Free learn to relax program

GLOVERSVILLE — Area residents are invited to take a breath and learn to relax when the Gloversville Pharmacy presents a free, hour-long breathing exercise and guided meditation session at the Gloversville Senior Center on Friday at 11 a.m.

Pharmacist Pranav “Pro” Balang organized Friday’s Breathe, Meditate and Be Happy event to introduce area residents to basic breathing exercises and expose them to the practice of meditation that he says can help unburden people of some of their everyday stresses.

“At the pharmacy when people come in, when we talk to people, we see that people are under so much stress,” Balang said. “We all have some kind of stress and this is a little something that can help us.”

Balang explained that he began meditating and utilizing breathing exercises four of five years ago when he was going through a difficult time.

“I had a lot going on in my personal life because of which I used to look at answers outside and there came a point in my life where I had to dive inside. Some questions in your life can only be answered when you dive inside,” Balang said. “It brought about a huge shift in me.”

After seeing what the practice has done for himself, Balang said he wants to share the technique.

“Meditating, it just helped me so much and it helped me in every sphere of life,” Balang said. “I just wanted to bring it to everybody.”

Balang said he is hoping to present additional events to the public in the future that he may one day lead as he is currently studying to become a teacher.

Friday’s session will be led by certified meditation teacher Nikhil Jain, who Balang has studied with, who will teach residents breathing techniques they can use as needed in the future and provide a guided meditation.

“The whole world knows meditation is an amazing tool to bring your mind to the present moment,” Jain said. “The idea is to create a sense of happiness in people, create a sense of gratitude in people, create a sense of presence in the moment.”

Both Jain and Balang said Friday’s session will be simple for anyone to follow, regardless of age, and no equipment will be needed. Jain explained that during the guided meditation he will say a few light instructions that will automatically lead to meditation.

“People have to listen lightly,” he added. “I ask people not to think too hard.”

As an example, Jain said hearing the word “apple” brings the fruit to mind, but questioning whether it’s a red or yellow apple would be thinking too hard. He went on to say that oftentimes people are too busy brooding on the past or worrying about the future and meditation can help them refocus on the present.

“The idea is to get our mind out of that and into the present moment, that allows us to feel that sense of happiness and peace and contentment in life,” Jain said.

Jain noted that the guided meditation will essentially be a single introductory experience, but the breathing exercises that he will present can be practiced daily by anyone.

Jain explained that many human emotions are connected to the way people breath and controlling one’s breath, and therefore the flow of oxygen in the body, can impact a person’s mood.

“When you’re angry your breath is short, when you’re calm your breath is long and when you’re anxious you don’t even realize you are breathing,” Jain said. “We use this correlation to this benefit, we can use the breath to bring a change to our emotions and state of mind.”

“Often something we overlook is our breath,” Balang noted.

To harness the power of controlled breathing, Jain will cover a few simple breathing patterns that can help people to calm down during periods of stress or when experiencing other heightened emotions.

“People will take away breathing techniques that they can employ in their daily lives based on their situation in life,” Jain said. “Meditation is more of an experience they can take away and explore further if they want to.”

Jain is hopeful that residents will participate in Friday’s session that is similar to an event he attended while he was in graduate school in 2007 that introduced him to the practice.

“It made a big impact on my life and I like to share that with people,” Jain said.

Jain explained that in 2007 he immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio, from India to pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering.

“I was going through a lot, I was in a new country in a new environment and that school was very challenging. I felt myself so stressed out and disconnected from people,” Jain said.

After attending a meditation and relaxation event organized by a friend, Jain said he took up the practice daily and found that his life gradually improved, along with his grades and his social life.

“I started enjoying my life so much more,” Jain said. “It became a part of my life and it’s been great so far.”

Jain said meditation and breathing exercises helped him to function to his full potential as he went on to receive his doctorate from the State University of New York at Albany, now working as a scientist at IBM in Albany.

“When I look back where I was that winter of 2007-2008, it’s a no brainer,” Jain said. “It makes such a big difference.”

The hour-long Breathe, Meditate and Be Happy event presented by the Gloversville Pharmacy will be held at the Gloversville Senior Center at 53 Church St. on Friday at 11 a.m. The event is open to the public and free to attend.