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Seminar – East Greenbush Library

I offered the 16th seminar at East Greenbush Community Library (1) on January 11, 2017 from 6.30 to 8.30 pm. Attended by 12 adults. A folder containing my key handouts  and sample testimonials was given to each participant (2), (3). It was interesting to hear from a participant that she attended the seminar a few years back and the technique helped her sleep. She came this time along with her husband. They both met me at the end and her husband commented “she falls asleep so quickly”. She said she brought him along because he does not sleep well.  

Summary of the Feedback

I will practice this technique for my (concern) 

  • Anxiety and Insomnia
  • Insomnia and to turn my brain “Off” when I want to sleep.
  • Sleep
  • Anxiety and Panic attacks
  • Stress
  • Relax when feeling stressed
  • Increased peace

My ‘Take home’ points

  • 3 Steps/ ways to fall asleep
  • Breathing at bedtime and awakening
  • Practice breathing, Try morning routine
  • Waking up with stretches and breathing, Chanting, Picking something that speaks to my heart
  • I like the ideas of breathing techniques before sleep and after waking
  • Stretching techniques before starting the day
  • Counting while breathing

Evaluation of the seminar 

  • Very satisfied – 9 (only 9 people returned the forms. Two people left early as they had an appointment)


  • I took this class a few years ago & the breathing techniques definitely help with my sleep.
  • Very useful ideas to use going forward.
  • Too short! I loved every minute. I want to learn more.
  • Counting, Feeling, folding – I will use tonight to relax and sleep.
  • Very passionate about topic, obviously a major part of his life
  • Thank you for sharing from your learning.
  • Great!
  • Thank you!
  • Counting, feeling and folding modes – I will use tonight to relax and sleep. Thank you so much!

I wish to 

  • Receive ‘Annual update’ on this technique – 4
  • Interested in ‘follow up classes’ on today’s techniques – 2

(1) East Greenbush Community Library
(2) Documents for download – All handouts
(3) Sample testimonials – 16

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Public Seminars

* Seminar at East Greenbush Library

I offered the 11th seminar at East Greenbush Community Library (1) on April 16, 2014 from 7 to 8.30 pm. Attended by total 14 adults, 12 female and 2 male. A set of my key handouts (2) was distributed to every participant.

Scanned images of Feedback forms

Summary of the Feedback

I knew about this seminar from 

  • Library newsletter – 4
  • Library website – 2
  • Sign in the library – 2
  • Friend – 2
  • My sister
  • Dr. Padma Sripada’s office
  • Prior seminar by same speaker years ago at Curves (East Greenbush – which has closed a couple of years back)

My expectation from the seminar is fulfilled to Grade …

  • A+    8
  • A       3
  • B+     1
  • No comment

I will use this technique for my (concern) 

  • Better sleep, Relaxation, Health, Reduce stress
  • Sleep – 2
  • Helping me sleep better
  • Stress, Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Stress release, Improve anger
  • Stress, Grief, Pain, Insomnia, Worry and Relaxation
  • Anxiety, Worry and Stress
  • Anxiety
  • To quiet my mind
  • To concentrate
  • Relaxation

My ‘Take home’ from the seminar ….

  • Practice and stick with it
  • How to sleep faster
  • Calmness, Acceptance
  • I really enjoyed the class, I hope this will help turn off my monkey mind when I try to sleep!
  • Very important breathing technique that I didn’t know
  • “Practice”
  • Breathe
  • Hope for less stress and anxiety, peace and serenity in our lives (husband and myself)
  • I am making a commitment to do this in the morning and night
  • Take time to practice the technique
  • I hope these techniques will help me sleep better
  • Live in the present, not in the past or future
  • Easy technique that I will try on obesity. Hope it works.

I recommend this seminar to (name the group)

  • Sister
  • Teen groups
  • Anyone young or old
  • You should teach this in every school
  • To my friends and family
  • My sisters

(1) East Greenbush Community Library
(2) Documents for download – All handouts

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@ Mindfulness at Robert C. Parker School

Here is a wonderful blog by Meg Taylor Head of Robert C. Parker School (1) on how the school is introducing mindfulness in various modes. Focusing on breathing (2) is a popular mode in the elementary grades, now being extended to the middle school.

” Learning to channel attention to productive tasks, to sustain motivation when work becomes demanding, and to handle the frustrations of sharing, learning, and communicating with peers are skills that depend on the ability to understand and manage emotions.

As one part of our effort to help children build emotional resiliency and self control, we use mindfulness techniques with them every day. Our faculty has worked with C S Rao (3), a grandparent in our school, to learn a form of breathing (2) that allows us to quickly relax and tune out distractions. He calls it ‘Counting Breaths’ (2) and it has the effect of feeding oxygen to the brain, calming emotions, clearing a busy mind, and giving a sense of peace and focus.

Teachers have adapted CS’s ideas for classroom practice. In Pre K 3, a chime is rung and children breathe smoothly and quietly, as the chime sound diminishes.

In Pre K 4, students use the image of falling leaves while they breathe.

In K-1, Liliana has adopted the language “going into your silence” as children sit quietly in both mind and body and breath slowly.

Grade 2-3’s practice taking five slow clearing breaths as do the 4-5’s. (4)

This year middle school teachers are going to teach the students CS’s method of using the fingers to count breaths. As CS says, the technique can be used anytime – when you can’t sleep at night, or if you are feeling anxious (5). And it works! I use it in the middle of the night when my mind is racing (6).

The effect with children is very positive. They have a strategy to calm themselves that they can use anywhere. It is a great tool for successfully negotiating frustrations, stress and anxiety and gaining attentiveness and focus. Having the ability to be mindful gives children confidence that they can handle difficult things (7). That is a gift for any individual.

You can read more in this complex and fascinating article “Why Teaching Mindfulness Benefits Students’ Learning”, in Mind/Shift (8).”

(1) Perspectives on Parker Blogspot
(2) How Can I Focus On Breathing?
(3) Suryanarayana Chennapragada
(4) Breathing breaks in the classroom – Report by Lynn Schuster
(5) Daytime practice
(6) How to Enjoy Quality Sleep and Conquer Insomnia?
(7) Benefits for Mind, Body and Relationships
(8) “Why Teaching Mindfulness Benefits Students’ Learning”  Post in Mind/Shift

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Training children

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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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@ Meditation enables me to ignore the demands of my ‘Self’ – Alfred

See (1) to know about Alfred. 


“Most often when we use the word self (2) we attach good feelings to it.  Sense of self, self-assured, self-actualization and a host of other “self” ideas all impress us with the importance of self.  However, there is another self within us that is less noble.

Last night I had an early morning dream where a person I love deceived and betrayed me.  After waking I was upset, my mind was clouded with ill will even though my rational mind kept telling me no actual betrayal had occurred.  It was difficult for me to find tranquility in my morning meditation but, finally, I was able to shed these bad feelings.  That was my “self” feeding me bad thoughts (3).  This self is busy all day reminding us of past mistakes, upcoming appointments, relationship difficulties and problems that need to be resolved. This self is a worry wart and has no compunction about stretching the truth or even lying to you if it suits its need.

Meditation has enabled me to ignore the demands of my self for a bit each morning.  And when my “self” is shut down, the peace and clarity which is always there in the background wells up and fills me with love and gratitude. Gone are worry, anger, jealousy, remorse and self-doubt. An added benefit is that, as the day progresses, I am more able to ignore my “self” (4) and to better able to judge the veracity of its often dubious  proclamations.”

(1) Alfred
His previous posts
(2) My related page –‘One living self and infinite dead selves’: I change every day, mentally and physically, to some minute degree. Yesterday’s version of me disappeared, never to be seen again, as good as dead. My only living self is the one pulsing with life, at this very moment. More….
(3) My related page – ‘Thoughts are like ….’: Birds in the sky, Clouds, Trains arriving at a train station, Uninvited guests, Imaginary demons, Delusions, Plants in the garden, Images on the screen, Balloons without air …..More….
(4) My related page – ‘My shopping cart pulls to one side’: Sometimes I pick a shopping cart that pulls to one side. I make periodic adjustments to prevent any mishaps.  I realized that my mind also tends to make biased and wrong judgments. I adjust my mind like I adjust my shopping cart and avoid mishaps. More….

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@ Breathing in and breathing out as a continuum …Alfred’s progress

See (1) to know about Alfred. 

“I am still keeping at it and expanding my practice every day. My core routine is 10 postures, each held for a minimum of 30 breaths. In between, I stretch in ways my body tells me to, some times rocking gently to loosen things up.

I always play soothing music or chanting; there are great chants on you tube. I was burning incense but have stopped because I find it a distraction.

Each day I discover new ways to attend to the present while meditating. Every day I feel a benefit; sometimes great, sometimes subtle.

Some ideas
  • We can be slaves to time. Being constantly aware of the clock and where you need to be an hour from now, robs you of the present. While meditating, do not fall into the trap of counting breaths, as if they are grocery list on which you are striking off items. Immerse yourself in each breath and adhere to your body’s natural relaxed breathing pattern. Time can become quite elastic when you are not measuring it in your mind. I suspect that the perfect present is infinite.
  • If you have trouble stilling noisy thoughts, try some mental exercises.
    • When you breath in, think of what it feels like to exhale and then, as you exhale think of the feeling of breathing in.
    • Think about the sound of wind on your face, of how sunshine smells and what the color green tastes like. Imagine that your body is floating or rotating slowly. Imagine you are slowly melting into the ground.
  • I realize as I try to attain complete tranquility while meditating, that the way I breathe can disrupt this goal. I have found at times a great rush of peace as I slowly exhale but, as I transition to breathing in, I am susceptible to errant thoughts. In order to avoid this undesirable distraction, I have begun to try to think of breathing in and breathing out as a continuum, rather than a transition. As I breath out and feel peace flow in, I concentrate on holding that feeling and I begin to breath in. I do not concentrate on the change of direction of my breath. This is helping me sustain and deepen the feeling of calmness over multiple breath cycles.
Benefits  I gained
  • I went to a social event where I knew nobody. I felt more relaxed than usual in this situation and felt like I was more focused on the person I was talking to at any given moment.
  • During the day when a worrisome thought clouds my mind, I am better at addressing it and filing it away where it belongs, rather than have it put me in a foul mood.
  • I am more easily amused.”
(1) Alfred

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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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* 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).

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Seminars and classes 

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* I feel so much more at peace now

Feedback from a client who attended 17 of my classes (1) over the last one year.

“I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I could have never done any of it without your help.
I’ve been to a million doctors and psychs and they have not even come close to doing what you have done for me, by taking the time to listen and really care about me.

It is amazing how all I want to do now is better myself anyway I can about which I never really cared before. I also want to help other people anyway I can, whereas I used to be so selfish. I feel so much more at peace now, instead of being stressed out all the time. I don’t ever want to lose you for a friend to be able to talk to. I truly feel God sent you to me for healing. God Bless you.”

(1) Seminars and classes

Her previous reports
I lost 30 pounds in last 9 months
My family life changed dramatically

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