Tag-Archive for » counting breaths «

+ 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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* Clears my mind of all other thoughts

Feedback from a woman in her fifties who attended my seminar at the East Greenbush Community Library, followed by 4 of my classes in 2012.

“I’ve been meaning to let you know how helpful the workshops I took with you were and still are (1).

I have been using your ‘counting breaths’ method to help me sleep for the last 2 years (2). Whenever I have trouble falling asleep, I begin to become aware of my breathing. Just the relaxed way you taught me. And I count and use the finger touching method (3).

It’s amazing! It clears my mind of all other thoughts. I begin to relax, and after a short while, I fall asleep (4).

I also find the relaxed breathing you encouraged me to do before getting out of bed, helps me start the day with a more relaxed attitude and I am less anxious (5)”.

(1) Seminars and Classes
(2) How Can I Focus On Breathing?
(3) How to Enjoy Quality Sleep and Conquer Insomnia?
(4) Relief from Insomnia – Success stories
(5) Waking up routine     Relief from Anxiety, Fear and Panic atacks

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@ “Easy and Effective. It works! “

I thank Chaitanya Mudivarthy Ph.D (1), my nephew, for posting this recommendation for me in Linkedin.  I am delighted that he highlights the most important aspect of the techniques – that it suits today’s busy people who can’t spare time for Yoga and such practices.

“CS Rao (Suryanarayana Chennpragada) is an excellent yoga practitioner. He is one of the few who realized the problem with current generation – impatience and lack of time to put yoga into practice in their daily routine. His solution to this is simple and practical – ‘counting breaths’ (2). This technique works!

I have been practicing this technique since 2006 with great results.

I have suggested the technique to numerous friends with ADD, anxiety disorders, and depression. One thing I hear back is how easy and effective the technique is.

Above all, CS Rao is an excellent human being with tremendous knowledge in general in the fields of science, medicine, and spirituality.”

(1) Chaitanya Mudivarthy – Linkedin Page
(2) ‘Counting breaths’ is an ancient technique devised by the Buddha 2500 years back. My adaptations of this technique to suit busy beginners are two. One is using the fingers. This practice leashes the mind far more effectively than just counting the breaths in the mind. The second adaptation is for beginners to practice lying in the bed at night and morning to make the practice ‘excuse free’ and get them hooked on it. These have  made this ancient technique available to people of all ages and cultures.

The ‘focusing on breathing’ practices presented in this site are radically different from Yogic breathing practices. Yogic breathing practices require you to change the current pattern of breathing, to conform to the given guidelines. We are warned to learn those practices from a trained teacher, to avert potential harm from wrong practice.

In contrast, these breathing practices do not suggest any pattern for breathing, except in one mode. We passively watch the breaths, like watching the actors on a movie screen. These practices are totally safe whatever way you do them, even for children.

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@ The beginning of a journey

Feedback from a remarkable client, a Chiropractor who attended 4 of my classes over a period of 6 weeks. Immediately after the the first class, he reported big changes in his way of looking at daily experiences and his new style of responding to them. 

“It began with a chance meeting with a stranger, leading into a conversation of meditation and counting breaths (1).

Shortly thereafter, I was called to action after a road rage incident prompted me to move forward with exploring the possibility of living in the moment, being aware of all my actions.

Since beginning counting breaths (2) I began to notice the color of the autumn leaves for the first time in over 50 years.

An inner peace was overcoming me while driving to the extent the radio playing my favorite music was perceived as noise.

At home, a more peaceful time was experienced, reading rather than watching the television. A sense of clarity and focus began to evolve.

My leisure time now is spent in quiet, conscious of breath with a sense of awareness I have not experienced in the past.

I’ve become comfortable with peaceful time, reading, which is now part of my daily life.

My counting breaths these days consist of calming and happy thoughts. I no longer think about the past or worry about the future. I work on living in the present, experiencing what happens in the now.

Through ongoing practice, awareness and an internal peace have been the one of the greatest accomplishment in my personal life…..and the journey continues.”

(1) This is another classic instance of ‘everything falling in place’ when the person is ready for change. As he explained in person – let me call him Frank, (not his real name), was at a party and heard two other people talking about meditation and counting breaths and joined the conversation. One of them – let me call him Alfred (not his real name) talked about my classes and techniques. Frank was interested and gave his e-mail ID to Alfred for sending my reference. Frank did not get the e-mail. But for some mysterious reason, Alftred followed up with something unusual. He printed his e-mail message and mailed it to Frank. When Frank got my information, he visited this website and felt this is something he would like to try. He has been coming to my classes and “thus began his journey” into the world of reality!
(2) How Can I Focus On Breathing? For different modes of breathing.

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@ Mindfulness at Robert C. Parker School

Here is a wonderful blog by Meg Taylor Head of Robert C. Parker School (1) on how the school is introducing mindfulness in various modes. Focusing on breathing (2) is a popular mode in the elementary grades, now being extended to the middle school.

” Learning to channel attention to productive tasks, to sustain motivation when work becomes demanding, and to handle the frustrations of sharing, learning, and communicating with peers are skills that depend on the ability to understand and manage emotions.

As one part of our effort to help children build emotional resiliency and self control, we use mindfulness techniques with them every day. Our faculty has worked with C S Rao (3), a grandparent in our school, to learn a form of breathing (2) that allows us to quickly relax and tune out distractions. He calls it ‘Counting Breaths’ (2) and it has the effect of feeding oxygen to the brain, calming emotions, clearing a busy mind, and giving a sense of peace and focus.

Teachers have adapted CS’s ideas for classroom practice. In Pre K 3, a chime is rung and children breathe smoothly and quietly, as the chime sound diminishes.

In Pre K 4, students use the image of falling leaves while they breathe.

In K-1, Liliana has adopted the language “going into your silence” as children sit quietly in both mind and body and breath slowly.

Grade 2-3’s practice taking five slow clearing breaths as do the 4-5’s. (4)

This year middle school teachers are going to teach the students CS’s method of using the fingers to count breaths. As CS says, the technique can be used anytime – when you can’t sleep at night, or if you are feeling anxious (5). And it works! I use it in the middle of the night when my mind is racing (6).

The effect with children is very positive. They have a strategy to calm themselves that they can use anywhere. It is a great tool for successfully negotiating frustrations, stress and anxiety and gaining attentiveness and focus. Having the ability to be mindful gives children confidence that they can handle difficult things (7). That is a gift for any individual.

You can read more in this complex and fascinating article “Why Teaching Mindfulness Benefits Students’ Learning”, in Mind/Shift (8).”

(1) Perspectives on Parker Blogspot
(2) How Can I Focus On Breathing?
(3) Suryanarayana Chennapragada
(4) Breathing breaks in the classroom – Report by Lynn Schuster
(5) Daytime practice
(6) How to Enjoy Quality Sleep and Conquer Insomnia?
(7) Benefits for Mind, Body and Relationships
(8) “Why Teaching Mindfulness Benefits Students’ Learning”  Post in Mind/Shift

Related pages
Training children

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@ A practical no-nonsense approach that really works

Testimonial from Alfred (1) who had great hidden potential for meditation and spiritual growth that was just waiting for a spark to explode (sort of). His experience illustrates the quote in the spiritual filed “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”.

He found my website on-line among other local organizations for Yoga and meditation. He felt that he found what he was just looking for. He attended only 3 classes and took off unbelievably on his own, like no other client.

He has been kind enough to e-mail his insights and experiences (2) and let me publish them under the pseudonym ‘Alfred’. I am learning from his insights. I was puzzled why with all his inherent wisdom, he needed to learn the very simple breathing and stretching techniques I teach. When I queried  him and asked for his testimonial he sent this wonderful description. This is the kind of endorsement I was looking for all these years. These techniques do help people like him with hidden potential, to make a simple beginning and then keep going on their own steam.  I am grateful to  Alfred for this feedback and his periodic insights and experiences.

“I am a middle aged businessman who in most all respects enjoys a good life.  I have enough money to keep me from worrying, my relationships with wife, family and friends are good and so is my health.  Despite all of my good fortune I was aware for some time of some missing element in my life.  I had always been interested in the human mind and have read quite a lot about cognition and psychology.  The one message I received over and over again was that the practice of meditation with mindfulness as a goal is something which many very credible people advocate.

I did a quick Google search and found Suryanarayana Chennapragada’s (CS) web site.  CS has developed a simple meditation technique which combines counting breaths and simple yoga to create a calming disposition.

I met with CS and took 6 (3) private classes.  Since attending those classes, I have only missed 2 days of meditation, both because of international travel.

I like CS’s approach very much because, not only is it immediately effective, but also because it is not steeped in any religious dogma or “new age” philosophy.  It is a practical no-nonsense approach that really works well for me.

I look forward to my hourly morning meditation.  It centers me for my busy days, allows me to turn off the noise in my head and enjoy the present and it has enhanced my personal relationships. “

(1) Alfred 
(2) Alfred’s progress – Posts 
(3) Actually he attended 3 classes but felt they were six. May be because we had a great rapport!

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@ Counting breaths relieved stress at work

Feedback from a person who attended my seminar at the East Greenbush Library –

“I was having a lot of stress at work. Some days I was afraid of what I would be challenged with before I got to work.

I found that the counting breaths technique (1) helped me through a lot of stressfull moments, and helps me sleep better at night. Thank you for the class, it was amazingly helpful.”

(1) How can I focus on breathing?

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