Archives for Meditation


New To Meditation? Try These Tiny Stepping Stones From Headspace

While I've played around with meditation before, I never really held myself to its committed practice. I'd get excited about it for a few days, cozying up with Meditation Oasis podcasts after dinner, but then I'd drop the habit out of boredom or inattention. Or both.

But for the past ten days, I've been using a meditation app called Headspace to get me meditating more habitually....
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The ‘Most Relaxing Tune Ever’, According to… Science?

Can science give us the perfect sleep-inducing song?

I've been a bit of an insomniac lately. Somewhere in the depths of 2 a.m. last night (or this morning?), I Googled "most relaxing song ever."

And what did I expect to find? Well, a bunch of songs esteemed Most Relaxing by the court of popular opinion.

But instead, I Maybe.

From The Telegraph:
...the eight minute track [by Marconi Union], called Weightless, is so effective at inducing sleep it should not be listened to while driving.

Carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms and bass lines help to slow the heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Manchester trio Marconi Union worked with sound therapists to create the soothing tune, which also slows breathing and reduces brain activity.

Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, says that the song's rhythm begins at 60 beats per minute and then gradually falls to 50 by the end. She told The Telegraph that the song's lack of melodic repetition quiets the brain from trying to predict a musical pattern.

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Sunday Evening: Anxiety & Panic Support Group Phone Call

This evening, long-time panic attack sufferer Grace is holding her monthly anxiety, panic, and phobia support group phone call. (You may remember me posting about this before when I was invited to speak on the call.)

The call will take place at 6 p.m. EST this evening (Sunday, January 8th) and all anxiety and panic sufferers are invited to call in. There is no charge for attending the conference call -- but keep in mind that the phone number uses a California area code and not a toll-free number, so your normal charges for calling California's 559 area code will apply.

Here's the phone number and access code:
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The Strange (and Promising) Beauty of the Winter Solstice

Today, here in Pennsylvania, the sun will shine for just nine hours, nineteen minutes, and fifty-seven seconds.
That's pitifully equivalent to the average workday, isn't it?

Think about it: today, office workers are stumbling into their cubicles at dawn and filing out at dusk, having missed the natural light of day entirely.

For lack of a better word, blah.

I can't help but compare all of this to June and the fifteen gracious hours of sunlight that she brings each day. Even if you spend ten hours holed up in a fluorescent-lit office building, five whole hours of daylight are yours for the taking after your shift! Not to mention that the air is warm! And the world is alive! And the trees are green! (And the exclamation points are plentiful!)

My name is Summer, and boy have I grown into that name over the years. (Thanks, Mom & Dad, for avoiding the trendy names back in '84 and instead picking something uncommon.)

Summertime is my natural habitat. It's when I'm in my element. It's when my mood aligns with nature and I feel like an integral part of a living, breathing, and growing ecosystem. No -- a living, breathing, and growing world. Warm weather, green grass, and sunlight make me feel whole. They connect me to the world at large in a numinous way.

Oh, the scent of the earth -- did you know it's called
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7 Ways to Slow Down Before Bedtime

Those of us with anxiety disorders know the feeling well -- we lay in bed, but sleep does not come.
Our mind is too busy racing its way from here to there, rehashing the day's activities, and constructing lists of would have could have should have.  Did I turn off the oven?  I should have called Janice back. Where did I leave my car keys? I could have finished that project at work, but I got sidetracked and I hope the boss isn't upset with me. Did I remember to set the alarm clock?
It is exhausting.  Yet somehow, it is not the type of exhaustion that brings sleep.

I often wish that my own mind came equipped with an off/on switch.  Or, well, a dimmer switch.  That would be better.  I mean, I doubt that I'd ever want to cease all thoughts -- especially an important thought like, "Okay, I want to turn the switch back on now!"  Yeah, a dimmer switch would be nice.  I would crank it up during daylight hours & slowly dial it down as the evening sets in.

Alas, there's no such thing as a Mind Dimmer Switch.  But can we trick our mind and brain into slowing down for the evening?
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Lessons From Our Pets: Self-Care and Relaxation

As I type, a cat named Knuckles is doing a figure 8 around my ankles. Earlier, he took a nap by the sliding glass doors at my future in-laws' house. Then, he ran into the kitchen and furiously rolled around on a small green rug in front of the sink.
He's also famous for curling up on paper -- newspaper, computer paper, wrapping paper -- and napping there.  I don't know what's so comfortable about it.  The last time I took a nap on a bed of paper was in grad school, in the library, on a wide splay of photocopied research studies from various communication periodicals.  The text starts always starts to blur around my second hour of reading, but a quick nap can reset my brain and my tired eyeballs.
In the time it took to write the above paragraphs, Knuckles has resigned from ankle-circling and settled into sleep mode (or, as I like to call it, "kitteh deactivated" mode) on a soft couch cushion behind me.
This cat has got a pretty good life.  He was born outdoors and my future mother-in-law and father-in-law (MIL and FIL for short!) coaxed him indoors once per day for a bowl of cat food.  Soon, Knuckles began to wait by their back door and meow incessantly when he wanted to escape the wild jungle of their suburban street.  He's been alive for about three winters now and could have easily died in the cold weather if he hadn't warmed up to MIL and FIL.
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Why Didn’t I Panic During the Earthquake?

So, you're probably tired of hearing the word "earthquake" by now.
Well, me too.  But this is an anxiety blog, and Tuesday's earthquake undoubtedly shook our collective nerves, so bypassing the topic completely would be a seismic error. (Oh, and please don't find fault in my shaky puns.)
Ahem.  Okay, enough of that.
So, where were you when it happened?  Were you anxious?  I personally know two people who were (at least temporarily) convinced that the earthquake was an internal medical condition.  One woman I know thought she was having a stroke (she was doing paperwork on her desk at the time and everything looked all wobbly and distorted), and a friend from college with a history of vertigo thought she was getting a severe dizzy spell.
I can't imagine how many people have similar stories about how the earthquake, an external condition, tricked their body into believing that something was fouling up on the inside.  (Sounds a bit like the way some panic attacks operate, no?)
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