Friday, August 30, 2013

Different Ways to Relax and De-Stress

I received a tweet this week that said, "I've been incredibly stressed lately. What can I do to stop?"  It was in private message from someone who has Diabetes.

I put on my knowledge hat and started to share.  This is what I said in a few tweet message streams.  

" Several things. If you can, take time for yourself and listen to some soft music. Close your eyes and take about ten really deep breaths."

" The breathing exercise of breathing in deeply for 3 seconds holding for 6 seconds and releasing the breath slowly over 12 seconds helps me."

"I have the album that is tied to my videos, up on bandcamp for go grab it. :-) there's no frequency stuff on it, just music"

" If none of that helps at all I'd suggest talking with your primary care doc and see if they can't hook you up with some antianxiety medicine"

" I hope this helps. :-)"

" You put it in your cart and you do a 0 price on it and download it. If you have any problems with it, let me know."

I'll try to elaborate a little more on my fast tweets from above.

One thing that can really help you is to take some deep breaths.  It can be enhanced by some really soft music.  This helps your mind refocus away from the issue that is stressing you out.  Doesn't matter what the music is.  You can use what I have posted on my website or you can bring any number of CDs up on Spotify and listen to them.  I have a playlist that I created on Spotify that you can click play on and start the music streaming.  Start by closing your eyes while listening to the music and taking in a really deep breath and holding it for a couple of seconds and letting it out slowly.  Do this ten times.  I should help to calm you a bit.  Focus on the breath while doing this.  It will help you focus your mind on something that is not troubling you.

You can also keep your eyes open and do this while watching the videos I created.  I split these up into 7 minute segments, so they are not to long and not too short.  I think 7 minutes is a pretty descent time to get refocused and take your mind off of the present moment dilemma, anxiety, worry or stress.  There are so many visualization videos on YouTube that can be used as well.  Beautiful nature landscape photos in a slide show with soft music.  Find what works for you.  That is the key.

Secondly, you can do the 3/6/12 or 4/7/8 breathing exercises (also called the Relaxing Breath).  The first number is the number of seconds you breathe in.  The middle number is how long you hold it.  The last number is how long you exhale.  There are different methods for different practices.  I use 3/6/12.  Again, use what feels comfortable for you. After about 20 times of doing this exercise and focusing on breath, all my stress dissipates.  It helps me to focus on the breath and do the counting, because it takes my mind off the issues at hand.  

Thirdly, if there is no refocusing happening and you are constantly stressed, it really may be time to consult your primary care doctor.  They can guide you to the right doctor who specializes in stress and anxiety issues.  Some folks need medication to help bring them back into balance with themselves.  Integrating some basic techniques above with treatment works wonders for some people that I know.  

I hope that some of this information helps people find some peace.  Especially those of us who are dealing with what can be a huge stress in our lives on a daily basis, like Diabetes.  And please go download "Thought Vibration" for free from Bandcamp.  The link is above and you just need to chose the option of paying 0$ when you are asked what you want to pay for the album.  It will give you options on which format you would like to download and you can go from there. 

Here is hoping that you have a stress free day.


If you want to do some further research, here are some links to some different techniques on for breathing and a few videos which cover techniques on YouTube.  I only go over a bit of this, but the more research you can do into things that can help you contain stress and relax and enjoy the life that you are living, the better off you will be.  I use a myriad of tools in my arsenal and they work for me.  Sometimes I forget to use them, but I always carry them with me on my phone when I need a break.

Great Articles for Further Research

Dr. Andrew Weil shares techniques on breathing and stress relief.

The Help Guide has some excellent tips and techniques as well.  There is a short video on their page about roadblocks to awareness of our emotions.

WebMD has a great article and some action steps that can be taken.

A nice article in Time magazine about stress relief and a 10 minute exercise that can be done.

A Harvard Health Publication on relaxation techniques and studies that are being done.

Breath Relaxation video.  This one is really nice.

Interesting website name. Great breathing exercises listed for Anxiety and Stress

Another nice website with some tools and exercises

Another article from Real Simple magazine, with a corresponding video.

A great website to get some tools for relaxation

Great Music and Non-Music Videos for Visualization and Relaxation

From Relax Daily on YouTube.  Michael writes some great relaxing background music that you can stream all day or purchase from his website.  Check out some of his music and videos.

Here is a playlist from The Relax Channel.  Hours of great stress reducing background music or music to meditate too.

From the Sleep Music Relax Zone channel on YouTube, here is some really pretty music.  I think this might have some low binural beat tones embedded in it.  

This one is a Zen visualization with no music, absolutely beautiful Zen style garden.

Tropical beach, only waves, no music and very peaceful.  I want to go here.

Some very relaxing study music.  

Absolutely Beautiful relaxing guitar by Pablo Arellano.  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Gift to You

It is great to be able to share and post the songs from "Thought Vibration" to stream for free, or for the video to also be free on YouTube to stream, but I wanted to take that a step further. If you want a CD copy of "Thought Vibration" you can still get one through the CreateSpace link in the music section of the site or through my music site itself, but I'm now offering a version of this album through Bandcamp. You may now name your own price for this album. Which means you may also download it for free.

Why am I doing something like this?  I want those who are having issues with stress to be able to download some music to take with them on their walks or for meditation at home.  To be able to have the ability to get off the grid and do so, without having to pay the money for it.  Especially if they can't afford downloading albums and have limited budgets.  Believe me, I know how this goes, there are times when I want an album, but sometimes wait months to buy it.  When I have the ability to do so through Bandcamp, it allows me to go back later on and pay the artist for the album, for what it is worth to me.  You may still do so through this link I am providing. This is a "name your own price" deal, you can get it for free and you can pay something for it as well.  If you decide to download it for free, all that I ask in return, is that you use it and see if it helps you at all.

My main concern is that folks get something good out of it. Download it, listen to it and relax and enjoy it. I'm working on doing the same thing for the video and will keep you all posted.  But for now, enjoy the music and enjoy the video below. 

Peace be with you all,

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Kevin Kern - In the Enchanted Garden

1996 was a big year for New Age music.  From the release of Secret Garden's "Songs from a Secret Garden" to classics like "Chakra Meditation" by Merlin's Magic, "By Heart" by Jim Brickman and "I Surrender" by Barbara Higbie.  One album stands out above all the rest, and that is Kevin Kern's "In the Enchanted Garden".  I think I listened more to this album that year, than any other album I purchased.  It was the year after my father passing and my divorce of my first marriage was over.  I was on my own, alone and not as stressed out, but more so, I just need some comfort music.  This album along with several others, helped me through a rough patch in my life.  

Every Kevin Kern album I have purchased, since this one, has taken me on a magical journey.  I kid you not.  This music plays like a movie in your mind and is so pretty that it will sometimes bring emotions out of you that you probably thought were lost or dormant.  The first time I heard the track "Another Realm" I couldn't stop shivering for hours.  I kept playing that one track over and over again.  This album definitely reduces my stress levels.  Its one of my top 20 stress reducing albums, in my playlist on my phone.  It's with me wherever I go.  I have always had a copy of it in my car, since I had a CD player in my car.  

When I started to write new music on the piano, around 2001, I realized that I had that soft touch that Kevin had.  I've always played like this myself, but now I realized my connection with Kevin's music itself.  There are very few in this genre who play with such feeling and emotion.  Kevin is among those artists.  It is what Benjamin Zander calls "the left cheek lean". 

Explore many of Kevin's other great releases as well.  I love everyone that I own:

And many others as well.  Make sure you visit his website and take a look around and purchase CDs from him there as well.  I know that I point you to a lot of Amazon links here, but you can also purchase Kevin's music through iTunes.  

I use "In the Enchanted Garden" for more than stress reduction, I use it for keeping me focused in breathing meditation as well.  It's a wonderful album from beginning to end and back again. I hope that you enjoy.

Peace be with you,

"Another Realm" (looks to be a fan video)

"Sundial Dreams" (one of my favorite songs)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dean & Dudley Evenson - Healers Extraordinaire

From the first time I popped "Ocean Dreams" into my cassette player, I just knew that the rest of my life would not be complete without Dean and Dudley Evenson as part of its soundtrack.  They are the Godfather and Godmother of New Age Music, starting their label Soundings in 1979.  Their path to becoming the music healers of planet Earth and it's inhabitants, is quite an interesting tale that can be read via their website and Wikipedia.  I think that Dean and Dudley have helped to shape the New Age genre that I love and am a part of musically today.

In times of hardship and stress I have listened to many of their CDs and tapes.  My favorites are (to name a few):

As I write this, I am listening to "Ocean Dreams" on Spotify and am amazed at how far the technology has come.  From tape, to CD, to MP3 and now live streaming, I love the fact that every time I listen to this album on Spotify, they make some money for it being streamed. Monies that I know, deep down, they put to good use.  While it's nice to have the streaming service, I still support the artists by purchasing CDs and MP3s of their music.  I forget just how much this album takes me away from it all and has a very healing vibe through Dean's masterful playing of the flute and Dudley's soft touch on the hand-harp.  The waves take me to a place where time stands still and you can watch the dolphins playing off the shore.  This music releases tension, gets rid of my stress and helps me to relax.  

I hope that I can turn you onto the beautiful musical styling of Dean and Dudley Evenson.  My wish is for you to find peace throughout your day and have to tools to help you do so.  While you're at it, check out the new release "Dream Space" and get lost in the healing and peaceful music for awhile.

Peace be with you,

Part 1 of a conversation with Dean and Dudley on music, meditation and healing.

Part 2 of the conversation

A beautiful video by Dean and Dudley introducing Henry Han on guzheng.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Peter Kater - Essence of Peace

I remember hearing Peter for the first time on the album "Honorable Sky", at a friend's house before we went to a local Powwow.  I thought this was an excellent album, and went out and purchased it immediately.  The Native American flute styling of R. Carlos Nakai and Peter Kater playing piano, was just a stunning pairing of musicians.  Soon after I devoured this CD, I found "Essence".   

This one CD in his 5 CD Healing Series, sends a shiver down my spine from the opening notes sung by what seems to be a simple angel choir.  I don't know how else to describe it.  

I used to belong to a meditation and prayer group back in the 90s and we used many pieces of music for those events, but this was always my favorite.  A friend of mine used it in her healing practice for calming her clients.  There is just something about the way it was composed, produced and played that it is like no other CD on the planet.  Don't get me wrong, I love so much of Peter's music, that I could never pick a real favorite among his other releases, but to this day, this album just soars above all the others, in the peace it still brings me.  If I were to be stuck on a desert island, I would take two pieces of relaxing music with me.  "Essence" and David & Steve Gordon's "Garden of Serenity" for meditation, reflection and relaxation.  

The voices layer and carry on until the 6:30 mark, when Peter starts to play piano and the layering continues, for one hour and fifteen minutes of pure bliss.  I have had many "moments" with this piece of music.  From sad release to heartfelt sorrow to joy and peace to letting go, and just the simple pleasure of becoming one with the music itself.  I don't know how to explain it other than a feeling of euphoria at times, feeling the strings as they come in around the 8:45 point in the music.  It touches a very deep spot inside my heart and has become a very personal piece of music for me.  

I share these things as a point of passion for what music does for me on so many levels.  I can only hope that you'll find peace in music like this.  To find a calm away from the storm and be able to release any tension, pain or sorrow you might be carrying.  While you are listening to the music, may it give you that safe place you need to do such things.  

I'll let the music do the talking.  I've posted a small excerpt that I found on YouTube, there is a longer sample on his store page for the album.  The piece below is from the middle of the song.  

I suggest buying the album on CD or MP3.  Peter has them available directly through his website or on iTunes and my favorite place, CDBaby.  Stop by his site and take a listen to more of his music, but I do highly recommend this one album in particular.  

Peace be with you,

Monday, March 11, 2013

David and Steve Gordon - Peaceful Meditation

For as long as I have been listening to meditation and stress relief music, I have always had a copy of "Garden of Serenity" on every device I own.  I have anchored peace and calm to the sound of this music.  There are several other albums that I carry with me wherever I go.  Whether it is on my Android phone, my Kindle Fire, a CD in the car or on my laptop and home computer, these songs bring calm and a centering peace for me.  Sometimes I forget to use them and remember that they are on my phone.  I plug into my headset and I'm immediately brought back to my center.  They are always there for immediate care and feeding of the dragon that rears its ugly head while in traffic or working on a project.  

The albums that I carry with me from David & Steve Gordon are:

The one I listen to the most is "Garden of Serenity".  Pure and simple, one of the most peaceful albums I've ever listened too outside of one by Peter Kater, and I will write about that one very soon.  I can fall asleep to this in a heartbeat, if I want to.  I can also get into a deep focused breathing meditation or even a visualization meditation using this music.  Now this might be a little overwhelming for meditation for some, with the chimes and the babbling brook, but it's really a preference of what works for you.  Take a listen to it and see if its something that you would want to meditate with and then purchase it.  Even if you use it for some great background music while sitting at your desk and surfing, or driving to work, it has a calming effect.  

David & Steve Gordon are artists and founders of the Sequoia Records label.  They have released many CDs and are quite famous for their drumming and Native American albums.  If you like that genre of music, I highly recommend their CDs.  There are many other artists on their label and David and Steve do their own albums as well.  Give their music a try.  If you like it, purchase it from their site or on Amazon and iTunes.  I prefer getting it from them to support their label.   

Relax, breathe deep, kick back and be at peace,

(I would usually post some excerpts from their albums via YouTube or SoundCloud, but they do not have any of their relaxation music on either site. So please go to the page links in the article above and listen to the music there.)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stress Reduction Technique Videos

I was researching a bit about Stress and Diabetes today, and finding some quick tip videos on how to relieve stress as well. This is just a quick little blog to share a few of the videos that I found today.

Enjoy, relax, kick back and take some deep breaths,

How to Reduce Your Stress

Stress Relief and Exercise

Diabetes and Stress: Here are the facts

Diabetes and Stress Management

Stress and Diabetes

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Jim Butler - Musical Relief

Today I am going to focus on the master of musical stress relief, Jim Butler.  I first stumbled upon Jim, not through his widely popular podcast, but through an suggestion when I was purchasing an MP3 album from Thom Brennan.  "Deep Energy 1.0" was highly rated and well priced.  An hour long track of ambient music for 99 cents?  That's a bargain; so I had to give it a try.  I downloaded it, immediately listened and was blown away at how this relaxed me.  So I bought 7 more tracks immediately.  

As I was Zen-ing and Zoning out, I researched the man behind the music.  I found his website and saw that he had a podcast on iTunes.  I am not a big Apple or iTunes fan so I usually make my purchases through Amazon or better yet, through the artists actual site, so that they get the most money for their works.  I started to listen to Jim's podcasts through iTunes on a daily basis and also found him out on Stitcher (which I like better for podcast listening).  He talks through some of the music, but I don't mind that at all, its a podcast.  

I have purchased more from his collection of music on Amazon over the last year and through his Bandcamp site.  Bandcamp is great, because you can name your own price for the music you are purchasing.  This gives us a chance to appreciate the artist by paying more than the ten dollars they are asking for their release.  Jim's music is like gold to me, its worth more than the asking price.  I also donate to his podcast through his site, because I get so much out of it.  Being able to done and help out really does help to keep someone going.  When you give back for what you really enjoy, it keeps the circle going.  

Some of Jim's music is termed "dark ambient", which to me is what I would call "space music".  Music that creates a sense of space in the ambiance.  That's what a lot of his tracks do for me.  It's like a silence meditation with a soundtrack.  I am able to focus on my breathing, but have something beautiful in the background that keeps out my thought distractions.  Am I making sense here?  It's like having some white noise while you work to keep the kids yelling at their video games at bay from your conscious thought, thus keeping you from having to yell at them and raise your stress levels.   Maybe that makes a bit more sense.  It does in this household.  

I can't recommend Jim's music enough.  Anyone that I know who needs great stress relieving music or just an excellent soundtrack for Yoga and meditation, is always sent to Jim's site.  Right now, as I type this, I am listening to his latest release "Chakras for Balancing and Awakening and Chakras for Meditation and Sound Therapy" and the "Meditative" pieces are relaxing my entire being.  

Listen to the links I've shared below and go purchase some tracks for your collection.  Check out his pocasts on iTunes and Stitcher.  Download his app, from the app store, if you are an iPhone or iPad user.  Remember your breathing techniques!  Try the one I suggested yesterday.  I'll write up in greater detail later.  

Peace be with you,

The first release I picked up from Jim:

What I am listening too right now from Jim.

A great video from Jim's YouTube channel:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Just the Littlest Things Can Trigger Stress

Just the littlest things can trigger our stress on a daily basis.  Today, for example, another snow storm, which is something out of my control.  A project coming to a head at the very last moment before sharing with an important client.   Everyone on edge who is working on the last minute project.  Not being able to relax from emails and texts flurrying in.  I try to think, "at least I didn't have to drive today, I got to work from home." but, the stress was still there.  It seems like the sweat level turns up, when you are locked into your chair and stress is flowing through your system and wanting to get out of your body.  So how do I relieve it while I'm working?  Music and breathing.  Sometimes I catch myself in time to let it go, other times I can feel it starting to effect me physically.  Its almost like I can feel that blood sugar rising now that my medication has me somewhat under control.  

Someone once asked me, how come I didn't know that I was at an extremely high blood glucose level, and my A1C was 11.2 (that is very bad folks) when I finally went to the doctor and I told them that there are varying levels of feeling like crap.  Once you get used to one level, you trudge on, and another and another and another come and go and you don't realize that you are on a downward spiral, until its too late and  you wake up one morning and you tingle and you don't have any feeling in your extremities and you come to the conclusion that there is something seriously wrong.  You check your blood glucose level, because you haven't checked it in over 6 months, because you thought you had your pre-diabetes under control, and your meter says you have a morning sugar of 326 (also very, very bad).  That's when you know there is something really wrong.

So, what music did I listen too today when the stress hit me?  I started with some of my own, that you hear in the videos on the site.  Especially the video and song called "Dark Night Distant Light".  I then moved into a lovely piano CD that just took me away last night when I first heard it.  "Rebirth" is the latest release from Josh Kramer.  Josh has become a friend through Facebook and a very talented musician.  I have picked up every one of his albums when they become available, but this new one is just so relaxing, beautiful, haunting, loving, romantic and heart wrenching, it's my favorite release of his so far.  Overall, the album soothes me and that is what's important to me.  I connect very well with his writing.  It relieved my stress very well.  When I sat at my computer today and became stressed a few times, I did some focus breathing techniques that I learned years ago, and Josh's music worked in balance with the breathing to help me relax and release the tensions.  I highly recommend the album for any collection. 

I want to share these artists with you when I find them and I also want to share a lot more artists with you that I have listened to for years.  These artists also have the same effect on me.  One by one, I will post the artist, their websites and a sample or two if I can find them online.  I ask that if you like them, please purchase their music.  It is so hard in this industry anymore to make a living, that we all have "real" jobs, and the music has become more of a hobby because it has become nearly impossible to pay the bills through what we love to do.  So much talent gets pinned under and washed away that it's hard for it to shine through the din of machine.  People need to hear this wonderful music and let it help heal them.  Let it help to relieve the stress and bring some joy back into your heart, so that you can feel vibrant again.  All this, helps to bring down that blood glucose level as well as your any high blood pressure issues you might have from stress.  

Take a listen to Josh and feel the connection he has to his music.  It's what Benjamin Zander called "the left check lean".  If you've never seen this video, watch it, its what I like to live by when I play my piano, and it's what I hear when I listen to Josh.  

Explore some stress relieving techniques with breathing exercises.  I'll share one of mine in the near future.  I need to focus on the steps and make sure I'm getting my thoughts down in the right order.  But for now, slow deep breaths in and out, focusing on each breath and doing a method called 2-4-6 or 2-4-8, is a great start.  2 second deep breath in through the nose, with the tongue at the roof of your mouth, hold for 4 seconds and exhale out the mouth for 6 to 8 seconds in length.  Do this 10 times and feel the stress melt away.  :)  and don't forget to smile. 

Peace be with you,

Take a listen to Josh's title track in full here:

Here is a sample of the entire album:
Here is one of my favorite tracks to listen too off of my CD when I need to let go of stuff.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Musical Connection

Stress is a trigger.  Different things trigger it and certain things bring it under control.  What might stress reducing to you, might be grating on someone else's nerves.  Case in point with music.  There are all sorts of styles of music out there, but what speaks to you and takes you away and relieves that stress is based entirely on your love for the music.  Someone could easily get lost in the lead guitar of "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd and it takes them to a whole other world that gets rid of the stress of the day.  Some would think that is nonsense because its rock music.  I think, to each their own.  What might not be healing or stress reducing to some, can be for others.  

I entered into a heated debate a few years ago, via email, with Steven Halpern, who told me I was an idiot because I thought that David Lanz was healing and de-stressing music, because that's what the album "Return to the Heart" did for me.  He disagreed and said that I didn't know what I was talking about.  Now, I know that Steven has his opinion and that's just fine with me.  I truthfully can't listen to his "beating on bells" electric piano sound or his marimba and celeste style keyboard sounds that he uses on a lot of his "healing" CDs.  Mallet sounds of beating a bell just doesn't make me want to relax especially when I feel like I'm listening to Dennis DeYoung of Styx playing "Babe" and waiting for him to sing.  Just my personal opinion of his music.  It might work for you, so knock yourself out if that's the case.  I would rather sit back and listen to David Lanz play, "Whiter Shade of Pale" or "Return to the Heart" or any track off of that great album.  It takes me somewhere and removes me from my stressful thoughts.  

A lot of people need meditation with silence, I prefer mine with music or nature sounds.  While I understand the need for silence too, I just relieve more of my stress while listening to music.  I also love to focus on something visual to help out with the music, like a fine piece of art, a beautifully arranged flower vase or just sitting in nature under a tree and watching everything transpire, focusing on the moment and letting go.  

In 1997, I remember seeing the video that Ken Jenkins put out, called "Illusions".  It had music from Constance Demby on it, along with some cuts by Iasos.  The music and the imagery were supremely beautiful.  I don't think a week went by that I didn't relax or meditate with that VHS tape, until it wore out.  A few years ago, I connected with Ken and it turned out that he actually put it on DVD and I bought another copy from him. 

There are a multitude of artist out there and everybody is different.  Search around some of these sites like,, and especially, where a lot of artists post full tracks and free downloads of their music.  Also put Spotify on your machine and search the music on there and let it suggest people for you.  

If the music is taking you away from your daily stress, and helping you to relax, then that is all that is needed to bring that blood sugar down and your blood pressure as well.  Listen, tune in, let it take you away and be in the present moment with the music or the visual art or just nature being nature.  Feel all those stresses melt away.  Let the music help you, heal you and move you. :) 

Peace be with you,