How to Ease Suffering in Yourself and Others

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh said: “When you listen deeply, you help people suffer less.”

Perhaps you've experienced the healing quality of someone compassionately listening to your struggles. Rather than trying to fix you or give advice, they acknowledge your pain. At that moment, you feel a little less alone. From there, your inner wisdom and strength arise. It is transformative to feel seen and understood without judgment.

The same way that you can listen to a friend and soothe their suffering, you can begin to learn to listen to and heal yourself.

Mindfulness is a practice of listening. Not only do we notice sounds and what is happening around us, but we also become more aware of what’s going on within. Our sensations, emotions and inner voices are all forms of communication. When you tune in, you may notice that some of these expressions are loud and bold and others are quiet and timid.

For example, your shoulders may be screaming with tension while somewhere deep within there is a tiny voice of sadness that you can only hear when you are really still. It can be easy to wish away the tension and keep moving to avoid the sadness. What if instead, you asked your shoulders: Why are you so tense? And what if you stopped and made space for the grief your discover to share its story?

The truth is, we often don't go there because the answers can be inconvenient. They can ask us to make shifts in the way we are living. At first, that can feel scary or even impossible. However, in my experience, it's always worth it. When I heard my shoulders emphatically say, “we have too much going on,” it took some creativity (and courage) to realize there were a few things I could say no to and take off my plate. My shoulders relaxed, and I felt freer than when I would ignore their cries for help. When I acknowledged the grief within, I sought support so I could cry and feel my heartache. As a result, I felt lighter and more open to the opportunities for joy each day.

The practice is to listen as if you are going out for tea with yourself. When you are done listening, ask more questions so you can listen more. Mindfulness teaches us that we don't have to figure out how to ease suffering. The way to calm our suffering will come naturally in the process of compassionate listening. 

Mindfulness Experiment
The next time you encounter someone who expresses suffering, try the following:

  1. Ask the person how they are and listen with your whole body 
  2. After listening, take a moment to imagine how that must feel for him or her
  3. Acknowledge the struggle without trying to fix it
  4. Ask a follow-up question to demonstrate curiosity and learn more about what is happening
  5. Be present as you listen
  6. Thank the other person for sharing what's going on for them
  7. Reflect on the quality of your interaction

How to Hold Strong Through the Holidays and Practice Self-Care

Hello, Tamara here, wishing you the happiest of holidays. ;)
 
This can be such a magical time of year - a time of cheer and celebration, of family gatherings and reunion, of connection and generosity. But for many, this time of year can feel challenging.
 
For some, spending time with family provokes triggers and stressful events. Others may not have anyone to spend the holidays with. Some of us are enduring breakups, or are dealing with loss or illness. I just received an email from a Calm user who confided a great loneliness she was carrying. It broke my heart to hear.

Reading her words, my mind fell back to a New Years Eve, about 20 years ago. It was shortly after a breakup and I spent the evening alone. I had fallen into clinical depression and the sadness I contained was overwhelming. Caught in a storm of negative thoughts, I was certain my loneliness would never end. In order to either indulge in my depression or avoid it (I wasn’t quite sure which, at the time,) I rented two of the saddest movies in existence, Requiem for a Dream and Moulin Rouge. I then fell to my food addiction, burying my sorrows in Doritos and butter tarts. I ate and cried the night away.
 
This is what we do when we don’t know an alternative. We seek temporary comfort (which in my case, resulted in an awful tummy-ache the next day).
 
And it’s funny, in a not-so-funny-way, how the holidays tend to amplify whatever we’re going through. If we’re single and depressed we never feel more alone. If we’re enduring a loss, that loss is never more pronounced.
 
So, to the struggling woman who wrote me this evening, and to anyone else who is challenged this time of year, I ask you to hold strong and know this for certain: Although in this moment, life may feel difficult, I can promise you, this too shall pass. That may be hard to believe because pain can feel solid and strong and overwhelming. But it will change and it will pass eventually, like every other emotion and experience.

Also, it’s okay to feel sad and scared and lonely. We enhance our pain when we tell ourselves it’s wrong to feel that way. There is no shame in loneliness, or fear, or any emotion. Our emotions are what connect us as humans. We so easily forget this.
 
My wish for you this holiday season is that you’re able to move through your challenges mindfully. It takes great skill to offer self-care when loneliness or fear or angst feels all-consuming. This is part of why we practice mindfulness - so that when challenges and difficult emotions arise, we have within us the skillset for self-care.

So if loneliness has arisen and the world suddenly feels silent, if being with family triggers old wounds, anxieties and cravings, if emotions like grief, anger, pain or fear feel overwhelming, my hope is that you are able to do the hardest thing possible, that you’re able to stay with whatever arises and hold the space for yourself.

And what that means is stopping, tuning in and listening, actually hearing what your emotions and body are telling you and honouring your feelings. And rather than racing to that bucket of Haggendas, or Netflix, or bottle of Crown Royale, I hope that you’re able to offer some space for whatever’s in your experience, finding within you the strength to turn towards your fear or sadness and tenderly say, “I see you. I hear you.” Instead of judging yourself and making those unsettling emotions wrong, offer them acceptance, loving kindness, and compassion.

This is a time to offer yourself gentleness. Love yourself up, nurture yourself, show yourself the kindness you’d like others to show you, learn to be your own best friend. Practice standing tall and becoming your own champion, for as you begin to offer self-care, a sense of strength and security will be born of that self-reliance. 
 
As parting words, whether you’re alone or surrounded by family and friends, use this time of year to practice self-care. Slow down, bundle up and know that even in the darkest moments, you will find the way forward. One step at a time. You are stronger than you imagine.

Let self-love become your revolution. 

Love, Tamara

Are affirmations wearing you down?

My mother worries constantly about not being able to find parking, working herself into such a great frenzy that she often chooses not to go out at all. While it’s true that my hometown is notorious for its messy traffic and terrible drivers, no one else I know has nearly as much difficulty finding a parking spot as she does. 

She is also proof that affirmations work – parking causes her an inordinate amount of stress because she actively reminds and reinforces to herself how stressful it is. 

A lot has been written about the power and potential of positive affirmations for directing us towards goals and aspirations. I’ll admit I’ve found it difficult to do the whole thing of standing in front of a mirror reciting uplifting mantras to myself – it has often felt inauthentic. Telling myself ‘I’m a beautiful, strong, confident woman’ doesn’t only feel untrue; it feels a bit silly. 

But seeing my mother manifest her own stress around parking got me reconsidering how affirmations work, whether or not we really believe in them, and whether they’re corny bumper sticker sayings, or beliefs we hold in the quieter spaces of our minds. 

My mother’s daily traffic stress might seem a little trivial – not finding parking isn’t cause for a great deal of anxiety – but the affirmations add up. All the little things become big things if you think about them enough and before you know it, you’re a testy, edgy ball of misery. 

Because of all the political upheaval around the world this year, a lot of us can’t help but be sucked into thinking and talking frequently about what are often incredibly agitating issues. I’ve started noticing how people around me are winding themselves up far more than they actually need to.

Whether it’s looking for things that are ‘wrong’, or reading negativity into situations, or just talking incessantly about the things that upset us, I’ve recently noticed how we repeatedly invite negativity into our lives. 

Once we’re weighed down by this negativity, our actions and reactions to things around us inevitably become colored by what we’re feeling and the energy, mood and beliefs we surround ourselves with. What we’re doing is affirming how miserable things are, which does nothing but reinforce the misery, create more of it and shroud us in a shadow of gloom. We probably all know a Debbie Downer like this who’s always moaning about how awful she feels, how bad everything and everyone is to her, who always has some big drama happening in her life that seems to physically grow every time she talks about it (which is often). 

It goes back to that old saying that we get what we put out into the world. Clichéd maybe, but also very true. It’s like the universe saying to us, ‘Hey, so you want misery? Here’s more!’ 

We can’t expect to put out one vibration and get something else in return. It’s like a radio – we can’t tune into a channel full of white noise on 55.5FM and expect to receive the top ten hits playing on 100.1FM. This seems obvious, but this is also what we do every time we repeat those negative affirmations, whether in action or in word. We can’t keep tuning to a frequency of self-pity, for example, and expecting to get confidence in return. If we’re focused on failure, then even when success does come our way, we won’t be able to identify and appreciate it or see it as anything other than something bad. 

So how do we stop this vicious cycle? The important thing isn’t to deny our feelings completely, to shut off a bad day and sweep our anxieties under the carpet. I’ve found that it starts with simply acknowledging these worries or feelings, but not to allow them to take centre stage and define our day, our decisions and actions we take. It is not to allow these fears to form a whole new reality for ourselves that we believe, become invested in and act from. 

I have found that in every dark situation, there is still something positive we can focus on instead that serves as a focal point for directing our energy and attention outwards. There is the option to tune into a different channel. If negative affirmations are wearing us down, the surely the opposite of more positive thinking can work to uplift us. We might not win the lottery the very next day, immediately get the job we desire or land a perfect relationship, our hearts and minds can expand and react in gentler, kinder, more joyful ways to ourselves. 

To use the example of my mother again, she could reframe her parking anxiety to a gentler, simpler, open thought: The parking will be fine. She may not get a spot straight away, but she’ll get a space eventually, it just might take a few rounds. A positive affirmation and focus will allow her to remain calm and unruffled in that time that she’s circling the parking lot, rather than spiraling into panic, impatience, irritation and stress. 

Changing our affirmations may not completely solve our problems nor fulfill our wishes like a magic genie. But it will allow us to move into a space that is peaceful rather than agitated, open to receive rather than closed to opportunities, relaxed enough to respond thoughtfully rather than tense and reactive. 

When we’re in this space, then whatever does come about, we are more able to handle it in ways that are more mindful, effective, beneficial, peaceful and even joyful. We see a different perspective, feel a different vibe, find a different way of thinking. 

And then we act. 


Jamie Khoo is currently doing a PhD in Women’s Studies at the University of York, UK, where she is researching contemporary constructions of feminine beauty and body image. She has also written for Elle Malaysia, Huffington Post UK Blogs, Time Out Kuala Lumpur, elephant journal and the be you media group. Sick of being told by mass media and society what “beautiful” is or isn't, Jamie founded the website a beauty full mind to challenge conventional beauty ideals and create new conversations around what beauty can mean today. Say hello to her on Facebook or email hello@abeautyfullmind.com

Try these tips for a stress-free daily commute to work

Next time you find your blood pressure spiking and your stress-levels reaching an all time high on your daily commute, bring your attention back to the present moment.

 There is a golden quality to travel time when you start to re-frame it as an opportunity for a rare and precious slice of solitude.

To avoid the stress you face on your daily commute, try these simple tips for a calm and relaxing journey to work.

Begin with the intention to be compassionate.

Think about being kind to others. Whatever your means of travel, you can choose not to let bumper-to-bumper traffic or other inconveniences create anxiety.

Rather than trying to beat the clock, take this time to practice relaxing in the present moment.

Focus on the sounds around you.

Use beeping horns, ringing bells and any noise you hear as a reminder to bring you back to the present.

Practice non-judgement.


With a relaxed mind, view the people around you without judgement. Acknowledge the fact that you all share the common goal of getting somewhere.

If you face a traffic jam, or the passenger sitting beside you is coughing, try not to react with aversion, but rather observe what’s happening with compassion for your fellow travelers. Use this opportunity to feel a connection with others.

As you continue your daily commute with a compassionate attitude, you’ll find it transforms not only your journey, bit the rest of your day.


Try Calm free for 7 days. Get started.

5 simple ways to practice mindfulness in daily life

Mindfulness is simply present moment attention, without judgement. Whether you have stress or anxiety, whether you’d like a more restful sleep, or to feel more connected and joyful, mindfulness teaches us how to wake up, pay attention and become present.

With greater awareness, we make better choices, we build stronger relationships, and are able to remain calm among the ups and down of daily life.

One of the questions we hear often is: how can you bring mindfulness into your daily life?

When we’re so busy and often running on empty, adding another to-do to your already long list of tasks to get done seems impossible.

Today, we’re sharing 5 simple ways you can practice mindfulness in your daily life to enhance your happiness, improve your well-being and help maintain an inner sense of calm within yourself.

Observe your thoughts without judging them.

Recognizing our judgmental tendencies is the first step towards softening them and developing more acceptance, patience and compassion. Qualities we could all use more of.

Practice being aware and accepting of whatever thoughts comes up. Allow each moment to feel fresh and new. Give it your full attention, and full acceptance however it appears.

The goal isn’t to achieve any particular feeling, thought or state. It’s merely to observe what’s happening in the present moment.

Do your best to let go of all judgments and stories.

Each time the mind wanders and thoughts arise, practice gently, bringing it back with kindness and compassion, with complete acceptance and non-judgment.

Focus intently on the task at hand.

It’s common to perceive juggling several things at once as a talent. We have this idea that the more we take on, the more productive we are. But in truth, multitasking is neither healthy, nor effective.

Switching our focus between points of attention slows down our creative and communication processes. It’s less efficient for us to be constantly stopping and starting, changing our focus, and breaking our flow. It also makes us more prone to errors and mistakes.

Our health can be affected by multitasking too. Our efforts to accomplish too many things at once, leaves us feeling rushed, overwhelmed, tired, and stressed.

Last, the frequent act of batting our attention back and forth, programs our brain to have a short attention span. As we become less able to focus on a single task, we begin to realize how important the art of focusing is.

For all these reasons, we want to do one thing at a time whenever possible. Single tasking leaves us more focused, more effective and efficient. We’re also left with a greater peace of mind.

Whenever possible, make efforts to focus on one thing at a time in daily life.

This of course, requires mindfulness. Being aware of the task or activity you’re focusing on and resisting the urge to switch to something else. You can practice this with sacred activities that don’t require being plugged in. Things like yoga or hiking. Cooking or playing an instrument. Turn off the phone and make these connected free times. Focus on each task with complete attention.

When you’re working, clear away any distractions that might make it difficult to focus all your attention on one thing only.

Take 5 minutes several times a day to close your eyes and breathe.

Close your eyes and focus on the sounds around you. Notice the sensation of the air on your skin.

Bring all of your attention to the physical act of breathing. Start to notice the breath as it enters your body through your nose and travels to your lungs.

Notice with curiosity whether the inward and outward breaths are cool or warm, and notice where the breath travels as it enters and departs.

Your breath is an anchor. Allow it to keep you steady, and grounded, and still.

Walk outside, close your eyes and listen to the sounds of nature.

See if you can take even 10 or 15 minutes to practice going on a mindful walk. Whether it’ s cold or warm, wet or dry, take a bit of time and pay attention to the sights, sounds smells, texture. Feel everything outside of you and within you.

Walk slowly and attentively, focusing on the feeling of each step, not making the point to get anywhere.

Having no place to go makes it easier to be exactly where you are and tuned in to what’ s around you. See how a mindful walk can enrich your day.

Notice when your mind is in the past or future, and gently return to the present.

Purposefully paying attention is really, what mindfulness is all about.

So why is it important to train the mind to pay attention?

Well, how often do you concentrate on something and find yourself distracted? How often are you unable to sleep because you’re ruminating about something that happened in the past or something that may happen in the future? How often do you find yourself falling into an old habit because you’re on autopilot?

Developing awareness helps us catch ourselves faster when we’re distracted or caught up in thought. And as awareness strengthens we begin noticing more.

We begin actually tasting our food and fully listening in conversations. We’re able to concentrate and keep our eyes on the goal. And we’re not stuck in the past or obsessing about the future, ‘cause we’re here, in this moment. The only one that counts.

You may notice throughout the day that your mind wanders off into distractions, or thoughts of the past or future… or, there may be constant inner chatter. This is what the mind does - it gets distracted – so let go of any judgment.

As you begin to develop awareness, simply allow your thoughts to appear, and then let them gently float away like clouds crossing the sky.

Bringing this mindful awareness with you into your activities, your conversations, your day-to-day life, comes with just one catch: mindfulness takes practice.

It’s not enough to just read about it, or think about it - you actually have to apply it in order for it to work. The longer you stick with it, the easier it will become and the more benefits you’ll notice.


Try Calm free for 7 days. Get started.

5 mindfulness practices to help reduce anxiety

Worry and anxiety affect all of us, especially during times of pressure. It’s one of the most common mental health issues worldwide. In fact globally, between 6-18% people of people experience anxiety. So, know you’re not alone.

Anxiety makes people feel nervous, tense and overwhelmed. It evokes emotions such as worry, agitation and distress. It’s felt in the mind as well as the body, inducing physical sensations such as sweating, dizziness, and muscle tension. Some people experience body pain, a racing heart or sleep disturbances. It manifests in many ways.

Anxiety is caused by our biology and genetic predisposition, as well as our views, coping mechanisms, and stress. It’s often a response to future concerns, but people don’t actually need to have awareness of an exact cause to experience it – the mind can become anxious even without an identifiable fear.

Fortunately, mindfulness and meditation practices are extremely effective in alleviating anxiety.

Today we're exploring 5 mindfulness practices for getting present, and learning how to respond to anxiety in a healthier way.

We’ll learn ways to soften our reactivity, and practice techniques like noting and pausing. 

 

Connecting with the breath.

Focusing the mind on the breath or the body helps connect us to the present moment. This is useful in times of anxiety because when we’re focused on the here and now, we aren’t fixating on the past or future concerns. Focusing on the present moment offers our minds a break from being preoccupied and reacting to the content of our thoughts. It also gives us a chance to step back from the spiral of worry to observe what’s happening with a calmer mind.

When we focus our attention on the breath or the body, we offer our minds a chance to slow down, and gain perspective.

Mindfulness helps create space so we’re able to be less reactive to the content of our thoughts. That’s part of why it’s so useful in alleviating anxiety.

To begin, simply follow the movement of each breath as it draws in and out.

Observing each inhale and each exhale, as it connects you to this very moment.

Focus on any sensations that may arise and use the breath to connect you to the present moment.

And then just being open to everything in your present experience.

Observing the weight of your body.

The temperature of the room.

Any sounds around you.

Connect to everything in this very moment.

And now, notice how it feels to rest your mind in present moment awareness. 

Mind and Body Connection.

Most of us are well aware of the mind and body connection, but it’s rarely as profound as when we experience anxiety and fear. When we’re gripped by a fearful thought, it activates the sympathetic nervous system. This sends a signal that a threat is present and this fight or flight reaction releases hormones and chemicals. Suddenly, we’re flooded by anxious thoughts, strong emotions and uncomfortable physical sensations. It’s enough to make us feel we’ve lost control.

Thankfully, through mindfulness we can tune into the mind-body connection and interrupt the vicious cycle of anxiety. As soon as we notice we’re caught in it, we can stop, close our eyes, take a few deep breaths, and tune into the body.

Dropping into the breath and the body grounds us in the present moment. Here, we’re better able to observe our emotions and thoughts and we can see how they manifest in the body as physical sensations.

That tension in your back? That knot in your belly? Sweating or heart palpitations?

Tuning into how anxiety manifests as physical sensation helps us become more aware of the interconnectedness of our being, and offers us a direct way to work with anxiety.  

Thoughts and non-reactivity.

It’s easy for us jump to conclusions, foreseeing the worst, and predicting all kinds of catastrophe’s that haven’t happened and likely never will. The reason we do this is because we view predicting things as a way of controlling the unknown, which of course, is impossible to do.

Even though our worst fears rarely actualize, we still play out scenarios in our mind and believe our thoughts. We imagine embarrassments, rejections and failures and these thoughts send us into a tailspin of anxiety.

But if we were able to put a pause on these projections, stop and observe our thoughts, identifying them as just that – thoughts and nothing else, they lose their power.

Picture yourself lying on the grass, watching the clouds above. You calmly observe the many shapes and sizes. Watching them pass by freely.

That’s how we want to observe our thoughts – letting them come and go freely. We want to observe them with acceptance and objectivity rather than with our usual automatic knee-jerk reactions.

Each time you notice your mind has wandered, bring it back in a gentle, patient way.

Whether you have a happy thought or an anxious thought treat it the same way. Don’t get caught up in the emotion beneath the thought. Simply observe it arise and release it. Let it pass like a cloud crossing the sky.

Then gently bring your attention back to home base – the breath.

Breath, after breath, after breath.

As we cultivate moment-to-moment awareness we begin to notice how our anxiety is connected to our thoughts. When we learn to observe them as just that – thoughts - not reality, they’re less likely to pull us into an anxious tailspin. Each thought is just a story we’re telling ourselves and mostly likely, not as catastrophic as we believe.

By learning to let thoughts arise, and acknowledge them without reactivity, we interrupt the flow of anxiety, which thrives on negative projections of the future. Meditation helps us develop this ability.

Noting.

As you have already noticed, it’s extremely difficult not to get carried away by our thoughts. Our tendency is to believe them regardless of how exaggerated or unlikely they are. So we pay to attention them. This is our habit.

Mindfulness however, grounds us so we’re able to witness our anxious thoughts for what they are: speculations about the future.

Changing how we react to our thoughts doesn’t come easily. We have to repeatedly practice observing our ongoing stream of thoughts without getting pulled in by their seemingly magnetic force. They’re just thoughts – so we don’t identify with them. If we have a nervous thought, we note there’s nervousness, and then we let it go. If we have a sad thought, we note there’s sadness, and then we let it go.

We can use this technique of noting to strengthen the habit of non-reactivity.

To begin the practice of noting, each time you’re draw to a thought, mentally note it. If there’s sadness, note the word sadness. If there is fear note the word fear. Or if you prefer you can observe what the mind is doing. You can note planning, ruminating, speculating.

By doing this, you’re creating room for your thoughts, inviting them into the space. Rather than rather than running from your thoughts or pushing or pulling, you instead form a new relationship with them. One where you can be present with your thoughts without getting lost in them or paralyzed by them.

Whether our emotions are comfortable or uncomfortable we treat then all the same. Accepting and allowing all that arises.

Throughout the day feel free to continue the practice of noting. If you notice anxious thoughts arising, stop for a moment, close your eyes and note them. Be present for each thought without taking it too seriously. Watch thoughts come and watch them go like passing clouds in the sky. The more you note your thoughts and emotions without identifying with them, the more they’ll begin to flow through you.

You’ll begin to recognize thoughts as thoughts and not necessarily future predictions. You’ll recognize emotions as emotions without judgment. This is when anxiety begins to dissolve.


Pausing.

Pausing is one of the most effective ways of working with anxiety. We pause all the time in life. Between sentences, at stop lights, in conversations… But when it comes to stress and anxiety, pausing is extremely difficult. When emotion rushes through us, it can be all encompassing. Our instinct is to panic, run, or push it away. Each time we do this though we’re conditioning our response system. The more strongly we react to anxiety, the more of a hold it has on us. Our reactiveness can also color, exaggerate and distort our thoughts and experiences, feeding into this cycle.

Although we can’t control our emotions, practicing mindfulness helps us respond to them in a calmer, healthier way. It also allows us to re-condition our tendencies.

The key to this pausing practice is in noticing the gap as anxiety arises. What I’m referring to is that tiny window between the time anxiety starts and the time we react to it. If we can pause for even the slightest second before anxiety sweeps us away, we’re able to be more mindful about our response to it. Most of the time this gap is unrecognizable because we react to anxiety so swiftly, so like anything else, pausing takes practice.

Each time a thought or emotion rises, see if it’s possible to pause for just a second to observe your experience.

Observe the thought or emotion without pursuing it, or rejecting it.
Just note it. Without creating a story. Without any judgment.

Then, after the pause, bring your awareness back to the breath.

You can try this pausing practice the next time anxiety arises. As soon as it hits, stop and create some space by taking a few deep breaths. This way, instead of getting swept away by anxiety, pausing to breathe allows you to observe what’s happening in your mind and body. 

And in that space you can question your thoughts more objectively, asking yourself are these thoughts 100% true? Might I be exaggerating, projecting or jumping to conclusions?

By pausing, we’re able to view our thoughts and emotions with perspective and clarity, which helps to de-escalate our anxiety.

It’s likely you’ll feel drawn to practice different techniques at different times to root and soothe you, so feel free to choose the practice that feels right for you.

Our 7 Days of Calming Anxiety program explores these strategies, along with guided practices on succesfully integrating them in daily life.


Try Calm free for 7 days. Get started.

Mindfully letting go: the power of forgiveness

It can feel impossible to forgive when the pain goes deep and it can also require great strength because it’s far braver give up the need to prove a point or right a wrong than it is to let go.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing or condoning an action that’s been taken. What it means is you’re finally able to move on, you’re finally able to heal. It releases anger, resentment and breaks the chains of the past, creating closure and freedom.

The cost of not offering ourselves and others forgiveness is that it uses up our energy and mind space as well as preventing us from moving forward.

Forgiveness isn't something you do for the person who wronged you; it's something you do for yourself.

Next time you are faced with a challenging situation see if you can use this mindful breathing exercise to help you move forward and heal your hurt.

Place your attention on the time you felt betrayed, misunderstood, rejected, or deceived.

It could be a time when someone let you down, or a time you didn’t feel appreciated or respected… Bring to mind that scenario, and start with something small if it’s your first time practicing this exercise.

See if it’s possible to connect with what’s beneath that hurt. Breathing into the feelings of that experience.

Bring that person to mind, and really get close, connecting with the emotion of what happened.

See if it’s possible to connect with what’s beneath that hurt. Breathing into the feelings of that experience.

Now see if it’s possible to find the slightest compassion for this person, knowing that we all make mistakes, we all make poor choices and lack foresight.

See if you’re able to connect with the slightest understanding of why the person you’re envisioning may have acted in this hurtful way.

See if you’re able to see past the exterior into the hurt or fear or confusion that might have been driving that person.

If you feel unable to release anger, pain or resentment in this moment, that’s okay. Accept that forgiveness isn’t something that can be forced.

Ask yourself: am I ready to let go?

See if you can invite a softening and free yourself of the pain you’re holding.

If you feel you aren’t ready to let go of your hurt, you might ask yourself:

“Would I rather have this feeling, or would I rather be free?”

And just sit with that question for a moment.

Again, there’s no right or wrong answer, just the answer that’s true for you right now.

So spend a few moments, connecting with that place within yourself that wants to be free and see if the slightest amount of forgiveness is possible.

You don’t have to necessarily focus on the person, simply sink into what peace and freedom would feel like.

Breathe in to that place of hurt and offer it some warmth, offer it space and compassion.

Breathe into what’s here, seeing if you’re ready to accept the invitation to let go.

On your next inhale, breathe in forgiveness, then, as you exhale, feel the release that comes with letting go.

Follow the breath drawing in forgiveness, and on the out-breath, feel into the release of letting go.

Let the feeling of freedom breathe through your entire body.


Try Calm for free. Get started.

Live an abundant life through the power of gratitude

Let’s start with a question: How often do you hear yourself saying the words “I want, or I wish…."?

If you’re like the rest of us, it’s probably often.

We’re always wanting better things… always wishing for more. And when we’re focus on what we lack, it’s impossible to feel happy and satisfied.

Many of us are addicted to this “not-enough” syndrome. What we have is never enough. So we rush out and buy that new thing we’re missing, get that high paying job or perfect relationship, and for a while things are great, until they’re not.

You see, nothing stays shiny and new for long. No job is perfect, and no relationship comes without challenges.

So we end up right back where we started - wishing and wanting some more,

It’s a trap many of us fall into, but a way out is through gratitude.

It almost sounds too simple but gratitude has the power to completely change our perspective – that’s why it’s so powerful. As we notice what’s right in our lives instead of what’s wrong, it fills us up and returns us to a state of joy and contentment.

Take a moment and bring to mind a time that you felt gratitude.

It could be a time you were the recipient of a kindness, or achieved a success, a moment where you appreciated your health, your home… A talent or quality you possess. Perhaps it was a moment you enjoyed a celebration…. or being with a loved one. It could be a recent memory, or from when you were young.

Just choose any moment you remember being full of gratitude.

Reflect on that time and in your mind, experience it again as though you were enjoying it right now.

View the scene as though it were a movie.

Hear the sounds around you…. Feel any sensations you experienced … See the faces of any people nearby.

Inhale deeply and feel into the joy of that moment and the delight that comes with gratitude.

What we usually find is that when we feel gratitude, it’s unlikely we also experience scarcity or lack. There isn’t that same nagging sense of needing more. We’re actually satisfied with what we have. And that’s because gratitude has the power to bring us into the present moment, and infuse us with contentment.

The more we focus on what we lack, the more prevalent that feeling becomes. And the more we practice gratitude, the more abundant we feel.

A great way to strengthen the habit of being grateful is through using gratitude signs.

In the same way we use alarms to wake us up or remind of appointments, we can use gratitude signs as a way to stop and remind us to be grateful through the day.

Some examples of signs you can use are red traffic lights, or the sound of a creaky door, an airplane flying above or children’s laughter. It could even be something as obvious as a sticky note on your fridge. It doesn’t matter what you choose, the point is that every time you notice that sign you stop and for a moment, find gratitude.

Consider a few gratitude signs you can use as reminders in your own life.

This practice is a powerful way to bring you into the present and strengthen your connection to gratitude. And as that connection strengthens, so will your experience of abundance and peace of mind.


Try Calm for free. Get started.