Finding Calm

I recently started using the Calm app.  I never really intended to do a review on it, but in just a few days it has made enough of an impact on my life that I decided to share my experience.

Calm is a free app designed to help you begin a mindfulness meditation practice.  I have tried many times in my life to “meditate” using many different approaches but never felt like it was working.  My mind still felt cluttered, and I didn’t feel any of the relaxation or anxiety reduction that everyone was talking about. This time, using the Calm app has been very different.

I started as a subscriber to their Instagram page. I loved the beautiful images and often drew inspiration from the quotations.  I always just ignored the app, but one day I decided to try it out just for something to do.   So far, I have only used the free portions. Although there are many other options available with a subscription, I find the free content to be valuable.

Here’s what I like best:

  • Only takes a few minutes a day
  • Beautifully animated images of nature scenes with your choice of many different nature, calming, or white noise sounds playing in the background (can be played in app only or outside of the app depending on your settings)
  • Helpful guided meditations that teach you how to have an effective mindfulness practice
  • A selection of guided and unguided meditation sessions
  • A breath timer that allows you to focus on breathing and relaxation
  • Stories that engage your mind and then slowly taper off to help your mind transition from the bustle of your day into deep and relaxed sleep (just like when you were a kid!)
  • A calendar to help you track your practice (number of consecutive days, number of sessions, total time spent meditating)
  • An option to leave feedback after every guided session

If you’re like me, and always wanted to try meditating but never found a way to actually achieve it, I highly recommend this app. In just a few days I am beginning to notice when my mind wanders, and am discovering things about myself by noting where it wanders to. I love how the guided meditations encourage you to notice these wandering thoughts, and not be frustrated or judge yourself about it but just come back to the moment. I’m excited to see what changes in my practice and in my life after more time spent cultivating mindfulness and meditation.

 

 

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52 Weeks of thankfulness #8

I’m thankful for the opportunity to spread thankfulness over 52 posts, as mine will definitely take longer than 52 weeks with my posting schedule!

But in all seriousness today I am thankful for a chance to rest, to relax and bring my awareness back to self and mindfulness instead of sales and scores and tasks. Today I can read, spend time with my dog and my partner, eat when I’m hungry, nap, shop, whatever I want! This is going to be great. I hope the same for you, if not today then in the near future.

Join the 52 Weeks of Thankfulness prompt at Haddon Musings.

52 Weeks of Thankfulness #7

I know I’m not the most timely with this, and I don’t do it every week like I intend.  But I honestly feel that even if I don’t have time to blog about it, it’s the mindset of thankfulness and the change it can bring about in the world that is important.  What’s fun is to share it online when I can. With that said, I found a quote that inspired me this week and made me thankful for a spirit of hope.

“Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience-or give it a more fascinating name. Call it hope.”-Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

This appeals to me at this time in my life because I thought that switching jobs would make me happier.  Instead, it is the same thing, but for a different company for more hours with the same pay, and in an industry I dislike even more than the last one. But this quote empowers me to take the reins, to know my own happiness. To know people, you have to meet them, introduce yourself, spend time learning about them.  Soon they are your friends and you know them.  At the very least we should be this familiar, if not downright intimate with our own happiness.  We should approach it and bring it into our lives.  And with this done, the only thing we will want is more of it.  That striving and pulling impatiently toward it, that hope of more. This reminds me not to give up, even when the weight of things feels so heavy, and the climb to the top of the ditch seems way to far. When someone is worth it, we put the effort in to stand by them no matter what. And when our happiness is worth it, we should do the same.

Join the 52 Weeks of Thankfulness prompt at Haddon Musings.

Smart Housekeeping by Anne L. Watson

Smart Housekeeping is a simple, straightforward and to the point book with tips to make housekeeping easier for you. While I’ll admit there is really nothing extraordinary or new in the book it’s still very helpful if you feel overwhelmed or lost about de-cluttering and cleaning your home. What I liked most about it was the focus on finding what works for you.  The main idea behind the tips in the book is to help you find simple solutions that you will actually use because they are comfortable for you and make sense in your life and in your home.  What works for some will not work for others and it’s all about finding the end result that you are seeking and the simplest way to get and stay there.  I also like that it was short!  Who wants to spend days reading about cleaning up around their home when they can actually be doing it? This book offers some ideas and inspiration to get you started in the right direction, and then lets you use the rest of your time to get going.

Some topics covered are a simple decluttering method, clutter control, organization, cleaning, and tips for getting household members on board. Some tips that I found helpful or encouraging were:

  • work for short periods and break projects down into manageable bits
  • be realistic about your limitations (time, money, energy)
  • balance your resources (you may have more money than you have time, or more time than money.  Spend money where you can to make things easier, or put in extra time where you can to make things cost effective.
  • Analyze where things collect and why and then design your clutter control around your habits and preferences (a laundry hamper where you undress to avoid a dirty laundry pile, a “gathering basket” holding place for things waiting to be put away.  When the basket is full make one trip to put everything away, etc.)
  • “Never nag. It’s useless.”

This is a quick read and has some valuable tips for anyone who feels like getting their home under control is a daunting task.  The tips I found helpful might not make sense for you, but there were plenty of others that might work in your home and just weren’t a good fit for me. The biggest takeaway for me was that the state of your home is a personal choice, and the level of organization and cleanliness have to work for you.  How you do it is flexible so that it fits in your life and you build a routine you will maintain instead of one you will abandon.

I received a copy of this book for free to read and review through Netgalley

52 Weeks of Thankfulness #4

I was going to write something entirely different for this week’s thankfulness post, but life has changed my plans.  A person I love dearly has just found out a loved one is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that has metastasized and is now affecting major organs and creating bone lesions.  I feel so deeply sorry over this suffering, and it makes me grateful for my own health, and that of those around me.  When we’re healthy we tend to ignore the fact and focus on other things that make us happy.  We forget that if we are healthy we are drawing daily from a deep well of potential happiness.

Join the 52 Weeks of Thankfulness prompt at Haddon Musings.

Coping With Difficult People by Robert M. Bramson, Phd

If you’re looking for a book to help you understand different types of difficult people, how they act, and why they act that way this is the book for you.  What I loved most about it was the focus on understanding the behavior and  the information on how to cope with people in your life who act this way.  This book does not focus on how to change other people’s behavior because that’s not possible.  The only thing we can change is our own actions and how we feel about a certain situation.  In this book, Bramson proposes we can accomplish this by learning coping behaviors. The main focus is on dealing with people in a work setting, but the methods are easily adaptable to personal life as well.

The book addresses 8 “types” of difficult people: Hostile-Aggressives, Complainers, Silent and Unresponsive people, Super-Agreeables, Negativists, Know-it-Alls, and Indecisive Stallers.  For each category of difficult person, Bramson discusses what the behavior looks like, why people do it (I love how he includes scientific information like reinforcement and not just emotional reasons)  and then explains step-by-step methods for coping using real life examples from his consulting career. The idea behind the coping methods is that they “interfere with the “successful” functioning of the difficult behavior.”

After going through the different “types” individually the author includes chapters that give a basic formula for developing an action plan that you can use when preparing to deal with a difficult person, information on different thinking styles and how they affect the behaviors of difficult people and the person trying to cope, and ways to manage the defensive behavior that will ultimately arise both in the difficult person and the person applying these coping methods.

What I found most valuable was the focus on coping.  The author stresses that a lot of times you are not going to end up with an ideal situation, but you will end up with one that alleviates a lot of the stress and mental anguish that goes along with not dealing with difficult people. He demonstrates through examples and explanations that since you can’t change a difficult person, you have the options of suffering or coping, and coping is just better for everyone involved.  I knew Bramson was hitting home and giving me applicable information when I started to see how my own actions in past situations actually fed into the difficult behavior and made it worse.  I was then able to think about what the outcome would have been if I had instead applied the coping methods detailed in this book.  I can say that I have confidence that with some practice my future interactions with difficult people will be much more successful and less stressful.

 

 

52 Weeks of Thankfulness #2

I am so fortunate to have met the most wonderful and supportive people in my life.  No matter what I’m going through and no matter how alone I feel at the time, when I come out at the other end I realize exactly how many people were right there caring, worrying, loving and supporting me.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to do the same for them.

Join the 52 Weeks of Thankfulness prompt at Haddon Musings.