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.

 

 

…He’ll Only Ask For More

Have you ever read the children’s book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff?  I really enjoyed this book as a child, but I think I enjoy it even more as an adult.  I mean just look at this illustration by Felicia Bond: 2016-08-31 Don’t we all feel this way at some point?  Someone just keeps asking more and more of us until we need 8 arms just to attempt holding everything together. I look at this book as a sort of fun and light-hearted reminder for adults. Oftentimes whether it’s our boss, a family member, a friend, acquaintance or stranger, when we give someone something (no matter how small) they are going to ask for something else.  And if we don’t stay mindful it’s easy to get swept up in the demands.  We want to please others, we feel we are doing something generous, we want to perform to the best of our ability, we want to produce results.  Whatever the reason, we forget about ourselves, our personal needs, our boundaries, and we may even start to act in ways contrary to our values. It’s important to find the balance in life where we practice self care and live a life that aligns with our personal values. For most of us those values probably include things like hard work, being a good family member and helping others. But let’s not forget ourselves in all the hustle.

I have this problem a lot at work.  One way I have learned to handle it is to decide ahead of time where my boundaries lie, and what my priorities are.  During my time off, my priorities lie with my family and friends.  I make a habit of speaking about my plans for my days off at work, and about whom I will spend that time with.  That way if I have to turn down a request for overtime it’s not unexpected.  I decide ahead of time if an activity I plan to engage in is something that I would postpone for work or if it is not negotiable.  If it’s not negotiable then short of someone having a legitimate emergency (I’m talking hospital type emergency, not deadlines) I will say no to work and not feel guilty.  What are some situations where you feel this way, and how do you handle it?