Tag-Archive for » suffering «

@ Improved my relationship with my fiance

Report from a client aged 52 who attended three of my classes over 3 weeks.  He picked up the techniques very quickly, practiced in all earnestness and derived remarkable benefits in just 3 weeks. When I see improvement achieved by such people, I get the thought “How many people are suffering from not knowing these simple techniques or similar ones? Should we not teach them in school and college?”. 

His responses to my standard questions are here. 

  • What were the issues which prompted you do the classes?

* Insomnia: I have sleep apnea and using CPAP machine. I had a hard time falling asleep . I was waking up 2- 3 times in the night.

* How to manage stress

* Managing anger (as it affected my relationship with my fiance)

  • What techniques have you learned and practiced and at what times? 

I practiced ‘Counting mode’ primarily, the ‘Segment mode’ or the ‘Tip mode’. I also practice the ‘Staring mode’ when at a red light (1). I find myself being disappointed when the light turns green, as it interrupts my breathing practice (2). I also use the feeling mode (1) sometimes when at work.

I do the ‘waking up routine’ (3)-.

After returning from work, I lie down on the carpet with a yoga mat under just below the knee and complete four hands using the ‘Segment mode’ (1).

I do the going the ‘bed routine’ every night (4).

  • What improvements have you noticed in mind, body and relationships?

My insomnia has improved dramatically. In just the three weeks practicing these techniques, I have only woken up once in the middle of the night and I fall asleep much faster.

I’m much more patient in circumstances where I’m usually impatient such as waiting at a red light.

I feel much more relaxed. Especially after coming home from work and doing the after work routine. I feel incredibly relaxed after that, like all the day’s tension has gone.

It has improved my relationship with my fiance. I’m much calmer in situations where normally I would react in anger or feel tension rising within me. Instead of responding back to her in anger and frustration, I try ways such as telling her that I appreciate her feedback but I get negative feelings when she expresses it to me in that manner. This has worked in preventing the situation from escalating. I try not to feed the fire.

(1) All the modes are in this page “How can I focus on breathing?
(2) Focusing on breathing during driving
(3) Waking up routine
(4) Waiting for sleep

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@ 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.

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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* Walking on gold coins, eyes closed

‘Focusing on breathing’ is a technique that is easy to understand and practice.It reduces and prevents stress without demanding time, posture, teacher or money. Many people under stress  admit it may relieve some of their problems. But they are unwilling to try it, even at bed time which is the first step I suggest on this path. I believe it shows that they are not yet ready to come out of their stress and its consequences. This idea is brought out in the following story from Indian mythology.

Once upon a time, there lived a great devotee of the God named Shiva. He was always chanting the name of God Shiva. But he was always poor, unable to support his large family. He would visit the nearby village every day, asking for donation of food from the housewives and return to his family to feed them.

One day, God Shiva’s wife, being aware of this devotee’s condition, asked Shiva why HE was not helping HIS great devotee. Shiva replied that the devotee’s time to come out of his suffering had not yet come. But Shiva’s wife, felt a lot of compassion for the devotee and insisted that Shiva must do something immediately, to help that poor devotee.

To pacify his wife, that night, Shiva sprayed gold coins all along the road on which the devotee walked every day to the village.

In the morning, Shiva and his wife watched from the heaven, to see what the devotee would do. When the  the devotee was about to step on that road, he got a brilliant idea. He thought “I have been walking on this road every day, for so many years. I know all its turns and pot holes. Let me challenge myself today, by walking on this road with my eyes closed.”. Then he closed his eyes and walked confidently, stepping on the gold coins lying all along the road. At the end of the road, he opened his eyes and congratulated himself for his great achievement!

Shiva told his wife “I told you that he is not yet ready to come out of his suffering!”

I tell this gold coin story in the introduction part of my seminars. At the end the story I say that every breath that enters and exits our bodies is like a gold coin lying on our path. Noticing a breath is like picking up a gold coin for free, because every time we focus on a breath, we prevent stress and also reduce our stress, for sure, though only a tiny bit (1). In all our non-sleeping moments, we have this ‘golden’ opportunity to prevent and reduce stress (2). Stress being the root cause of many mind and body problems, this practice has immense potential to help us get relieved of many problems (3). Participants appreciate this powerful message.

(1) ‘It is only a little’ – My Article
(2) Stress – Its causes and effects
(3) Helping mind and body

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* Seminar for kids at the Hope Club

I offered a short seminar of about 30 minutes to the kids and their coordinators and facilitators on Oct 4, 2011, at the ‘Hope club'(1). It was attended by about 10 children and 5 adults. Three of the kids had lost a parent due to cancer and other kids had a cancer survivor as a parent. The proceeding at the seminar is summarized below.

The participants introduced themselves. I demonstrated the ‘Tip Mode’ (2) to them, using one hand. We all practiced together, on one hand, counting the breaths aloud. They did one hand, counting aloud while I was watching their finger movements. Then they alone practiced the technique, till they completed 4 hands (alternating both hands), counting the breaths silently. They were given the choice of keeping the eyes open or closed. Most of them practiced eyes closed. The practice lasted for about  5 minutes. When they opened their eyes all the faces were smiling! This is a common observation.

I asked each participant to share with the group how he or she felt about the experience. They said that they felt relaxed or calm or good.

I asked each of them to share when they intend to use the technique.  Most of them said they would use the technique at bed time. Other ideas were – on waking up, when angry and when stressed.

I distributed a 2 page hand out of the technique “Calm yourself anywhere, anytime” (3), to every participant and the ‘Relax Anywhere, Anytime’ hand out (4) to the adults.

One adult asked whether the breathing should be deep or normal. I clarified that one should breathe normally. One should watch the in and out breaths like watching the waves in the ocean, sitting on the beach. This breathing is a passive observation of the in and out breaths, unlike Yoga breathing, in which the breathing is to be regulated, to meet given guidelines. The facilitators said they would reinforce the practice on the days the kids meet at the club. They would try it during the transitions from one activity to another.

We agreed to meet again after a month, to review the practice and share individual experiences. The tentative date set is Nov 1, 2011.

(1) The Hope club is located at 1 Penny Lane Latham NY 12110 is a part of the American Cancer Society. It offers free programs to support individuals suffering from cancer and their families, including children. I volunteered to offer my periodic seminars and follow up classes at this place to help its members with support from Tracy Pitcher the Director. The children’s programs are coordinated by Alana Streifert.
(2) How can I do it?
(3) Calm yourself anywhere, anytime
(4) How to be calm Anywhere, Anytime
(5) Report on the follow up visit

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* I rebuilt my broken spirit

This is a testimonial from Eva (not her real name) who attended 8 of my classes over 5 months (6). It illustrates many lessons in getting out of the grip of a verbal or emotional abuser, not a physical abuser.

  • It is a dramatic model on how a person can break the spell of the abuser  and lead a stress free life. Daily contact with that person may be unavoidable. The abuser may be abusing verbally or emotionally.  The abuser may be a boss, spouse, parent, friend or any other.
  • It proves the saying  “You can’t change others. You can only change your response to their behavior.” and the related one “When I change myself, the World changes.”
  • It proves the spiritual saying “When the student is ready the teacher appears”
  • And surprise! The abuser may turn around!

See more of my comments at the end.

The report
“I suppose it was the end of May 2011 because the 10 foot high snow banks at the end of the parking lot had finally melted. I think it was a Monday or a Tuesday. Back then, I didn’t really focus on real- time. I simply prayed to get through each day. Each and every new morning presented itself with tremendous anxiety, demanding self-preparedness to battle with my verbally and emotionally abusive boss. I had been dealing with his relentlessly abusive behavior over the last two years. I was daily confronted with humiliation, degrading, argumentative, embarrassing control tactics, accusations, and lies. Me responding with anxiety, fear, tears, withdrawal, disgust and frustration. I was losing sleep, and it felt like I was constantly spinning.

I was treated by my physician for severe panic attacks and sleeplessness. My dermatologist was treating me for the red blotches, itching and welts on my face. Rock bottom came when a coworker made an unkind comment to me, back on that Monday or Tuesday. It broke my spirit to the core. I went out of the office, to the end of the long unused hallway, sat on the floor with my arms wrapped around my knees. I soaked from my tears. What was happening to me? How do I stop this monster of a boss from making me feel like this?

I figured I had two choices – fight or flight. I pulled myself together and went back to the office. I prayed to the angels to please give me some kind of a sign.

A few days before, I planned to attend the seminar by C S (Suryanarayana Chennapragada) on ‘Focusing on breathing’  at the local library, but I couldn’t make it. On coming to know about my interest from my coworker, CS offered the classes at his office. I saw CS that day.

He patiently let me unload everything that was making my life miserable. He taught me the different breathing methods to control stress and help with relaxation (5). He made me practice the techniques briefly sitting in his office.

I experienced a sense of calmness almost immediately. I could feel my tense shoulders drop. In his weekly classes he shared with me his own life experiences and some healing thoughts (1). I began to understand things in a whole different way. I knew I was 100 feet under water but after a few sessions with CS, I knew I had crawled up by 10 feet, inch by inch.

I had a long way to go but I knew I was on the right path. I practiced the techniques every day and several times a day when things got bad. I could thus create my own calmness to some degree. I created sanity in my work space by including things I love and a few ‘props’ from C S, to insulate me from further emotional trauma (2).

After several months and many visits later. I can honestly say that I am ‘riding the waves’ instead of drowning underneath them (3). I have learned so much from the relaxation techniques and guidance from C S,  that now I recognize the bad behavior before it comes to me. I learned how to respond to it in appropriate ways, to throw “IT” (the ‘bug’, meaning the abusive behavior) back and put the fire out before it burns me (4).

I had a revelation not too long ago inspired by the experiences C S shared with me. It became clear to me, that I was causing my own frustration because I was expecting my boss to change into someone he could never be. I realized that I could only change myself. I had to only keep my mind clear without confusion and my heart clean without any negative intention or attitude. I am now stronger, more confident and more aware of my own being. I am a better person now. When confronted with difficulties and bad behavior at work, I know I am going to get even better. I have eliminated all expectations about him! I feel can do this! I keep a small sign on my desk with a chant that CS introduced to me. It reminds me frequently that my boss’s abusive behavior is not because something is wrong with me. The sign has the letters “koerauoyavE”. It does not make sense to any other person. I am the only one who knows that reading it backwards, it gives me the healing message “Eva you are OK” (I am OK, it is my boss who is suffering from the ‘blame bug’).”

The report ends happily here!

Some unexpected developments
My boss realized that I was not cowering anymore when he behaved intimidatingly. On the other hand, he saw me replying to his accusations calmly, boldly and factually, looking into his eyes, all the time. He then changed his behavior dramatically. He started behaving like an immature child and making jokes, trying to make up with me! Unbelievable!” “A few days back, at the end of the day, I asked him “Doc! are we closing the office?”. He replied “You tell me.” I said “You are the boss. You are the one to decide.” He said “No. You are the boss!”. Imagine this one coming from the micromanaging and intimidating boss who used to say in all petty matters of the office “I am the boss. You have to follow whatever I say.” What a transformation!”


My comments

Eva is an unique personality, unlike any others with whom I worked so far. In her past career she always had kind and caring bosses. This abusive boss was a great shock to her.

She instantly grasped the concepts and techniques I shared with her, internalized them and used them right away, to manage the situation on hand. She benefited remarkably from the stories and articles that I shared with her in the classes.

After a few weeks of practicing the breathing and the new thought processes, she discarded her previous practice of wearing the green smock to the office, like a medial staff. She wore the normal office dress like a receptionist, with pride. This small step boosted her morale, one notch.

(1) She quickly absorbed the messages of these stories/articles and ideas and practiced them in real life.

  • “He insulted me” on how we can refuse to receive the insult being thrown at us or internalize it.
  • “The walker who laughed at A, B and C” on how we think we have some problem, instead of the abusive person.
  • “The blamer is hit with the blame bug” due to which he can’t help displaying the symptoms of blaming disease.
  • “My brother Ramu dies at the age of 10” describing how my unrealistic expectation was the cause for my suffering.
  • “We do not see the first parts of people’s lives” making  judgments of other people, based on their current behavior, without knowing the experiences they were subjected to till that point of time.
  • “To speak or not, to act or not” illustrating that as long I have a clear mind without confusion and a clean heart without negative emotions, I can speak and act appropriately without being afraid of any one, including GOD.
  • Unrealistic expectations sap our motivation and abort our attempts at making small forward moving changes in our routine. The president of an African country was asked by a journalist to describe the achievements of his government. He said ”My dear friend, I am not in the happy position of seeing what heights I have reached. I only see from what depths I am coming up!”. The personal change process is such that we may not experience any waves of happiness even after many many years of practice. The few daring people that attempt this process have to sustain their efforts and draw deep inspiration from the tiny reductions in their daily suffering.

(2) I helped Eva in creating reassuring and calming props, right in front of her, while sitting in her chair, in spite of any objections by her boss. This was also to break the spell of controlling and being controlled, under which both her boss and she lived, for more than two years. She also had to demonstrate her right to arrange her undisputed physical zone as she liked, without being challenged by her boss.

  • I described the story “He insulted me” using my pen for practical demonstration and at the end, gave her the same pen to take with her and place it right in front of her on the desk. This pen would remind her of the message of this story during the abusive interactions of the day, thus protecting her from distress.
  • I used a piece of crumpled paper to represent the bug in the story “The blamer is hit with the blame bug” and asked her to keep it on her desk, to remind her that her boss could not help behaving abusively because he was having the blame bug in his head.
  • I made a card in the shape of an inverted V (like a name sign used in meetings) and wrote “koerauoyawE” on it with a colored sketch pen. This was the message “Eva you are ok” written backwards as one word, so that only she could decipher the hidden message. Whenever her boss made a statement putting her down, she looked at this card lying on her desk, reminding her she was OK and it was her boss who had the bug (problem). Looking at this message helped her shake off the negative messages about her that her boss was trying to inject into her mind. Her coworkers saw the card and asked what was the meaning of that word. She quietly smiled in reply.
  • I asked her if she had any plants or flowers on her desk or around her, to look at and care for, as her own. She said her boss did not like any such things. I said this is a very good chance to assert her right by bringing some flowers from her garden or buy a small plant in a pot and keep it on her desk. She followed these suggestions.
  • She heard western classical music being played in our office when she came to the classes. She remarked that it was very calming whereas the music channel in her office radio blared hard drum sounds and disturbed her as well as the patients sitting in the waiting room. I asked her to change the station to classical music. She was not sure he would allow it but she made the change anyway without his noticing it, to her great relief. Listening to this soothing music all the time also contributed to reducing her stress.

(3) A spiritual teacher said that the meditative techniques like ‘Focusing on breathing’ do not eliminate the problems which are a part of life. But they help us manage them without getting distressed. He said  “You can’t avoid the big waves coming at you. But you can use the meditative techniques as a surf board and ride over the waves”.

(4) Her boss was throwing the blame (bug) at her and she now learned how to throw it back at him, instead of getting infected by that bug. She protected herself from being infected by the blaming disease that her boss was suffering from.

(5) Six different modes of ‘Focusing on breathing’

(6) Seminars and classes 

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