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* Anxiety and Panic attacks reduced

Feedback from a client around 50 years, a patient of my daughter Padma Sripada MD. He attended 3 of my classes.

His main concerns were ‘Acute anxiety’, ‘Panic attacks’, ‘Stress’. He was concerned about the recent diagnosis of pre-diabetes. He lost 20 pounds after the diagnosis with diet changes and exercise but the sugar level was still high. He felt it may be due to stress. His acute anxiety and panic attacks persisted in spite of his being on Klonopin (1) medication.

” My practice is going well. I am not practicing as much as I was at first because my anxiety has been better in general. Some things about which I was worried before, I am less worried now. I use the breathing techniques all the time (2). I practice when going to sleep, waking up, various times during the day etc (3). Thanks CS!”

In the last class, he said that his attitude towards his chronic business and legal problems changed remarkably. He was now able to face the same old problems without panic and acute anxiety. He was able to keep his cool and even calming down his wife!  This is a sort of new life for him.

His experience shows the amazing power of  these simple techniques (2). Even though he was on anti-anxiety medication for a long time, he continued to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks to a paralyzing extent. He was looking for something beyond the medication.

(1) Klonopin
(2) How Can I Focus On Breathing?
(3) Daytime practice

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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). 

Insomnia

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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* I am managing stress very well and enjoying sound sleep

Feedback from a Software Engineer who attended three of my classes.

“I am a software Engineer from India, working In USA with my wife and two young boys. I noticed some negative changes in my thinking in early Feb 2012 due to lot of  stress about my residence status in this country and other personal issues. I was spending restless nights for 5 to 6 weeks without proper sleep. The lack of sleep caused depression. All my activities got disturbed – not interested in  work, not enough money etc., affecting my family and my kids’ studies. Although I used medication for depression, I did not see noticeable change. I went back to India, slowly regained my health and returned to USA.

After returning, I thought of taking some precautionary measures to manage stress. This made me a student of Suryanarayan Chennapragada (C S). The course I had undergone was “Counting Breaths” (1). It helps me focus better on my work and also improves my attitude. Now I am managing stress in my life very well, enjoying sound sleep and living peacefully. Now my physical and mental strength has improved and I am perfectly balanced in my life. Overall, I can say that these techniques consume less time and are valuable.  I thank C S for guiding me in proper direction to overcome my difficulties.

(1) How can I focus on breathing?

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* I am thrilled at my progress

Here is the remarkable feedback from a practitioner who attended 7 of my classes over last 4 months. It is reproduced verbatim, followed by other comments she made during the classes.

“I would like to start by saying that I am a retired hair dresser of 35 years of experience. I have diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, over weight and a lot of other issues.

I was referred to CS (Suryanarayana Chennapragada) by a diabetes educator, of all the people. I know it sounds strange but she completely understood when I told her that I had seen many dietitians over many years, that there wasn’t much she could help me with, if I did not put my knowledge of diets to work. I knew portion sizes, sugars and all of it. I was wrong. She did help me by listening to what I said. She then asked if I was open minded about talking to a man who had helped her in her life. I don’t know if it was the right time to make a change in me or if it was something else but whatever be the reason, I will be forever grateful to both of them.

CS began by explaining that if you do not give yourself time to breathe, you can not heal inside or out. Your brain needs oxygen in order to deal with life’s every day problems. He gave me some breathing techniques, as explained in his web site to try (1) and asked me to do them while I was in his office. He left me in the room alone to try them. I was amazed that I could sit still long enough to do this but I did and felt pretty good. I continued to see him on a weekly basis. I started in Oct 2011. It is now Feb 2012. I am now going every 2 weeks and I am thrilled at the progress I have made. So are my  husband and daughter.

I am not nearly as stressed about everything. I have learned that I do not have to take care of every one else in my life. I am not responsible for other people’s choices, only mine. I now understand the power of focusing on breathing. My family noticed that I am now calmer. I smile more and I laugh. I now enjoy taking a vacation. I do matter. CS gives you small things to try and that bring big results. I know that it will take time for me, to complete my journey but as CS says “Small Steps”.  I say to every one that will listen “BREATHE”.

To CS, thank you for doing what you do so well and by that I mean CARE about all of us.”

Some more developments she shared during the classes –

  • She was suffering from severe insomnia for many years, not able to sleep for more than 3 – 4 hours a night, that too a very disturbed sleep, in spite of taking strong sleep medication ‘AMBIEN’. Now she is able to sleep undisturbed, for at least 5 hours while still taking the same medication. She has now dared to asked her doctor to switch to half the dosage of the same medication. She is now determined to try this lower dose, bearing all the disturbances.
  • When she visited her endocrinologist doctor recently, the doctor spontaneously commented “You were somewhere, for past many years. You are now a different person”
  • Before practicing these techniques, she had severe anxiety whenever she had to undergo a treatment at her dentist’s office. She had to take an anti-anxiety medicine, to be able to go through the visit. But her recent visit to the dentist was all done without any such medication. She was herself surprised how this happened for the first time!
  • Before these practices, she was a compulsively controlling person. She wanted things done yesterday and her way! Now she lets others manage their affairs, as they like. She does not feel the compulsive urge to control them any more.
  • When she organized a birth day party recently, she was calmly interacting with people, unlike her usual self. This change was noticed by her family  members and they commented about it.
  • Her goal is now to “get off the insulin”. She is hopeful she can do it eventually.
  • She is surprised that she is now cooking smaller quantities and eating smaller portions. Her husband is surprised at this remarkable change.
  • Having made a beginning with going to the YMCA when her daughter gave her the gift of trial membership, she enrolled herself in the Y and going to the gym 3 days a week. She walks on the track every time she goes there. She is happy with meeting many other like minded persons there.
  • Due to more awareness and self control, she stopped snacking on chips at night. Instead she eats an apple.

Her previous feedback
My family  can’t believe the change in my attitude.

(1) How can I focus on breathing?

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* My family life has changed dramatically

Feedback from a woman who attended seven of my classes (1) over last 4 months. She had several mind, body problems.

“Since I have started ‘focusing on breathing’ practices (2) with C.S (Suryanarayana Chennapragada) in October 2011, my family life has changed dramatically.  My daughter and I now talk on a daily basis without yelling at one another. My husband has calmed down his attitude around me. They both say it is because of the person I have become.  I am much more relaxed now and take things as they come, instead of  worrying about things.

My back pain (3) has gone away.  I am now exercising and get energy from doing it on a daily basis.  I have even signed up for a nutritional class and a Zumba class.

I am sleeping much better than I use to, without taking sleeping pills.   I also have started to eat healthier than I was before.   Basically I am a much calmer person with more energy, in the last four months, thanks to C.S. He has also given me good counseling advice better than any counselor I have ever seen in the past.   I would refer anyone to C.S. to help them with many factors in life. He is a very smart and caring man.”

(1) Seminars and classes 
(2) How can I focus on  breathing?
(3) How to relieve chronic pains by ‘Focusing on breathing’ and gentle stretching?

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* Speak and act with a clear mind, clean heart and compassion

Sometimes we are faced with challenging situations, unable to decide anything. We feel stuck. We need a strategy to get unstuck and keep going. The following approach may be helpful.

Protect yourself with the three  ‘C’ s

1. Clear mind: Seek clarity on facts. Make a reality check on the situation, people, their actions and intentions. Keep on working in this sphere, till you feel confident that you are not imagining things but seeing truth. Make sure you are not in confusion or doubt (1). First task is to achieve this mental clarity. Don’t speak or take any action even now. Read on for the second ‘C’.

2. Clean heart: Check your heart if you have any negative emotions like revenge, hatred, cheating, fear, guilt etc.  Clear your negative emotions as they will surely trip you on the way. The comes the third ‘C’.

3. Compassionate attitude: Check whether you have a compassionate attitude towards ‘yourself’ and ‘others’ who may be affected by your words and actions. If your words and actions are not arising out of compassion to everyone (everyone includes your own self), hold all speech and action. Take time to develop a compassionate attitude (2).

Now speak and act

Once you have put on these triple protections around you – a clear mind, a clean heart and a compassionate attitude, speak and act with confidence and conviction. You can’t do wrong to yourself or anyone. You won’t have regrets. You can stand before GOD and say boldly “I did the right thing. I am proud of my self.”. If you won’t be afraid of facing GOD with conviction, why should you be afraid of any human being?

(1) Is it a snake or a rope?
(2) Read My articles on ‘Relationships’

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* I rebuilt my broken spirit

This is a testimonial from Eva (not her real name) who attended 8 of my classes over 5 months (6). It illustrates many lessons in getting out of the grip of a verbal or emotional abuser, not a physical abuser.

  • It is a dramatic model on how a person can break the spell of the abuser  and lead a stress free life. Daily contact with that person may be unavoidable. The abuser may be abusing verbally or emotionally.  The abuser may be a boss, spouse, parent, friend or any other.
  • It proves the saying  “You can’t change others. You can only change your response to their behavior.” and the related one “When I change myself, the World changes.”
  • It proves the spiritual saying “When the student is ready the teacher appears”
  • And surprise! The abuser may turn around!

See more of my comments at the end.

The report
“I suppose it was the end of May 2011 because the 10 foot high snow banks at the end of the parking lot had finally melted. I think it was a Monday or a Tuesday. Back then, I didn’t really focus on real- time. I simply prayed to get through each day. Each and every new morning presented itself with tremendous anxiety, demanding self-preparedness to battle with my verbally and emotionally abusive boss. I had been dealing with his relentlessly abusive behavior over the last two years. I was daily confronted with humiliation, degrading, argumentative, embarrassing control tactics, accusations, and lies. Me responding with anxiety, fear, tears, withdrawal, disgust and frustration. I was losing sleep, and it felt like I was constantly spinning.

I was treated by my physician for severe panic attacks and sleeplessness. My dermatologist was treating me for the red blotches, itching and welts on my face. Rock bottom came when a coworker made an unkind comment to me, back on that Monday or Tuesday. It broke my spirit to the core. I went out of the office, to the end of the long unused hallway, sat on the floor with my arms wrapped around my knees. I soaked from my tears. What was happening to me? How do I stop this monster of a boss from making me feel like this?

I figured I had two choices – fight or flight. I pulled myself together and went back to the office. I prayed to the angels to please give me some kind of a sign.

A few days before, I planned to attend the seminar by C S (Suryanarayana Chennapragada) on ‘Focusing on breathing’  at the local library, but I couldn’t make it. On coming to know about my interest from my coworker, CS offered the classes at his office. I saw CS that day.

He patiently let me unload everything that was making my life miserable. He taught me the different breathing methods to control stress and help with relaxation (5). He made me practice the techniques briefly sitting in his office.

I experienced a sense of calmness almost immediately. I could feel my tense shoulders drop. In his weekly classes he shared with me his own life experiences and some healing thoughts (1). I began to understand things in a whole different way. I knew I was 100 feet under water but after a few sessions with CS, I knew I had crawled up by 10 feet, inch by inch.

I had a long way to go but I knew I was on the right path. I practiced the techniques every day and several times a day when things got bad. I could thus create my own calmness to some degree. I created sanity in my work space by including things I love and a few ‘props’ from C S, to insulate me from further emotional trauma (2).

After several months and many visits later. I can honestly say that I am ‘riding the waves’ instead of drowning underneath them (3). I have learned so much from the relaxation techniques and guidance from C S,  that now I recognize the bad behavior before it comes to me. I learned how to respond to it in appropriate ways, to throw “IT” (the ‘bug’, meaning the abusive behavior) back and put the fire out before it burns me (4).

I had a revelation not too long ago inspired by the experiences C S shared with me. It became clear to me, that I was causing my own frustration because I was expecting my boss to change into someone he could never be. I realized that I could only change myself. I had to only keep my mind clear without confusion and my heart clean without any negative intention or attitude. I am now stronger, more confident and more aware of my own being. I am a better person now. When confronted with difficulties and bad behavior at work, I know I am going to get even better. I have eliminated all expectations about him! I feel can do this! I keep a small sign on my desk with a chant that CS introduced to me. It reminds me frequently that my boss’s abusive behavior is not because something is wrong with me. The sign has the letters “koerauoyavE”. It does not make sense to any other person. I am the only one who knows that reading it backwards, it gives me the healing message “Eva you are OK” (I am OK, it is my boss who is suffering from the ‘blame bug’).”

The report ends happily here!

Some unexpected developments
My boss realized that I was not cowering anymore when he behaved intimidatingly. On the other hand, he saw me replying to his accusations calmly, boldly and factually, looking into his eyes, all the time. He then changed his behavior dramatically. He started behaving like an immature child and making jokes, trying to make up with me! Unbelievable!” “A few days back, at the end of the day, I asked him “Doc! are we closing the office?”. He replied “You tell me.” I said “You are the boss. You are the one to decide.” He said “No. You are the boss!”. Imagine this one coming from the micromanaging and intimidating boss who used to say in all petty matters of the office “I am the boss. You have to follow whatever I say.” What a transformation!”

***

My comments

Eva is an unique personality, unlike any others with whom I worked so far. In her past career she always had kind and caring bosses. This abusive boss was a great shock to her.

She instantly grasped the concepts and techniques I shared with her, internalized them and used them right away, to manage the situation on hand. She benefited remarkably from the stories and articles that I shared with her in the classes.

After a few weeks of practicing the breathing and the new thought processes, she discarded her previous practice of wearing the green smock to the office, like a medial staff. She wore the normal office dress like a receptionist, with pride. This small step boosted her morale, one notch.

(1) She quickly absorbed the messages of these stories/articles and ideas and practiced them in real life.

  • “He insulted me” on how we can refuse to receive the insult being thrown at us or internalize it.
  • “The walker who laughed at A, B and C” on how we think we have some problem, instead of the abusive person.
  • “The blamer is hit with the blame bug” due to which he can’t help displaying the symptoms of blaming disease.
  • “My brother Ramu dies at the age of 10” describing how my unrealistic expectation was the cause for my suffering.
  • “We do not see the first parts of people’s lives” making  judgments of other people, based on their current behavior, without knowing the experiences they were subjected to till that point of time.
  • “To speak or not, to act or not” illustrating that as long I have a clear mind without confusion and a clean heart without negative emotions, I can speak and act appropriately without being afraid of any one, including GOD.
  • Unrealistic expectations sap our motivation and abort our attempts at making small forward moving changes in our routine. The president of an African country was asked by a journalist to describe the achievements of his government. He said ”My dear friend, I am not in the happy position of seeing what heights I have reached. I only see from what depths I am coming up!”. The personal change process is such that we may not experience any waves of happiness even after many many years of practice. The few daring people that attempt this process have to sustain their efforts and draw deep inspiration from the tiny reductions in their daily suffering.

(2) I helped Eva in creating reassuring and calming props, right in front of her, while sitting in her chair, in spite of any objections by her boss. This was also to break the spell of controlling and being controlled, under which both her boss and she lived, for more than two years. She also had to demonstrate her right to arrange her undisputed physical zone as she liked, without being challenged by her boss.

  • I described the story “He insulted me” using my pen for practical demonstration and at the end, gave her the same pen to take with her and place it right in front of her on the desk. This pen would remind her of the message of this story during the abusive interactions of the day, thus protecting her from distress.
  • I used a piece of crumpled paper to represent the bug in the story “The blamer is hit with the blame bug” and asked her to keep it on her desk, to remind her that her boss could not help behaving abusively because he was having the blame bug in his head.
  • I made a card in the shape of an inverted V (like a name sign used in meetings) and wrote “koerauoyawE” on it with a colored sketch pen. This was the message “Eva you are ok” written backwards as one word, so that only she could decipher the hidden message. Whenever her boss made a statement putting her down, she looked at this card lying on her desk, reminding her she was OK and it was her boss who had the bug (problem). Looking at this message helped her shake off the negative messages about her that her boss was trying to inject into her mind. Her coworkers saw the card and asked what was the meaning of that word. She quietly smiled in reply.
  • I asked her if she had any plants or flowers on her desk or around her, to look at and care for, as her own. She said her boss did not like any such things. I said this is a very good chance to assert her right by bringing some flowers from her garden or buy a small plant in a pot and keep it on her desk. She followed these suggestions.
  • She heard western classical music being played in our office when she came to the classes. She remarked that it was very calming whereas the music channel in her office radio blared hard drum sounds and disturbed her as well as the patients sitting in the waiting room. I asked her to change the station to classical music. She was not sure he would allow it but she made the change anyway without his noticing it, to her great relief. Listening to this soothing music all the time also contributed to reducing her stress.

(3) A spiritual teacher said that the meditative techniques like ‘Focusing on breathing’ do not eliminate the problems which are a part of life. But they help us manage them without getting distressed. He said  “You can’t avoid the big waves coming at you. But you can use the meditative techniques as a surf board and ride over the waves”.

(4) Her boss was throwing the blame (bug) at her and she now learned how to throw it back at him, instead of getting infected by that bug. She protected herself from being infected by the blaming disease that her boss was suffering from.

(5) Six different modes of ‘Focusing on breathing’

(6) Seminars and classes 

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* ‘Focusing on breathing’ helping three generations

Here is a wonderful feedback from a woman narrating how this simple technique is helping her, her daughter and her mom, all three generations

“Well I guess I should start out by saying that I am a 31 year old single mother that needed a little assistance with some unneeded stress in my life. Being a mother of two has been a wonderful, trying experience. I work full time and had a part time job to make ends meet. I was first introduced to the breathing (1) by my co-worker C S (Suryanarayana Chennapragada). I’m a very open minded person so I was willing to try anything to reduce the production of any grey hairs. On top of me being a full time mom and employee, I also had other added issues that needed to be attended too.  I have arthritis in my lower back which causes me a lot of pain.  I started the breathing mainly for this reason.  I would start breathing at night before I would fall asleep.   I noticed it didn’t take me more than 5 mins to pass out. I was able to clear my head and focus on sleeping instead of the 15 million different things I had to accomplish the next day or week. As I continued to do the breathing and speaking with C S, I was able to then use the breathing other times for many different things. I use it for when I’m stressed out and going through difficult situations.  I can see a difference with my attitude and how I carry myself and just how I feel. It’s been very uplifting for me so far………so I decided to share with my children and with my mother.

I have two children who are 12 and 8 years of age. The breathing didn’t go over so well with my 12 year old due to the fact that she isn’t that open minded and set in her ways. Now my 8 year old definitely needed the breathing. She was having problems in school with friends and her attitude along with taking instruction from her elders.  I started the breathing with her before she would fall sleep. She first found it to be a game that would buy her a little quality time with mom plus allowed her to stay up longer. After about a month of doing it together she would take it upon herself to do it alone. I could see the change in her attitude when she woke up and with her attitude in school. It was nice for a change, to receive positive reports from her teachers, instead of the usual negative ones. As time went on, I would catch her midway into the breathing and she must have fallen asleep before she got done counting the breaths.  I’d catch her with her finger stuck at a segment. She is also doing much better now with her relationship with her sister. They haven’t stopped fighting totally but the arguing has calmed down a lot.  She just is much more pleasant and fun to be around. The progress still continues……

On to my mother. My mother has many different health issues. Some that she has brought upon herself and the others she has developed.  For many years of living in the same house, she just always seemed to be very tense and unhappy. Plus she is a heavy smoker that smokes 4 packs of cigarettes a day.  I told my mother about the breathing and I also mailed her some flyers. She didn’t really believe that it would have an effect on her.  She put it off for a while until one day that she had to face a tough issue head on. She would call me up on a daily basis to inform me that she tried the breathing and she felt like a new person when she got up in the morning. From then on, she was doing it on her own. She realized that she could also use it with her daily lifestyle as well. This made a world of a difference. My mother always had a short fuse. My father has even given me his input. He called me thanking me for sharing this technique with my mother because she was so much nicer and easier to get along with now.  When we do spend time with my parents, I noticed it myself. She isn’t so quick to jump to conclusions and start yelling.  She still hasn’t tried to change her smoking habits but this is a bridge that I’m still trying to cross with her.  She at least listens to me talk about stopping smoking and how the breathing would help but she isn’t quite ready for that big step yet. I will continue to encourage the breathing for my family and friends. I figure if it worked for me then it can work for anyone………”

(1) How can I focus on breathing?

Related pages
Training children in ‘Focusing on breathing’
How to quit smoking by ‘Focusing on breathing’

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* Magical effect of ‘Counting breaths’

Feedback from Rajendra Agrawal Ph.D. He learned the technique from my handouts (1).

“I have experienced some magical effect of the ‘Count your breath exercise’, which I started only recently, say 3-4 months ago. Though I had heard about such a technique many years ago, I was literally introduced to this by a good friend of mine, Mr. Suryanarayana. Initially, I was skeptical as anyone would be, but then thought, if I don’t gain much from it, I am definitely not going to lose anything. So, I started practicing this technique for a few minutes (10-15 minutes) without a particular goal in mind. I chose morning hours, immediately after coming out of the bed. In the initial couple of weeks, which included few gaps, I felt a very slight change in my attitude. The most important has been a sharp decline in frequency of getting panic on work not being completed according to target dates (set by me), which sometimes can be considered as unrealistic by my colleagues. At this point, I do not know for sure if this positive change in myself is due to ‘Counting your breath exercise’, but must be it , because I haven’t made any other change in my daily routine recently. I hope to increase the duration of this exercise in the near future.” (Rajendra Agrawal PhD Research Scientist, Wadsworth Center, NYS Dept of Health, Albany NY and Associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, School of Public Health of the University at Albany NY)

(1) Handouts

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