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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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Practitioners’ Feedback 4/17/18

Three members came in.

What did we do?

–  Each of us shared how we practiced after the last meetup.

– Meditated sitting on cushions in sofas/chairs to effortlessly maintain an erect posture. Each of us practiced in our own way for about 20 minutes and then chanting ‘May we all be happy silently’ once at each segment for 10 minutes. Total meditation was for 30 minutes.

– At the end, massage all over the head, neck and shoulders using one hand at a time.

Summary of feedback

My purpose in joining this group
– Improve and motivate my progress
– Practice meditation
– Inner peace and relaxation

Today’s ‘Take home’ ideas

– “Watch the movie” in the mind (watch the thoughts appearing in the mind like an audience watching the images
on the movie screen)
– Let thoughts pass by like a movie
– Path not goal (Focusing on the journey rather than the goal?)

Overall evaluation of the session

– Very useful – 2
– Useful – 1

Suggestions for the future 

– More time, may be
– Perhaps a lamp, to soften relaxing to the reality after meditation

I plan to attend the next meetup

– Practitioners’ meetup 2
– Beginners’ and Practitioners’ meetup on third Saturday

My sources of stress

– Relationships at Home 2
– Life in general
– Relationships

I cope with my stress by

– Meditation (I want to use it more)
– Meditation
– Getting busy with activities Doing things that I enjoy
– Exercise 2
– Yoga

Total donations – $20

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‘Beginners’ Feedback 4/3/18

Two people attended. A summary of their feedback is posted below.

My purpose in joining this group

– Learn to meditate
– To kick start the practice. I have wanted to start but always put off.

Today’s ‘Take home’ ideas

– Different techniques, Doing ti before bed and upon waking up
– Various methods, Pick one that seems to work

Overall evaluation of the session

– Very useful  2

Suggestions for the future

– Not sure. I think the length of time is fine.

I plan to attend the next meetup

– Practitioners’ meetup – 2

My sources of stress

– Home
– My health
– Relationships

I cope with my stress by

– Exercise – 2
– Hiking, Listening to music
– Math & Algorithm development

Total donations offered – $40

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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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@ Easy as 1-2-3 breathing method

Feedback from a participant of my seminar. 

“I did your recent breathing workshop (1). I have applied the technique and have gotten these very positive results (2).

  • I combined it with a muscle relaxation exercise to get into a quiet relaxed state at nights.
  • I use it on the tread mill during exercise (3).
  • I am able to reduce my heart rate under stress (4).
  • I even used it to improve my performance during sex (5).

It was a great investment to learn your ‘easy as 1-2-3 breathing method’.”

Update received after 1 1/2 years, in March 2015: “Yes I still practice breathing at nights when I get stressed. I also do while having intimate moments with my wife and it helps to prolong the experience. “

(1) Past seminars
(2) Benefits for mind, Body and Relationships
(3) Daytime practice
(4) Relief from Stress
(5) First report of its kind

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@ My anger is reduced by 70%

Feedback from client who attended  3 of my classes over a period of 2 months. He was feeling angry with his wife for spending lot of time in forcing their daughter aged 6 to eat when she was not inclined.  He did not want to be angry. He also had stress at work. 

Practices
  • Regularly practicing the ‘Segment mode’ at bedtime
  • Practicing the ‘Segment mode’ in the morning only on week ends
Benefits

Anger: Reduced by 70%

Sleep: Before, I was waking up a few times regularly in the night even for small disturbances. Now it happens sometimes.

My goals now
  • Reduce stress (Mostly due to thinking about things to do at work)
  • Better sleep at night
  • Reduce my anger further
  • Reduce weight
My plans
  • Write down list of things to do at work, so I do not keep worrying about them
  • Practice the ‘Wakeing up routine’ (2) regularly
  • Better diet and exercise

(1) Segment mode
(2) Waking up routine 

Related pages
Reducing or eliminating Anger – Success stories
Relief from Stress – Success stories

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@ Seminar at the Castleton Library

I offered the first seminar at this library on May 2, 2013. Five people, all women, attended including the Director Amy Peeker. Four of the participants offered feedback which is summarized below.

Scanned images of the feedback forms

I came to know about this seminar from

  • Amy Peeker – the librarian – 3
  • ‘C S’ (my short name)

The seminar was …

  • Very useful –  3
  • No Comment -1

I will use this technique to relieve my (concern)

  • Exercise, Sleeping and Driving
  • Relaxation, Anxiety and Stress
  • Stress management, Anxiety
  • Difficulty some nights in falling asleep

Comments/ Suggestions (if any)

  • Very enjoyable, learned a lot
  • Just using breathing techniques can be so beneficial
  • Very clear explanation on the techniques and provided helpful tools to help individuals implement the techniques
  • Very helpful to actually practice the techniques while being observed to make sure we are doing them correctly. I am going to tell my daughter and mother  who both have sleeping difficulties about the counting techniques.

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Honorarium: I am thankful to the library for voluntarily offering me an honorarium.   

Parent page: Past seminars

* Risk factors for death from ‘Cancer’

Many of us are aware of the risk of ‘Heart disease’, know its risk factors like smoking, cholesterol, LDL, stress etc. and take them seriously. But the risk for ‘Cancer’? Not so serious? Wait!

You may be surprised from the US Government data for 2009. According to Center for Disease Control (1), Cancer is the second highest cause of death in the USA, very closely following heart disease. In 2009 heart disease caused 599413 deaths as #1 and Cancer was a close 567628 as #2. Cancer deaths are 95% of heart disease deaths, in spite of all the advances in screening and treatment! How less likely is death from cancer compared with death from heart disease? Hardly any difference.

If cancer is almost as likely to cause death as heart disease, do we know its risk factors? Can we do anything about the risk factors, rather than wait for it to be detected too late, as a death sentence?

I found from my personal experience that these are the popular beliefs and practices

  • Most cancers are genetically influenced and can’t be prevented. Exceptions are caused by smoking, exposure to asbestos and some chemicals.
  • Screening can’t detect all cancers. In some cases, by the time it is detected, it may be too late and it may not be possible to save life, only prolong it by a few years.
  • When it strikes, the treatment options are surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. After successful treatment, its recurrence is very likely and is a life long threat.
  • During and after treatment, hardly any self care prescriptions are given about what a patient can do, to reduce the risk factors and try to prevent its recurrence.

In this context, the book “The Cancer Survivor’s Guide – Foods that help you fight back” (2) by Neal Barnard M.D (3) may deserve your attention. The author cautions that you should involve your doctor in making any dietary changes. Other experts focus on the role of Smoking cessation, Environmental toxins, Exercise, Stress management and Social support in preventing and fighting cancer. Some links are at (4).

I also recommend the guide on “Prostate cancer prevention – Nutrition and Exercise” published by the Prostate cancer foundation (5).

Diet related suggestions from many sources are following. Diet is one of the key factors. Other equally important factors from other sources are exercise, relaxation and social support.

  • Enhance Fiber and cut down Fat: Diets high in fiber and low in fat, reduce the amount of estrogens (female sex hormones) circulating in the bloodstream, reducing the likelihood that cancer cells will multiply or spread. Fiber prevents colon cancer. It strengthens the immune system.
  • Avoid Dairy Products: Typical dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, and so forth) are high in fat and cholesterol. Dairy products appear to play an important role in cancer risk. The Physicians’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study found that men who frequently consume dairy products had a higher prostate cancer risk.
  • Avoid Meat: Many research studies have shown that cancer is more common in populations consuming diets rich in fatty foods, particularly meat, and much less common in countries with diets rich in grains, vegetables, and fruits. This is partly due to the high-fat and fiber-free characteristics of meat compared to plant foods. When meats are cooked, cancer-causing chemicals called heterocyclic amines form within the meat.
  • Increase Antioxidants: They are powerful cancer fighters mainly found in vegetables and fruits. They assist in halting free radical damage, which can otherwise lead to cancer development.
  • Immune system’s role in fighting cancer: Beta-carotene, vitamin C, and zinc can help the immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells. Foods rich in fat and cholesterol can interfere with immunity. Studies show that vegetarians have approximately double the natural killer cell activity (natural killer cells engulf and destroy cancer cells) compared to non-vegetarians.
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Healthy weight control is essential for warding off a variety of chronic diseases, and studies have shown that slimmer people are less likely to develop cancer. In addition, trimming excess weight may also improve survival after cancer has been diagnosed.

(1) CDC
(2) The Cancer Survivor’s Guide – Foods that help you fight back
(3) Neal Barnard
(4)  American Institute for Cancer Research
(5) Prostate cancer prevention – Nutrition and Exercise (Full text)   Abstract of key points

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* Shortage of sleep and heart disease

This is an article forwarded by a friend. He is not sure of  its author.

What killed Ranjan Das and Lessons for Corporate India

A month ago, many of us heard about the sad demise of Ranjan Das from Bandra, Mumbai. Ranjan, just 42 years of age, was the CEO of SAP-Indian Subcontinent, the youngest CEO of an MNC in India. He was very active in sports, was a fitness freak and a marathon runner. It was common to see him run on Bandra’s Carter Road. Just after Diwali, on 21st Oct, he returned home from his gym after a workout, collapsed with a massive heart attack and died. He is survived by his wife and two very young kids. It was certainly a wake-up call for corporate India. However, it was even more disastrous for runners amongst us. Since Ranjan was an avid marathoner (in Feb 09, he ran Chennai Marathon at the same time some of us were running Pondicherry Marathon 180 km away), the question came as to why an exceptionally active, athletic person succumb to heart attack at 42 years of age. Was it the stress? A couple of you called me asking about the reasons. While Ranjan had mentioned that he faced a lot of stress, that is a common element in most of our lives. We used to think that by being fit, one can conquer the bad effects of stress. So I doubted if the cause was stress. The real reason however is … everyone missed out a small line in the reports that Ranjan used to make do with 4-5 hours of sleep. This is an earlier interview of Ranjan on NDTV in the program ‘Boss’ Day Out’:

http://connect.in.com/ranjan-das/play-video-boss-day-out-ranjan-das-of-sap-india-229111-807ec fcf1ad966036c289b3ba6c376f2530d7484.html

Here he himself admits that he would love to get more sleep and that he was not proud of his ability to manage without sleep, contrary to what others extolled.

The evidence last week:
I was working with a well-known cardiologist on the subject of ‘Heart Disease caused by Lack of Sleep’. While I cannot share the video nor the slides because of confidentiality reasons, I have distilled the key points below in the hope it will save some of our lives.

Some excerpts …..

  • Short sleep duration (<5 or 5-6 hours) increased risk for high BP by 350% to 500% compared to those who slept longer than 6 hours per night. Paper published in 2009.
  • As you know, high BP kills. .. Young people (25-49 years of age) are twice as likely to get high BP if they sleep less. Paper published in 2006. ..
  • Individuals who slept less than 5 hours a night had a 3-fold increased risk of heart attacks. Paper published in 1999. ..
  • Complete and partial lack of sleep increased the blood concentrations of High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-cRP), the strongest predictor of heart attacks. Even after getting adequate sleep later, the levels stayed high!! .. Just one night of sleep loss increases very toxic substances in body such as Interleukin-6 (IL-6), Tumour Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF-alpha) and C-reactive protein (cRP). They increase risks of many medical conditions, including cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Paper published in 2004. ..
  • Sleeping for <=5 hours per night leads to 39% increase in heart disease. Sleeping for <=6 hours per night leads to 18% increase in heart disease. Paper published in 2006.

Ideal sleep for lack of space, I cannot explain here the ideal sleep architecture. But in brief, sleep is composed of two stages: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM. The former helps in mental consolidation while the latter helps in physical repair and rebuilding. During the night, you alternate between REM and non-REM stages 4-5 times. The earlier part of sleep is mostly non-REM. During that period, your pituitary gland releases growth hormones that repair your body. The latter part of sleep is more and more REM type. For you to be mentally alert during the day, the latter part of sleep is more important. No wonder when you wake up with an alarm clock after 5-6 hours of sleep, you are mentally irritable throughout the day (lack of REM sleep). And if you have slept for less than 5 hours, your body is in a complete physical mess (lack of non-REM sleep), you are tired throughout the day, moving like a zombie and your immunity is way down (I’ve been there, down that lane)

Finally, as long-distance runners, you need an hour of extra sleep to repair the running related damage. If you want to know if you are getting adequate sleep, take the Epworth Sleepiness Test below. Use this form from Stanford University.

=================================================================

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations, in contrast to feeling  just tired? This refers to your usual way of life in recent times. Even if you have not done some of these things recently, try to work out how they would have affected you. Use the following scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation:

0 = no chance of dozing

1 = slight chance of dozing

2 = moderate chance of dozing

3 = high chance of dozing

SITUATION                      CHANCE OF DOZING

Sitting and reading____________

Watching TV ____________

Sitting inactive in a public place (e.g a theater or a meeting) ____________

As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break ____________

Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit ____________

Sitting and talking to someone ____________

Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol ____________

In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in traffic ____________

Interpretation: Score of 0-9 is considered normal while 10 and above abnormal.

================================================================

In conclusion Barring stress control, Ranjan Das did everything right: eating proper food, exercising (marathoning!), maintaining proper weight. But he missed getting proper and adequate sleep, minimum 7 hours. In my opinion, that killed him.

If you are not getting enough sleep (7 hours), you are playing with fire, even if you have low stress. I always took pride in my ability to work 50 hours at a stretch whenever the situation warranted. But I was so spooked after seeing the scientific evidence last week that since Saturday night, I ensure I do not even set the alarm clock under 7 hours. Now, that is a nice excuse to get some more sleep.

Unfortunately, Ranjan Das is not alone when it comes to missing sleep. Many of us are doing exactly the same, perhaps out of ignorance. Please share this article with as many of your colleagues as possible, especially those who might be short-changing their sleep. If we can save even one young life because of this email, I would be the happiest person on earth.

PS: Incidentally, just as human beings need 7 hours of sleep, you should know that cats need 15 hours of sleep and horses need 3 hours of it. So are you planning to be a cool cat or a dumb horse?

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Related pages
How can I Enjoy Quality Sleep?
Secrets of a “Great Night’s Sleep”
Relief from insomnia – Success stories