Archive for the Category »Relaxation to Meditation «

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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+ Journaling for Mind, Body benefits – Guest article 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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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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+ Who said Meditation is difficult?

Many people are put off by the classic perception of Meditation: sitting still for an extended time. They are missing its tremendous potential for relieving numerous problems of mind, body and relationships. Many years back, I stumbled upon the ‘counting breaths’ style of meditation and adapted it to suit a busy lifestyle. It pulled me out of crippling stress. Here is the essence of it.

Q: I can’t do meditation. My monkey mind wanders beyond my control.

A: This is like a 3 year old saying “What is the point in my going to school when I don’t know A,B, C or 1,2,3?’”. All the novice meditators begin with a wandering mind. It is not a big deal.  We begin training the mind in concentration. Our goal isn’t 100% focus.

Q: What else?

A. Our goal is to increase the focusing from let us say 5% to 8% which means wandering decreases from 95% to 92%. As our practice continues, the focusing percentage gradually creeps up but the stress level slides down lot more. We become calmer and manage the stressful situations better.

Q. This sounds good. But you know what, I can’t sit still even for a few seconds.

A. Not a problem. In this made-for-beginners style of meditation, we practice lying comfortably in the bed.

Q. What if I quickly fall asleep? My meditation will be a non-starter!

A. Relax! This style of meditation is a sneaky entry into the daunting house of meditation. Focusing on breathing keeps the thoughts out, calms the mind and relaxes the body. You will sleep effortlessly and enjoy better sleep. You will get hooked on this practice.

Q. I can’t wait to do this meditation. How do I do it?

A. Here are the 1-2-3 steps.

1. Focus on your in-breath and out-breath. Count each breath to strengthen the focus.

2. Soon the mind wanders. You will realize that your mind stopped focusing on breathing. Just for catching the mind wander, your meditation becomes half successful.

3. As soon as you catch your mind wander, quietly resume counting the breaths. Now your meditation becomes 100% successful. Never mind if this is a cycle of few seconds.  Simply repeat these cycles of success any number of times. Feel empowered in having control over the unruly mind! First get into the game and it will build up strength on its own. No rules or restrictions to worry about. Does this make sense?

Sure! I can do this kind of meditation. Who said meditation is difficult?

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+ Mantras For A Cool Mind

Saying these unconventional mantras silently to myself helps me keep a cool mind.

  • Not My Problem (NMP)
  • Mind Your Own Business (MYOB)
  • Nobody Asked For My Judgment (NAFMJ)
  • Nobody Asked For My Opinion (NAFMO)
  • Let Me Keep My Mouth Shut (LMKMMS)
  • Am I telling myself an ugly story without getting the facts? (1)
  • It is all “in here’ not “out there’ (2)
  • It Is OK. (IIO)
  • You may be right. Can you be kind?
  • You may be right. Can you forgive?
  • This Too Shall Pass (TTSP) (3)
  • You can’t change others’ behavior. Don’t even think of changing their nature. But you have total control on ‘how you respond to their (crazy?) behavior’.
  • How can you blame a sick person for his/her sick behavior? And that includes acute and chronic mental sicknesses like Anger, Hatred, Jealousy, so on.
  • Before pointing one finger at anther, point four fingers at yourself.

(1) Inspired by the book “Crucial conversations – tools for talking when the stakes are high” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzer).
Also see my related article “We don’t see the first parts of people’s lives
(2) “In here”: Whatever I am thinking is only in my mind. “Not out there”: Whatever I am thinking does not exist in real life.
(3) This too  shall pass – My article

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