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+ Who said Meditation is difficult?

Many people are put off by the classic perception of Meditation: sitting still for an extended time. They are missing its tremendous potential for relieving numerous problems of mind, body and relationships. Many years back, I stumbled upon the ‘counting breaths’ style of meditation and adapted it to suit a busy lifestyle. It pulled me out of crippling stress. Here is the essence of it.

Q: I can’t do meditation. My monkey mind wanders beyond my control.

A: This is like a 3 year old saying “What is the point in my going to school when I don’t know A,B, C or 1,2,3?’”. All the novice meditators begin with a wandering mind. It is not a big deal.  We begin training the mind in concentration. Our goal isn’t 100% focus.

Q: What else?

A. Our goal is to increase the focusing from let us say 5% to 8% which means wandering decreases from 95% to 92%. As our practice continues, the focusing percentage gradually creeps up but the stress level slides down lot more. We become calmer and manage the stressful situations better.

Q. This sounds good. But you know what, I can’t sit still even for a few seconds.

A. Not a problem. In this made-for-beginners style of meditation, we practice lying comfortably in the bed.

Q. What if I quickly fall asleep? My meditation will be a non-starter!

A. Relax! This style of meditation is a sneaky entry into the daunting house of meditation. Focusing on breathing keeps the thoughts out, calms the mind and relaxes the body. You will sleep effortlessly and enjoy better sleep. You will get hooked on this practice.

Q. I can’t wait to do this meditation. How do I do it?

A. Here are the 1-2-3 steps.

1. Focus on your in-breath and out-breath. Count each breath to strengthen the focus.

2. Soon the mind wanders. You will realize that your mind stopped focusing on breathing. Just for catching the mind wander, your meditation becomes half successful.

3. As soon as you catch your mind wander, quietly resume counting the breaths. Now your meditation becomes 100% successful. Never mind if this is a cycle of few seconds.  Simply repeat these cycles of success any number of times. Feel empowered in having control over the unruly mind! First get into the game and it will build up strength on its own. No rules or restrictions to worry about. Does this make sense?

Sure! I can do this kind of meditation. Who said meditation is difficult?

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@ “Easy and Effective. It works! “

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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* Traditional style of teaching meditation failed

Today a woman in her fifties came to my classes interested in learning and practicing meditation. Her case is a classic instance showing how traditional way of teaching this great technique lets down the genuinely interested beginners with potential. After learning ‘focusing on breathing’ in my classes, she could make a successful beginning on the path of meditation and making progress in relieving her problems (6). 

Asked how she knew about my classes she explained. She searched on-line for Diwali (An Indian Festival of Lights) (1). She found the local Indian residents’ website Alabnydesi.com and in it, found my classes under ‘Stress management’ (2).  Asked about her interest in the ‘focusing on breathing’ technique, she said that she attended the 10 day residential program of  ‘Vipassana’ (also called insight meditation)   at a nearby center, 7 years back (3) (4). During the program, she was asked to sit on the floor and practice the ancient technique for hours. She was given minimal food for breakfast and lunch and an apple for dinner. She successfully endured the rigors of the program in spite of the the mental and physical demands on her. At the end of the program, she was asked to practice at home, for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. She found the practice useful and liked it but could not practice at home, under the guidelines given to her. She therefore totally gave up on it!

While I was in India, I knew 4 people in the company I worked for who did the same program earnestly for 10 days  but never practiced at home. One of them even did the program twice but could not practice at home due to the time pressure of job and family with children.

This is the reason why I have adopted the unconventional method of teaching the technique (5). In my seminars and classes, I ask the clients to practice the first step of of ‘focusing on breathing’ sitting in chairs or sofas, using their fingers. At the end, I suggest that they practice the technique at home, lying in the bed at night, to fall asleep! After they get used to the practice and get hooked on it, they  are likely to advance to the next steps as explained in this website (5).

(1) Diwali (Indian Festival of Lights)
(2) Albanydesi.com/Stress management
(3) How Can I Focus On Breathing?
(4) Vipassana (Insight meditation)
(5) Why do most people accumulate stress and suffer?
(6) Insomnia, Anger and Anxiety relieved

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