Monday, December 29, 2008

Climbing the Mountain

Meditation Getaways - Climbing the Mountain -

We journey into the less visited parts of our subconscious minds. There, we find a solitary mountain rising up from a plain that stretches to infinity in all directions. Water trickles down the mountain in tiny streams, creating a mesmerizing sound that draws us even deeper, into the very core of our subconscious awareness. As we climb the mountain, we experience healing and renewal.

This guided meditation features the soundtrack "Murmuring Creek" as a background sound.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

...and the same goes for pets

Following up on my previous post about using white noise-like nature sounds for keeping children relaxed and sleeping, you can apply a similar approach with household pets.

Many puppies are terrified in their first few nights at home after being separated from their mothers and littermates. Just about every pet internet site recommends some kind of white noise to soothe and relax your puppy, and block out the sounds of things going bump in the night that can wake him suddenly.

And how many of you out there have a dog or cat with a phobia of thunderstorms and other loud noises like fireworks? Holly Nash, DVM says that "'White noise'... may aid in blocking out some of the fear producing noise." (Read the full article)

Excellent! So try out your soothing waterfall or stream CD on Fido or Fida on New Year's night and the next time a thunderstorm rolls through town.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nature sounds for children's rooms

An often overlooked use of nature sounds is for the relaxation of small children, particularly infants. Many babies who are restless at night can be helped to sleep by playing some kind of white noise in their rooms. The reason for this is that before a baby is born, she is accustomed to being constantly surrounded by the soothing and reassuring sounds of her mother's body; the beating of the heart, and the sound of blood circulating in the placenta create a comforting blanket of white noise. Out in the harsh reality of the world, a quiet bedroom can often seem too quiet. Adding the sound of white noise, wind, or flowing water, all of which contain similar frequency spectra, can help to mimic the soothing sounds of the womb, and lull a little baby to sleep.
Check out these quotes from the baby experts:

"Many babies are calmed, for example, by the hum of a fan or vacuum cleaner, a tape recording of uterine gurglings, or a record that plays soothing nature sounds, such as waves breaking on the beach..." -Eisenberg, Murkoff, and Hathaway, What to Expect the First Year

"'White noise,' such as the continuous, monotonous sound of a vacuum cleaner or a recording of ocean waves, can often relax and lull your baby... " -Mayo Clinic, Complete Book of Pregnancy & Baby's First Year

There are plenty of "white noise machines" for baby's rooms available out there, many of them costing $50 or more. And there are also many "nature sound machines" that play repeated, short loops of low-quality nature sounds. But why go through the expense and trouble? You already have a CD player or MP3 player in your home, so simply buy a CD or MP3 of some relaxing nature sounds, like a waterfall or ocean waves, and play it in your child's bedroom. For $10 or less, you could give your baby (and, in turn, yourself) the gift of restful nights!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Ancient Ocean

Meditation Getaways - The Ancient Ocean -

In our minds, we take a trip hundreds of millions of years back in time to a prehistoric beach, and experience the young earth's healing energy. We exercise all of our senses in our imagination to vividly create the scene. Use this meditation to relax, heal, and develop your imagination and spirituality.

This guided meditation uses the Moodstreams soundtrack "Pacific Tidepool" as a background sound.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Five tips for reducing holiday stress

So if you haven't figured it out by now, the holidays are a hectic, stress-laden time of year. They're so laden with stress, you could pick up the stress with a...ladle. A time of year that should be spent unwinding and focusing on quality time with those you love is increasingly becoming a spectacle of marketing, materialism, and malicious trampling of fellow man. I mean, holiday violence? You've got to be kidding me. Irony would be a gross understatement. Every year the malls put up the Christmas decorations earlier (I think we saw hints of it in September this year), and the push for everyone to buy the "right gift" for their loved ones becomes more aggressive. The day will probably come when we see ornaments and tinsel in July, along with the "Summer is over, it's time to buy Christmas gifts" marketing push.

And so here I am, a survivor of many Christmases, both as a kid and adult, with my sanity intact (That's right, everyone's crazy but me), to offer some tips for reducing stress in this Season of Doom.

1) Suggest to your family a reduced gift-burden: Every person buys only one gift for one other person, Secret Santa-style, so that everyone gets a gift. If you know ahead of time that you only need to buy one gift, not only does it save you money, time, and sanity, but you can focus on buying a gift that is more meaningful/useful to your intended recipient. And Mother Earth will thank you for having fewer wasted gifts that end up in landfills, in addition to less wrapping paper and packaging to dispose of. Our family tried this a few years ago with great success. But not as much success as some of these later options which we adopted. Read on:
1a) If you are a true altruist/socialist, buy a board game or other group activity as your one gift! A game with simple rules, like Jenga, seems to work particularly well for this application. That way your family can play together immediately after opening gifts, thus distracting you from other less savory group activities like Texas Hold 'em or Blackjack, where Dad can accidentally gamble off the money he had been saving for your inheritance. This has also happened in my family, and unfortunately started when I was young, so there has been much inheritance loss over the years.

2) Suggest to your family the most reduced gift-burden of all: no gifts at all! Well, I don't mean no gifts literally, because little kids still get a kick out of opening gifts and really know how to dig them. With no appreciable savings accounts of their own beyond what is in the pickle jar bank on their dressers, kids have no means of blowing horrendous amounts of money during the rest of the year like all of us grownups, so the holidays are their one shot to get all the stuff that they won't use in 3 months. So just buy gifts for the children, and maybe throw in some gifts for the "golden generation" (grandmas and grandpas) as well, whom I find appreciate the thrill of unwrapping boxes, even empty ones, as much as anyone. Meanwhile, everyone in the 16 to 64 age bracket can enjoy the comfort and satisfaction of having bucked holiday materialism in favor of quality family time together, and maybe a little Texas Hold 'em or Blackjack (see 1a). My family currently uses the no-gift protocol for our Christmas celebration, having transitioned away from the one-gift protocol a couple of years ago, and it has honestly led us all to love Christmas all over again! No lie! I can say with the utmost sincerity that giving up gifts was the single greatest thing to happen to our yearly holiday gathering, at least in my adult life. It will likely revolutionize your family's holiday experience just as dramatically, especially if your family is like mine, i.e. a group of people who happen to have some genetic material in common but who really don't know each other that well. You'll be amazed at how much you will look forward to the yuletide season once it becomes a minimal-obligations event, like Thanksgiving. No more anxiety, no more insecurity about buying the wrong gift, and no more cattle-herding in the mall on Christmas Eve.

3) Here I address the the tricky issue of whether or not to buy gifts for your pets. I hold animals in the highest regard: They are pure-hearted and sincere beings who seem to have their priorities straight, and know how to live life day by day. I have never seen a pet get worked up (either positively or negatively) about the impending yuletide, no matter how many rawhide-filled mesh stockings PETCO puts up on display. Those, my dear reader(s), are for us, not the animals. We're supposed to feel the heart-strings being tugged and experience twinges of guilt if we would even entertain the notion of forgetting Fido or Fida this Christmas. But let's be honest: your pet cares about what you do for him/her the ENTIRE 365 DAYS OF THE YEAR, not whether or not he gets an extra raw hide on Christmas. It's part of the animals mentality, and a justifiable one at that, of living every day like the next. So feel no guilt about ignoring the wreath made out of catnip fibers hanging in the pet store window. Your pets need love and attention and entertainment from you every day, and their needs have to be met as they arise, so just continue doing that and you'll be rewarded with happy, healthy pets who love you back. Save the holiday gifts, if any, for us silly humans who get a kick out of seasonal displays of attention.

4) Limit your family's watching of television. TV is where we get the notions of what we need to buy implanted in our minds, and it fuels the demand for the "hot" items of the year. So we knew that Nintendo's Wii system would be popular this year, but when we hear the media exclaim that the Nintendo Wii is the "MUST-HAVE TRINKET OF 2008", many people suddenly decide that they have to have one, and they have to have it for Christmas, or their kid has to have one, and the idea of waiting until March when the hoopla dies down is just unthinkable, thus creating an exponentional increase in the demand for this item. A simple boycott or reduction of TV watching limits your exposure to these mass marketing phenomena, and you will instead turn your attention to bugging your loved ones to buy you something else that you'd really like more. If everyone just follows this simple formula, it will ensure a generous surplus of Nintendo Wiis for the rest of us, who absolutely, unequivocally HAVE to have it this Christmas.

5) If all else fails: Record an entire season of kids' television shows, including the commercials, in advance, and play it to your children several years down the line, discreetly substituting it for the current season's shows without your children knowing. We're all aware that kids decide what they want for Christmas from the commercials that appear in between the shows they watch, right? Well, if the commercials your kids are watching are already four years old, you can bet the toys being marketed in those commercials will be a-cheap and a-plenty at some discount store down the street. So when little Billy wants a Furby, you say, "Well, I'm going to have trample a lot of parents to get this, but I'll do it because I love you," and then you go out to Valu-Mart and buy it for $2.99. No hassles, no lines, Christmas is a done deal.

Relieve stress now.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The intricacies of running an online business...

I will dedicate today's post to the intricacies (and some would say rigors) of running an online business. This is not necessarily meant to be instructional in any way, but merely my experiences with the process. What people who don't run an online business don't know (and for those who do, I apologize) is how much time is spent in trying to promote the business, and how much that digs into the actual time you could be spending administrating the business and actually building up products or improving the store, etc.

Promotion, the act of "getting your name out there" is a LARGE chunk of running a business, especially a relatively new one, and those of you out there who are thinking of starting a business, prepare to spend more than half of your time (at first) submitting ads, creating promotional videos, and pitching your product to what seems like thousands of places. You will become VERY adept at typing your website URL and description at lightning speeds into countless submission forms across all of cyberspace.

Some of these promotional activities are actually rather fun for people. I, for instance, love making the promotional videos and other videos that have examples of my products, despite the frustrations of video editing software. And I love to design graphics for my products and image ads, despite the frustrations of graphics editing software (like a certain program that sounds like Phodobe Autoshop).

So while my forte is creating audio soundtracks, I can live with doing certain promotional stuff that's creative in nature. What isn't so great is the countless hours spent submitting and registering for every internet directory known to man. I mean everybody knows about Youtube and Google Ads and Yahoo and whatnot. But that is only the tip of the iceberg...mwa haha.

Take this as an example: I recently created a podcast of guided meditations called Meditation Getaways that uses my nature sounds in the background as I guide the listener on an imaginary trip to the wilderness. So, it's out on the internet, and I just let the throngs of eager fans of guided meditation jockey for position as they subscribe to my podcast, right? WRONG (accompanied by buzzer sound)! Nobody knows about it! So I have to submit my podcast feed to podcast directories so that people can find it.

Well, itunes is the first and obvious choice, but not everyone uses itunes, so why not a few others, like, say, Podcasting Station, All Podcasts, RSS Network, Plazoo, Podblaze, Podcast Direct, Get A Podcast, Idiotvox, Podnova, Yahoo Media, Every Podcast, Podcast Pup, Podcast Like That, Podcast Blaster, Mirpod, Podmopolis, Speecha, Personal Growth Podcast, Podanza, Podlounge, Podcast Alley, Podcast Bunker, Podcast Pickle, Podfeed, Syndic8, Hard Pod Cafe, and Digital Podcast.

Someone run the stats on that and tell me the percentage of syllables that the word "Pod" makes up in the above list. I'd do it myself but I'm too busy submitting to Podcast directories and blogging about how much time I spend submitting to Podcast directories. Why so many? Because there isn't a single directory that everyone uses, so you want to make sure that your Podcast reaches the widest possible audience. Many of these sites require a registration, and many require writing a description of some kind about your podcast before you submit. Anyway, the point is that you can see how promoting this one podcast could take the better part of several work days. The general rule in all of this that applies to all aspects of promoting a business: Do everything you can to ensure that what you are producing or selling reaches the largest possible audience.

So if love cat ice hockey and your unique contribution to the world is the creation of the world's first Cat Ice Hockey League and you have created a great website for the CIHL, be prepared to sacrifice some of the time that you normally spend reviewing team rosters, creating strict performance-enhancing drug policies, and scouting in faraway countries for the best international feline hockey talent. You must turn much of your focus for the time being to getting the CIHL's name out there, making sure people know about the CIHL's website, making sure it reaches the intended audience of animal sports fans, and justifying to the world why Cat Ice Hockey is THE sport of the 21st century. And once you've gotten that ball rolling, you can turn some of your attention back to the committee hearings on the legality of catnip.

That, my friends, is how hobbies become businesses.

Check out my business: Moodstreams

My Podcast Alley feed! {pca-e2b5ab07d34091cee7a337678fda6e85}