thinking about things to do at work)
  • Better sleep at night
  • Reduce my anger further
  • Reduce weight
My plans
  • Write down list of things to do at work, so I do not keep worrying about them
  • Practice the ‘Wakeing up routine’ (2) regularly
  • Better diet and exercise

(1) Segment mode
(2) Waking up routine 

Related pages
Reducing or eliminating Anger – Success stories
Relief from Stress – Success stories

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