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Practicing Self Awareness – From Naveen

Naveen, a young Software Engineer in India found this website online in October 2014. He sought many clarifications by email, on minute aspects of practicing Counting Breaths Meditation and managing stressful thoughts. We talked a few times on whatsapp and had a couple of skype sessions. His doubts were gradually cleared and he practiced diligently. On my request, he periodically shared his exciting journey on the path of self discovery. His two previous reports are at (1) and (2). Naveen’s remarkable self discovery shows the potential of some young people. They need a beginners’ technique like Counting Breaths Meditation to gain some control over their thoughts, and practical tips to establish their daily practice. Here is his latest report along with my questions about his meditation and his answers.

Naveen’s journey on the path of self discovery

Before meditation
“My journey on the path started with self doubts of fear, even fear of following the path of self discovery. I would fear to sit alone and look inside, somehow avoiding meeting with myself. I kept myself busy with something or other and would go to sleep instead of having ‘me time’. Having ‘me time’ would depress me because all the negative thoughts would come rushing into my mind and I did not know how to handle those thoughts. I would envy people who could sleep anywhere, anytime and those who were simply happy, regardless of their situations. I always wanted to be that kind of person.

Money never excited me. I wanted money only to such a level that I could live a comfortable life. I wanted to be the person who can relax at will, unaffected by the situation though sensitive to it. I wanted to be able to handle the situations as they come without getting bogged down by emotions.

Counting Breaths Meditation
That was the time I searched online and came across the ‘Counting Breaths Meditation’ website. I would count the breaths to control my wandering mind and also to fall asleep.This continued for a year or so. I thank Mr Suryanarayana Chennapragada (Surya) for making this knowledge available on his website and also for being available to me by email or skype whenever I needed his guidance.

Working with thoughts
Over a period of time, I realized that I was forcing myself to relax. I would force myself to focus on breathing, just to avoid the stressful thoughts, thinking such thoughts should not come. Instead of relaxing, I was unknowingly tensing my body. Identification of this tendency in itself, was a giant step forward in my practice. Being aware of my body, mind and  breath was possible because of my newly found capacity for self awareness. My first lesson in self realization was that “Identification of the problem is itself a big step towards success.”

Thoughts by themselves cannot do any harm but the reaction to them does. For example: imagine a thought comes into the mind. Identifying that as a negative thought is the first reaction. Thinking that this thought should not come is the second reaction. Giving energy to that thought and chewing over it, thus contracting (tensing) the body is the  third reaction (4) . All of above reactions move the mind and body from ease to dis-ease(disease). This can be read in a book. But when you actually experience these reactions, you expand yourself as an individual.

Awareness of sensations and allowing them to flow
Practicing self awareness helped me realize from my own experience that everything is a sensation. A sensation is caused by energy. If we learn to be with the energy without reacting to it, we move to a deeper level in our practice. A sensation can be a thought, emotion or bodily sensation, internal sound, external sound, touch etc. My next important learning was not to judge any sensation and let the sensation be there while just being aware of it. Let the sensation flow, let the energy flow. Don’t suppress or get overwhelmed by the energy or the sensation.

Reflections on my experience

  1. With self awareness, I find the places where I hold the tension in my body. I find it in the eyeballs. They would feel heavy but then I would also find that there is an energy in my breath which massages my eyeballs.
  1. I find I can now sit in Padmasana for 30 to 45 mins easily (5) . Two years back, I could not even dream of it.
  1. I find the sensation in my teeth, like I am sitting in a cold region, causing my teeth to chatter. I then place the tip of my tongue behind the top teeth to relax the jaws and stop the chattering (6). 
  1. I find a sensation in my belly just above my belly region. It feels like doing “Kapalbhati pranayam” (3).
  1. I find a sensation in my hands where they would shake heavily.
  1. At times, I find that I am in a completely relaxed state, feeling like I am falling into a bottomless pit. Imagine how wonderful it would be to keep falling without fear of hitting the bottom!

Self awareness is the path which helps an individual identify the blockages and problems. It guides an individual in resolving them. At the end, I would say, practicing self awareness gives us the ability to look at the things as they are and helps us live in reality.  

Surya’s questions and Naveen’s answers

Q. Can you briefly describe the meditation you have been practicing?

A. Observe whatever is happening within you without any fear. Probably we can name it ‘Open Awareness’.

Q. How many times do you meditate in a day?

A. Only once, in the seated position. On reaching home from work, I try to loosen myself, letting go of all the tension in the body.

Q. When do you practice and how long?

A. I practice daily in the morning for 20-30 minutes. But whenever I feel some uneasiness, I try to become grounded and curiously look for whatever is happening without trying to change anything.  

Q. Did you experience any relationship benefits?

A. I feel more secure and at ease. I laugh more :).

Q. Any work related benefits?

A. Yes. Able to finish tasks in shorter time.

Q. Did anyone (at home or office) notice the changes in you and comment on them?

A. No one mentioned it but I can feel the difference.

Q. Has your job performance improved? 

A. Yes.

Q. What are your future goals and plans?

A. Continue with practice, identify the blockages, look closely for the starting point of a blockage. Be present with the work being done. Make sure to do any work with complete ease but with maximum intensity.

(1) Naveen’s feedback in Oct 2016
(2) Naveen’s feedback in Dec 2015
(3) Kalbhati Pranayam
(4)
Thoughts are like… (Surya’s article on looking at thoughts in 10 different ways)
(5)
Padmasana – a basic sitting posture in Yoga
(6)
Relax the jaws and lift up the mood

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