Giving the Gift of Calm (Meditation App)

Giving the Gift of Calm (Meditation App)
Friends: I don’t know if it’s possible for me to express how grateful I am for your responses to last week’s post about my new slow breathing experiment. Adding up the comments and emails, I have already received more than 150 replies and counting. I normally reply to every single one, but I have been totally overwhelmed by it (in a good way). Please know that I have read them and, along with the help of my friend Dayle, have made a list of all your recommendations and resources. And if you ever feel like you’re suffering from anxiety, I would encourage you to read the comment section of that post. One thing I have been reminded of this week is that we are certainly not alone in this world.

There are so many things I want to update you on. I want to tell you about the best decision I could have made last Wednesday, just a few hours after publishing that post. I want to tell you about the two books I have devoured, since then, as well as the few podcast episodes I’ve found meaningful. And I want to tell you about how different I feel today compared to a week ago. I’m not cured or going to proclaim that I have found some magic solution that gets rid of anxiety. But I will tell you this: I have meditated at least once every day for the past seven days, and it is making a noticeable difference in my life. And to thank you for being such an incredible community of friends, I want to give this gift to one of you.

I am currently testing a few of the different meditation apps out there, but one that I continually go back to is Calm. I’ve been using Calm since the early days, and would sometimes just open up the website to turn on a soft, soothing background noise while I worked. I had a subscription for a year in 2015/16 and used it to help me stay grounded in my first six months of self-employment. Then, for some reason or another, I stopped meditating regularly. Eventually, I stopped altogether. But when I realized how bad my anxiety had gotten, I knew meditation was going to be one of the tools that would help me settle it – and the first thing I did was re-download the Calm app.

One of the things I love most about the app is how many of the features are free. On top of their “7 Days of Calm” program, there are a handful of guided meditations that are free. And my new favourite thing about the app is their “Sleep Stories” series, four of which are also free! If you want to try Calm and see how you like it, I would encourage you to download the app and play around with it. Then, if you think it’s something you’d like to incorporate into your daily life, please feel free to enter this giveaway. :)

1-Year Subscription for Calm (Value: $59.99 USD)

With the subscription to Calm, you will get:

  • a new “daily calm” every day
  • dozens of guided meditations
  • relaxing “sleep stories” to help you fall asleep
  • multi-day programs for anxiety, stress, sleep and more

To enter this giveaway, you can:

  • subscribe to my mailing list (2 entries)
  • visit my Facebook page (2 entries)
  • follow me on Instagram (2 entries)
  • follow me on Twitter (2 entries)
  • tweet about it (1 entry)
  • leave a comment on this post that answers the question listed (1 entry)

You can also do all of these things for a total of 10 entries.

Remember to use Rafflecopter to make your entries count!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to readers worldwide. It starts on Wednesday, April 12th at 12:00 a.m. PST and ends on Sunday, April 16th at 12:00 a.m. PST. The winner will be announced in my blog post on Monday, April 17th.

Good luck, friends! :)

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  • One thing that helps me calm down: closing my eyes, imagining white light, and taking slow deep breaths.

    If that doesn’t work, I use the cats for pet therapy :)

  • I love to take a long, long soak in an epsom salt bath to relax! I’ve been a reader for a while, but the giveaway has prompted my (first posting)…very interested in the Calm app! I’ve used the Headspace app for guided meditation but it was more expensive and not really working for me.

  • About a month ago I realised that my over thinking, constant running mind is anxiety. I heard anxiety described as ” living in the future ” & suddenly I knew. I have anxiety.
    Two friends had been at me for ages to meditate but I always thought meditating meant have a mind clear of thoughts & that felt unrealistic for me.
    I’ve now been meditating for over a month. I started out with Headspace but then found Calm & haven’t looked back. Buying a subscription isn’t in my budget right now but you are right, they have enough feee stuff to keep me going. The Waterfall sleep story is my favourite. I’ve never managed to hear the whole thing because I’m always asleep before it’s done. No running mind. No worrying about things that don’t need worrying about. Just Calm.

  • One thing that helps calm me down is to stop what I’m doing and find all the green things (or blue or yellow, etc) in the room around me. It forces me to be mindful and while I’m looking for those things I can’t be maintaining anxiety at the highest level at the same time. I have a bunch of tips and tricks, but I’m actually looking into meditation right now because I’d rather get into a mindset of calm and stay there each day, rather than having to bring myself down whenever I have anxiety.

  • Taking a minute to really sink into the present helps me a lot. I like to take a moment to really notice in a very concrete way the sensations I’m having from the world around me.

  • If I’m out and about, finding a spot that is away from other people and taking deep breaths really helps me to calm down. If I’ve just had a stressful day and I need to relax, I turn on my salt lamp, light a few candles, and read a book – or, if the weather is nice, I go for a walk.

  • Holding a warm cup of tea (preferably peppermint!) and just breathing it in is one thing that always calms me down. I don’t even have to drink it.

  • Going to a yoga class! Although I haven’t had much success doing it at home… for me going to a real class is much more effective!

  • I love Calm as well Cait. I discovered it a few weeks ago and bought the subscription and use the bedtime stories every night as well as doing the deep breathing and meditating each day. I feel a difference in my mindset and my body. I love your posts as they are so inspiring to me. Keep up the great work! Carol

  • One thing that helps me to calm down is focused breathing… it’s just remembering to do that ;-)

    Thank you, and I’m so glad you’re feeling better & got so many great responses!

  • Calm helps me calm down! I had a subscription last year but the price went up and I have not found the $60 to get it again. Love the app though.

  • Ok, I can’t write just one. Prayer, meditating on key scriptures, walking especially in nature, guided meditations,

  • Very generous giveaway & very appropriate in this day & age of fast fast fast! I hope I win this to improve my am routine

  • Going for a walk, telling myself to take slow breathes, just stepping away from the area that is frustrating me at the moment.

  • A few things that help me calm down, depending on what’s gotten me worked up, are taking a few deep breaths, taking a walk, doing some yoga and going to bed early.

  • Deep breathing! You need to be present to do it. This week, I talked with my pharmacist about my cardiac medications and how important it is to take them while I await surgery. And then he said “Don’t forget to do deep breathing.” I smiled and said I was meditating with the Calm App and he replied with “Meditation is fantastic!” I left his pharmacy thinking I have a really awesome pharmacist who doesn’t just fill prescriptions for more drugs!

  • Here I was procrastinating and I open email to find your email, I love Calm but I have never paid for the subscription, it would be amazing to get a new meditation every day and have access to all the locked programs. I think I have listened to every bit of free content, its great even like that.

    The one thing that has helped me recently is the 4/7/8 breathing technique. (breathe in for 4, hold for 7, and let go in 8). Very simple, easy to remember and it makes a difference :)

  • Thank you so much for your blog! I have learned so much about finances, living simply, and I’m even challenging myself to shopping ban for a handful of months this year. I have buckled down and will be completely debt free in June 2017! Thanks you for your inspiring words :)

    • Forgot to write that things I do to calm down are: hiking, going for a run, yoga and stretching, and rock climbing.

  • One thing that calms me down is if I remove myself from the situation. I usually go outside for a walk no matter what the weather is!

  • This app sounds awesome! I have never tried it but would LOVE to! Especially right now with my stress levels through the roof!

  • One thing that calms me down immediately: Food. Not overeating or overindulging just having a quick snack gets my mind off stress :)

  • Yoga and warm baths help me calm all the noise. I so appreciated your post. Your willingness to be authentic is amazing. And I love that when we are real with people, we get amazing help and feedback from those that really care. :)

  • When I need to calm down, I count my breaths to force me to focus on them. I make sure to slow my breathing down and I count: Inhale – 1, Exhale – 2, Inhale – 3, Exhale – 4. I keep going until I reach 10 and then I start over again. Starting over is pretty important because if I’m not paying attention and I’m still thinking about stressful things while counting then I’ll just keep going: Inhale – 11, Exhale – 12. That’s when I know I need to focus on my breathing and ignore the thoughts in my head.

  • Spending time in the woods makes me feel calm. Anywhere in nature really. Listening to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s 30 minute Body Scan meditation on YouTube also works for me.

  • Long walks do an amazing job calming me down. I feel like my brain has been cleaned afterwards, and my mood instantly lifted. Just sitting outside helps too, but walking is THE BEST. I usually listen to music or a podcast and just zone out.

  • One thing that helps me calm down is a hug, a walk, writing it out, or an epsom salt bath (or Mio Liquid Yoga). Choose one depending on situation or availability :)

  • Closing my eyes and focusing on my breathing helps me calm down. Also hanging out with my sisters dog is so helpful. I just forget about everything else for a while.

  • I was about to start my response with “there isn’t one thing that helps me calm down” but I realized there actually is! In an effort to slow life down, I have started laying on the floor with my dog. Sometimes just for a minute, and other times for half an hour. I give him belly rubs, and watch his breathing as he inevitably falls asleep even after the shortest time. I inspect his cute dog nose and look at his whiskers, stare lovingly into his eyes. Watching his chest rise and fall as he drifts off to sleep has such a calming effect. Having written this, and acknowledged how peaceful it is to take these few minutes on the floor with my Goose, I don’t do it often. The floor is dirty, I’m in a rush, I want to do something else; but I need to take the time to make myself do slow-life things because nothing else is doing to make me slow down, except me.

  • I center myself before I do anything by waiting to feel the wind. It’s a reminder to myself to feel something bigger than myself and to keep me grounded when I feel like everything on my to do list is more important than to be grateful for the life I have. What a miracle it is to be alive. Stop to feel the wind sometime, I guarantee it will change your perspective just a little bit.

  • Im so glad you are sounding better Cait. Its horrible when you are feeling anxious and out of sortsand cant seem to find a way through it. Good on you with the meditation, Im managing to stick with it too and can cerainly notice the difference. Keep up the good work :o)
    Reading clams me down, trashy chick lit or forensic detective type stuff. Garden and sewing also make me feel calm. And, last but by no means least, a walk on the beach (usually with a paddle in the waves), never fails to make me calmer.

  • A trip to the Scandinave Spa helps me calm down, every time! Otherwise, packing a picnic and heading to sit by the river. There’s something about the water running over the rocks, the fresh air, wind in the trees, and some good healthy food.

  • Thank you for the kind giveaway. I have been using the 4,7,8 breathing technique and I found that gardening helps. Getting my hands dirty and listening to the birds is the best medicine for me. Also just started knitting and that’s good too, just squares for dishcloths so nothing too hard. I have tried headspace but didn’t get on with it. I haven’t tried calm yet.

  • I really enjoy insight timer and downward dog. Together they really pack a punch but I’m curious about calm

  • Breathing….4 counts in, 4 counts hold, 4 counts release does wonders. Or simply thinking and saying out loud breathe in and breathe out as I fill and release the air from my lungs takes my mind off whatever is making me anxious.

  • Glad you are feeling more relaxed and calm. And curious to know about the books you devoured. Books help me through difficult patches. Sending peace and love.

  • Remembering my blessings and praying for others helps me. When it works, it is wonderful for me and when it does not, Imhave still prayed for others.

  • Deep breathing or distracting myself with a walk outside or an old tv show (boy meets world anyone?) I also find hugging any of my pets can help instantly!

  • Deep breathing. I am normally a shallow breather so deep breathing really helps calm my jangled body.

    I tried guided meditation but the leader started with taking us back to childhood. When yours wasn’t happy that is not a good relaxant. I cried instead which actually helped me feel better. Apparently I had some mourning of my childhood to do.

    I also can’t do water sounds; I just end up needing to pee. :)

    Guess I need to look into Calm and see if it helps me. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • I really struggle with anxiety too so it’s refreshing to read this blog post and see all the comments. Taking time out for yourself really helps and prioritising self-care in your to do list is a must!

  • One thing that helps me calm down is to sit in my gym sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and cold plunge. I do these 4 things for about an hour total once a week. I’m not able to have my phone on me, so I’m able to detach and rest my mind.

    Just stumbled across you in today’s podcast of Optimal Living Daily, am excited to jump into your site! x

  • My mother passed away very recently so my anxiety levels have been through the roof. The main thing that centers and calms me is rest and meditation. Focusing on my breathing helps me to slow down my thoughts and become present with my body. In those moments, i forget about everything else and i start to feel free. Free of worry, guilt, restlessness and all those horrible feelings brought up by my anxiety.
    Also, i hang out for your posts, no pressure :P its really refreshing hearing from others, especially in your comment section and just knowing theres a community of people out there that just want to uplift you and be there is amazing!

  • Breathing through my nose and focusing on how the breathe feels coming in and going out of my nose – focusing on that tiny spot right below my nose. I learned this through the Breathe meditation app and even though I can’t seem to get into a regular meditation practice, I have used this technique to fall asleep at night when my mind is racing.

  • One thing that calms me down – watching baseball. Something about the routine of it is very comforting, and it’s been a huge part of my life for over 25 years!

  • Hi Cait!

    I have to laugh – I just downloaded the calm app about a week ago – by your recommendation! In the past few weeks I realized i hadn’t listened to any podcasts in nearly 6 months. I’ve been listening to the 2nd season of Budgets and Cents – and you mentioned that you use it. I’d been considering adding some meditation to my routine for a while. I’ve been really happy with the app. I agree the sleep stories are wonderful – and I’ve been turning the rain on loud to block out distractions when I need to get stuff done at work. Thank you for the recommendation (that you made last fall :)).

    To answer your question my go to for calming down has always been turning up my favorite music. It’s rarely the same song – but always something that brings back happy memories and makes me want to sing along. Depending on how much I need to be calmed I turn it up pretty loud or may use headphones to help block out whatever is upsetting me.

  • I practice yoga once a week, and it really helps me stay centered. I wish I could add another day of yoga to my practice.

  • To create calm, I like to lie in savasana pose and mindfully check into my body’s position and meditate. Listening to a great recording of Sleep Nidra always helps. Feel refreshed afterward!

  • O love meditate to help me stay Calm. And also stop and pay attention to my Breathe, drink a cup of tea or just play with my dog. Hi Cate, love your blog hello from Brazil

  • Epsom salt, baking soda, lavender baths after kiddos bedtime really helps after a trying day. Also starting my day with a quick yoga and meditation, it only takes about 20 min total and sets the day up well.

  • I love drinking tea to calm down. The l-theanine in green tea (matcha in particular) has been very helpful when I’m feeling stressed or anxious.

  • I’ve recently discovered spinning classes and they have definitely helped me calm down! Also some essential oil in my nebulizer, a cup of sleepy tea before bed and a bubble bath!

  • I enjoy the process of making and drinking tea. Not the grocery store in a tea bag kind, but the loose tea in a metal tin kind. Filling the teapot with fresh water, waiting patiently for the whistle from the steam, focuses me on the task. Rinsing the serving teapot with a dash of the boiling water, then filling it with the rest of the boiling water, then patiently waiting for it to cool to the perfect temperature for the type of tea I’ve chosen, brings me into the moment. Then dropping the tea leaves into the diffuser, and watching the agony of the leaves as they give up their secret calming flavor to the water, anchors me in the ritual. But the very best, the most calming part, comes after I have removed the leaves and poured the first cup of tea, and lift it up to my chin, close my eyes, and take that first deep cleansing breath while inhaling the luscious scent of the tea, I raise the cup to my lips and sip. Perfection. Calm, relaxing, perfection. Calm is in the ritual.

  • Cait, I meant to comment on the last post but I’m having a hard time lately and keep forgetting to do things like that! I’m glad to hear meditating is helping you. I need to get so much better at doing that myself.

    I’d love to say deep breathing calms me down, but my problem is that I forget to do that when I’m in the middle of things! I’m working on it, though. I usually try to take a walk, especially if my body is giving me cues that I should go take a run (I never run. I hate running, so something’s really wrong if I have an urge to run). Walking around my neighborhood with zero direction in mind and actively trying to notice the flowers and plants in people’s yards usually does the trick for me.

  • One of the things that calms me down is playing piano. One of the first songs I memorized is a fairly simple one that is easy to manipulate the emotions in it. I can play it happily or angrily or sadly, and it works. I will often play it through twice, once angry or sad or irritated, and then again in a way that calms me.

  • I go outside and take deep breaths. I look around and take note of different things that I see, hear and smell.

  • Putting things in perspective helps me calm down – usually it turns out that whatever I’m stressing about is relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

  • Trying the free Calm tools now. I so need this in my life. My #1 relaxation tool is hiking and with all the wet weather we’ve had in Northern California this year, I’ve not been able to get out on the trail as much as I’d like. The stress I’m keeping bottled up is showing up in all sorts of weird ways looking forward to having another tool in my “calming” toolbox!

  • Yoga , walking, reading, cooking all help me calm down as does playing a musical instrument, knitting and spending time with my family (most of the time after all the prep is done)

  • Glad that Calm is working for you, Cait! I started meditating with Calm’s free timed meditation with the lake background sound during a stressful period at a previous job. I’ve been meditating in a more consistent manner for the last year and a half, and though my mind seems to drift every few breaths, I feel much calmer and more focused in my day-to-day life. Besides yoga and meditation, reading a novel – even just a few pages – helps me calm down. There’s something about getting out of my head and thinking about the lives of others (including fictional characters) that gives me a broader perspective on what I’m feeling anxious about. Love your blog, thanks for being so open about sharing your experiences and perspective!

  • I’ve been using the free version of Calm for a while now (I discovered it last year during the lead up to Xmas) and I’ve found that it has been helping me get through the days. I’ve been toying with the idea of purchasing a yearly subscription but haven’t taken that step yet so this giveaway couldn’t have come in a better time :) Thank you! As far as what keeps me calm, I’ve found that writting, especially first thing in the morning, when I’m not yet fully awake, without censoring myself has unveiled several fears, doubts and hurdles that I’ve put in my own way. By seeing them so clearly I’ve not panicked when I’ve faced them later that day, week or month. Through writting it down I’ve anticipated the worst outcome possible and prepared myself for it. When it happens I’m not paralised by it and if it doesn’t, well, that is just peachy :)

  • I really enjoyed all the comments! I not only saw repetition, but some wonderful ideas! I find that quiet calms me together with telling myself to focus. I had not heard of the Calm app. I am going to give it a try!

  • One thing that calms me down is my dog – either a quick cuddle or a long walk. I used to have the calm app, but the price is a little high for me. Love the giveaway!

  • Sometimes I hesitate to do meditation because the thought of sitting one spot for a long time is scary, so I’ll just set a timer for five minutes and start counting breaths, which is better than nothing and actually quite helpful.

  • The power of the internet is wonderful for reaching out and connecting with so many people. So glad it has helped you Cait! I tried the Calm app before but of course I didn’t keep up with it. LOL I didn’t know they had sleep stories. I’ll have to check that out because I find that when I go to bed I start thinking about mt to do list for the next day, and so on. This may help me get to sleep quicker!

  • I’ve found recently that being off social media has been the key to reducing my anxiety. My newsfeeds are full of distressing news about the world and I had fallen into the habit of checking constantly through the day. Deactivated everything for Lent and am most likely going to continue without going back. Highly recommend if you find yourself compulsively checking social media.