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@ Seminar at ‘Venture Inward’

I offered the first seminar at ‘Venture Inward’ (2) on October 21, 2013 from 7 to 8.30 pm. This was set up by Margaret Kaufman owner of this business and a Hypnotherapist. Attended by total 9 adults, 7 female and 2 male. A set of my key handouts (1) was distributed to every participant. 

Scanned images of the Feedback forms

Summary of the Feedback

I knew about this seminar from 

  • E-mail from ‘Venture Inward’ – 7
  • ‘Meet up’ website (See (3)
  • A friend

This seminar is …

  • Extremely useful
  • Very useful – 8

I will use this technique for my (concern) 

  • Stress management/ reduction – 3
  • Anxiety
  • Making life more simple
  • Panic attacks
  • Relaxation and sleeping
  • Anxiety, Panic attacks and Stress
  • No Comment

Comments about the seminar 

  • Very calming, easy to follow. C S made it seem so easy yet so worthwhile
  • It was very good
  • Very useful
  • Moronically simple yet works liker a charm
  • Fun, interesting
  • Will use with patients I work with
  • Very well done, interesting
  • Very good, thank you
Nov 1, 2013: Received this mail from Margaret Kaufmnan who organized this seminar “Last Friday evening, Emily (name changed) attended our meditation circle and commented on how wonderful your “Focus on Breathing” program was and how impressed she was with your knowledge, instruction, patience and  gentle and encouraging interest in everyone.”

(1) Documents for download – All handouts
(2) ‘Venture Inward’ at 568 Columbia Turnpike East Greenbush NY 12061
(3) Meetup.com

Related pages
Public Seminars

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@ Calm serenity is the human base-line emotional state – Alfred’s progress

Please see (1) to know about Alfred.

“I have not sent you much lately but it is not because I have neglected my meditation practice. I am still at it for about an hour a day and continue to reap the rewards. Here is a short essay that, I think, encapsulates where I am at currently.

The Purpose of Meditation
Because of the strong interest I have developed in meditation I had begun to read about it. Some of what I read has been rewarding in that others have expressed insights that I had arrived at independently. This makes me feel that I am on a good path. However, much of the literature is contradictory and can create confusion. For example some practitioners of mindfulness meditation insist that you should be in a sitting posture and your eyes should be open. Others say any posture that is effective can be used and the eyes can be shut. Confusion sows doubt and doubt erodes successful effort. So, for now, I have stopped reading and am following my own path.

My path
What keeps me most focused is always bringing back to mind the purpose of my meditation. This purpose was always there but, with practice has clarified. I believe that the calm serenity I often achieve through meditation is the human base-line emotional state. When the business of life overwhelms us this tranquility is superimposed upon by agitation, excitement and stress. I also believe that emotional honesty and wisdom are best accessed from the tranquil base-line state. This fairly simple premise is the purpose of my mediation and by keeping it in mind I can redirect my attention appropriately when I stray.”

(1) Alfred

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@ The river is your life! – Alfred’s progress

See (1) to know about Alfred. 

“Imagine a beautiful and wild river.  As you travel down it in your boat, you encounter fearsome rapids and long reaches of calm water.  Rain pelts down on you chilling you to the bone and the sun warms you like a snake on a rock.  At night, the forests along the banks, which were so beautiful by day, can become dark moving shadows, mysterious and unsettling.  The river has so many faces, boring and exciting, beautiful and treacherous.  It goes on and on ever downward, never revealing its final destination.

The river is your life.  The boat, which enables you to navigate the river, is your thoughts .  Now imagine you come upon a tranquil glade by the river-side.  You pull your boat to the river bank and tie it securely to a tree.  You sit in the glade and focus on the present, filling your heart with peace and calmness.  You can hear the river gurgling nearby but now you do not have to think about it.  If you do have a worrisome thought about the next rapids or rain storm, you can put that thought into the boat knowing it is securely tied to the bank and is safe.  You can allow yourself this present moment on the bank in the sun, knowing that life, with all its beauty and challenges will be there when you return.

When you return to the river, it will be with new calmness which will not only help you better navigate the rapids but also appreciate the infinite beauty around you which so often is missed.”

(1) Alfred

All his posts

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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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@ Meditating while traveling – Alfred

See (1) to know about Alfred. 

Returned from a 3 week trip bike riding in Ireland. I was able to meditate daily for the entire trip except the big travel days going and coming. Meditating while traveling gave me several insights.

I began to see the trip as a scale model of my life at home. When at home, I have the usual stresses focused around work, money, relationships and managing things, both physical and mental. At home, meditation helps me keep all of this in perspective and adds a calm cadence to my daily life.

When I travel, I disregard most all of these usual stresses and replace them with a new set. Will the plane be on time for my next connection? Will the rental bicycles be satisfactory? Will I be able to drive on the left side of the road without becoming a casualty? Will tomorrow’s 40 mile bike ride be in a torrential rain storm? These worries loomed large at the beginning of the trip, but as things unfolded and, for the most part worked out well, the stress was reduced. As the stress lessened, I found it easier to still my mind in meditation.

When I returned home, I had over 70 items of mail to deal with, 234 emails, text messages and a host of other things that demanded my immediate attention. Thrust back into the maelstrom of my life, I found it hard at first to still my mind. But in a few days, as order was restored in my routine, my meditation practice returned to the way it was pre-trip and I found calmness easy to access and also some progress almost every day.

The point of all this is that problems always exist in life but the way you perceive them can vary widely. Assumptions about the way things are, is often largely illusionary. It is really a choice we each have, to be crippled by our way of thinking, or to see things more philosophically and not let our perceptions destroy our mental well-being. Often times we feel frustrated or weak because we allow ourselves to adopt an unhealthy attitude. With practice I believe you can change your moods like you would change an article of clothing. Adopting a more patient and thoughtful mood allows us to keep our challenges in perspective. It allows us to see that, no matter how difficult a situation seems, it too will pass.

(1) Alfred
His previous posts

Related pages
How to  drive like a Buddha
My mind related articles relevant to the last para above

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@ I cut back my mental health medicines

Second report (1) from a young man who practiced the technique from my handouts. He did not attend my classes  and I did not give him detailed instructions. When I met him occasionally on business, I used to encourage him. 

” I work in a stressful job where even taking time to walk away from a situation wouldn’t calm me down. At one point I was on three different medications for more than 2 years (3). I decided to try practice ‘focusing on breathing’ (2) because it was simple and I figured what could it hurt?

I started practicing it at night, so I could get proper sleep, then gradually moved my practice into my day. I made it a daily thing, even if it is just for a few minutes a day. I even found I was doing it with out thinking about it.

I could calm my mind more easily. Then I could go back to deal with a particular situation more clearly.

After a time of using the finger modes of the breathing technique (2), I was able to cut back one out of three of  my mental health medications. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a cure all. I am still on one medication but one is a lot better then three (4). Plus with a clearer mind, I find my life in general more manageable, and I am finding I can enjoy my life again.”

(1) His previous report on insomnia
(2) How can I focus on breathing? 
(3) Xanax – 10 mg – for Anxiety;    Wellbutrin 20 mg for Depression and   Prozac 60 mg for Depression
(4) Stopped Xanax and Wellbutrin. Now only on Prozac – 60 mg

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@ Letting all the little things fall away

Feedback from a young man. A few months back, I gave him the handouts (2) and suggested to try the technique at bedtime, to get good sleep. On my subsequent visits, he said he was using the technique and happy about it. On my request, he recently sent the following feedback.  

“As someone that deals with the public on a daily basis, I take a lot of abuse and my job has a lot of stress. As a result, I’ve become short tempered, especially when I have a bout of insomnia which I’ve had most of my life.

By using the ‘focusing on breathing’ technique (1), I am able to calm my self physically and mentally, letting all the little things that bother me throughout the day fall away. It helps me to keep things in perspective and get a decent eight hours of sleep every night. (3)”

(1) How to enjoy quality sleep and conquer Insomnia by ‘Focusing on breathing’?
(2) Documents for Download

Updates
March 21, 2013: He said “The other day I had too many customers and some of them were rude. To keep my cool, I went to the back room, did my breathing for a while, calmed my self down and came out. I do this so I can have a good night’s sleep without thinking of all such incidents.
July 6, 2013: I cut back on my mental health medicines 

Related pages
Relief from Insomnia – Success stories

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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

@ Sleeping for 10 hours without a break!

Remarkable feedback from a client Daw (not her real name), one week after attending my first class. She is an immigrant from Burma. She lived in a refugee camp in Thailand before coming to the US. She has limited vocabulary in English and is attending language classes. She was brought to me by a friend who helps her in many ways as a volunteer.

Before
Daw was suffering from severe insomnia for the last 8 years, able to sleep for only 2 to 5 hours. My friend came to know from her previous conversations with Daw that she was kept awake thinking about her old life and people in the refugee camp in Thailand before she came to the US and the struggles of her family here.

What did she learn in the class?
In view of Daw’s language limitation, I demonstrated only the ‘Folding finger mode’ (1) to her, asking her to join me in practicing it on one hand and then the other. Then I asked her to close her eyes and practice this mode on her own, completing both hands. I was watching. She practiced perfectly. I suggested to her to practice this mode when she lied down in the bed and wanted to sleep. I also demonstrated the ‘waking up postures phase I’ (2) and suggested to try them in the morning, lying on the bed, eyes closed when she wakes up.

When did she practice it?
Daw practiced it every night and also on waking up in the morning.

How did it help her? 
Just after a week of practicing the ‘Folding mode’, Daw said that she enjoyed uninterrupted sleep for 10 hours! She was sleeping from 9 in the night to 7 in the morning. Unbelievable!

When I asked her about her thoughts and worries, she said with a smile “No thoughts. No worries.” Her face showed her relief and happiness.

My friend e-mailed these comments a day after the class
“I was amazed by the change I saw in Daw yesterday. She   was very talkative with me in the car. Previously, when I visited her , sometimes she was too tired to talk. Some days, she really struggled to function at all. I think if she can continue to have success in sleeping, her life will be hugely improved. Daw said to me after yesterday’s session that she felt she had not thanked you properly. So can I say “Thank you” now, on her behalf? You have really made a difference in her life!”

Periodic updates

I try to get periodic updates for such beginners. In this case, my friend gets to meet or talk with Daw often. On my request, she e-mails her observations to me. I am thankful to her for these updates.
Jan 21 2013:  “I saw Daw briefly on Jan 14 and asked her about her sleeping.  She said, “Good, every night, good.”
Jan 31 2013: Daw has once again asked me to let you know that she continues with “good sleeping, good eating, everything good!” She looks very well and happy.
Mar 7 2013: “Daw is still doing very well!  She seems to have a very positive attitude about life at the moment, which is great.  She is still sleeping well every night.  I have been encouraging her to teach her 14-year old daughter the technique as she has to have a lot of dental treatment and she is nervous about it – the breathing should help her relax and make the procedures less scary.”
April 2 2013: Daw had a setback with her sleep. In the first class she was taught only the ‘folding mode’. She came for another class and learned the ‘Segment mode’ (3). After a week my friend reported that Daw was able to sleep well and did not need another class.  
Oct 30 2013: “Daw is doing very well.  Her domestic problems seem to be settled and when I see her she seems to be on top of everything and in a positive frame of mind.  She often speaks of you warmly, and is appreciative of the help you gave her at a challenging time.  Honestly, I don’t know if she continues to practice the breathing, but at least she has it as a resource if life gets difficult again.”  

+++

How many people in the world are suffering from insomnia and its multi dimensional impacts on mind and body?. How I wish this technique is taught at schools along with A, B, C, D and 1, 2, 3! The misery some people like her experience due to insomnia is avoidable with the help from this technique. It will lead to better quality of life and higher productivity. The ballooning health care cost may come down a bit.

(1) Folding finger mode
(2) Waking up routine
(3) Segment mode

Related pages
Relief from Insomnia – Success stories
How can I enjoy quality sleep?

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* 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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