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+ Select list of Books on “Stressful Relationships”

I love the insights and practical suggestions in the self help books written by

Susan Forward

Mark Goulston

Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Karl Pellimer

Harriet Lerner

Gary Chapman

Harriet B. Braiker and more

Click  on (1) for the complete list.

(1) Select list of books on “Stressful relationships”

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+ What to Avoid to Improve Your Head-to-Toe Wellbeing – Guest post by Travis White (8)

When it comes to overall health and wellbeing, sometimes it’s just as important to think about what harmful activities and behaviors to avoid as knowing what activities to incorporate into your daily life. Everyone knows that for head-to-toe health, one has to eat right, exercise, and practice mindfulness.

But there are also specific activities you must avoid in order to be the best you, from head to toe.

Stop your irregular sleep pattern
The devastating effects of lack of sleep are about more than just feeling tired. Sure, irregular and inadequate sleep makes your body feel tired. But there is so much more that can go wrong when you don’t sleep right (1).

Lack of sleep can seriously affect your mental health. It can lead to memory loss, cloudiness, and the inability to make decisions. It can also make you more impulsive and easier to anger. Poor sleep can compromise your immune system, harm your vision, and negatively affect your skin.

It’s important to keep to a sleep schedule – even on the weekends. Your body works better when you have a definite sleep cycle, not one that changes every day. If you have trouble sleeping, try utilizing a pre-bed relaxation routine every night.

“A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep,” says the Sleep Foundation (2).

Avoid napping during the day if you can and make sure to get some exercise. A tired body is a sleepy body and a sleepy body is a healthy one.

Stop overworking yourself
Nothing can negatively affect your whole mind and body like stress. It’s a silent killer that takes its roots in the brain and manifests all over your body. As the American Psychological Association points out, long term chronic stress can damage your body’s systems by making it constantly think it’s in “fight or flight” mode, triggering the release of hormones (3).

“These hormones cause the heart to beat faster, respiration rate to increase, blood vessels in the arms and legs to dilate, digestive process to change and glucose levels (sugar energy) in the bloodstream to increase to deal with the emergency. The SNS response is fairly sudden in order to prepare the body to respond to an emergency situation or acute stress, short term stressors. Once the crisis is over, the body usually returns to the pre-emergency, unstressed state. Chronic stress, experiencing stressors over a prolonged period of time, can result in a long-term drain on the body. As the SNS continues to trigger physical reactions, it causes a wear-and-tear on the body.”

Stress can even have a negative impact on your skin (4). By increasing production of certain hormones, it can cause higher oil production or inflammation. In turn, you might see bad flare-ups of conditions like acne and psoriasis. Stress also makes it easy to let your skin care regimen fall to the wayside, sometimes causing you to skip your daily washing or moisturizing.

To deal with chronic stress, first reduce the stressors in your life and make your home a stress-free space (5). If you can’t reduce them all (which nobody can), you have to be able to deal with them through relaxation. Meditation, focused breathing, exercise, and yoga can all help with this. Remember, it’s not only ok to take a break every now and then, it’s essential.

Stop eating all that sugar
Excess sugar consumption will not only cause you to pack on the pounds, but it will also make you more tired and has even been linked to non-obesity-related heart disease. It can even affect your skin by causing a breakdown of the natural collagen that gives it that healthy “plump” look, and producing more testosterone which can enlarge pores and increase oiliness (6).

“Over the course of the 15-year study on added sugar and heart disease, participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar,” quotes a study in the Harvard Health blog (7).

In your daily life, one big change you can make it to replace all beverages with water and unsweetened coffee and tea. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. And the changes you’ll see and feel in your body will be tremendous.

(1)  11 signs you are sleep deprived Health.com
(2) Healthy sleep tips – The Sleep Foundation
(3) Stress effects on the body – American Psychological Association
(4) Signs of stress – Healthline
(5) How to Optimize Your Home for Healthy, Stress-free Living– REDFIN.com
(6) Do You Have ‘Sugar Face’? The Cut.com
(7) Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease – Harvard Health Publishing
(8) LearnFit.org

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Category: Relaxation to Meditation  Comments off

Meditation and Essential oils for sleep -2

The second workshop on the topic was jointly done by me and Glenn Kakely at Venture Inward on Oct 9, 2017 from 6.30 to 8.00 pm (1). Four females and one male attended.

I will use this technique for my (concern) 

  • Anxiety, Sleep
  • Sleep, Anxiety
  • Daytime relax, Sleep
  • De-stress
  • De-stressing during the day

I like these ideas

  • Relaxation during the day
  • Can’t wait to try the ‘segment mode’ (2)
  • I enjoyed CS’s method of delivery – Calming voice
  • Waiting in traffic – Stare at the red light
  • Focus on breathing throughout any scenario in the day
  • Will be sharing with others

Seminar evaluation

  • Very satisfied – 5

Comments

  • Very informative and helpful
  • I am looking forward to trying this technique
  • Amazed!
  • Very informative, Kept it simple
  • Very knowledgeable, Humor

Receive Annual Updates?

Yes – 5

Enroll  for ‘Follow up classes’ on this technique?

Yes – 3

Join a ‘Support group for Meditation’?       

Yes – 3

(1) ‘Venture Inward’ Call #477-6566 to register.
(2) Segment mode

Related pages: Public Seminars

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Meditation and Essential oils for sleep -1

The first of the two part workshop on the topic was jointly done by me and Glenn at Venture Inward on Sept 11, 2017 from 6.30 to 8.00 pm (1). Four females and one male attended.

I will use this technique for my (concern) 

  • Sleep
  • Falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Sleep issues
  • Son

I like these ideas

  • Breathing techniques
  • Focus on breathing and counting

Seminar evaluation

  • Very satisfied – 4
  • Satisfied – 1

Comments

  • Seems to work quickly
  • Very informative

Receive Annual Updates?

Yes – 3

Enroll  for ‘Follow up classes’ on this technique?

Yes – 2

Join a ‘Support group for Meditation’?       

Yes – 1

(1) ‘Venture Inward’ Call #477-6566 to register.

Related pages: Public Seminars

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Meditation and Yoga classes for children

I offered classes on ‘Gentle Yoga stretching’ and ‘Meditation on breathing’ to thirty nine boys and girls from 5 to 13 years at the Albany Hindu Temple on Aug 14, 17, 18 and 19, 2017. Each class was for 40 minutes and repeated on two days (1).

Meditation: All of them practiced the ‘Counting mode’ and ‘Tip mode’ , multiple times, counting the breaths aloud along with me (2) (3). We all practiced at simulated times of practice – at bedtime lying down to get sleep, on waking up still lying, to drive away the sleep, sitting on the bed cross legged as in sitting meditation, standing on the floor like waiting in a line, walking  and running.

  • When asked how they felt, a few commented
    • I felt calm
    • I felt relaxed
  • Asked when they would like to practice the meditation, some replied
    • At the doctor’s office
    • When tired
    • When I have an argument with my friend about which game to play
    • At bedtime
    • On waking up
  • Other comments
    • An 8 year old boy said he practiced at bedtime and also told his mom to practice, as she does not sleep well!

One kid’s mom said that her 6 year old son had been practicing at bedtime from day one and claimed that he felt more fresh on waking up.

Yoga: We all practiced the movements shown in the video ‘Stretching for beginners’ (4). These movements gently move and stretch all the muscles from fingers to shoulders, toes to hips, neck to eyes. All the joints get a gentle massaging movement at the same time.

(1) Albany Hindu Temple
(2) Counting mode
(3) Tip mode
(4) VIDEO of stretching for beginners

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Seminar – East Greenbush Library

I offered the 17th seminar at East Greenbush Community Library (1) on June 14, 2017 from 6.30 to 8.30 pm. Attended by 7 women. A folder containing my key handouts  and sample testimonials was given to each participant (2), (3). 

Summary of the Feedback

I will practice this technique for my (concern) 

  • Insomnia and dizziness
  • Difficulty in falling asleep
  • Insomnia, Cancer depression with rumination
  • Sleep issues
  • Relaxation
  • Helping me to think less

My ‘Take home’ points

  • 911 breathing, sleeping breathing
  • How to become calm
  • Breathing counting with fingers
  • All ideas, great presentation
  • The sleep techniques, I will definitely try at home

Evaluation of the seminar 

  • Very satisfied – 3
  • Satisfied – 4

Comments

  • Very thorough
  • Helpful techniques for meditation – Thanks!
  • This will be helpful with my basic Yoga and walking to keep my mind focused
  • Very informative. Thank you!
  • Excellent program. Very good teacher.

I wish to 

  • Receive ‘Annual update’ on this technique – 1
  • Interested in ‘follow up classes’ on today’s techniques – 3
  • Interested in joining a support group for meditation – 2

(1) East Greenbush Community Library
(2) Documents for download – All handouts
(3) Sample testimonials – 16

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Public Seminars

+ Journaling for Mind, Body benefits – Guest post by Gemma Philips

How Journaling reduces stress
Recent scientific studies have backed what has long been known in Eastern philosophy since ancient times: holistic practices such as yoga and mindfulness meditation lower stress hormone levels, lift our mood, and boost our academic and work performance. If you are already well versed with the many benefits that meditation can bring to your life, you might consider adopting a complementary activity, which will only enhance the relaxing effects of meditation. It’s called journaling, and it is currently a therapy that is encouraged in a variety of settings – including centers for rehabilitation for drug abuse, for eating disorder recovery and for the treatment of stress-related conditions such as depression and anxiety. Journaling is also used for patients which chronic health conditions, including cancer, asthma, chronic pain, insomnia, etc.

How does Journaling differ from diary writing?
Far from merely recording the events of the day, as is the case with diary writing, journaling goes a step beyond, in that it involves writing down our thoughts and feelings which are our reactions to the day’s events. In this way, we can get to know ourselves better – find out what triggers stress or anxiety, note down the way we tend to react to conflict or difficult issues, and jot down alternative, more positive reactions the next time we encounter a similar situation.

What benefits does journaling bring?
Some of the many benefits of journaling include:

  • Helping us deal with stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Helping us deal with challenging events and circumstances
  • Helping us ‘metabolize’ our experience – when we do not journal, we can simply block any unpleasant thoughts or emotions, which are transformed into a muddled memory we obtain little value from. Journaling helps us process the day’s events, so that we are not plagued by distressing thoughts and feelings. In this way, journaling very much resembles mindfulness.
  • Helping us track our progress – we can use our journal to create strategies to deal with difficult situations, and take note of how we are progressing in our goals.
  • Identifying triggers – journaling regularly enables us to identify the situations or people that tend to make us anxious or upset. We can analyse how they manage to have this effect on us, and either make a conscious decision to process their words and actions in a different manner, or take more drastic measures if necessary (such as limiting the amount of time we spend in these types of situations, especially if they are toxic or bring no good to our lives).

What Types of Journal are there?
Ultimately, each of us defines and creates our own type of journal. Some people find success from keeping a gratitude journal – in which they regularly list down the things, people and events they are thankful for. Others (such as those in recovery from substance abuse, for instance) keep a recovery journal, to help track their progress, triggers and setbacks. Still others keep a journal to note their progress towards a defined goal. Another popular journal is the evening reflection journal, which enables the writer to reflect on their reactions to a specific event.

How to Journal?
Journaling ultimately only works if we are truly committed to it. The aim should be to write daily, or every couple of days, for a set amount of time (between 20 minutes and around half an hour at least). If you are considering starting a journal, find a comfy, quiet spot in your home, where you won’t be bothered by noise. Make this area as personal as you can – fill it with lights, put on relaxing music or decorate it so that just the idea of journaling seems immensely appealing. Every few days, go back over previous entries to reflect on them. During the day, use your phone or keep a small notebook, jotting down any important thoughts or feelings you may otherwise forget. Remember that journaling is a reflective exercise; use your journal to become more self-aware and to make the necessary changes you need for a better quality of life.

Further Reading:
Journaling as an Aid to Recovery, Recovery.org
Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress, Health.Harvard.edu
Yoga, Umm.edu
Journaling for Mental Health, Urmc.Rochester.edu
The Benefits of Journaling, UWhealth.org

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+ “I am blessed by your counsel and friendship”- a client

Anna (name changed) in her seventies attended four of my classes. One day she came to our office in my absence and left an envelope. It had a ‘thank you’ card and some payment. The payment was far beyond what she owed me for the used books I sold her in the last class (1). Her note in the card reads –

“Dear C S
Enclosed is my payment for the books. The extra money is what I wish to give you, for your therapy sessions. While you may not have a counseling degree, it’s no matter. You are a wise, intuitive, compassionate and warm human being. You and I know ‘the degree’ doesn’t always equal quality and common sense. You possess both (2). I am blessed by your counsel and friendship.”

I feel humbled by her appreciation and unexpected payment.

(1) Her son in his forties Joseph (name changed) died under unbelievable circumstances. As shared by Anna:
Joseph separated from his wife and shared the custody of their five year old daughter. He was under stress, having been fired from his job when he reported to the management about discrimination at the work place.  Anna visited him and granddaughter in Minnesota. One day, Joseph was driving with Anna and family in the back seat. For an unknown reason, Joseph showed his middle finger to another driver (5).  The other driver followed them in his truck. When they both stopped at the next red light, the other driver jumped out of his truck with an ax, smashed the rear screen of their car, pulled out Joseph out and badly hurt him. The police arrived promptly and took the other driver away.

After the near death experience, Joseph was devastated. He thought that his having a puny body was the cause for his humiliation. He resolved not to let anyone humiliate him again. He bought a gun and always carried it with him. Anna realized his acute stress and tried her best to convince him to seek therapy. But he did not like to do that.

One day, Joseph and his ex-wife were in a store parking lot, exchanging the custody of their daughter. His ex took custody of their daughter and backing up her car, about to leave. An unknown car driver who was behind her, beeped, to caution her. Joseph was watching the scene from his car, parked a few spaces away. Apparently, he misunderstood that the other driver was harassing his ex-wife and daughter. He jumped out his car with his gun, fatally shot the innocent stranger and himself.

(2) The circumstances which led her to my attend my counselling classes:
Anna came to my seminar for NAMI Rensselaer County members in March 2014 and liked the technique (3). She enrolled for three of my Meditation classes at Venture Inward in Nov 2016, but did not show up after the first class (4). When I called her in Jan 2017 to inquire, she told me about the tragic death of her son. I could hear her crying over the phone. I advised her to seek help from a counselor. On a follow up call, I came to know she was not inclined to seek a counselor. I then invited her to come to my solo classes, as I owed her 2 classes anyway.
(3) NAMI Rensselaer County: National Alliance for Mental Illness
(4) Venture Inward
(5) Middle finger – Wiki page

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Meditation demo at Health Fair

I offered demo of ‘Meditation on Breathing’ in two sessions, each of 30 minutes, at the Hindu Temple Cultural Center on Sat April 23, 2017 (1). Total 5 people attended. Dr. Swatantra Mitta, one of the organizers sent this feedback “Thank you for participating at health and wellness fair. My friend from taichi class was praising you. Brenda attended your meditation class. She was so excited that for the first time, she was able to meditate and the whole weekend she was working with her fingers and was ecstatic. Great complement.”

(1) Albany Hindu Temple

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Category: Relaxation to Meditation  Tags: ,  Comments off

Meditation on breathing at Yoga Bliss

I offered an exploratory session at Yoga Bliss in Schenectady (1). Three people attended: Mary Clare O’Connor, the owner of the Yoga studio. Amit Goel a Yoga teacher at this studio and a client. A set of my handouts was handed over to the participants (2).

Summary of the Feedback

I will practice this technique for my (concern) 

  • For centering
  • Relaxation at work, Sleep

My ‘Take home’ points

  • Practice 2x daily, Just use my existing breath, no strain

Evaluation of the seminar 

  • Very satisfied – 2
  • Satisfied – 1

Comments

  • Fabulous info; Much easier than I anticipated
  • Very nice and easy way to introduce to people and kids to meditation. Accessible to all.
  • Thank you!!

I wish to 

  • Receive ‘Annual update’ on this technique – 1
  • Interested in ‘follow up classes’ on today’s techniques – 2
  • Interested in joining a support group for Meditation – 2

(1) Yoga Bliss – Yoga Studio at Schenectady
(2) Documents for download – Select handouts
Sample testimonials – 16
Thoughts are like ….

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Public Seminars

Category: Relaxation to Meditation  Comments off