Tag-Archive for » relax «

@ 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

Related pages
Training children

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@ Seminar at Albany Memorial Hospital for Diabetes Support Group

I offered the first seminar at Albany Memorial Hospital (AMH) for the Diabetes Support Group on June 5, 2013 from 6 to 7.30pm. This was set up by Marcy Pickert form AMH Diabetes Education Group. Attended by total 15 adults –  either diabetes patients or their family members. A set of my key handouts (1) was distributed to every participant. 

Scanned images of the Feedback Forms

Summary of the Feedback

This seminar is …

  • Very useful – 11
  • Useful – 3
  • Somewhat useful – 1

I will use this technique for my (concern) 

  • Agitated moments, Sleeping.
  • Help with sleep & Relaxation (Control less worries).
  • Insomnia, Relieving stressful situation, Helping with stress at work.
  • To help me fall asleep faster.
  • Sleeplessness, Sporadic or interrupted sleep.
  • Try to get up at a reasonable hour in the morning.
  • Work, Relax when facing a new or difficult task at work.
  • Relaxation.
  • Stress management and arguing less, Stop and think.
  • Stress and losing control.
  • High blood pressure, Anxiety and frustration of dealing with diabetes.
  • Relieve chronic pain for my hands. Pinched ulnar nerve in Mar 2010. Hands have not been normal since then.
  • To cool off after getting fired up.

Comments about the seminar 

  • Very relaxing.
  • Interesting relaxation technique (s).
  • I am looking forward to the results.
  • Speak lower as I was getting too relaxed.
  • You were very well understood. Demonstrations were useful. These should be given to high school students especially scholar athletes who need rest.
  • Very well presented.
  • Very enlightening – It shall work.
  • Rather repetitive techniques are common knowledge but presenter was very enthusiastic.
  • Very friendly and welcoming. One hardly thinks of managing such a basic process. But I will try diligently. He reminds me of Feldenkrais.
  • Interesting. No microphone.
(1) Documents for download – All handouts

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* Many problems resolved, my face glows

Feedback from an African American client Christine (not her real name) who attended four of my classes over 5 weeks. She reported multiple problems when she came in. She absorbed the techniques and practiced them with all her heart. On my advice, she read most of my articles on Relationships (1). She came out of most problems in a surprisingly short time of 5 weeks. Details –

“I was really stressed out on my job at a medical office, due to my boss. I had to always to prove myself and be constantly on the go. I could never stop to even think where I was and what I was working on.I learned in the classes how take breaths and relax more effectively in my daily life. The breathing techniques I have been using are the ‘Tip mode’ and the ‘Segment mode’ (2), in the morning and night. I also do a lot of breathing  during the day (3).
Due to these practices, my body balance has changed and my mind has become so relaxed that nothing and no one stresses me. I am so calm even when dealing with others at work. My skin complexion has changed. I now have a bright glow in my face.

I thank ‘C S’ (Suryanarayana Chennapragada) for helping me achieve total peace of mind.”

I had a personal interview with her to inquire about the several problems that she had but did not mention in her above feedback. She let me know their status as described below.

Stressful interactions with boss

Before: Her boss was very intimidating and being mean in his daily interactions with her as well as other employees. She used to take his words seriously to her heart and tried to respond to them in all earnestness. As nothing she said or did made any difference to his behavior she was getting angry and frustrated. She used to clench her jaws and grind her teeth.
Now: After practicing the breathing at bedtime and during her interactions with her boss, she stopped taking his mean style seriously. She listens to him and tells herself that he is the one who has the problem, not she. His verbally abusive behavior  has nothing to do with her.

Jaw tension and Grinding of teeth

Now: Reduced by 95%

Migraine pains

Before: Almost every day, lasting for 2 hours.
Now: Once in a while.

Shoulders puffed up

Before: Whenever she heard his mean words, which was every day.
Now: None, in spite of his behavior  being same.

Hears everything in sleep

Before: In her sleep she used to hear all sounds around her. She used to wake up twice in the night.
Now: She sleeps undisturbed,till the alarm goes off. She does not hear any sounds. Recently her husband commented with a surprise that she was able to fall asleep even when the the TV was on. 

Hours of sleep

Before: She used to sleep at 10 and wake up at 3 am and was not able to get sleep for at least 30 minutes, due to her racing mind.
Now: She sleeps undisturbed all through the night, till the alarm goes off at 6 am.

How she felt on waking up 

Before: Felt exhausted
Now: Feels great.

Back pain and Neck pain

Now: She has them only slightly. To avoid neck pain she stopped holding the phone between her cheek and shoulder. Her chronic stress was straining her muscles in her jaws, neck, shoulders and back.

(1) My articles on ‘Relationships’
(2) How can I focus on breathing?
(3) Daytime practice
(4) Releasing tension in the jaws

Related pages
Face looks bright and healthy – Success stories

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* “I stopped smoking” said a cashier

I print the hand outs at the local UPS store. The cashier with whom I was meeting often, became friendly. I found him several times outside the store, smoking a  cigarette. He was always looking gloomy. One day I gave him the hand outs (1) and explained the tip mode (3), in a couple of minutes. Whenever I visited the store for printing, I asked him whether he tried the technique and on hearing his negative response, softly urged him to give it a try. For almost a year, he did not believe it was useful and did not try the technique.

Two months back, he said he was practicing the technique in the visualizing mode (2). He was happy with the practice.

In response to my query today, on how his practice was going and how it was helping him, he said with a smile
“It gives me good sleep”. And after a while, he added “I stopped smoking.”

I congratulated him and asked for the details. He said he was smoking 2 to 3 packs a week, before practicing the technique. While continuing the breathing practice, he switched to electronic cigarettes. Now he rarely feels the urge. Even when he gets the urge, he feels too lazy to smoke.

(1) How to enjoy quality sleep and conquer insomni

a
How to be calm Anywhere, Anytime &
How to quit smoking by ‘Focusing on breathing’ 
(2) Visualizing mode
(3) Tip mode

Related pages
Success stories in ‘Quitting smoking’ 

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* Seminar at Russell Sage College Troy

The introductory seminar of an hour was held on 9/26/12 for graduates and seniors of Nutrition at Russell Sage College Troy NY . There were 16 students and 2 faculty members. The seminar was suggested and coordinated by Teri Hutson Mulligan, Certified Diabetes Educator at Albany Medical Center.  Patty Delmonico was the coteacher for the class. I am thankful to both of them for letting me share this technique with their college students. The class is “Nutritional counseling through the life cycle”.  The  feedback from the participants is summarized below. The PDF document showing the scanned images of their feedback forms is presented after the summary. With this seminar, my dream of sharing this technique with college students was fulfilled.

Summary of  their feedback

The seminar was …

  • Very useful – 15
  • Useful – 3

I will use this technique for my (concern)………

  • To relax before sleep and while studying
  • Sleeping, Waking up, When stressed about an exam
  • Sleep, Stress and Anxiety
  • Sleeping and Stress
  • Insomnia and Anxiety
  • Helping to calm my mind before sleep, + When I am feeling overwhelmed about school
  • Anxiety  and Insomnia
  • Sleep and Stress
  • Stress and to help me sleep
  • Insomnia, specially trouble falling asleep
  • Anxiety and Insomnia
  • Sleep better (more soundly, wake up refreshed)
  • Stress reduction, Sleep aid and to recommend to others when I am a dietitian
  • To help me sleep and relax
  • Anxiety, Stress + Related issues
  • Panic attacks
  • Panic attacks

This technique can help improve sleep and reduce stress for ….

  • Everyone/ Anyone  – 10
  • Out-patients – 6
  • Inpatients – 5
  • Students
  • My work with kids
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Significant other

Comments/ Suggestions about the seminar

  • Wonderful
  • I liked practicing the technique in class, would be better if it was quieter
  • This was very simple and straight forward, I would not change anything
  • I love the fact that it is such a simple technique
  • I enjoyed listening to you. It was the most relaxed I have been during a seminar
  • Great! Relaxing and Informational
  • Thank you. It was very helpful and I will try to use the techniques
  • Include demonstration of deep breathing with stretching the body
  • Great job, Very useful information and interactive
  • The information and techniques shared were really helpful and I greatly enjoyed being able to hear where the techniques are applicable
  • Very  helpful and practical
  • Very interesting. Eager to try this out!
  • Interesting
  • Very interesting. I will try to put it into practice in my life

Scanned images of the feedback forms  PDF

Related pages
How can I focus on breathing?
Seminars and Follow up classes
Past seminars

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Please send your comments through the ‘ABOUT – Contact’ page.

* Seminar for ‘Glaucoma Practice of New York’

The introductory seminar was held on 8/15/12 for Dr. Sai Gandham and his staff at  the Lions Eye Institute in Slingerland NY. Dr. Gandham’s mother also participated. There were 6 participants. The feedback received from five participants  is posted below. The scanned images of their feedback forms are at (1).

Summary of  their feedback

The seminar was …

  • Very useful – 5

I will use this technique to relieve my (concern)

  • Sleep (to relax and enable sleep)
  • Stress and to calm my wandering mind at night
  • Stress, Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep, Work, Waiting periods

Comments about the seminar

  • Very  relaxing and educational
  • I liked learning how to breathe correctly and different methods of , Very relaxing.
  • Enjoyed learning the technique, will use it to reduce stress & enhance relaxation.
  • Very helpful and informative, definitely will ease my anxiety & trouble breathing while anxious, very peaceful.
  • Very useful, should have started in childhood. The seminar was  very  organized, effective and made very simple. We are impressed with the presentation skills.

(1) Scanned images of the feedback forms.

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Please send your comments through the ‘ABOUT – Contact’ page.

* Breathing breaks in the class room

This is a report from Lynn Schuster, a dedicated and innovative class teacher for grades 2/3 in Robert C. Parker School, Wynantskill, New York State (1). On my request, she shared with me how she developed the basic  technique of ‘focusing on breathing’ (2) to suit the needs of her students and herself in the class room. It is a wonderful model that has brought out the immense potential of this simple technique!

“I was introduced to ‘Counting Breaths’ along with my 2nd-3rd grade students four years ago. I watched my students, and felt myself, relax tremendously within a matter of moments as C.S (Suryanarayana Chennapragada) taught us the technique. The practice is now an essential part of the daily life in my classroom. We begin our ‘Morning Meeting’ each day, by “going into our silence.” Students are asked to “unplug” from their friends and to give themselves the opportunity to breathe quietly. We sustain this silence for at least three minutes. This year, I conclude this silence with what I’m now calling our five magical breaths. I count and students follow as we breathe deeply, a minimum of five times, together.

Even children who find quieting down extremely challenging can achieve silence through the peer influence that comes with group practice. I sometimes have to be patient and wait until we’ve all quieted down. In the afternoon when focus can be difficult, I usually have to add in soothing words of encouragement and very deliberately lead them through our counting out a minimum of five deep breaths. I will roam the room, praise individuals and the class. Everyone comes around.

This year, I’ve consciously incorporated breathing breaks throughout our day—at every transition and before starting anything new. This translates into a minimum of 5-6 breathing breaks a day. This year, I also committed to pausing what we are doing when I see even one student getting antsy or moody. In the past, I would have plowed through my agenda and put up with interruptions or a less-than-focused atmosphere. It has been proven to me through my commitment to taking breathing breaks that these breaks do only take a couple minutes. BUT their impact is profound and can carry through big chunks of time. Breathing together brings almost every child immediately into a relaxed mindset. I feel impatience and stress wash away too. We become a community again, working together.

I must thank YOU for teaching me to pause, breathe and help my students relax. I used to think the fun and laughs we had–and the connection/trust I strive to create with each student–would ensure focus when the time required it. But from your guidance and teaching, I saw that I needed to do something more. You’ve changed the way I live in the class and made me pay closer attention to what’s really happening in front of me.”

+++

I am grateful to Lynn for developing this great class room model of the technique. She helped me realize the dream I have been nurturing since the year 2002, ever since I realized the great potential of this technique in helping children calm themselves and focus.  I am  also grateful to Meg Taylor, Head of the school who let me, an uncertified and unlicensed person, experiment with this technique, unknown in the educational field and for creating an environment that lets such innovations flourish. I am happy they both let me publish their names.

I dream of more teachers drawing inspiration from this model and developing their own versions. They will be helping their students develop self awareness, the ability to calm themselves whenever they become aware of their anxiety or stress and act with self control. I feel these skills are more fundamental than reading, writing and counting and will be of immense help to them throughout their life.  Parents can also use this model at home to reinforce the class room experience. I feel when these children grow up, they will become better moms and dads with this additional technique in their parenting tool kit.

When I was working in a paper mill in India, I used this technique when I conducted small group meetings.  We all breathed together for a couple of minutes in the counting mode. It helped us focus better and be good listeners.

(1) Robert C. Parker School
(2) How can I focus on breathing?

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Please send your comments through the ‘ABOUT – Contact’ page.

Relevant pages
Endorsement by Meg Taylor – Head of sdchool

Parent page: Training children in ‘Focusing on breathing’

* I practiced just before surgery

This the feedback from a woman who attended two of my classes (2) since Jan 11, 2012.

She had undergone tracheostomy. Some time back, due to injury to her throat, she could not breathe through the nose or mouth. A trach tube was inserted into a hole made in her throat to enable her breathe. Recently, her doctor advised that her throat was healed and she did not need the tube. But she was not willing to do it because when she took it off once, she was unable to breathe through the nose or mouth and was choking. Her doctor said that it was only her anxiety that was preventing her from taking off the tube and breathing through the nose. She was referred to me by Teri Hutson-Mulligan, a diabetes educator at Albany Medical Center.

Because of the tube in her throat, she couldn’t speak. In person, she communicates with a white board and dry erase marker or paper and pen. We interact occasionally by e-mail as she is not able to attend the classes being dependent on state transportation. I do the classes free for her, as she is disabled and on Medicaid.

She reported in the first class that she was unable to sleep for 2 to 3 hours every night and helplessly watched TV. Her sister died 5 years ago. The thought she was responsible for her sister’s death was haunting her, though she knew that this was not true. Her first report by e-mail is presented below.

“I am practicing the technique. I specifically remember using the ‘Tip mode’ (1) just before I went into surgery, to help me relax. The next thing I remember – I was waking up and the surgery was over. I have also used the technique at bed time. My sleep habits are a lot better. I sleep almost through the entire night.”

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(1) How can I focus on breathing?
(2) Seminars and classes

Relevant pages
Relieving anxiety – Success stories

* Seminar at East Greenbush library

The fifth introductory seminar at the East Greenbush community library was on Jan 30, 2012, 7  to 8.30 pm. 28 persons registered and 16 turned up.

Scanned images of the completed feedback forms.

Their feedback is summarized below.

The seminar was …

  • Excellent –    13
  • Very Good – 3
  • Good –             –
  • Not useful –   –

I will use this technique to relieve my (concern)

  • Stress – 3
  • Stress, Insomnia
  • Stress/ Stiffness of muscles
  • Stress, Also would like to use during child birth
  • Stress, Tension
  • Stress, Lack of focus
  • Stress  & Anxiety
  • Stress & Anxiety throughout the day
  • Tension
  • Sleep, Anxiety, Mind wandering
  • Anxiousness/ Anxiety – 2
  • Anxiety, Insomnia
  • Help me sleep &  Relax
  • To sleep

Comments/ Suggestions (if any)

  • Very relaxing, I hope I can continue to do this
  • Very useful & Relaxing
  • Very relaxing.
  • Very interesting
  • CS was very engaging and thorough. I like how he framed the technique by the different narratives ~ Very interesting! I really enjoyed the session. Thank you.
  • CS was an amazing and informative instructor. I found my breath. Thank you so very much.
  • Presenter was very helpful.
  • Very good presentation
  • I thought it was very good. I enjoyed learning this.
  • Thank you. Very useful technique.
  • I hope there will be additional seminars.
  • Enjoyed it immensely, Hope to come to more of this kind of class
  • It would be nice to have regular follow up on this at the library.
  • Wonderful – I needed this & hope to use it.
  • A wonderful experience. I will use it personally and professionally.
  • I will use it in my therapy practice

When I visited the library two days later, one of the librarians said that at the end of this seminar on Jan 30th, several participants in the seminar voluntarily told her that they liked the seminar very  much.

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* Seminar at the Rensselaer Library

This was the second seminar done on Dec 29, 2011 at this library . Three women were present, two of them were in 16 to 20 range. One was in her forties. Their feedback at the end of the seminar is summarized below.

The seminar was …

  • Excellent –  3

I will use this technique to relieve my (concern)

  • Sleeping difficulties/ Pain from recent car accident/ Stress/ Anxiety – 1
  • Anxiety – 1

Comments/ Suggestions (if any)

  • I learned a lot on how to relax

***
E-mail message from the Library

“Everyone loved your program!  Thank you! I learned that you were going to leave hand-outs for us, but somehow they disappeared.  Can you bring bring some at your convenience?”

Jane Chirgwin
Director