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+ From a ‘Human Doing’ to a ‘Human Being’

This is the story of an anguished Mom whom I mentored over 4 months to help her reestablish the broken connection with her teenage daughter who was engulfed in frequent cycles of intense, and nearly debilitating emotional suffering at a very crucial time in her life (1). After aggressively trying so many other ways, which were proven ineffective in resolving her various family problems, up against a brick wall, her desperation lead her to be open to modalities of healing from any source. She trusted me enough to try out a multipronged approach of healing. Whatever I suggested and when found useful, she made it a part of her practice. She was a voracious reader and tried to evolve herself in spite of the prolonged traumatic life experiences. She was so primed and ready to leap to a higher level that with a little spark, understanding, emotional support and a few directional arrows she could come out of the mental hell she was in. On my request, she described her journey during which she used many resources. Her writing talent shows up. I am yet to see another client of her nature. I hope this description inspires others. I added the numbers in brackets and linked notes with related information.

One remarkable feature of this case is that though the daughter was supposed to be the dysfunctional one to be fixed, I never got to even see her or talk to her. I worked only with the mom and when she changed, the daughter’s behavior changed! This proves the saying “When I change the World changes.”

Here is her story.

” Before My Journey Started
My mind was constantly busy. I could not shut off my mind. I was never at peace even when I was sleeping. Waking up first thing in the morning, my mind was already at full speed, while still laying in bed. Many useless thoughts, negative thoughts, constantly analyzing the same things over and over again. At times it felt like there were loud screaming monkeys in my head. Pema Chodron uses the term “gibbering monkey” (2) . Eckhart Tolle uses the term “incessant thoughts”. Anger, despair, frustration, impatience dominated the state of my mind and emotion (3). The most frightening part was that I wasn’t fully conscious of my reactive emotions.

It all started with a typical story of a single parent trying to do the “right” thing, to launch their college bound child to the future. I thought I followed suggestions from teachers and guidance counselors. I thought I was doing the same things most other parents do. In the midst of teen dating, teen anxiety and depression, full time job, a household to run, and another younger child to take care of, things didn’t go well. Parental encouragements were perceived by my children as pressure. College application process did not progress all through Summer and Fall. Family dinner became a rare occasion, a life situation worse than marriage dissolution. I was on the verge of losing my relationship with my child. Coming home from work at times felt dreadful. If only one could go to an electronic store and purchase a remote control that could turn the mind on and off!

Then CS Came Into My Life
A friend referred me to the man who teaches people how to count breaths, CS (short for Suryanarayana Chennapragada) (4). I had nothing to lose by spending one session with him. On the other hand, what can you expect out of a guy who teaches you how to count breaths? (5). The first lesson I learned from him: “HAVE NO EXPECTATIONS”. After learning my background and evaluating my disposition, CS suspected that all of us, my kids and I, suffered from some sort of trauma. There are a few methods of therapy for trauma using talk therapy but they take too many years. Our experience of talk therapy for my children post divorce with 4 other previous therapists only took care of some of the symptoms but never got to the root cause of the problems, something I kept asking these therapists. None of them gave me clear answers. None recommended me to get help with therapy for myself. None even mentioned the word trauma at all! CS was the first person who mentioned the word trauma and strongly recommend that I build some solid emotional foundation for myself. That was a prerequisite to enable me to effectively help and support my children’s effort to become emotionally and psychologically healthy and strong.

I took up his suggestion in pursuing EMDR therapy based on his reading and understanding of EMDR (6). I went on and sought help in this therapy about which I never heard of, administered by an EMDRIA certified therapist, as quickly as I could. Well, finding one locally in Albany who would take insurance, has availability for the proper age, pronto, was impossible. It sometimes takes a few trials and errors to find a therapist with matching chemistry, the right fit. I finally found a therapist for myself on self pay. With her exceptional and amazing psychotherapy skills, she administered the first EMDR session on me after 3 evaluation and preparatory visits. The EMDR therapy helped me jump start rewiring my brain in forming a new habit of processing life situations and regulating my emotions. It’s all scientific. It’s biology, yet it feels like a miracle. Based on my experience, I think EMDR is a catalyst. There are many schools of thoughts among certified EMDRIA therapists. With insights into this field, CS helped me evaluate and assess the quality of the therapy throughout the entire process, a very important factor in our healing efforts due to the amount of time and cost commitment.

As miraculous as it sounds, EMDR is not a silver bullet. It does help dig up and dissolve thick layers of unrealized, painful  memories lodged improperly in our brain. But life goes on filled with events, situations, moments that need to be dealt with, many can be quite unpleasant. At this point in my life, parenting is the most challenging endeavor I have to take on. I spent the majority of my life fighting for good education, good career, relationship, marriage, and child rearing to prove my self worth. Though it did bring many good fortune to our lives, it wasn’t for free. I suddenly realized the long term cost of the good fortune: lack of inner peace and serenity in everyone in my family. Since the birth of my first child, I’ve always identified myself as a Mom. Well, a roaring machine would’ve been a more accurate description of my old self.

The Beauty of ‘Meditation on Breathing’
We apply the practice of physical care to our daily lives for better mental hygiene and stronger immunity. When we are sick, we go to the doctor to get help to get better. Our mental wellness needs the same amount of care. Dalai Lama uses the term mental immunity. Daily practice is the keyword. My daily practice of breathing meditation turned out to be one way I nurture my mental hygiene. The beauty of the breathing meditation that I learned and practiced is that you don’t have to dedicate a huge block of time which is the stumbling block for most aspirants like me. There is no pressure on my schedule, and I don’t feel like I ever miss a day of meditation. I can do it throughout the day (7). Some days I can only afford 10 minutes before bedtime. I started forming a habit of snagging the few seconds or minutes of focusing on breathing while walking, while driving, warming up my lunch in the microwave, etc. CS cleared out so many misconceptions around the meditation practice that brought me back to his page “Who said Meditation is difficult? (8). To sum it up: no pretzel legs required, don’t strive for anything, drop the word “should”, no formality, all casual.

Getting It Off My Chest by Writing
James Pennebaker discovered the connection between expressive writing and wellness (9). I discovered that expressive writing, as encouraged by CS, had been a useful tool in helping me navigate through my emotion and help me gain clarity on the true reality of my experiences. Writing letters to my children to address some critical issues is a powerful and effective tool I used to connect and reach out to them at a much deeper level. Writing emails or texting with CS about updates of the healing work we did apparently was also therapeutic. It gives me a sense of cleansing work. Ideas keep pouring out as I type. Of course not everything I typed made it out of my mobile device, so for those who don’t find it easy to open up about their personal and emotional struggles to others, expressive writing is worth trying. Yes, the books recommend that you use paper and pen, but for so many reasons, those prerequisites would just give me another excuse for why I won’t feel like doing it. Improvise, make it easy. We are all busy.

Audio Books
I started reading a few self-help books a few years ago. Having a coach like CS adds another dimension and depth into my understanding and ability to apply the concepts I learn from these books. No, I do not have time to sit down and enjoy good readings. Thank goodness for modern technology and CS’s persistent encouragement, I’m hooked on audiobooks now. I look forward to driving nowadays as I use the precious time alone for listening to audiobooks and focusing on breathing. Today, I have more than 15 audio books in my library (10). It is amazing how thirsty my mind is for good life lessons on nurturing and healing our emotional pain and suffering.

Parenting Skills
For the first time in my life, I have someone teaching me parenting skills. A luxury I never thought of even wishing to have since both my parents were deceased before my first child turned three. CS stayed by my side through frequent dialog via phone calls, text, and emails, as I could not find time for counseling visits. A fundamental lesson I learned is to understand the true meaning and the misconceptions around the term unconditional love and boundaries. Applying all of these with compassion makes a difference in supporting my children’s struggles and efforts to navigate through many aspects of their life challenges. Raising successful individuals which could generate lots of stress and anxiety is no longer my goal of parenting. Helping my children with increased awareness to develop into wholesome individuals is the new goal.

Many of us are skeptics when it comes to the notion of spirituality. We associate it with the metaphysics world, or even religion. Those of us who were raised in Western education environments cling to the idea of scientific proof. Well, there have been an explosion of scientific research activities all over the world on the neuroscience of breathing meditation; which I could have cared less about, except that the result of my own practice proved some of the theories drawn as conclusions from this research. In the very short period of time, I have had exposures to the fields of neuropsychology, quantum physics, the science of meditation, and the anatomy of human mind and emotions. I found newer and deeper meanings in the words compassion, hope, love, and many others.

The Transformation
Fast forward 4 months. some of my friends, and  my own children noticed the change in me. Calmer, happier, more mellow, are the words I heard which were used to describe the ‘New me’. One used the word light and floating. CS described me as a ‘tigress’ on the first day he saw me. “You can’t change others, but you can change how you respond to others” was one of the first lessons I learned from him. There is a good chance that others will change in response to your changes. Sure enough my children are changing with me.

The journey has just begun. Glimpses of inner peace and serenity started appearing more and more throughout my days. The thick, heavy blanket of toxic emotion has started to lift off, little by little. “Light”, as in ‘”not heavy”, is the closest word I can think of to describe how I feel nowadays. Sure, frustration and disappointments are inevitable but I can now stop the emotional flow from turning into anger. The need to seek help from my therapist on a weekly basis starts to wind down. I am becoming more and more capable of dealing with challenges in my life with grace.

Today, my children and I are travelling together on the path of recovery to healthier relationships through collective awareness. I realize that this is a life long learning process. Having a person with such positive vibes who models compassion alongside of me makes learning so much more effective and fun!

CS may not give you the straight answers to every life problem you face. However, I receive many pointers as listed above, as well as suggestions on readings about and using essential oils. One time I unintentionally called him GPS!  He stated the teachers are literally everywhere. All around us, at any given moment, ready for us to learn our life lessons. Some attribute this quote to the Buddha: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.

Are You Ready?

Mom V2.0 ”

(1) The daughter was an accomplished teenager with high achievements in academic, sports, music, and art. With more than a decade of dysfunctional family condition riddled with hostility and violence that ended up in her parents divorce, she developed into an unhappy adolescent full of anxiety, depression, and phobias. The habit of coping mechanism through emotional shutdown cause her to fail to see and appreciate acts of love and kindness. She trusted no one in her life, and animosity toward everyone in the family was very strong.
(2) Pema Chodron
(3) Eckhartt Tolle
(4) Programs
(5) Focusing on breathing
(6) EMDR
(7) Daytime practice
(8) Who said Meditation is difficult?
(9) James Pennebaker
(10) My List of Inspiring Authors and Books

Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now
Brene Brown: Rising Strong, Daring Greatly
Pema Chodron: Making Friends with Your Mind, Coming Closer to Ourselves, The Pema Chodron Audio Collection
Marianne Williamson: A Return to Love
Don Miguel Ruiz: The Four Agreements
Douglas Carlton Abrams, Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu: The Book of JOY
Mark Manson: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Kerry Paterson: Crucial Conversations
Mark Goulston: Just Listen, Talking to Crazy
Michael A. Singer: The Untethered Soul
Susan Forward: Toxic Parents
Harriet Lerner: The Dance of Anger
Francine Shapiro: Getting Past Your Past, EMDR
Wayne Dyer: The Wayne Dyer Audio Collection
Paulo Coelho: The Alchemist
Julie Lythcott-Haims: How to Raise an Adult
Cynthia Kane: How to Communicate Like a Buddhist
Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish: How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk

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+ Kavita Pandit’s secrets for managing stressful emotions

Kavita Pandit’s wonderful guest blog describing her two simple secrets for managing stressful emotions is presented here (1). I received this through her husband Hunaid Qadir who practices ‘Meditation on Breathing’.  Published with her permission. 

1. Re-grounding after experiencing an intense emotional reaction

We all occasionally face situations that cause us to experience intense anger, frustration, fear, or even humiliation. These situations can often be debilitating — everything else flees the mind and one becomes fixated on the issue causing this intense reaction. At such times I find it useful to temporarily separate myself mentally from my physical reactions. I do this by taking a survey or stock of my body. I observe my heightened heart palpitations, the flushing of my face, and heavier breathing. I may note that my fists are clenched or that I have stopped noticing what is going on around me. The very act of taking stock like this helps get me back to my previous mental state, and the disruption caused by the emotional reaction passes in minutes rather than hours.

2. Observing the world through a child’s eyes

How often has this happened to you? You go out for a walk on a pleasant day but your mind is so caught up in the events of the past or the future that you return from the walk and don’t remember anything about it. Your body has had the experience of the walk but your mind was somewhere else! Yet have you ever observed children playing outdoors? They are completely in the moment and their senses are fully attuned to even minute details of their surroundings. So now when I go out for a walk and my mind tries to drift I bring it back by asking “what would a child observe on this walk”? And amazingly I see the caterpillar on the ground, the bird’s nest, a flashy car driving by, or the lights coming on in the skyscrapers in the distance. No matter how trivial the observation it brings one into the magical moment!

(1) Kavita Pandit

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Seminar – Venture Inward

I offered the second seminar at ‘Venture Inward’ (2) on June 18, 2014 from 7 to 8.30 pm. This was set up by Margaret Kaufman owner of this business and a Hypnotherapist. Attended by total 5 adults, 4 female and 1 male. A set of my key handouts (1) was distributed to every participant. 

Scanned images of the feedback forms (without names)

Summary of the Feedback

I knew about this seminar from 

  • E-mail from ‘Venture Inward’ – 4
  • My mother. The sticker “Focusing on breathing’ was on her fridge. (Her mom attended my previous seminar and collected the sticker at the end of the class.)

My expectation from the seminar is fulfilled to level 

  • A+: 4
  • A: 1

I will use this technique for my (concern) 

  • Anger/ Frustration – 1
  • Stress, Panic, Parkinsons
  • Worrying, excessive thinking, stressful situations, everyday
  • Focus, Relax, High blood pressure
  • Help with focus for meditation

My take home from this seminar

  • How easy it is to share with my clients, family and friends! I will use it during my stressful meetings as well.
  • Valuable info.
  • I became very relaxed. This contradicts the saying “If it seems to be too good to be true, it usually is.”. Great class.
  • Wonderful portable relaxation technique to help detach from daily stresses. Great suggestions as how to incorporate into daily life easily and how to make it a daily practice.
  • I can control the situations with the breathing techniques.

I recommend this technique to other groups (name the group)

  • Senior citizens – Albany senior citizens & Colonie senior centers
  • School for special Ed classes

(1) Documents for download – for all the handouts
(2) ‘Venture Inward’ at 568 Columbia Turnpike East Greenbush NY 12061

Related pages
Public Seminars

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* Incredible difference in my life

E-mail from Shelli (not her real name), a participant in my  seminar held for a spiritual group in 2012 (1). She responded to my Annual Update – 2014 (2) with this message. 

“I met you one of your seminars in 2012. I use your breathing exercises constantly (3). It has made an incredible difference in my life !!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!! “ 

I was thrilled to get this unbelievable comment and requested her to offer more details to inspire visitors to this website. She was kind enough to share these wonderful experiences.

“I use groups of 3 breaths, aloud upon breathing out, in all different combinations, depending on what I am doing, and where I am, and for how long.

When I am driving, I have to be careful to take breaks from doing it on long drives, as it leads me into meditation which makes it hard to stay focused on driving. The more I use this breathing practice, the more quickly and more deeply I am able to travel into meditative trance. (4)

I also use this in times of the need for more patience, for more empathy, for more understanding, to stem anger and any frustrations arising from situations, – basically, to regain my objectivity. (5)

I also use it during exercise–walking, cross country skiing, and kayaking. It increases my stamina and is calming during exertion. (6)

I’m not sure how well I am able to articulate how this simple breathing technique has changed my life. It has affected every aspect of my life, by changing me inside – both physiologically and metaphysically. I’m sure the chemical properties of breathing properly enhance better health and I feel wonderful. In conjunction with my spiritual readings and other practices, it is enabling my spirit journey. I feel much more in touch with my soul.” (7)

(1) About my seminars and classes
(2) Annual Update – 2014
(3) How can I focus on breathing
(4) How to drive like a Buddha?
(5) Relief from Anger – Success stories
(6) Walking and ‘focusing on breathing’

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@ 9th Grader with ADHD improves

Prakash (not his real name), a 9th grader with ADHD attended 8 of my classes over 5 months (1) . He has been attending special classes at school. His class performance was reported to be very good. His mom was averse to medication and wanted to try ‘focusing on breathing’ and related techniques to help improve his symptoms (2). He is my first client with ADHD. 

Prakash, his mom and younger brother in 6th grade jointly attended first 5 classes. Then he continued with solo classes.

What were his problems?
Anxiety, Anger, Impatience, Stress, Lack of focus, Nervousness, Frustration, Uncontrolled laughter and Lack of eye contact.

What modes did he practice?
First I introduced the regular modes of ‘focusing on breathing’. He liked them but the restless movement of his body and uncontrolled laughter ware not showing much reduction. On a hunch, I introduced the ‘Dynamic modes of ”focusing on breathing’ as an experiment (3). He liked these techniques a lot and practiced them on his own with very little prompting from his mom.

When did he practice?
Bedtime, Waking up, waiting, Stressed, Walking, Tired

His mom’s assessment of his improvements.

Anxiety: Reduced by 60%

Impatience: Reduced by 50%

Focus: Improved by 70%

His younger brother in 6th grade wrote his own impressions with the permission of his mother during the evaluation session.  

Anxiety: Decreased a little   

Before: He couldn’t wait
Now: He entertains himself doing the 911 mode and enjoys it.

Before: He couldn’t make eye contact. His head always faced the window.
Now: This is slowly decreasing.

Before: When he was mad, he was yelling and out of control.
Now: This is slowly decreasing.

He does some chanting/ prayers taught to him by his grandma. He has been taking 1000 mg of EPA+DHA per day in the form of Fish oil on my suggestion.

I added waking up  routine and simple stretching and moving based on Yoga to his daily routines (4).

(1) ADHD – Page from National Institute of Mental Health 
(2) How can I focus on breathing?
(3) Dynamic modes
(4) Waking up routine    Loosening exercises – Yoga

Feb 9, 2014: His mom said that in he recent PTA meeting with Prakash’s maths teacher, she said his focus improved and he could be put in regular class instead of the special class next year.

April 19, 2014: During the class 2 weeks back, his mom said his behavior was sometimes out of control at home. He was in the habit of pinching her and his younger brother and apologizing soon after. But he did nothing of that kind at school or outside. I told her privately his out of home behavior showed he had enough self awareness and self control with other people. I advised her that if he pinched her next time she should immediately tell him firmly “I don’t like to be pinched”. She should not get angry or blame him or comment on him at all.

Today when I called her to know how this new response to his pinching was working she said it had drastically reduced and she was happy for this improvement.

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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). 


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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@ Improved my relationship with my fiance

Report from a client aged 52 who attended three of my classes over 3 weeks.  He picked up the techniques very quickly, practiced in all earnestness and derived remarkable benefits in just 3 weeks. When I see improvement achieved by such people, I get the thought “How many people are suffering from not knowing these simple techniques or similar ones? Should we not teach them in school and college?”. 

His responses to my standard questions are here. 

  • What were the issues which prompted you do the classes?

* Insomnia: I have sleep apnea and using CPAP machine. I had a hard time falling asleep . I was waking up 2- 3 times in the night.

* How to manage stress

* Managing anger (as it affected my relationship with my fiance)

  • What techniques have you learned and practiced and at what times? 

I practiced ‘Counting mode’ primarily, the ‘Segment mode’ or the ‘Tip mode’. I also practice the ‘Staring mode’ when at a red light (1). I find myself being disappointed when the light turns green, as it interrupts my breathing practice (2). I also use the feeling mode (1) sometimes when at work.

I do the ‘waking up routine’ (3)-.

After returning from work, I lie down on the carpet with a yoga mat under just below the knee and complete four hands using the ‘Segment mode’ (1).

I do the going the ‘bed routine’ every night (4).

  • What improvements have you noticed in mind, body and relationships?

My insomnia has improved dramatically. In just the three weeks practicing these techniques, I have only woken up once in the middle of the night and I fall asleep much faster.

I’m much more patient in circumstances where I’m usually impatient such as waiting at a red light.

I feel much more relaxed. Especially after coming home from work and doing the after work routine. I feel incredibly relaxed after that, like all the day’s tension has gone.

It has improved my relationship with my fiance. I’m much calmer in situations where normally I would react in anger or feel tension rising within me. Instead of responding back to her in anger and frustration, I try ways such as telling her that I appreciate her feedback but I get negative feelings when she expresses it to me in that manner. This has worked in preventing the situation from escalating. I try not to feed the fire.

(1) All the modes are in this page “How can I focus on breathing?
(2) Focusing on breathing during driving
(3) Waking up routine
(4) Waiting for sleep

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@ Seminar at Parsons Child and Family Center Albany NY

I offered a lunch time seminar for 30 staff members of Parsons Child and Family Center in Albany NY (1). These are professionals who work with children and families with special needs. This was organized by Marylynne Brady Johnson the Chief Training Officer at  Sidney Albert Training and Research Institute (SATRI). Select set of my hand outs (2) were given to every participant. The scanned images of their feedback forms (without names) and the summary of their responses are presented below. I am grateful to Marylynne for offering me this opportunity. I appreciate the wonderful support from Melissa Mace of SATRI ever  since we started talking  about the seminar and for achieving such a wide participation. The professionals who handle difficult families and children  under challenging situations, experienced the impact of practicing the technique for a few minutes, during the seminar. With such a short experience they felt that this simple technique can help them, as well as their child and adult clients which shows the great potential of this technique.    

Scanned images of the feedback forms

Comments about the seminar

  • Very useful – 25
  • Useful – 4
  • Somewhat useful – 1

Titles of the participants 

  • Clinician – 2
  • Family advocate
  • Secretary
  • Social worker
  • Parent partner
  • Program assistant
  • Supervisor
  • Training coordinator
  • WSP (Waiver Service Provider)
  • HR (Human Relations)
  • HCI (Health Care Integrator)
  • School Psychologist
  • Not mentioned – 17

I will use this technique personally for my (concern) 

  • Sleeping/ sleep/ more restful sleep – Total 5 resposes
  • To get sleep, Relieve anxiety
  • Sleep and Focusing
  • Back pain, Sleep issues
  • Sleep, Relaxation
  • Insomnia, Stress, Eating
  • Insomnia and Relaxation
  • Better sleep and Overall  relaxation
  • Anxiety, Back pain, Sleeping
  • Stress reduction, Meditation and with my children for sleep
  • Insomnia, Grief
  • Chronic pain in hip, elbow and feet
  • Back pain and Stress relief
  • Stress
  • Stress and Focus
  • Stress relief, Dealing with anxiety
  • Anxiety
  • Happiness
  • Self and daughter
  • Work, Clients, Family

I can use this technique professionally for 

  • My clients – 2 responses
  • Myself on the job and with my clients
  • Working with children to relax
  • My clients as a relaxation technique
  • The clients I work with in my practice
  • Help parents learn to relax and lower their stress level
  • Some of the lads  I work with
  • Helping agitated youth
  • Teaching kids before impulses
  • Client use and staff use
  • Helping agitated youth
  • Teaching kids before impulses
  • Stress relief – 2
  • Stress, Anxiety, Smoking cessation
  • Kids/ Stress management
  • Stress and Focus
  • Stress reduction with children
  • Stress, Frustration
  • Centering, Calming and Mindfulness
  • Focus and Calming
  • Calm down
  • Relaxing
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Not mentioned – 6

Comments about the seminar 

  • Very simple approach that any one can use. The simplicity is wonderful.
  • Very clear, simple & useful
  • This seminar was very informative. The challenging part is putting it into practice.
  • So simple but so helpful and useful
  • Very simple & helpful. I know this stress but I forget!
  • Lots of helpful tips.
  • Very relaxing, helpful, excited to try the technique at home
  • I plan to start using this and will remember to be patient with it. I am so glad I came to this workshop. Thank you for sharing.
  • Extremely useful and easy to teach others.
  • Very clear and practical
  • Very informative, explained things very well
  • Calming and informational
  • I enjoyed it, very useful
  • I loved it, so simple. Great presenter. Very personable.
  • Excellent presentation. Very mindful & stress reducing
  • Like that there are several variations/ methods so people can choose one they like best.
  • Excellent presentation, clear and concise.
  • I really like the “nibble on the cookie” metaphor
  • Learned something new. Simple and helpful.
  • Very interesting – 3 responses
  • V. good
  • Good
(1) Parsons Child and Family Center: 60 Academy Rd, Albany, NY 12208

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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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