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@ Yoga thoughts – From Alfred

See (1) to know about Alfred.

I have not missed a day of meditation yet which tells you that I am valuing it. On some days I am left with ideas which I call “Yoga Thoughts” which I write down and am sharing with you now.

Yoga Thoughts
  • Breathing is an endless spiral, breathing in (taking), pause (stillness), breathing out (releasing), pause (calmness)
  • It is simple and at the same time it is complex
  • One of block to tranquility is excitedly thinking about what you are going to do next. Thinking about your next meal, your next conversation with someone you like, the upcoming trip to the beach, all these block you from the present. When you have these types of thoughts while meditating, you are valuing the future over the present, like a child who whines that they are bored on a long car trip. Being happy in the moment is the greatest show of gratitude and the only way to access grace.
  • It is not profound every time you fill your car with gas.
  • Our thoughts tether us. If you are afraid of flying, hold that thought.
(1) Alfred

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@ Not a sufferer of insomnia any more!

Feedback from Sarah Firisen, a friend of our family:

She read my handouts (1) and attended one class along with her daughter, to get to know the technique. She was happy with how it helped with her sleep problems after a short time of practice. On my request she sent this feedback.

“As a chronic sufferer of insomnia, I’ve found that the Counting Breaths technique enables me to fall asleep easily, have a better quality of sleep and get back to sleep if I wake in the night. I’ve not suffered from insomnia since I began using the technique. I would thoroughly recommend it.”

(1) Documents for download

Related pages
Relief from insomnia – Success stories

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* Feedback from Grade 3-5 Students

The school counselor of a local school searched on-line for Yoga classes to help the students reduce stress before and during the state tests. She found my website and requested me to train the students in grade 3 to 5 in the ‘Focusing on breathing’ technique (1) as an optional after school activity. I conducted two classes on April 17 and 24, 2013 for 9 students.

In the first class I demonstrated different modes of the technique and we all practiced each of the modes on one hand. In the  second class I asked for their verbal feedback on how they practiced the technique after the first class. I asked each of them to demonstrate any one mode and corrected the wrong demos. Several of them said they liked the ‘Staring mode’ (3) or the  ‘911 mode’ (4).

At the end of the first class, I collected feedback from them in a simple form with 3 open ended questions. The scanned images of the completed feedback forms are presented at (2). A summary of their responses is presented below.

When I practiced the breathing in today’s class, I felt … 

  • Calm and relaxed – 3 responses
  • Calm/ Really calm – 3
  • Good and happy
  • Relaxed
  • Relaxed, Calm, Focused

I want to try this technique when I …

  • Go to sleep – 2
  • Am mad – 2
  • Mad or tired
  • Stressed with school
  • Mad at my sister or stressed
  • Mad, angry and stressed
  • Am taking a  test

I think this practice will help me for ….

  • NYS test/ Tomorrow before the state tests – 2
  • Calming down, Stop being stressed, angry and mad
  • After being bullied
  • Getting up in the morning
  • When my sister is mad at me
  • Settling down
  • Falling asleep and calming down
  • A lot of things

The principal also participated in the class and gave the following feedback in the same form –
During the class she felt relaxed, calm, focused and stress free. She wanted to try this technique when she needed to refocus, before running a race and after a stressful day. She felt that this practice will help her in refocusing and training.

Feedback from the school counselor after the first class: “I heard great things about your class from the principal and the students.  You will be here again next week for the conclusion. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to provide a stress free learning opportunity for our students!”

Honorarium: Before doing the classes the counselor inquired about my charges. I said I loved teaching the simple technique to children and if the school was happy with the classes, they could offer me whatever they like. I am thankful to the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) of the school for the generous compensation they offered me. My plan is to follow up this group of students till they adopt the technique as their own, practicing it whenever they needed to  calm themselves or maintain their focus.

(1) How to be Calm and Focused? – Handout for children
(2) Scanned images of the feedback forms
(3) Staring mode
(4) 911 mode

Related page
Training children

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@ “Today I had a very pleasant meditation” – From Alfred

See (3) to know about Alfred.

“I thought you might enjoy hearing about my progress so far. I am doing the waking up routine (1) every day. I have made some modifications. I have added in some of the moving stretches you showed me and also a few postures which I made up. Instead of counting the breaths using the fingers (2), I have begun to keep tally by focusing my attention on different parts of the body. For example “breathing through” the right ear 6 times, then the forehead, left ear, mouth, nose. I also do the whole body scanning, breaking it up into head, right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg and finally my core. I find focusing on the body parts and the breathing helps keep distracting thoughts at bay.

Today I had a very pleasant meditation. I concentrated on stillness of mind. I imagined that any thought is a loud noise which can be heard by the universe and true peace can only be found by quiet stillness. An analogy is being quiet in the woods so that you can observe the animals unnoticed. Using your example of using the lightest possible touch in the finger posture, I applied that to the counting the thoughts. I tried to count my breaths using the most minimal thought of counting – the smallest thought of “one, two, three” while still not losing count. This created a very peaceful effect. Thank you for sharing these techniques with me.”

(1) Waking up routine
(2) How can I focus on breathing?
(3) Alfred

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@ Seminar at the East Greenbush Library

The sixth introductory seminar at the East Greenbush community library was on Jan 30, 2013, 7  to 8.30 pm. 16 persons registered and 10 turned up. One of the participants was my past client who motivated and brought two of his friends to the seminar. He is a staunch advocate for this technique, having derived remarkable benefits from it. 

Scanned images of the completed feedback forms.

The feedback collected from the participants is summarized below.

The seminar was …

  • Very useful – 9
  • useful – 1

I will use this technique to relieve my (concern)

  • Asthma – 1
  • Meditation, possibly smoking – 1
  • Help with sleeping, anxiety& meditation – 1
  • Sleep and waking up
  • Better breathing
  • Anxiety
  • Stress, Breathing
  • Reduce stress in every day life
  • Sleep aid
  • Overall health

Comments/ Suggestions (about the seminar)

  • Very nicely done. Thank you
  • Very thought provoking
  • I believe this will help me. Thank you.
  • Very much like Silva Mind control.
  • Very relaxing
  • Thank you. I am going to use them daily.
  • The teacher was wonderful.
  • Fantastic teacher – thank you for sharing your talents.
  • Wonderful presentation – charming, impossible not to like.
  • Good. A+
How did they come to know about the seminar? 
  • Library website – 5
  • Library newsletter – 2
  • Through friend Kent Pugliese – 2
  • I have been before

At the end, the seminar organizer of the library said the people leaving the seminar were happy with it.

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Related pages
Seminars at Libraries

* Calmed myself on a scary air flight

This is the first report of its kind. Emily Marynczak (1) shared with me how she used the segment mode of ‘focusing on breathing’ (2) to keep herself calm for about 2 hours, during a scary air flight.

“A year ago I was traveling back home from Ohio. The flight was scheduled to be about two hours long and the weather seemed clear. But shortly after take off, the pilot announced that there was some windy weather that we would have to contend with and he was going to keep the fasten seat belt sign on, until things calmed down. And then the bouncing begun. It felt like the plane would suddenly randomly drop down a few feet – taking everyone’s stomach with it. It felt like the plane was being tossed to and fro- and then up and down. We had non stop turbulence for the entire flight, it was terrifying. (I don’t like flying even on a good day!) It would have been truly horrific for me, had I not had the mental focus that came from ‘counting my breaths’ (2). When the plane first began to bounce, I had my book on my lap but with the first big bounce, my fear began to rise and I was unable to concentrate on my reading. I was starting to feel a bit of panic surface. It was clear that all the people around me were getting very afraid too. I could hear audible gasps with the bigger drops we felt. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to cope.

Then really from a place of desperation, I decided to try ‘counting my breaths’ (2). I needed to focus on something other than the scary thoughts about a plane crash.

I closed my book, closed my eyes and placed my hands comfortably on my lap. I started using the ‘segment mode’ of ‘counting breaths with my left hand (3).

As I finished, I was noticeably calmer. I realized that while I had given my mind the task of moving my fingers with each breath, my mind was occupied and therefore there was no time to worry about the plane falling from the sky. I was so focused on my breathing and my task of moving my fingers that I couldn’t even really take in the stress of the people around me.

I continued counting my breaths in this manner, for the duration of the flight. Every now and then, if the plane leveled off and the winds calmed, I would stop, open my eyes and take in my environment. I took great comfort from knowing that if the wind picked up, I would have a way to cope, something concrete to do that would really help. Sure enough, the winds would pick up and like my life depended on it, I would resume my breath awareness, always starting with my thumb going to my pinky at the top segment. Two hours later, we landed safely.

The passengers on the plane cheered loudly, as they released their stress. As we were getting off the plane, it was obvious that the other passengers were visibly stressed and shaken by this awful flight. But I had a unique sense of calm. I think my calm came from not only the meditative practice of concentrating on my breath and having an anchor for my thoughts with the movements of my fingers, but also from the peace that I got from just knowing that I had something to try, if I felt scared. I am forever indebted to C S (Suryanarayana Chennapragada) for sharing this powerful technique with me. I am forever empowered in my life, to cope with the inevitable stresses that will come my way.

This was the first time that I had really practiced the segment mode of counting breaths on my own.

In my work as a childbirth educator,  I practice this technique as I teach my students, once or twice a month. The version of the counting breaths technique that I had been using a lot, prior to the airplane ride, and still use several times a week, is the version of counting to three, over and over again without using the fingers at all, all in the mind (2).  I practice this technique whenever I want to go to sleep. Sometimes when I start off, I hear the voice of my inner cynic say- “this won’t help you fall asleep.” But I practice it any way and then in the morning I awake refreshed and happy. I know that counting my breaths to three really works. Incorporating the finger movements doesn’t work for me when my goal is to go to sleep. It’s too much effort to contract the muscles of my hand. But as I demonstrated in my airplane story, the extra energy of contracting my fingers in such a deliberate and focused way, was exactly what I needed to use up the extra energy created by the stress I was experiencing.

I am grateful to CS for teaching me these simple yet profound tools.

(1) Emily Marynczak, AAHCC and Bradley Method Certified Birth Instructor #(518) 478-0062. (AAHCC is for American Association for Husband Coached Childbirth)
(2) How can I focus on breathing?
(3) Segment mode’ of  counting breaths as she practiced: “I brought my thumb to the top segment of my pinky finger and with the next breath I moved my finger down to the middle segment of my pinky and with the third breath I moved my thumb to the lowest segment of my pinky finger. With the next breath, I was onto the ring finger and so on, until three segments of all ten fingers had been touched with their own breath.” Also read (2).

Related pages
Seminars and classes 

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* My shopping cart pulls to the side

I go to the nearby Walmart store often for fresh milk and vegetables. As soon as I enter, I pull out a cart from the train of stacked carts and go into the aisles, to pick up the stuff. Occasionally, after pushing the cart for a few feet, I realize that wheels are not in alignment, pulling it slightly to left or right. I am not happy with its condition. But having walked a few feet ahead, I am reluctant to walk back to the entrance to replace the defective cart by a good one. So I go ahead and continue the shopping.

If I remain passive and allow the cart to move as it tends to, my cart will soon hit another shopper or the shelving. I silently curse the defective cart and the people who should have have taken such carts out of circulation. To prevent any mishap, I periodically adjust it to go straight ahead. With a number of grumbling adjustments, I complete my shopping and walk out of the store, without any mishap.

One day it occurred to me that my mind sometimes behaves like that defective cart. I am aware of my mental bias pushing me to obviously unwarranted judgments of people. If I go by its dictates, I will definitely regret my judgments and consequent actions. Taking a clue from my experience with the defective carts, whenever I am aware, I ignore the wrong tendency of my mind and make a deliberate effort to judge and act correctly. Due to such repeated efforts, self correction of my mind has become natural and spontaneous, with less regrets.

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Parent page: ‘My articles’

Next page: Spiritual articles

* A lifeless plant gets a grand new life

There were a row of  plants about 8 feet high, by the side of the road leading to my office in the big paperboard mill I worked.  The purpose of these plants was to show off their dense green leaves and plenty of the yellow flowers, giving relief to the eyes from the drab concrete buildings and roads.

The plants looked absolutely drab most of the year with woody stems and hardly any fresh leaves. In the flowering season, beautiful yellow flowers would be seen but as soon as that short season was over, the plants were an eye sore rather than a relief. This was in spite of regularly watering them. Watching them many times a day, on my way to and from my office room was a pain for me.

As an experiment, I told my people in the civil maintenance department who maintained these plants, to prune only one of these plants drastically, leaving just a foot of the trunk from the ground. This was done promptly. I was worried whether I destroyed the plant and created a bigger eye sore. I watched them eagerly every day, for the results of the experiment.

After about 2 weeks, small green shoots were coming out of the trunk. I was relieved that at least the plant was not dead. Every day the number of vigorously growing shoots increased dramatically. In a few weeks there were hundreds of fast growing shoots. In about 3 months, hundreds of shoots with fresh green tender leaves had grown 3 feet high. This born-again plant was a feast for the eyes.

We repeated the process with all the other plants with similar happy results. This dramatic and unexpected transformation of an otherwise totally lifeless plants set me thinking …

Those plants were looking lifeless and as good as dead. I was in half mind to uproot them and plant new ones in their place. They looked as though they had no energy to grow new branches and leaves. But then what happened after the drastic pruning?

A giant reservoir of energy was unleashed when the plant was pruned drastically. That energy was so huge and readily available that it quickly initiated hundreds of new shoots and could sustain their vigorous growth to several feet. The plant did not need any extra inputs for it’s rebirth – no extra water, fertilizer, insecticide or attention. It had all it’s requirements in abundance.

Could this phenomena be true for individuals, teams or whole organizations?  Can the drastic stoppage of the routine, ritualistic, dull and meaningless daily routines unleash the giant dormant powers in them? Could it be that their lifeless performance is due to blocking of their powerful energies by life killing doubts, fears and meaningless activities? Can getting rid of these energy blocks unleash the hidden energies? Would that give birth to lively new thoughts, plans and activities, like those seen in the born-again plants? This great transformation may emerge without any additional rewards. The transformation itself would be a fantastic reward.

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Parent page: Articles on ‘Improving self and achieving goals’

* I became so content and relaxed

I gave the hand outs (1) to a patient of my daughter Padma Sripada a few months back. Today I met her and came to know she was happy with the the technique. On my request she wrote out the following testimonial:

“I had a lot of anxiety, stress and sleeping disorder. Sometimes, my body would shake and I would cry for no reason.  I was introduced to the ‘Focusing on breathing’ technique (1) when I came to Dr. Sripada’s office. The first day I tried it,   I suddenly became so content and relaxed. My sleep has become a lot better and I am more focused. It has allowed me to not have to use my sleeping medicine every night. It is great!

I will refer this technique to my family and friends to see how many people will agree with me. You can practice this technique when you are just sitting around or when you are walking or jogging. Trust me it will make a difference in your life.”

(1) How to enjoy quality sleep and conquer insomnia
How to be calm Anywhere, Anytime

Related pages
Relief from anxiety – Success stories
Relief from Stress – Success stories
Relief from Insomnia – Success stories

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