”Welcome to the daily calm”, Tamara Levitt’s morning salutation on the Calm app, has become somewhat of a mantra, and a daily fix, for me over the last two years.
A voice that imbues reassurance, Tamara makes you feel you’ve made the right choice in taking time-out at the beginning of the day and set things right with the world.
‘What is there to mindfulness meditation’? You may ask. Sit down, close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and then what?
It’s taken close to 700 sessions to begin to appreciate the profound effect, that the practice of meditation can have on handling the most common of everyday matters.
In an era of emotionally charged circumstances, there has never been a time, and greater need to watch what we say and be willing to listen.
It’s all happening— biological warfare, social distancing, lockdowns, economic uncertainty, political powder kegs, and emotionally charged riots, all ignited by a single thoughtless word or action, or lack thereof.
Frustration can take many forms— events that are outside our control, trying to get to sleep with financial worries zapping around the synapses, or awakening to the dread of another week with the same routine.
Perhaps you’re having a hard time getting into the zone of an urgent project, distracted by all that’s going on. Has the vague idea of hooking the kids on the coat rack for ten minutes peace, brought a faint smile to the corners of your mouth?
There’s a lot more to mindfulness meditation, then meets the eye. The makers of the Calm app understand that point in its entirety.
The Calm app pretty much tackles most mental states and addresses them with a variety of options. The background scenes and soundscapes set the mood. The app offers meditation courses, guided and unguided, as well as celeb narrated bedtime stories, that will rock you to sleep like a babe in a mother’s arms.
I swear my wife has something for Stephen Fry, I haven’t the heart to tell her, he’s not available, and never will be. If only she would wear earphones. His voice whispering into my ear, when I’m trying to nod off, doesn’t do it for me. But each to their own.
Calm is one of those rare apps you can pretty much use all day for a host of reasons. Besides calming the nerves, meditation is an attitude and mood adjuster, that helps to look at things from a different angle.
The music section promotes mental health in a variety of ways, helping with concentration or relaxation, featuring sounds that have ASMR effects, stimulating the desired mood. There are tracks for the entire family, including lullabies, nature melodies, and even pieces with Disney piano, from various composers.
The focus tracks may sound a little obscure, such as ‘Wires on Carpet’, or ‘Memories Fade,’ but they do the job. If you prefer something more natural, there are soundscapes like ‘Forest Ambience’ (one of my favorites) or background noise such as ‘Rain on Window.’
A word on something meaningful
There are plenty of reviews online about meditation apps, including Calm. Yet, for me, the most meaningful takeaway is the valuable advice and guidance Tamara and associated meditation teachers give, throughout the guided sessions.
More than anything is the awakening that has arisen within me, from meditating every day over an extended period.
The epiphany— ‘the value of life.’
An understanding that comes with a clarity of mind, I have only gained through my mindfulness meditation practice. When you focus on your breathing day in and day out, you begin to comprehend how precious life is, and how much we all take for granted.
The statement may sound like a platitude, but the question is, on what level do you understand how precious life is?
The war of emotions
Another major lesson that never ends, and needs the practice of several lifetimes is, how we handle our emotions.
How sure, we always are that we are right and they are wrong.
‘What?! Are they stupid?!’ ‘Why?’ ‘They just don’t get it!’ ‘They’re so dumb!’ ‘I hate them!’ ‘That’s it. I’m fed up,’ ‘Screw them’ Bam! Outrage, anger, hatred, explosion, release, even thrill, maybe exhilaration, but too often, a consequential sincere regret, of shame, sadness, and self-loathing.
The damage is done, we’ve allowed our emotions to destroy trust, and everything that’s taken so long to build. The cycle goes on, and without holding ourselves accountable, and doing something about it, we will never gain control and find long-lasting sanity.
Mindfulness meditation teaches essential values of compassion, patience, and a willingness to listen, without aggression, violence, and self-destructive reactivity. Above all, mindfulness enhances an appreciation for the sanctity of all life, human and animal.
We have a gift to which only our breath is a witness. Thank you to Tamara and all the contributors of Calm, for helping me understand that.
Breathe in peace.