I’m trying something a little different on the blog today; I’m going to be doing a book review! I’m hoping to do a lot more posts like this because, having two English degrees under my belt, I do love to read! Today’s book though is something a little different to your average novel, and that’s why I’ve chosen this as my first book review here on the blog!
Calm, by Michael Acton Smith is honestly unlike any book I’ve ever read. I use the term “read” lightly here because this is not your typical book in which you would simply sit down and read cover-to-cover. This book, chiefly on the subject of mindfulness and calming your mind, requires the reader to dive in and out of it randomly to retain the most from it. I guess it’s a kind of coffee table book, but it does so much more than that!
Now, without revealing myself too much or making myself very vulnerable here, I’ve recently embarked on a massive change in my life with finishing University and education in general. I don’t like change at the best of times, and this transition from student to fully-fledged adult has really not been easy for me. This book has helped so much with my overactive mind and has generally just made me realise how important it is to be far more aware of our surroundings.
Calm is segmented into eight different sections- Nature, Sleep, Travel, Relationships, Work, Children, Creativity and Food, so it deals with just about everything you’d expect life to throw at you. Each of these sections aims to help you deal with the stress and anxiety pertaining to that subject by giving you exercises and tasks you can carry out when you’re stressed. For example, the sleep section has been the one I tend to scan through the most because I sometimes find it impossible to switch off when I’m actually supposed to go to bed. One of the pages said that counting sheep is probably the worst thing you can do to help you drift off, and that you should instead imagine a tranquil or picturesque landscape, something like a lake or a bucolic rural landscape, to help you fall asleep easier.
Smith has created a kind of interactive journal in Calm too though, whereby there are certain pages which you personally should fill in at the end of a really stressful day. Or another example would be a page in which you can design or write about your ideal location to achieve your ultimate calm. It’s little things like this that help us to step back from the fast-paced world we live in and to communicate with our inner-selves, something we just don’t do enough of nowadays.
To help me do all of this, I’ve also been meditating alongside dipping in and out of this book. You see, this book also comes with an app which you can download and it not only gives you guided meditation sessions, but also music for different situations and sleep stories to help you drift off more peacefully. This book and the app work in tandem with one another to help you fully achieve mindfulness in your day-to-day life.
You know how sometimes it’s easy to become completely unaware of your surroundings and focus on your own inner monologue? Essentially remaining in your own little bubble. Well, meditation has allowed me to be so much more conscientious in day-to-day life and I feel like I am so much more in the present, appreciating life but also being more attentive to others. In a world where technology basically isolates us, it’s so easy to get caught up in ourselves and I think that this is where practicing mindfulness could be really useful.
I know that there can be a lot of stigma surrounding the idea of meditation and people can consider it to be a load of mumbo-jumbo. But to put it in very crude terms, all I do is take ten minutes out of my day, either morning or evening, and just listen to a guided meditation on the edge of my bed with my headphones on. It’s not rocket science and I’m absolutely not delving into some weird psychic powers or anything like that. All I’m doing is being absolutely quiet, absolutely still (as I possibly can be) for just a few minutes. And do you know what? It actually works! There’s a reason why people with severely stressful jobs like Doctors etc. practice meditation, because it truly helps to tranquilise an overactive mind.
Now its all very well me saying this, but you really must apply it for it to be truly beneficial. There’s no use in just reading about the fundamental elements of meditating and learning the scientific s evidence that suggests it’s worth if you’re not actually implementing it. To tell you the truth, I haven’t managed to practice it every day since I started it, but that doesn’t matter. As long as you try and aim for around five sessions a week, you should start to notice a difference. In all honesty, it was pretty tough in the first few sessions because I have a very active mind and am subject to a lot of internal chatter (this translates in my outer body too because I could talk for England!). I found it not only difficult to remain still for all but ten minutes, I also struggled to let my thoughts drift away so that I could literally just think about nothing. Once you become really dedicated to it though, it becomes easier and you can implement the method of mindfulness whenever you feel the need to.
I’d highly recommend having a little look at Calm, and if you’re not feeling confident that you’ll get the use out of this journal, then perhaps try downloading the free app first and giving meditation a go. I must say though, the book is useful and beneficial in so many more ways than just practicing mindfulness and it can aid you in a variety of stressful times and situations, should they arise!
So that’s all from me today! I hope you enjoyed something a little different, it felt a bit weird to get so personal on here!
To round things off, I thought it’d be apt to show you a picture of (a very happy) me in one of my favourite and most calming locations here in Devon!
See you all next week, where I’m sure the makeup madness will resume itself.
Lots of love to you all,
A Little Disclaimer- This is not a sponsored post. All products/items featured have been purchased with my own money or have been gifts from friends and family. I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned or the links to websites that may have been provided. All opinions are entirely my own and honest, I am not being paid to advertise these products. All pictures on this post have been taken by yours truly (unless I am in the photo, in which case they will be taken by Jack) and, as such, must be approved by the author for any further or commercial use.