3 for Thursday: August 3, 2017

At our house, we’re one week away from the start of school. Summer break coming to an end is sad in one way, but watching our kids step into the next stage of their lives makes me feel warm and happy inside. The coming and going of each school year shapes, molds, and structures our lives much like the bends, turns and stops in a river help us know our location on a float trip. As we fill out forms and go to orientations and buy school supplies, we get to experience the natural flows of life with our kids as they grow older. Preparing for school’s start can be a stressful chore, or we can choose to instead participate in the river of our kids’ lives, navigating and floating with them on to the next stop.

3 things for this week:

1) An app:
Calm (Android and iPhone)
I have spoken aplenty of Headspace. I really enjoy the meditative space that the Headspace app helps train. I have found that the awareness, rest, breathing, and mindfulness that Headspace has created for me help me live life more fully and focused. But there are other similar apps, and I tried another one this week. Calm is in the same vein as Headspace but implements it in a whole other way.

I find the Calm app’s look and feel to be generally more peaceful and more free flowing than the Headspace app. The Calm app opens to a nature background with nature sounds, and you can choose which background and sounds you prefer. You can then even touch that background and go to a peaceful, solitary full screen of that sound/image combination. One of the settings also allows you to continue the nature sounds even as you move around within other apps on your device.

From the home screen, you can click straight into focused breathing exercises or straight into meditation or sleep help. You can participate in a meditation series, or you can simply take part in the app’s Daily Calm guided meditation session that arrives in the app every day. I’m also noticing that a Calm subscription is cheaper overall than a Headspace subscription. There’s also a cleaner, calendar-based streak tracking functionality in Calm. There’s much to the Calm app worth checking out. Comparing the Calm app to the Headspace experience, Calm feels like the friend you enjoy hanging out with whimsically while Headspace feels more like working out with your personal trainer. Try both Headspace and Calm — different experiences, and you might just choose both.

2) An app:
Pray As You Go (Android and iPhone)

If you are looking for something more faith-based, more spiritual and devotional, check out the Pray As You Go site and appPray As You Go offers a daily prayer session designed to help you pray and meditate on the Bible and focus on God with some guidance. This app and its content are produced by Jesuits in Britain and worldwide with a focus on the approach and spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The daily Pray As You Go sessions generally revolve around some introductory choral or meditative music, Scripture reading, thoughts for the day, spiritual and personal questions to think about and meditate upon, a repeat of the daily reading, and then final questions for thought, inquiry, and focus. Each daily Pray As You Goepisode is about 10-13 minutes. Because the content is British, those narrating and speaking have wonderful British accents — if you enjoy watching Sherlock or Dr. Who, you’ll love the accents in this app. You can also find the content on the Pray As You Go website, as well as additional resources, information on the music used in the daily episodes, and more about Ignatian spirituality. The Pray As You Go content is produced in several languages, and if you search your preferred podcast provider, the content is also available in podcast form.

3) A web resource:
“The Lost Art of the Outdoors”

The editors of Outside magazine have compiled a list of over twenty articles to help you find a better way in the outdoors, titled “The Lost Art of the Outdoors”. From tips on how to avoid panic when you’re lost to how to pitch the perfect campsite to how to read a map and navigate without your smartphone to making edible food and brewing good camp coffee, this collection of articles includes some great tips and tricks. If you are shy about camping and getting wild outdoors, or if you just want to see if you’re missing some pointers, “The Lost Art of the Outdoors” list will be worth your time.