Splash Into Calm: Digesting Experiences

The holiday season is officially here. The past two blogs have focused on the food we eat.   You would be shortchanged if I didn’t dive deeper into what I feel is paramount to living a happy, fulfilling life. It is our capacity to digest, assimilate, comprehend, and shape our experiences

Our lives, are affected by our perceptions, judgments, and behavior toward those who disturb us. The real problem arises when our attitude limits our ability to live a peaceful and centered life. It is part of the human condition, so if you are human you probably partake in some of these attitudes. Please do not berate yourself (or go into denial). Take this as an invitation to become conscious of thoughts you might not even know you have.

Every tradition offers help with this challenge. The yoga texts have some relevant philosophy and I broach this subject now because this time of year we need a little extra help. I usually introduce this concept to my students right before Thanksgiving and it is greatly appreciated.

The teaching tells us that the agitation in our mind stems from our thoughts and opinions of others. Most people we meet fall into four categories and when we cultivate certain positive attitudes toward them, our state of mind will remain calm and undisturbed.

Let’s take a close look at the four attitudes:

Attitude #1: Cultivate friendliness toward the happy

Some people we know are happy about their successes and are filled with excitement and joy. However, before we know it, even as we are congratulating them, jealousy creeps in. This disturbs our state of mind, especially if we want for ourselves what they have attained.

Shifting your attitude to open up to their joy and celebrate their happiness can fill you up, leaving you feeling calm and centered. Next time you feel uneasy around someone’s happiness, take a breath and notice what is bothering you. Then bring yourself back to the moment and make the choice to shift your thoughts to an attitude of friendliness and happiness toward their success.

Attitude #2: Cultivate compassion for the unhappy

This one seems easy when we first look at it. Of course we are compassionate toward others who are not happy. However, we have all encountered people who are whiny and annoying and at times we would like to shake them and tell them to chill out! It is easy to get frustrated and judgmental toward those individuals.

 When you find yourself feeling impatient with someone who is unhappy, even if their behavior is inappropriate, take a breath and look beyond the behavior and practice compassion even if you do not feel compassionate. Recognize that those who are unhappy and negative are not at peace; realize how difficult and painful it must be to live that way.

Your shift in attitude from annoyance to compassion will calm your mind. Open up to looking beyond others’ discontent and your judgment will slip away. Remember, you can act with compassion while taking care of your needs around a negative, unhappy person. You will know you behaved with kindness and it will ripple throughout your day.

Attitude #3: Cultivate delight in the virtuous

I am sure you have come across a person who is quite intelligent or talented, or a wonderful athlete well-respected by others, or someone who might be generous and kind. No matter what positive qualities a person might possess, there are times when envy will set in as their mere presence makes us feel “less than.” We try to find something about them to pull them down a notch. We might not even realize we do this, but subtle negative thoughts often surface.

This thinking only disturbs your state of mind. To help foster a peaceful mind, cultivate appreciation, and take pleasure in others’ virtuous qualities.  Try to find delight in people you might envy by noticing their good qualities and consider cultivating those aspects within yourself.

Attitude #4: Cultivate disregard toward the wicked

We have all come in contact with those who are rude, disrespectful, or downright mean. Why wouldn’t we become defensive and judgmental? After all, we would never behave that way!

These people disturb our state of mind and emotions. It is helpful to keep a few important concepts in mind:

  • Remember that you have had times when your behavior was inappropriate and harmful toward others.
  • Do not take the person’s behavior personally, even it is directed toward you. They did not wake up that morning and specifically pick you out to be rude to, even if it feels that way. Keeping this distance helps you ignore the behavior of others, which will make your life much more serene.
  • Keep your focus on your feelings and responses, not theirs. That is the one thing you can control.

Keep in mind that this practice if for you. You are cultivating a more peaceful, joyous way of living with the capacity to digest your life experiences with a new perspective.

This holiday season, see if you can put the person you are struggling with in one of these four categories. Were you able to cultivate any of the attitudes? Did your state of mind change? Let me know in the comments below.

Posted in: Splash into Calm

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Splash Into Calm: Exciting New Blog Format

Welcome to my new Splash Into Calm blog. Stay up to date by "liking" Custom Calm's new Facebook page.

My previous blogs were focused around practical, simple practices, perspective and studies targeting the common issue of stress and pain.  They were a great beginning, and now with the publication of my book Splash Into Calm, I have the opportunity to dive deeper and to offer my readers helpful, concise, uplifting, pertinent posts taken directly from the book.   The book is written in an easy to follow format, based on the calendar year and presented in monthly themes, each having four articles.  The new blog will follow the same inviting format.

To make this blog meaningful and practical, I take a “less is more” approach.  In this complex world, there is a need for simplicity.  That is exactly what Splash Into Calm blog is about—simple, realistic practices and ideas that profoundly enhance your daily living.  My content from my book is communicated in a personal manner, with a bit of humor, sharing my own experiences, as well as those of my clients­­.

The overall theme of my book and posts is the absolute accessibility of calm living. Calm living offers you the ability to embrace each moment of your day. It opens you up to increased joy, spontaneity, and pleasure, because you are aware and alert.  It is a fulfilling and wonderful way to live.

Below are the monthly topics we will explore together:

January:          New Beginnings

February:        Love & Kindness        

March:              Pain & Illness

April:                 Emergence

May:                  Travel

June:                Balanced Living

July:                  Emotions & Relationships

August:            Perspective

September:    Responsibility

October:          Day-to-Day Living

November:     Digestion

December:     Stress

I look forward to offering you tips, food for thought and a community where you feel comfortable sharing your experience and asking questions.  


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Splash Into Calm Book Launch: Enjoy Each Moment

This evening I have planned my formal book launch of  Splash Into Calm.  I have prepared, delegated, and today there are a few last minute details to be accomplished.  After that, all I can do is to let go of the results and enjoy the event.

This is easier said than done.  I will track back in my book to a relevant chapter from July—the chapter on worry and grace.  The chapter focus is on worry, even for the enjoyable events.  Below is an excerpt:

 We not only worry when hosting an event, but also with each and every plan and person with whom we are involved. Worry envelops us and it spills out into our relationships. “What will happen if my two-year-old doesn’t get into the best preschool? I know it will affect his/her growth and future college options!” I enjoyed the perspective of comedian Tina Fey in her book Bossypants: “My ability to turn good news into anxiety is rivaled only by my ability to turn anxiety into chin acne.” Yes, worry has a definite spiral, right down to our complexions!

This is a common occurrence.  We are so busy worrying that every detail will go as planned that we are not present for the event.  Letting go of the results is possible when we remain in the present moment.  Tonight, that is will be my focus.  Embracing each moment and experiencing the support and interest in Splash Into Calm.  I will let you know how it goes!

Let me know in the comments below how you deal with worry.  Does it get in the way of your enjoyment? 

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Splash Into Calm: New Beginnings & Change

New Beginnings is the title for the month of January, but as I begin this next phase of my work I thought it would be a great focus for this week.

The following quote by Leo Buscaglia sheds light on this concept: “Change is life. Without change there would be no growth, no understanding, no relating, and no surprises. We are by nature changing beings. Still we seem to fear and resist it more than any other aspect of life.”

 We undergo many changes: graduations, weddings, anniversaries, new jobs, divorces, deaths, illnesses, and more. Each phase of life-change brings growth, discomfort, and opportunity. Yet, we resist these changes because we are creatures of habit. We are comfortable with how things are. We want our children to stay adorable, looking up to us like we are perfect in every way—oops, my mistake—this is not a fantasy blog!

So it is with every aspect of living, not only the big events. There will always be an ending and a new beginning, and every change impacts everyone involved. Since nothing stays stagnant and we should not get too attached to anything. But we do; we continue to resist the changes and when we finally let go we leave claw marks behind. No matter how tightly we hold on, change is guaranteed.

Throughout the process of writing, editing, selling and promoting my book “Splash Into Calm”, I have encountered discomfort as I have stepped into areas of the process that are new to me.  This constant change has given me the opportunity to put one foot in front of the other and continue keep an open mind to experience the full scope of the process, both joyful and frustrating.

When we are receptive to change rather than resist the constant nature of change we find that we learn, grow, and find joy in the process. 

How do you respond to change?   Do you resist?  Are you open to change?  Let me know in the comments below.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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New Blog: “Splash Into Calm”

I have renamed this blog Splash Into Calm, to reflect the title of my upcoming book.

I put a lot of thought into the title and decided on the term “splash” rather than “dive” because in our busy lives, we need simple solutions that are easy, playful, and quick to apply. 

Stress is a fact of life and many of the practices available are effective, but they require a big time or financial commitment.  We are not able or willing to add yet another item on our to-do list.  Even something that is good for us can create stress.

I am a very practical person and I find that my clients will try something if I tell them to give it a three  or four minutes a day.  That is realistic for them and they usually follow through and begin to see the calming benefits of a short and simple technique.

Each week I will highlight a different aspect of “splashing around in calm” and how that impacts daily living.  Stay tuned.

Let me know in the comments below if there is a topic you would like to hear about and I will bring some perspective and direction that is practical and approachable.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Mistakes: No Big Deal

I left for a relaxing beach trip with my husband knowing I had quite a lot of work to get finished for my book. With a full plate, we both decided that a change in scenery was needed. After a long drive, as I was getting ready for bed, I realized that my focus had been on my book and I had forgotten to write my Wednesday post.   I have not missed a week for over a year.

I allowed myself to let it go for the evening and slept well.  It makes me realize that we are human and no matter how disciplined we are or hard we try, we will make mistakes.  It is what weI do after the mistake that makes the difference to our serenity.

The tools I teach help me on a daily basis to move away from reaction, and move toward a healthy response.  It took a few simple breaths to slow me down enough to realize that forgetting to post a blog was no big deal. 

I guess the moral of this post is that we are human; we will make mistakes, get confused, and forget from time to time.  The part of the equation that we do have control over is what we do next.  Take the well needed pause so you can treat yourself with patience and kindness.  As I sit with my cup of coffee, I feel calm, centered and grateful that I have a choice.

Let me know in the comments below what you do when you forget, get confused or make a mistake.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Publishing New Book on Calm Living

It has finally happened!  I am finishing up my book and will be at print in the next few weeks.  I wrote a book because I see the need for practical help with stress.

The book is part of what I hope to be a series called Custom Calm Chronicles and the first book is:  Splash Into Calm. 

There seems to be a myth that living a calm life means “uneventful” or “chilled out”, and that is far from the truth.

What calm living gives you the ability to enjoy increased stamina, vitality, clarity and ease in daily life.  For those who enjoy living a full, busy life, then you will be able to enhance this lifestyle you already have with increased energy to do the things you love doing.

The book is filled with different perspectives and techniques geared toward quickly get centered.  It is not that you will not have stress in your life, but you will know how to neutralize its effects.  The best part is that it is practical, so there is no big time commitment.  I have set it up in monthly themes to make it easy.

Short and simple is greatly needed.  That is why I keep my posts short.  In our busy lives we do not have the time, so why not quickly get to the point?  Once I am at print, look forward to hearing much more about it.

One final thought; if I can find my calm center, than anyone can do it!

Let me know in the comments below what you do to come back to center when you get stressed. 

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Bonnie’s Sleep Improves with Breathing Practices

Bonnie’s Challenges

Bonnie had cancer and suffers with Fibromyalgia.  She is active, but struggles with chronic pain and sleep disturbance.  When I worked with Bonnie, we focused on a variety of breathing practices to help lesson her symptoms and improve her sleep.


What Worked

Bonnie states:

"As someone who has dealt with cancer, I am always looking for ways to minimize my stress level and to try to stay in a more relaxed state of mind. My times with Ellen have been very beneficial for me.  The power of breath is something I knew little about, and through her instruction, I have learned what a valuable tool it is during times of stress.  I have found myself doing the breathing techniques while waiting in a doctor's office. When I used to wake up during the night and couldn't get back to sleep, it meant being exhausted the next day.  Now, I simply do a couple of breathing exercises and am able to go right back to sleep.  Ellen's expertise and soothing manner enabled her to help me find a sense of inner calm that I had been missing in recent years."

What you can learn from Bonnie's Experience

There are simple techniques that sustain you in times of stress and discomfort.  Much of our problems with sleep stem from the busy mind and when you can effectively quite your thoughts, you will enhance your ability to sleep.  Custom Calm techniques work and are accessible to everyone.

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Change of Plans

I am in the last stages of my first book.  After meeting with my editor I was raring to go on my final edits.  My plan was to spend a few hours in the early evening to forge through it.  That was my plan, however the universe had a different idea—a strong storm followed by a power outage!  My book would have to wait.  I had a choice–do I want to stay calm about this shift or do I want to be upset and angry?

I close to enjoy the change.  After the storm cleared, my husband and I took our dog for her evening walk.  We passed neighbors socializing with one another whom we had never met.  It was as if there was a snow day from school and the adults came out of the woodwork.  The lack of power changed everyone’s plans as most would have been on their computers or watching television.  

Interacting with one another is not done on a regular basis.  We save it for times when our regular routines are not available to us.  There were two lessons last night:

  • We are creatures of habit and it takes some effort to make the shift to do something different.
  • Do not get too attached to your plans, because they can change in an instant.

Go with the ebbs and flows in life and you will find many new opportunities available to you.

Now, off to finish my edits!

What do you do when your plans are derailed?  Do you try something else, or get frustrated by the change?  Let me know in the comments below.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Staying the Course

It is easy to be thrown off course by things that are out of our control.

I have been writing a book, and today finished the second draft.  Off to my publisher it went for her review.  I was excited about this major accomplishment, but my joy was short lived as I ran into a few glitches in areas in which I am unfamiliar. 

The question I pondered was this:  How do I want to handle this situation?  Do I want to allow it to derail me, or take the next step to move into solution?  I chose the latter.  What I did next was simple—I took a break!  Yes, I took myself out to dinner with a friend and after, got myself a treat.  It was a form of celebration for a major achievement.  For me, that was living in the solution. 

There are times we simply need to regroup before moving forward.

I was not allowing myself the joy of sharing my accomplishment.  We need to pat ourselves on the back from time to time for our hard work, rather than quickly moving to the next step.

Had I continued to sit at my computer trying to figure things out, I would have gotten nowhere, except stressed out.  For me the solution was to fill up so I could forge forward.

Now I feel calm and centered, ready for the challenges ahead.

Let me know in the comments below what you do when you are stuck.  Do you give yourself time to regroup?

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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