May is mental health awareness month. I'm passionate about raising awareness of mental health through my writing and building community in music. The stigma around anxiety, depression, and other mental health-related illnesses needs to be removed.
This past week was an important reminder of how far a little bit of self-care practice can go towards easing my mind and reminding me to live in the present. Here are some things that have helped me recently and some things I'm looking forward to:
Insight Timer: Meditation app
I’ve previously recommended apps like Calm and Headspace, but I recently came across Insight Timer, the biggest meditation community in the world. Thousands of meditation teachers upload guided meditations across a variety of needs–anxiety, stress, sleep, emergency, etc. I’ve been using Insight Timer every day and night, whether I’m meditating for a few minutes before going into work, or getting ready to fall asleep.
Notes from the Universe
This is one of my favorite things to receive in my inbox: Notes from the Universe. Every morning "The Universe" sends you a note, personalized with your name. These notes are "designed to remind you that you have, indeed, been given dominion over all things." I tend to receive these brilliant, uplifting reminders at the right time. Sign up for them here.
I took a breath work class for the first time last week. Breath work involves controlled, rhythmic breathing to help release pent-up emotions as you focus on the here and now. It was an intense experience–first-timers often experience their hands cramping up like lobster claws. As the music started to get louder and my breathing aligned with the sounds bouncing off the walls in the room, tears started to pour uncontrollably. I left the class with a set of mantras and gratitude for all that I'm experiencing and working on.
Sound baths are a great way to relax, release emotional trauma, and gain new insights and perspectives. I had the privilege of experiencing an incredible sound bath at the Marciano Art Foundation last week. It took place in a 13,000 square foot space that currently houses Olafur Eliasson’s Reality Project, an immersive light and sound installation. Jónsi of Sigur Rós, frequent collaborator Alex Somers, and composer Paul Corley performed Sigur Rós's newest mixtape Liminal live. On the project's site, they write, “Liminal views Sigur Rós as an eco-system. It identifies the connections and blurs the boundaries between work done and work to come; between brand new music and ideas barely yet nascent; between songs written 20 years ago and collaborations to be made tomorrow.”
I love that description so much. I felt and visualized those themes throughout the experience. I often dipped into the past, imagined the future. Breathing through it and immersing myself in the music allowed me to return to home, to the present. I also reflected on how much I’ve grown since my days in high school and college listening to and seeing Sigur Rós and Jónsi live. Here I was, more than a decade later, listening to their latest project in an unforgettable sound bath experience.
WE RISE LA: May 19-28
Organized by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, WE RISE is a 10-day pop-up festival of art and community building in Downtown LA from May 19-28. There will be talks, meditations, workshops and more to raise awareness and action around mental health as a civil right for all. I look forward to checking out some of the events this upcoming week. All events are free with RSVP. More info here.