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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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Pre diabetes patients – Feedback 9/12/18

I offered a seminar at the Family Medical Group which is a part of St Peter’s Health Partners, for pre-diabetes patients on Sept 12, 2018 (1). It was attended by 3 women and 3 men. A folder containing my key handouts was supplied to each participant by the organizers Marcy Pickert and her associate Kate Ratigan (2).

Summary of the Feedback

I will practice this technique for my (concern) 

  • Calming down at the end of the day
  • Help sleeping
  • When stressed and for sleep
  • Sleep, Relaxation and Awareness
  • My anxiety and need to focus

Take home’ points

  • When my husband stresses me, When I deal with my grandchildren
  • Breathing/ Counting/ Finger techniques
  • Use this at work between clients to clear my mind

Evaluation of the seminar 

  • Very useful – 4
  • Useful – 2

Comments

  • Have Surya (Suryanarayana Chennapragada) come early in class (pre diabetes education classes)

I wish to 

  • Receive ‘Annual update’ on this technique – 3

(1) Family Medical Group
(2) Documents for download – All handouts

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Beginners’ feedback 9/4/18

Three people attended, a father and his two sons, one son is a senior and another is in 7th grade. A summary of their feedback is posted below. The sons attended my classes at the local Hindu Temple a few years back. A set of my handouts was given to them (1).

I knew about this group from

– Family/Friend 3

My purpose in joining this group

– Focus, Relax, Sleep
– Be relaxed, happier, Better focus
– To do better meditation

Today’s ‘Take home’ ideas

– Practice this regularly
– Practice every night
– Meditation techniques with breathing

Overall evaluation of the session

– Very useful 3

Suggestions for future meetups

– Longer meditation

My sources of stress

– Relationships at home
– Relationships at home
– My health
– Relationships at work

I cope with my stress by

– Exercise, Meditation
– Exercise, Meditation
– Getting busy with school
– Meditation, Getting busy

Total donations offered – $30

(1) Documents for download

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19th Seminar – East Greenbush Library

I offered the 19th seminar at East Greenbush Community Library on July 30th from 6.30 to 8.30 pm (1). Attended by 9 women, 2 school going girls and 2 men. A folder containing my key handouts  and testimonials was given to each participant (2), (3). 

Summary of the Feedback

I will practice this technique for my (concern) 

  • Insomnia, Panic attacks, ADD, Migraines
  • Help to focus my mind
  • Returning to sleep in the night
  • Yes – Middle of night sleeplessness
  • For sleeping
  • Sleeping better
  • Sleeping
  • Stress, Sleeping
  • Relaxation in public speaking
  • Rest and relaxation
  • Yes! – 2

My ‘Take home’ points

  • Practice, Practice, Practice
  • I will try this tonight
  • Breathing – 2
  • Very doable
  • Breathing to control anxiety
  • Good way to quiet the mind
  • Using it to calm my mind when i am angry or upset
  • Counting breaths, Relaxing, Finding what works for me
  • Counting and breathing is an easy technique to practice on my own
  • I found counting breaths helped stay on track
  • Focusing on breathing minimizes distractions, Set aside 20 minutes a day twice a day

Seminar evaluation 

  • Very useful – 9
  • Useful – 1
  • Useful/OK – 1
  • OK – 1

Comments

  • Excellent background knowledge in topic, very useful in all areas of life. Great useful presentation
  • I felt very relaxed and almost fell asleep.

I wan to 

  • Receive ‘Annual update’ on this technique – 3
    • One participant commented “I already registered. Great website. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!
  • Sign up online for the meetup group for Practitioners – Possibly

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

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Beginners’ Feedback 6/5/18

Five people attended, four female and one male. Four people filled out the feedback form. A summary of their feedback is posted below.

One of the participants attended the Beginners’ meetup and Practitioners’ meetups before. She said this meditation was life changing for her. So she brought in her friend and friend’s college going daughter for today’s class. She said lot of things were going on at her home but her husband said she should go to the class as she feels and does better after the class. Also that she felt peaceful simply being in my presence.

Another participant had attended the Vipassana program at Barre (Massachusetts) but never practiced at home after the program (1). At the end he said he liked how I presented the technique.  A set of my handouts was given to each participant (2).

I knew about this group from

– meetup.com
– Sign I saw
– Friend

My purpose in joining this group

– Feel calm and peace
– Learning how to de-stress and have my mind become more peaceful
– Renew my meditation practice, Control stress, Improve health and sleep
– To relieve anxiety, Improve sleep

Today’s ‘Take home’ ideas

– Method of breathing to improve feeling of relaxation
– Going to sleep and walking practice
– Find little moments to de-stress and have my mind become more peaceful.
– Feel calm and peace
– Don’t stress about the rules

Overall evaluation of the session

– Very useful 4

Suggestions for future meetups

None

I plan on joining a follow up group

– Practitioners’ meetup
– Beginners and Practitioners group
– I travel and so I will come as my schedule allows

My sources of stress

– Life in general
– Sleep and joint pain
– Home
– School
– Relationships at home and work

I cope with my stress by

– Exercise, Yoga, Sports, Hiking
– Eating, Reading
– Need to develop healthy ways to eat normally

Total donations offered – $27

(1) Insight Meditation Society
(2) Documents for download

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Meditation class in Montreal – Feedback

I volunteered to teach ‘Counting breaths meditation’ to the residents of International youth hostel in Montreal (Gite hostel) on May 27 when we were staying there for a few days (1). My offer was immediately accepted by the receptionist. Four adults and two children attended the 45 minutes session. I am grateful for this opportunity for sharing this simple meditation with a few people including two children for the first time in Canada.  Feedback collected from them on plain paper is posted below.

  • After many weeks of not sleeping very good, this meditation session is a great hope. Very adapted to an actual need. I have learned a lot thanks to you. I have discovered an aspect of life that I didn’t know. Actually meditation and breathing is easier than I expected. Thanks a lot for your meditation session and your kindness. Best regards.
  • This meditation pause gave me peace. I felt relaxed after 5 minutes of counting breaths meditation. I almost fell asleep. This will for sure help me with my sleeping problems. Thank you very much. (34 years)
  • Very interesting exercise, it made me very calm and relaxing myself.  It’s funny because I understand how my breathing works (about the exercise for sleep) because before I see there is a relation between breathing and sleep but I didn’t know how it’s working. Good teaching and thank you.
  • Thanks for the lesson. It’s simple to achieve, so we can do it easily.  I will try to do as often as possible to keep a calm mind and peaceful attitude.
  • I felt good and Zen. I would like to do meditation again. You are very kind. Please come back. Boy 6 years
  • I felt relaxed, in peace. I liked it a lot. I would like to have another meditation session with you. Thank you.  Girl 7 years.

(1) gite hostel – Montreal

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18th Seminar – East Greenbush Library

I offered the 18th seminar at East Greenbush Community Library (1) on Jan 10, 2018 from 6.30 to 8.30 pm. Attended by 7 women and 4 men. A folder containing my key handouts  and testimonials was given to each participant (2), (3). 

Summary of the Feedback

I will practice this technique for my (concern) 

  • Stress and Sleeping
  • For stress reduction, Improved sleep, Improved quality of life and health
  • Stress, Falling asleep
  • Getting back to sleep
  • Sleep
  • Sleep,Tension
  • Stress, Learning to relax
  • Relaxation, Relieve stress
  • General Stress reduction

My ‘Take home’ points

  • Practice breathing
  • Learn to relax
  • Practice for six months, Breathe through nose and counting
  • Focus of breathing to relax
  • Breathing meditation based on counting, Practice when you have time anywhere
  • I want to share with my sister who has chronic back pain
  • Finger tip counting
  • Breathing 1-2-3
  • Counting breaths and the times to do the breathing

Evaluation of the seminar 

  • Very useful – 7
  • Satisfied – 3

Comments

  • Excellent presentation, Experienced presenter, Thank you for offering
  • Very good info.
  • Thank you!

I wish to 

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

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

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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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17th 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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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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