Tag-Archive for » counting breaths «

+ 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 a 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 can’t read the alphabets?’”. Meditators’ minds wander to some extent even after years of meditation. As beginners our goal is not being 100% focus without any wandering.

Q: What else?

A. Our goal is to increase the focusing from 0% to let us say 2% which means wandering lesser from 100% to 98%. As our practice continues, the focusing percentage creeps up and the stress level slides down. We will also be able to ignore the stressful thoughts and be calm under stress.

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 work only with the mind when lying in the bed. Our initial goal is to fall asleep while doing this meditation!

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. 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 easy to do steps 1-2-3.

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 lost its focus on breathing. Just for realizing that your mind wandered, your meditation becomes half successful. What next?

3. As soon as you catch your mind wandering, quietly begin counting the breaths. When you resume counting the practice, your meditation becomes 100% successful. Simply repeat the success cycles! There are no rules or restrictions. Is this doable?

Of course, I can do this meditation. Who said meditation is difficult?

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Yoga and Meditation – Nov 14 Class

The sixth monthly class at Venture Inward was done on Nov 14, 2016 from 6.30 to 8.00 pm (1). Three women and two men attended. Four were new comers and 1 continuer. Summary of feedback  is shown below.

Scanned images of the feedback forms

Newcomers

I came to know about this seminar from 

A friend
A flier in the doctor’s office
Venture Inward newsletter  – 2

I will practice this technique for my (concern)

Anxiety and to focus
Anxiety
Anxiety and Insomnia

My ‘Take home’ points

Counting the breaths using the fingers
Breathe
Tongue behind the teeth technique
Breathe and relax

Seminar evaluation

Very satisfied – 4

Comments

Very helpful
Looking forward to attending another session

I recommend this seminar to (specify the group with contact details if possible)

Receive Annual Updates?

Yes – 3

Enroll  for ‘Follow up classes’ on this technique?

Yes – 3

Join a ‘Support group for Meditation’?       

Yes – 1

Continuers
Meditation on breathing

When did I practice? 

Falling asleep: A few times -2
During the day: When I feel I have too much to do

How did it help me? 

Made me feel relaxed

Gentle Yoga

I practiced

Frequently

Future classes

I want to continue: Yes

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

Related pages: Public Seminars

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Meditation workshop at Church

The second seminar at the First United Methodist Church of East Greenbush was set up by Patricia Chartrand, the mom of one of my long standing clients. Attended by 14 women as part of a periodic women’s group retreat. Three of the women attended my first seminar in March 2015. It was so nice on their part to share their experiences on how it helped them and family members. 

Summary of the Feedback

I will use this technique for my …

  • Improve my sleeping
  • Sleep, Pain
  • Insomnia, COPD attacks, Breathing
  • Getting better sleep
  • High blood pressure, Pain
  • Blood pressure
  • Grieving process, Regaining my normalcy and daily function (after the recent death of my husband)
  • Anxiety- children

My take home points…

  • Counting and breathing
  • Like the counting much
  • Counted breathing
  • Breathing one-two-three
  • Use this technique
  • To keep breathing
  • Making meditation a priority, Doing it during any moment of the day.

My evaluation of the seminar…

  • Very satisfied – 9
  • Satisfied – 5

Comments

  • I have tried this here today. It calmed me down.
  • Looking for more info. on this once I have the basics.
  • I am reminded to reclaim these teachings for my “Now” reality as a new widow.
  • Wish it was longer.
  • Thank you.
  • Great ideas. Very helpful ideas.
  • I have attended several meditation groups and found each one very good and lasting in long duration (when disciplined to do it).
  • Only drawback was inability understanding due to your accent.
  • Thanks for coming after a long night of travelling.

I recommend this seminar to (name the group)…

  • Youth group at First United Methodist Church.
  • Schodack senior center
  • Complementary Care Officer (Sharon Wheeler) at Albany Medical Center (who organizes stress reduction classes for AMCH employees.)
  • I will recommend this to others.

(1) First United Methodist Church of East Greenbush

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+ Emotional abuse by mother relieved

Kaitlin (name changed) aged around 60, a single software Engineer, attended 6 of my classes. She was emotionally abused by her mom for more than 47 years. And it continued even when her mother was 80+ and dependent on her help for daily living. Kaitlin attended therapy but it did not help her get over this root cause of her stress. The following changes were reported by her during the classes. 

Before the classes 
  • Emotionally abused by mom ever since she turned 13. Mom used to fill her plate with food and force her to empty it. When she emptied it, she would fill it again. She gained weight. Then mom taunted her for being fat. She was always criticizing and controlling.
  • Mother’s taunts: She agitatedly spoke about her distress from her mother’s taunting words. She did not know how to handle her.
  • Insomnia: Not able to sleep without TV. Leaving TV on, reading, difficulty falling asleep, waking up 2 to 3 times, Not able to get back to sleep.
  • Anxiety in the morning about the work.
  • Eating unhealthy
  • Diabetic – 10 years
  • Stress at work – Losing patience.
  • Anger
  • Obesity
  • Stress about job relocation.
  • Diet: Comfort foods like candies,cookies, overeating throughout the day.
  • No physical exercise.
  • Brother’s behavior was a big source of stress. Felt helpless against his cheating and irresponsible behavior.
Her ‘Focusing on breathing’ Practices and more 
  • Tip mode (1)
  • Segment mode (1)
  • Counting mode (1)
  • Waking up (2)
  • Driving (3)
  • I repeatedly introduced the concepts of my articles on ‘Relationships’ and discussed them during the classes to help her internalize them and use them in her interactions with her mother (4).
Now
  • Mother’s abusive behavior: From the fourth class onwards, she did not speak a word about her mom. Instead she started focusing on her own goals like her obesity, stress at work etc.
  • Episodes of anger at work less by 70%. “If someone upsets me I let it pass. Only one episode in the last 3 weeks. Anger less by 70%.”
  • Anxiety about relocation of job is less by 70%. “I put things  out of my mind.”
  • Focus – Better
  • Patience – better
  • More relaxed
  • Overeating at night.
  • Not procrastinating.
  • Confidence improved. 
  • Assertiveness improved.
  • In general more active.
  • Accomplishing more.
  • Overeating in general: Less by 20%. Cut down on cookies and candies.
  • Practicing Yoga nidra.
  • Exercise: Started again after one year, on weekends. Stationary bike 20 min, walking 10 min.
  • Less body stiffness.
  • Doing ‘Albany peace project’ meditation at night.

(1) How can I ‘Focusing on breathing’
(2) Waking up ‘focusing on breathing’
(3) ‘Focusing on breathing’ during driving
(4) My articles – Relationship related

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+ I struck gold in ‘Counting breaths’

This post is a testimonial from Naveen (name changed), a Software Engineer from India around 30 years age. He searched on- line for such techniques, found this website  and e-mailed me in Oct 2014 “I have been trying to practice ‘focusing on breathing’. I want to improve my practice and gain better results. I am looking for more guidelines and motivation from you. “

We exchanged e-mails for 9 months. He raised numerous doubts about the practical aspects of ‘focusing on breathing’ (1). His problems were compounded by intense self doubts. He did a service to others by persistently seeking clarity on minute aspects of the practice. I will post his questions and my answers as FAQ’s.

He was one of my unique clients. He extensively studied these webpages, sought my support and made wonderful use of both. His gradually got over his most pressing problems. I made cosmetic changes and added footnotes to his testimonial.  His success story may inspire young people looking for simple and no-hassle techniques, to lead a stress-free life.

” I thank Suryanarayana Chennapragada (C S) for sharing plethora of knowledge on the internet for the benefit of every human being. I still remember the day I struck gold in the form of “Counting breaths” presented in such a simple manner (2).

I practiced these modes and techniques (1) 

  • Segment mode (1)
  • Counting mode (1)
  • Feeling mode (1)
  • ‘Waking up postures on the bed’ (Sometimes) (8)
  • ‘Yoga stretching movements – Standing (9)

My practice times (10)

  • Bedtime
  • Driving/ traveling
  • On returning home from work
  • Bored
  • Tired

Articles
Every time I read his articles, I unearth something new (3). Here are a few of his thoughts that got stuck in my mind.

  • Thoughts are like clouds (4).
  • Humans are designed to think negatively. Negative thoughts can’t harm us in any manner. We don’t have to be afraid of them or hate them. When they bother you, distract your mind by ‘focusing on breathing’ (5).
  • Feel the coolness inside the nose during the in-breath and count during the out-breath (1) !! This has become my slogan.
  • Have patience. Tirelessly focus on the breath.
  • Pat yourself for even small successes (5).

The benefits I gained 

  • I find improvement in Anxiety, Confidence, Disturbing Thoughts/Feelings, Focus.
  • I realize lot of things happening in my body like not breathing well and getting indications to go and take rest. 🙂
  • Have more patience in dealing with people.
  • Am able to differentiate between useful and useless thoughts. I had negative thoughts very  often. I still get them but I change my focus to the breath and they get reduced. 60 % improved.
  • Sleep: My sleep was not good. It has improved in hours and quality by 80 %. 🙂  (6)
  • I was not feeling fresh. Now  I feel fresh after focusing on breath. 70 % improved.
  • I have a tool to calm my mind and relax my body.
  • Improved my focus on the task in hand.

Interesting aspects of ‘C S’

Though he is in a different part of the world, he never missed responding to my numerous questions, fears and doubts. I never met him personally but have an unbreakable bond with him. He has a special place in my life. Though I do not communicate with him for days, he is always at the back of my mind. Amazing!! Great service to humanity !!! God bless him.”

(1) Focusing on breathing
(2) Counting mode
(3) My articles 30+
(4) Thoughts are like – Viewing thoughts in 9 different ways
(5) ‘Who is controlling your mind? Not you’ – my long booklet of 23 pages. My research on ‘counting breaths’ started with distributing copies of this booklet to about 100 people in the paper factory (ITC PSPD (7)) where I worked. They practiced from my booklet or a small handout without attending any classes. Their remarkable reports motivated me to keep on propagating this technique. Hopefully it will live beyond my life time.
(6) Success stories of relief from sleep problems and insomnia.
(7) ITC PSPD
(8) Waking up postures on the bed
(9) Yoga stretching movements – Standing
(10) Daytime practice

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+ Now I am able to stand up for myself

Report from Sam in his thirties with a masters degree (name changed). He reported that, he found this website and videos in his on-line search. Listening to my voice in the videos was very calming for him. He  had been playing my videos at bedtime to fall asleep.

After a few classes, he reported these developments.

  • He stopped his long standing habit of biting nails. He felt it was due to his improved awareness, self control and reduction of severe anxiety.
  • He found that his long standing fear of public speaking was gone. Before practicing this technique, he had great anxiety anticipating his thesis presentation to his class. But recently, he even volunteered to speak to his class and spoke for one hour without any problem!

On my request, he sent this recent testimonial.

“CS is an amazing teacher, mentor, and friend. His techniques have helped me grow so much in the last year and a half.

I began going to CS at a stressful time in my life, at a point when I knew I needed a change. My confidence was low, and I was stressed out from work and in social settings.

His techniques immediately had an impact on my life. I started setting attainable goals and was able to reach them.

Now I am counting my breaths at night before bed, and at random times throughout my day. It helps me calm my mind.

The books CS proposes I read are helping me become a better person, especially with my relationships with others. Before going to CS, I was having a tough time communicating with my parents and people in my professional life. Now I have the knowledge to protect my inner self and stand up for what I believe, and the relationships are improving.

I will use these techniques for the rest of my life, as it is helping me in being happy. I recommend going to CS if you are having a stressful time dealing with anything in your life, you will not regret it!”

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+ Calmed my Mom having Alzheimer’s

Report by Zina (not her real name) about how the ‘Tip mode’ calmed her 84 year old mom suffering from Alzheimer’s (1) (2). This is the first report of this kind (4). 

“I have just started using your ‘focusing on breathing’ relaxation technique very recently myself. But one day, I decided to do it together with my mother who is 84 years old, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She lives alone in an apartment in the Bronx.

I call her every day, just to stay ‘hello’ or ‘how are you’. Sometimes I get her at her worst when she is at her very agitated ‘sundown’ state.

One day, I decided to guide her through ‘tip mode’ of counting breaths technique over the phone. We did it together for just about five minutes and that calmed her down very much.

Later on, she even asked me to write the instructions down for her in our native language and mail it to her because she would not be able to remember how to count breaths by herself. Great technique! Thank you very much.”

(1) Zina is a patient of my daughter Padma Sripada MD (3). When Zina came to see her last time for her headaches, Padma suggested she may try ‘focusing on breathing’. Apparently Zina felt the practice may prove helpful to her Mom, could guide her on phone and saw a surprising result.
(2) Tip Mode
(3) Padma Sripada MD
(4) Scanned image of her e-mail

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