5 Days to More Calm: Meditation

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Today’s topic for 5 Days to More Calm is meditation which is probably the top practice I use to find calm. Meditation can be defined as “a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state.” (Yoga International) Additionally, it can be a way to find your inner peace and a way to train your mind so you’re not constantly caught up in your thoughts.

I discovered the amazingness of meditation through starting my yoga practice. At the time, I did an online meditation challenge with yoga instructor Faith Hunter and fell in love with it. Becoming a consistent meditator is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself, and the practice has literally changed my life. It has taught me to be in the present moment more often, I’m able to hear Spirit and my intuition more easily, and I can tap into my inner peace when I need to throughout the day.

Meditation also:

  • Helps you create a more positive mindset and helps you focus on more productive thoughts.
  • Decreases your tendency to worry and/or overthink.
  • Can lessen anxiety and depression.
  • Reduces your stress levels.
  • Improves your concentration.
  • Strengthens your immune system.

Some types of meditations you can try include:

  • Concentration: You focus on an object (like the flame of a candle, a figurine or crystal), a mantra/word or affirmation as you meditate. If/when your mind wanders, bring your awareness back to your object of focus.
  • Mindfulness: In this type of meditation, the intent is to allow your thoughts to come and go while also being aware of your breathing and any sensations you feel.
  • Mantra: Here, you can repeat a mantra like ‘Om,’ ‘Peace,’ or ‘Relax.’ Or use an affirmation (or a few) like, ‘I am calm and centered,’ or ‘All is well.’

Here are a few tips and ideas for getting started with your home practice:

Set up space for it. You can use a spare room if you have it (but you definitely don’t need it) or space in your bedroom. You can include things like a yoga mat or meditation pillow, incense, candles, crystals and/or anything that brings you calm and positive vibes.

Prepare your body.

Ways to sit: If you’re on the floor or on your bed, you can sit in traditional meditation style, kneel or with your legs in front of you. If you’re in a chair, plant your feet on the floor. Keep a straight spine (you can sit against a wall if you need to).

Hands: A few simple ways to place your hands are: palms up or down on your legs, prayer position with your hands at your heart or bring your index finger and thumb together while resting your hands on your legs.

Breathing: The simplest technique to use is deep abdominal breathing. Inhale fully, allowing your belly to expand, and exhale completely, letting your belly button go towards your spine. If you find it challenging to keep your breath even and/or to focus, as you inhale, count to 5, and as you exhale, count to 5.

Make time for it. Decide how often you want to meditate and what time(s) of day. Then put a reminder in your phone or add it to your to-do list. Try different times/days to see what works best for you.

Start small. You can begin with 5 minutes a day (or even less if you need to), then work your way up to longer times as you grow in your practice.

Remember it’s a practice. You may fall off with your consistency or feel like it’s not working or find that it’s challenging to keep your mind still and focused. It’s okay; it happens (yes, even to me, even after all these years). I encourage you to do your best, to keep going, and know that the more you practice, the more you will reap the benefits of meditation.

Need assistance with starting your meditation practice? My book, ‘The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm’ has tips to help! Learn more and order/download your copy in the Black Mom Calm Shop.

5 Days to More Calm: Affirmations

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

What you think and say to and about yourself has a huge impact on how you feel and the way you live your life. This is why using affirmations is so important! If you want to have more inner peace, joy, harmony, abundance (just to name a few), you have to focus on and speak life about what you want.

One definition of affirmations is “simple, positive statements declaring specific goals in their completed states.” (Jack Canfield)

I’ve been writing down positive quotes since I was in high school, and I think I first heard the word “affirmation” when I was in college or right after. I’ve been using them consistently for 10+ years, and they have improved my life — and me — greatly.

What are benefits of using affirmations? They:

  • Allow you to become more aware of your thoughts so you can focus on the ones that serve you.
  • Help you form a more positive, productive mindset.
  • Improve the quality of your life.
  • Assist in creating the positive changes you need to make in yourself and your life.

Ways to get started with using affirmations:

  • Find ones you like on Google or Pinterest (even create a board) and check out the Find Your Calm Affirmation Cards.
  • Write your own (see below) or ones you find, and put them on index cards or on sticky notes around your home.
  • Record them and listen to them in the morning or at night.
  • Use them as mantras while meditating.

A few tips for writing your own:

  • Think about/focus on what you want (not what you don’t want).
  • Write them positively (for example, “I experience calm,” not “I’m not stressed.”).
  • Start with “I am” or “I have.” If you have trouble really believing what you’re saying, you can say something like, “I choose to believe …” or “I believe it’s possible…”
  • Keep them short (so you can remember them more easily when you need to).

Interested in receiving monthly affirmations that will allow you to feel more calm? Learn more about our subscription service on Patreon!

 

5 to Days to More Calm: Self-Care

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Today’s topic for 5 Days to More Calm is self-care!

First, we’ll start with a definition. The Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”

Many times, when people talk about self-care, it’s related to things like getting our hair and nails done, going to get a massage or going on a vacation. While there’s nothing wrong with doing these things (and they are a part of taking care of you), self-care is much more than that.  It’s about making sure you’re doing/feeling good and thriving physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But as women/mothers/caregivers, it’s often challenging for us to actually practice self-care. Many times, we:

  • Feel we don’t deserve it.
  • Feel guilty about doing it.
  • Think we can’t make time.
  • Feel that we don’t have enough resources to do so.

Why is self-care important?

  • It can improve your physical health.
  • Improves your emotional wellness.
  • You feel better and are less likely to experience burnout.
  • It helps other people (and yourself) see your worth and know your needs are important because you’re putting you first
  • You’re better able to take care of your children and others because your cup is full.
  • It allows you to better deal with stress.

Here are various ways to practice self-care:

Spiritual

  • Pray/speak with your Higher Power/ancestors.
  • Spend time alone.
  • Try crystal healing.
  • Create a sacred space.
  • Practice gratitude.

Emotional

  • Acknowledge how you feel.
  • Journal (about your feelings).
  • Find positive outlets/hobbies.
  • Get support by talking to someone you trust or trying therapy.
  • Try to avoid people/situations that trigger not-so-great feelings.

Mental

  • Be in the present moment.
  • Meditate.
  • Use positive affirmations.
  • Take a social media break.
  • Visualize.

Physical

  • Move your body.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Get enough sleep..
  • Eat more healthful.
  • Take breaks more often.

If you’re ready to up your self-care game and create more calm and inner peace in your life, check out Black Mom’s Calm subscription offering! You can get access to guided meditations, monthly chats, personalized affirmations and more! Learn more and sign up here.

 

5 Days to More Calm: Yoga

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Today’s topic for 5 Days to More Calm is yoga!

Yoga literally means “union” and can be defined as a “physical, mental and spiritual practice.” (Yogapedia). Although some say it originated in ancient India, some of yoga’s earliest manifestations were found in ancient Egypt (aka Kemet).

I first heard about yoga back in 2007 during an internship, but I didn’t start practicing consistently until 2014. I initially began as a way to snap back after having Nailah, but it eventually became so much more. I started feeling more grounded and centered; I noticed I was in the present moment more often, and I had a sense of inner peace, all of which made me fall in love with it. Yoga is now a tool I use almost daily for my inner peace and to also connect with myself and Spirit.

Some other benefits of yoga:

  • Improves flexibility and strength.
  • Can decrease stress levels and anxiety.
  • Helps you become more mindful (i.e., more present).
  • Increases your energy levels.
  • Improves heart health.

A few types of yoga you can try are:

  • Hatha (more gentle and good for beginners)
  • Vinyasa (generally faster than hatha with more movement)
  • Hot yoga (practiced in a heated room; encourages detoxification and enhances flexibility)
  • Restorative (holding supported poses for 5+ minutes for deep relaxation)
  • Kemetic (the ancient Egyptian system of yoga enlightenment)

Of course, you can find a local studio or gym that offers yoga classes, but if you feel more comfortable practicing at home (due to COVID-19 or just because that’s your preference), here are some tips to get started (you can read the entire blog post here):

  1. Set an intention. Why do you want to start your yoga practice?
  2. Create space. You don’t need a room of your own or a she-shed (but if you have one, use it!), just enough space for a yoga mat and maybe some calming tools like incense, candles or crystals.
  3. Make time for it. If you need to, put a reminder in your phone, put it in your planner or on your schedule. Consistency (however that looks for you) is key.
  4. Find an online teacher or YouTube videos. Yoga Greenbook provides information on Black yoga instructors.
  5. Remember it’s a practice. Be gentle with yourself. Do the best you can. Also remember: Yoga is for every body!

Want to get monthly Yoga PDFs and discounts on upcoming classes? Learn more about how you can join the subscription service on Patreon!

 

5 Days to More Calm: Mindfulness

Black Mom’s Guide to Calm

Today’s topic is mindfulness!

One definition is:

“awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

I’ve been an overthinking and a worrier since I was younger. I found (and still do sometimes) myself either constantly worrying about the future or replaying the past, what I should’ve/could’ve said/done differently which caused me to feel anxious and overwhelmed a lot. Yoga and meditation really helped (and continues to help) me stay present in the moment more often. I’ve also learned how to go with the flow of life, accept and embrace where I am in the moment, surrender to the process and trust Divine timing.

In addition, mindfulness:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety.
  • Can help with chronic pain and lower blood pressure.
  • Improves focus and concentration (which allows you to be more productive and have more energy).
  • Improves your self-awareness (you’ll better understand your strengths and weaknesses and know where you can improve).
  • Causes you to be less reactive (you’re less likely to snap or go off when you’re frustrated or angry).

I’m not sure it’s possible to be mindful every single second of the day (because: human), but there are practices you can incorporate so you’re more present more often. Here are a few:

  • Do one thing at a time (as much as possible).
  • Pause and take deep breaths, focusing on your inhales and exhales.
  • Take a moment to observe your surroundings with your 5 senses.
  • When having a conversation, listen as the other person is talking (instead of coming up with your reply while they’re still talking).
  • Practice mindful eating: Focus only on eating. Notice how your food smells, the temperature, the taste and texture. Chew slowly and really savor what you’re eating.
  • Scan your body. Become aware of any sensations you feel, notice how you’re breathing, see if you’re tense anywhere, notice how you feel emotionally.

I hope this quick overview will help you get started with your practice in being more present! If it does (or if you want to share a comment or have a question), please reach out to me here — I’d love to hear from you!

Also, for more (and exclusive!) resources for finding your calm, learn how you can be part of our new community here: Black Mom Calm Patreon.

 

34 Things I’ve Learned By 34

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

It’s my 34th birthday!! Since I was feeling kind of reflective this year, I decided to list some of the biggest things I’ve learned up to this point in my life. I hope you find them useful and inspiring for your own life — or that they at least serve as a reminder to you. 💙

  1. I create my own calm.
  2. I can’t effectively take care of others and handle what I need to if I don’t take care of myself first.
  3.  I don’t have to wait for a special occasion to treat myself.
  4. I deserve the very best in life.
  5. I don’t have to sacrifice myself and my needs.
  6. Worrying is a waste of time.
  7. I am worthy and enough just as I am, simply because I’m here.
  8. My best is good enough, and my best varies from day to day.
  9. It’s important to protect my peace and energy always.
  10. Forgiveness doesn’t require re-connection.
  11. Setting boundaries and learning to say no are crucial when it comes to self-care.
  12. It’s okay to allow people to be who they are; I can choose whether or not to deal with them.
  13. Done is better than perfect.
  14. Feel the fear. Do it anyway.
  15. I’m exactly where I need to be.
  16. It’s important that I listen to my intuition. She knows.
  17. Spirit has my back.
  18. Everything is working out for me, even when I can’t see it or it doesn’t feel like it.
  19. I’ll never know if something is possible if I don’t try.
  20. It is possible to experience love again after breakups.
  21. What’s for me is for me; it won’t pass me by.
  22. Sometimes, I have to be my own cheerleader and encourager.
  23. I must make time for myself daily.
  24. My mental and emotional health are as important as my physical health.
  25. It’s important to appreciate the “little “things and the things I generally take for granted.
  26. I need to be in and embrace the present moment as much as possible.
  27. Go with the flow instead of trying to force things to happen.
  28. Trust in Divine timing. Everything happens when it’s supposed to.
  29. Life ebbs and flows. Learn to ride the waves.
  30. It’s important to cherish my loved ones.
  31. I have to enjoy my journey.
  32. I’m on my own unique path, just like everybody else.
  33. I should be open to new ideas, people, experiences and open to life being different (and better!) than I could have ever imagined.
  34. It’s important for me to love myself fully and unconditionally while also being unapologetic in my evolution.

10 Blog Posts for Finding Calm Through COVID-19

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

If the Rona and all that’s come with it (like staying home, worrying about loved ones, trying to be a teacher, etc.) has you feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I get it! So I’m sharing some of my blog posts (older and newer) that will help you overcome your overwhelm and find calm in the chaos:

  1. Guided Meditation for Anxiety and Overwhelm
  2. 4 Breathing Techniques for Calm
  3. Everything Is Working Out! A Guided Meditation
  4. 4 Ways to Clear Energy That’s Not Serving You
  5. How to Start A Home Yoga Practice: 5 Things to Do
  6. Finding Your Calm During Life’s Challenges
  7. 10 Affirmations for Your Root Chakra
  8. 8 Spiritual Practices That Keep Me Grounded
  9. 3 Types of Yoga to Try
  10. This, Too, Shall Pass: 18 Quotes and Affirmations for the Rough Times

 

If you find this useful, please share the link to this blog post with your people!

Do you have questions related to finding your calm? Reach out to me here; I’m here for you, sis. 💙

 

Guided Meditation for Anxiety and Overwhelm

Are you feeling anxious and/or overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic and everything surrounding it? If so, this meditation is for you! It will allow you to feel more grounded, centered and at peace which is what we all need right now.

Get the products you need to find the calm you desire and deserve in the Black Mom Calm Shop!

On Protecting Your Peace

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Now, more than ever, it’s important to create — or maintain — practices that allow you to protect your peace. Although I know how to find my calm when I feel overwhelmed or frustrated most of the time, I have to admit: Lately, it’s been somewhat of a challenge. I’m determining what works best for my business now, figuring out what my work-from-home situation will be with my 9-5, being a mama/teacher and just trying to process everything happening. It’s been a lot. So I’ve had to be more intentional about maintaining and protecting my peace. Here are some things I’ve been doing:

Starting my mornings peacefully.

Because everything has been so different, my usual routine had fallen off a few times (which is understandable). However, I know how important it is for me to set the tone for my day, and having a morning routine helps me maintain my peace or find it when life throws me curve balls. To start your mornings on a peaceful and positive note, create a practice you can do in (at minimum) 5 or 10 minutes, preferably in a quiet and distraction-free space. Some ideas to get you started: meditation or deep breathing, yoga, gratitude journaling, say/write affirmations, visualize, read something inspirational.

Taking social media breaks.

It can be tempting to scroll on Facebook and Instagram all day if you have more free time in the house. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with spending time on social media (because I do), too much time can cause you to feel anxious, overwhelmed and even depressed with all of the not-so-great news or even comparing yourself to other people. To protect your peace, you can:

  • Take a break for half a day, a whole day, a weekend or a week (or several).
  • Choose how much time you’ll spend on social media per day. 
  • Place your phone across the room or in another room so you won’t be tempted to pick it up just because.
  • Use an app to restrict your usage.

Don’t consume so much news.

Since the info surrounding COVID-19 changes multiple times a day, you may want to stay informed about what’s going on which I totally get. However, think about how much news you really need and limit how much you consume so that it doesn’t amplify any stress or fears you have.

Chat with a friend.

Since many of us are distancing ourselves and may have family that’s driving us crazy (hey, I’m just keeping it real), reach out to a friend to say, ‘Hey’ and catch up as you support each other through this.

Ground yourself.

In these uncertain times, there are moments when I feel ungrounded and all over the place, and my energy has been off. When this happens, I take a minute (or several) to ground myself. Some of the things I do:

  • Stop what I’m doing, relax my body, close my eyes and take a few deep breaths.
  • Do some yoga (practicing mountain pose in particular).
  • Take in my surroundings with my senses.
  • Slow down and focus on the task I’m doing

Practice self-care.

These days, I’ve been listening to my body and intuition and giving myself a lot of down time when I feel it’s necessary. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, watching Netflix, playing with Nailah, listening to music and older episodes of The Read podcast. Do whatever you need to to take care of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being and do things that bring you joy (and make you laugh) often.

Flow and embrace what is.

I’m naturally someone who likes to be in control, but one thing that I’ve truly come to understand is that there are so many things I can’t control. So I’ve been making more of an effort to go with the flow of whatever is happening, doing my best to accept what is and being in the moment. One mantra I use to help with this is, “I surrender and let Spirit do her thing.”

Give yourself (and others) grace.

There are times when I have good intentions about crossing things off my intentions (to-do) list, and when I’m not able to get it done, I might beat myself up about it or feel bad because I’m not being “productive enough.” I have to remind myself that I’m only human and that sometimes, life just gets in the way. Plus, things are different at the moment, so I have to be extra gentle and compassionate with myself now.

One final note: It may not be possible for you to feel 100% peaceful and positive all the time (I don’t either), but it is possible to feel a little bit better and a little more calm than you did before your practices.

Allow yourself to feel your feelings then move to one that feels better. Do your best to maintain your peace, focus on the good and take it one day at a time. We got this. 💙

 

4 Breathing Techniques for Calm

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Breathing is one of my favorite ways to find calm when I feel overwhelmed, anxious or frustrated. And best of all, you can do this whenever you need to, no matter where you are, and you can practice multiple times a day. In this post, I’m sharing five breathing techniques you can use to tap into your inner peace. But before I do, here are a few tips:

 

  • If possible, get somewhere that’s quiet and distraction-free.
  • These can be done with your eyes opened or closed (but obviously, if your eyes are going to be closed, don’t drive or operate heavy machinery or anything like that). Sit up with your spine straight.
  • You can also listen to some music to help you focus better. Search for meditation music or relaxation music on YouTube, Google Play, etc.
  • You can practice the techniques until you feel more relaxed.
  • Be gentle with yourself and remember, it’s a practice.

1. Deep/belly breathing. (This is actually the way you’re supposed to breathe, so it’s good to practice regularly).

  • Sit tall with a straight spine and relax your shoulders.
  • Inhale fully and deeply through your nose allowing your belly to fill with air like a balloon.
  • Exhale completely through your nose, allowing your belly button to go towards your spine.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times or until you feel calmer.

2. Equal Breathing

  • Use the same breathing technique as above.
  • Count to 4 as you inhale, then count to 4 as you exhale.
  • Repeat a few times or until you feel more relaxed.

3. 4-7-8 breathing (This is a great technique to use if you have trouble falling asleep).

  • Inhale fully and deeply (fill your belly with air) through your nose as you count to 4.
  • Hold the breath for a count of 7.
  • Exhale fully and deeply (allowing your navel to go towards your spine) as you count to 8.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times or until you’re more peaceful (or asleep).

4. Relaxation Response.

  • As you sit, start your from the top of your head and scan your body, releasing any tension you might be holding on to.
  • Inhale through your nose, focusing on your breath.
  • Exhale and say a word to yourself like breathe, relax, calm or peace.
  • Continue for 2 minutes or until you feel calmer.

 

Get the products you need to find the inner peace you deserve! Shop your calm at BlackMomCalmShop.com today.