Calm in “Little Women”

          The four (very different) sisters in Little Women are always getting into little fits of trouble and adventures together, being raised by their mother Marmee while their father is off at war. Jo (Josephine) March is actually the very opposite of calm. She is outspoken and loud, not afraid to speak her mind or take action to defend her opinion. There have been many accounts on where Jo rudely interferes with her sisters lives (and love lives) with her opinions. Her anger often gets the best of her. 

          When she ditches Amy to go to a play with her sister Meg and her love interest, Laurie, Amy becomes upset and burns Jo’s manuscript. Jo acts out, screaming and hurting Amy saying she will never forgive her, and doesn’t apologize even though her mother says to never sleep on her anger. The next day, while ice skating with Laurie, Jo tells Amy she can’t skate with them. In an attempt to fit in, Amy tries to catch up to them but ends up falling through the ice. Jo becomes nervous and fearful and instantly regrets not forgiving Amy the night before. 

Times like these are what bring the March sisters closer together and in a calm state. They are the most calm when caring for each other, their family, and tending to the community as well. 

The Quiet Place Project

http://thequietplaceproject.com/thequietplace

I highly recommend everyone to visit this site whenever they are feeling stressed, on edge, going through a tough time, or just need a break from well, life pretty much.

 If you can’t seem to focus or relax, the site (unlike any other) takes you through a calming experience and sort of puts your life into a perspective that makes it seem a lot simpler than you might make it out to be. It’s a cute little reminder that sometimes we just need a break, and we have to allow ourselves to stay calm no matter what else may be going on and preventing us from doing so.

I have forgotten about this site since I discovered it about 6 months back, and I am so glad I stumbled upon it again.

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In addition to “The Quiet Place”, the Quiet Place Project has also created:

The thoughts room: http://thequietplaceproject.com/thethoughtsroom/

  • Here, you can pour your heart out and unleash whatever is bothering you into a little box on the screen. With each word you type, they slowly burst into stars and disappear into the night sky.

90 Second Relaxation exercise: http://thequietplaceproject.com/90seconds

  • This sub-site is dedicated solely for the purpose of calming you down, and allowing yourself to relax and take a quick break from the the stresses of your daily life.

To some, this website may seem kind of corny, but millions of people are currently using it today, and that number only continues to grow. There is a reason it’s so effective- EVERYONE can use a break every once in a while, and often times we don’t allow ourselves to let that happen. Just by coming here, I can guarantee (so long as you follow the instructions) that you will feel ten times calmer, and less stressed then you did before you started.

Some of the feedback from the users of this site….

“When my friend sent me a link to this site, I had no idea how much I needed to really find my quiet place. It made me feel so relieved that I actually started crying.”

 “I’ve got an actual smile on my face for the first time in months”

This is a really interesting article on the maker of The Quiet Place Project, and his thoughts on how it has grown and positively affected so many people worldwide.

The creator of the site mentions how it took him about “2 months to digest the fact that it’s not just viral, but a true need.” People were sending him messages on how the project has changed their life, and he knew he had to continue. He created the thoughts room “enabling people to spill their emotions without being afraid anyone will judge them about it.” By releasing the negative energy in your body, you can find peace much easier.

There is a Quiet Place app that is now available so you can take it with you wherever you go, and use it if you’re in need of a little reminder to take it easy, and stay calm.

Surfing

“Surfing soothes me, it’s always been a kind of Zen experience for me. The ocean is so magnificent, peaceful, and awesome. The rest of the world disappears for me when I’m on a wave”
-Paul Walker

                  If you have ever surfed, (and enjoyed it), you would know that this quote by Walker could not be more accurate. When you’re out there in the middle of the ocean, you have a different state of mind. Despite the fact that there could be a giant shark beneath you, you must block out that possibility and enjoy the experience, otherwise you’ll never be able to find peace while surfing. You have to allow yourself to let your mind go (to an extent), and just absorb yourself into the moment. When people say surfing clears the mind, they’re not lying. For me, it instantly washes away the stress and negative thoughts and allows me to stay tranquil. The calm rhythm of the waves passing underneath my board relaxes me, and if there was no such thing as nighttime, I would be out on a board forever.

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“I surf because it keeps my life at an even keel, without it I would tip into the oblivion.”

– Andy Irons.

Me surfing for the first time in the Outer Banks last year. I've been hooked ever since.

Me surfing for the first time in the Outer Banks last year. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Surfing is used very often as a form of “therapy” for kids with disabilities. This article on autism explains how an amazing program called “Surfers Healing” helps over 2,000 autistic children a year to focus, overcome their fears, decrease anxiety, and much more through surfing.  This one paragraph of one of the parents of a child attending the camp stood out to me:

“My son was screaming. He did not want to go into that ocean. He did not want to go with the surfer, and I was sobbing,” she said. “I was frightened for my son to see him crying.” Alex’s mood did not change as he and the surfer paddled out over the waves to a spot beyond the breakers, where the water was placid. They sat there for about 10 minutes and Alex showed he was no longer scared. “We saw them paddling in and they were about to catch the wave. I saw my son’s face and he was smiling and he was excited. He was happy,” Shanea Acebal said. “When they came on the shore, he was calm, he was focused. Throughout the entire afternoon, he just sat still, which is very rare for a child with autism.”

Another article I found uses surfing to help those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s really interesting and further proves the healing powers that surfing has on both the mind and body.

When it comes to big wave surfing (for the very experienced surfers), it is extremely important that they remain calm at all times, no matter how easy it is to panic and freak out. Surfer Mark Healy gives his input on big wave surfing:

“When it comes to holding my breath in big waves, I think there are three factors involved: lung capacity, cardiovascular fitness, and staying calm. All three are important, but the most important one for me is being in a strong mental state and staying calm.”

Makayla and I waiting for a set in Rhode Island this past summer.

Makayla and I waiting for a set in Rhode Island this past summer.

Sources:

http://www.surfertoday.com/

http://www.surfline.com/surf-news/health–fitness-heavywater-training–how-to-hold-your-breath-and-stay-calm-in-big-surf_41805/

Candlelight

Candlelight is often associated with special occasions- gathering around a birthday cake, enjoying a meal with someone special, or reading a book by the fireplace. To me, there seems to be a sort of beauty of candlelight that is best enjoyed during moments of stillness and solitude, where the rest of the world is turned off for a little while.

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                Religiously, candles are incorporated through ceremonies and acts because it is said the flames soft illumination “touches the soul”. Often people find they can achieve a meditative state more easily by focusing on a candlelight rather than a mandala or mantra. The flame of a candle, to put it simply, is mesmerizing and soothing. “The calming effect of candlelight can be a simple yet sacred tool to help reduce stress and increase self-awareness” (Amstutz). Try to incorporate candles in your daily life and you will, without a doubt, develop a more tranquil state of mind.

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Incorporating candles to various aspects of your daily routine (sometimes during moments you wouldn’t expect) can really make a difference:

  • In the morning or evening: Spend a few moments each day (as soon as you wake up, or just before bedtime) sitting quietly in a space filled with a few candles, sitting quietly. If you sit and focus on the flames, breathe through your nose. “Turn your attention to the meltilng wax and imagine it as tension melting and dripping away (Ranch). You can include other objects that inspire or relax you, such as crystals, seashells, flowers, photographs, etc. that’ll help set the mood as well.
  • In the bathroom: Next time you plan to soak in the tub or take a shower, turn the lights out and turn to candles instead. By combining the stress-relieving activity of relaxing in warm water, with calming candlelight, you’re giving yourself a double dose of relaxation.
  • At work: Work can be very stressful, and lighting a candle on your desk or work space can help free your mind and release some of the stress of your job. Of course, never leave the candle unattended near paperwork or plants (although it may be stressful, you want to keep your job).
  • While exercisingThis is encouraged if you practice yoga, meditation, tai chi, or other similar activities at home. The calming effects can help you relax your mind and body, allowing for deeper stretches and better concentration. Sitting quietly or lying down in a candle lit room is a great way to unwind after an intense workout.

Look to my previous post for some scent ideas when picking out candles to further induce a calm state.

Sources:

http://www.mrwallpaper.com/wallpapers/Beach-Candlelight-Dinner.jpg

http://www.desktopaper.com/wp-content/uploads/simple-christmas-candlelight-hd-iphone-wallpaper.jpg

http://www.canyonranch.com/your-health/whole-beauty/nurture-yourself/your-home-spa/the-calming-effects-candlelight

Calm Poetry

Stay Calm

Grenville Kleiser

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When you feel like saying something

That you know you will regret,
Or keenly feel an insult
Not quite easy to forget,
That’s the time to curb resentment
And maintain a mental peace,
For when your mind is tranquil
All your ill thoughts simply cease.It’s easy to be angry
When defrauded or defied,
To be peeved and disappointed
If your wishes are denied;
But to win a worthwhile battle
Over selfishness and spite,
You must learn to keep strict silence
Though you know you’re in the right.So keep your mental balance
When confronted by a foe,
Be it enemy in ambush
Or some danger that you know.
If you are poised and tranquil
When all around is strife,
Be assured that you have mastered
The most vital thing in life.
I found this poem online, and I fell in love with it as I was reading it. I think it really captures what it really means to be a calm person, or be in a calm state of mind without directly using the word. I love the ending when it mentions “Be assured that you have mastered the most vital thing in life”. The author is referring to mastering calm. The whole poem leads up to the last 2 lines, mentioning actions you should take that although may be hard, it will be worth it in the end. It includes other emotions and feelings and directs them towards a relaxed point of view, and how to channel your emotions into a realistic calm. You are not going to win every argument, and every argument isn’t even worth having, so you shouldn’t be so uptight about it and just remain tranquil as difficult as it may be, and you will ultimately be the one with the benefit. My favorite part of the poem is when the author says:
“For when your mind is tranquil
All your ill thoughts simply cease.”
If you keep a solid peace of mind, you will not be burdened with harsh thoughts and emotions.
Sources:

Calming Scents

Believe it or not, there are many scents that contribute to a calm state of being, and help de-stress your system. After a long day, all you want to do is curl up in blankets and relax. You can help to further your relaxation by surrounding yourself with certain scents. Also, the more natural the scent, the more beneficial it will be for you. Many scents (lotions, candles, etc) have added chemicals inside that can harm your body.

One of my favorite scents, coconut, has not only a tendency to calm you down, but according to scientific research, it also slows your heart rate and reduces your blood pressure.  For me, the coconut scent reminds me of summer and the ocean so that in itself makes me feel relaxed. I typically burn coconut candles in my room, which keeps it smelling good all the time, and it instantly makes me feel more comfortable and calm. It is by far my favorite scent 🙂

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Floral scents, such as rose, jasmine, geranium, and lotus, are very useful when it comes to de-stressing. The spleen, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is the body part that is the most affected by stress (each major organs corresponds to a scent), so by surrounding yourself with floral scents you are targeting the spleen and reducing your stress level.

Lavender is a very common scent that is used by many people. Lavender, actually, is used best just before sleep. I have come across many sprays that you can spray on your pillow before you head to bed, that  help calm you down and allow you to sleep easier. I have one that I use frequently, typically if I have a stressful day, and it’s calming to know that with each breath I take i’m filled with a refreshing and cooling scent of lavender, and I do believe it helps me fall asleep faster. Lavender has also proven to treat sore muscles, breathing problems, and hair care. By having lavender on my pillow at night i’m not only helping myself de-stress but I am providing my body with other benefits as well!

You probably know that drinking tea is good for your digestive system and soothing anxiety, but it might surprise you that just the smell of Chamomile tea is “good on its own for inducing a calm state” (Richard Lobbenburg). Chamomile is known to reduce cortisol levels, which are the levels that rise when you are in a stressful situation. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and it will help reduce some of the pain that might be causing you stress. I personally try to drink a cup of tea every night, and if it’s late at night, I drink chamomile tea rather than other kinds, because it is one of the most calming and is beneficial before I go to sleep.

Lastly, sandalwood is said to be the “King of Calm”. It has long been used to assist with meditation. It has a warm, woody scent, and has been used in Traditional Chinese medicines for disorders associated with the nervous system, depression, and anxiety. Not only that, but it is great for your skin, so when used in body lotion or shampoo, it provides your body with extra benefits! If you love more “nature-y” scents, this is definitely the one for you.

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Souces:

http://img0.etsystatic.com/013/0/5871900/il_340x270.431235240_k7ya.jpg

http://yellowgazeboclinic.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/5-calming-scents/

http://www.westshorewellness.com/paraffin%20Plus%20Body%20Glaze.jpg

http://eatlikeagoddess.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Coconut2.jpg

Calm After The Storm

                                                

                  Often we speak of the calm before the storm, referring to that state of waiting with the exciting hint of anticipation. But in my opinion, it isn’t calm we feel before the storm, but rather after. Have you ever been outside enjoying a summer picnic or a walk in the woods, and you suddenly become aware of how quiet the world around you has become? There is no disturbance in the air or a rustle in the trees towering above you, and even the birds and squirrels stopped scurrying around and are nestled away in their homes somewhere. It’s almost as if you can feel the storm making its way towards you. The ominous clouds fill in the sky above and you rush back to shelter as soon as you can, but only after a few drops of rain land on your skin.

Many refer to this point in time as the calm before the storm, but it is more of a peculiar calm than a reassuring calm. You can’t be at a calm state of mind and being if you know that a storm is coming, bringing uncertainty with it. It’s an anxious waiting game, not knowing how severe it will be or the damage it will cause. It is only when the storm has completely passed and the sun starts to peek out of the clouds again that you can be at a completely calm state of being. The worst part is over.

Sources:

http://cdn.londonist.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/fireandwater.jpg

http://www.presseurop.eu/files/images/article/europe-after-storm.jpg?1331735988

Calm In Art

Whenever I need to relieve stress, or just settle down after a long day, I turn to my sketchbook. For some reason, drawing and sketching brings me to a calm state of mind that I often get lost in for hours. I don’t know why this is- Maybe it is the strokes of the pen or the monotony and repetition of lines being made, but it is nice knowing that I can always fall back on my sketchbook when all else fails.

I did some research to try and find out more on why art is able to bring such a calm feeling to me, and possibly others as well.

I found out that there is an “activity” referred to as art therapy, which is actually very beneficial on many different aspects. It’s roots come from the theories of Freud, who believed in the power of imagery to tap into the thoughts, memories, and feelings of a person. He worked with symbolism in dreams to help his clients uncover their unconscious thoughts and feelings. Then, when the early 1900’s rolled around, an educator, Margaret Naumburg, believed that “the symbolic communication of art would access feelings quicker than language”, and she then was able to develop art therapy into a recognized profession.

The practice of art therapy is proven to prompt an individual to express their deep feelings and provide a release of emotions when they often can’t find words to do so. A more clear definition of art therapy and how it relates to being calm would be “it is about getting feelings out in a creative manner without the filter of words. Art provides as safe place to explore feelings such as anger, fear, or sadness, that might be viewed as ‘not okay’ to talk about or feel”. For me personally, when I draw, it’s almost as if all of these bad feelings are released and I just get lost in the artwork, even if the art i’m doing isn’t that serious. “Art therapy is not concerned with how artistic or how well a person can draw, paint, or work with clay. It is about the process of self-expression, not the product”. The way the art relates to the feelings an individual is experiencing is through the right brain, which is being used when working with imagery. This is also where emotions reside, as opposed to the more analytical left side of the brain.

Art therapy is actually used in hospitals, clinics, rehab facilities, schools, private practice, and senior centers. There really is no limit in regards to the type of person, or the age of the person who is participating in art therapy.

“Taking part in art-making helps decrease anxiety, stress and depression and increase self-awareness, self-esteem and promote insight into ones’ life”. Although I am not officially practicing art therapy, by creating art out of my own will I am decreasing the bad feelings and increasing my level of calm.

“Before there were anti-depressants there was poetry and, before there was language, there were cave drawings.” -Unknown

 

Sources:

http://allhealthcare.monster.com/training/articles/3485-mending-the-heart–calming-the-mind-with-art-therapy

http://ih2.redbubble.net/image.8868675.4411/flat,550×550,075,f.jpg

Winter Night

               I shake off all of my cold wet clothes as I step inside my warm house. The smell of hot cider engulfs me and my cheeks turn rosy red after being outside in the snow for so long. I walk up my stairs eager to change into dry clothes and I hang my coat by the fireplace. I sprint to my room and throw on comfy sweats and fuzzy socks and wrap myself in a fleece blanket. With my cat at my heels, I finally curl up in the corner of my couch and my mom brings me some warm cider to sip and soothe my throat. The Polar Express is playing on the t.v., and the flames in the fireplace heat up the room and my body temperature begins to rise. The twinkly Christmas lights reflect off the window, and they blend in with the stars in the night sky.

The scene recreated above demonstrates calm without having to directly state it. The white twinkly christmas lights creates a soft glow in the room and paired with the warmth of the fireplace, gives off a relaxing and calming feel to the atmosphere. Finally being warm after a long day in the cold winter air is soothing in itself. The sense of being cozy and safe inside the home is reassuring, relieving any negative feelings, ultimately creating a sense of calm.

Sources:

http://www.trendecoration.com/wp-content/uploads/antique-christmas-decoration-in-the-living-room.jpg

Calm- Etymology

Late 14c., from Old French calme “tranquility, quiet,” traditionally from Old Italian calma, from Late Latin cauma “heat of the mid-day sun” (in Italy, a time when everything rests and is still), from Greek kauma “heat” (especially of the sun). Spelling influenced by Latin calere “to be hot.” Figurative application to social or mental conditions is 16c.

The word “Calm” originated in the late fourteenth century from the Old French word “calme, meaning “stillness, quiet, and tranquility”, and in Italy, the time of day when everything rests and is still. This is still a very pure and accurate description of the word today. Calm is often described or portrayed as a serene environment, and as a state of mind or being that is free from excitement or disturbance. 

 

I love the origin of calm in Italy, “A time when everything rests and is still”. To this day, the people of Italy take a break from their work and settle down a bit. They take a nap or just simply relax before returning to their activities. This time of day is typically mid-afternoon, after the “mid-day” meal, and is called a “riposo”. I love the idea and tradition of this- no matter how hectic life can be sometimes, they always make the time to forget their troubles and tend to personal matters. In my opinion, it is a healthy concept- personal business has been tended to, and you are able to return to your afternoon duties will full ambition. This idea also relates to the Greek origin of the word calm, meaning “heat (especially of the sun)”. When this mid-day nap/relaxing period takes place, it is typically very hot. Both origins work hand in hand in that aspect, which is pretty neat.

http://www.examiner.com/article/midday-breaks-european-countries