I have been on a quest for serenity my entire life. As a little girl, I often snuck away to a sacred spot in nearby woods for quiet contemplation. In college, I once spent my entire paycheck to escape the noisy dormitory for a weekend alone in a cheap motel. My students may remember my efforts to bring calm to our classroom with soothing music and a few impromptu yoga lessons.
Although I’m not a quiet or shy person, I crave calm. Without regular doses of solitary serenity, I’m unable to make the wisest choices or behave as lovely as I’d like. I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode where George’s father, the antithesis of calm, cool, and collected, explodes, “SERENITY NOW!” It has become my battle cry.
We don’t need statistics to prove that Americans are increasingly overwhelmed, overstimulated, anxious, and stressed. A rush-hour drive or the nightly news is convincing enough. That’s why I’m happy to share a set of tools that work together to create calm.
- First, there’s the book by Michael Acton Smith simply titled Calm. It’s a fun and inspiring little book filled with ideas, activities, and motivation to get your calm on. It features eight sections~ nature, sleep, travel, relationships, work, children, creativity, and food.
- Next is the Calm app, which you can download for free on your smart phone. You can get the same app on your computer at http://www.calm.com. The free app offers soothing sights, sounds, and meditation programs. I emerged from the three-minute guided meditation feeling like I’d taken a nap. Subscriptions are available at two levels ($3.33/month and $9.99/month) to unlock additional programs such as Calm Kids: Sleep Stories and Meditations for Children and 7 Days of Gratitude.
- Finally, there is an entire Calm community on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Beautiful images, messages, and meditations provide encouragement to stop, recharge, and join the calm revolution.
How To Meditate (An Excerpt from Calm)
Find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be disturbed. Sit with a straight back in a position that feels comfortable and close your eyes. Rest your hands on your knees or cup them softly in your lap.
Let your body rest easily and breathe gently. Become aware of your breath as it flows into your body and as it leaves your body. Focus on the rising of your belly on the in-breath and the fall on the out-breath.
Keep the rhythm of your breathing natural – don’t try to change it in any way, just be aware of it. Notice the very beginning of the inhalation and where it connects to the exhalation.
When thoughts arise, note them and let them dissolve. Keep returning your focus to the breath. Once your mind relaxes, you can expand your awareness to your whole body, noting whatever sensations you feel. Don’t judge the sensations, just note what’s happening. Don’t try to change what’s happening, simply observe things as they are.
You’ll find from time to time that your mind will wander off into worries, distractions, or thoughts of the past or future. This is the nature of the mind. When you notice your attention has wandered, without judging yourself bring it gently back to the breath. You many have to do this many times, and that’s fine. Just continue to bring your mind back to the breath. Breathing in and out, from moment to moment.
“Calm the mind, change the world.” ~ Calm
Think on These Things~ Alicia