How To Relax

Melissa Rachel Black

Let's go on an adventure, Charlie.

Since I’m currently underway in my 30-Day Challenge for Relaxation, I think now is the perfect time to record and give away my first Sundream, which is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

What is a Sundream?

It’s an audio experience, in the form of a story that is meant to relax the listener, inspire creativity, and ignite your imagination.  It breaks the rules of reality to give your mind some time to play and grow.

The origins of a sundream began a few years ago at the University of California Santa Cruz.  Whenever it was sunny out (and that was a lot in Santa Cruz), one of my best friends Annie and I would lie in the grass and tell each other great adventure stories… of giant mountains made of marshmallows… getting a ride from a dinosaur… and so on, and thus the idea of a Sundream was born.

IMPORTANT: Don’t listen to it at while you check your emails, multitask, or sit at your computer.  Take a break and immerse yourself.  Download this 7-minute Sundream for free–take it on your ipod to the park, close your eyes, relax, and really imagine yourself seeing and feeling the story.  Or listen to it in a comfy chair, or right before bedtime to influence sweet dreams :)

Click here to download: http://soundcloud.com/melissarachelblack/sundream-underwater/download

Please feel free to share it if you like it, and do let me know if you want me to make more.

Berlin 4-Hour-Workweek Recap for 6/3: Forums & Blogging

Abuela by Melissa Rachel Black

What would grandma say when you're not sure how to proceed with your business? Just keep trying till something works.

Perhaps the most successful 4HWW meeting yet, we’ve adopted a new format.  Rachman leads the discussions, and asks if anyone has any specific questions or needs help on a particular area in their muse.  I think it’s a great format because its structured like a 1-on-1 conversation which gives individual people real feedback, and the material is useful for the group as well, and everyone is free to jump in to the conversation.  We talked about:

- Hiring SEO experts on Odesk to write affiliate/adsense articles

- Using Feedback Army for real live humans to test the usability of your site and give you feedback, for a small fee.

- Using Appsumo to get daily web coupons (“groupon for web applications”)

- A/B testing with Optimizely is free and highly-recommended by Fabian Dittrich

- You can buy facebook likes for your business or website to increase “credibility”

- Using forums on your blog to increase interaction and productivity, in two ways: 1. Posting on existing forums to bring traffic to your site, or 2. Finding a niche where there isn’t already a forum and bringing it to life by building a forum  on your site.  Increase interaction while at the same time increasing content on your site.  PHPbb is free to build a bulletin board/forum.

- Using Balsamiq for idea prototyping to create digital sketch mockups of a product.

- One of our new visitors, Erik Frank, told us about his site where you can rent great apartments in Berlin for vacation or short stays at berlincribs.com

- Using kickstarter to fund creative projects–a really unique, community-building way of raising money for doing what you love.

- Putting things in terms of dollar signs is a great strategy because it gives customers a good perspective.  For example, a customer who wanted to quit drinking asked Rachman why his site Make Habits cost so much to join, and he told her that she’d save the $39 in a week or two of not drinking, as that’s only 5 or 6 drinks at a bar.

- Sebastian Mikaelson (who is bringing minimalism to Germany at Mr. Minimalist) increased efficiency of his blog by making an elite area and newsletter.

- Using Google Keywords to help think of words to include in your blog’s articles to boost your blog’s appearance in search engines.

- Sebastian also recommends Copyblogger.  He says it provides great content to help new bloggers.

- Mixergy has tons of inspirational videos of successful entrepreneurs.

- Lynda has training/how-to videos on EVERYTHING.  You have to pay, but its a great service according to several folks in the group.

- We all committed to a weekly goal.  Mine was to contact 20 people for my etsy shop.

Looking forward to next week!

30-Day Challenge: Relax

30-Day Challenge: Relax by Melissa Rachel Black

Will small, daily repetitions of relax-edness add up to create a big pool of relaxation?

I’m so amped about my progress and the self-satisfaction boost that completing the previous 30-day challenge has provided me with that i’m going to try another one this month: relaxation.

This one is probably going to be a lot more difficult than the previous, because I won’t be physically producing the desired result in the same way every day.  Rather, its a desired state of being that i’m going to challenge myself to uphold.

I realized that when I am in a state of calm or relaxation, I am able to achieve the results I want in every area of life, or at least accept my own actions without second-guessing.  When I am calm, I am able to make decisions and follow through.  I am in a state of flow and abundance, I feel connected to myself and to the rest of the world, and everything seems to come naturally.

I would say that my natural state (or at least the one i’m used to) is quite frazzled.  She wants to do too many things at once, in the fastest way possible, and she wants to start NOW, but she’s so nervous that she becomes overwhelmed and fearful and takes no action.  This is the opposite of what her highest self wants.

So my challenge to myself is to remain relaxed at all times, and when I feel myself becoming nervous, I must take all the time that is necessary to return to a relaxed state. I recognize now that it is not a waste of time to spend time organizing my mind and calming myself down before starting a task–yes time is being spent, but it is being spent wisely.  Starting the day’s work, going to a meeting, hanging out with friends, or any other activity is great, but if i’m not in the right mindset then I feel uncomfortable and the results are subpar.  I think the right mindset begins with relaxation.  Just as doing work flows more naturally and easily when you’ve got a clear desk, so does life flow more naturally and easily when you’ve got a clear mind.

FEAR OF RELAXATION?

When I was thinking about whether or not I really wanted to do this challenge, the small/weak/nervous part of me (let’s call her Least Self) said “but i’m scared!” and the other part of me, the part that is positive, energetic, and logical (let’s call her Highest Self) couldn’t help but laugh and say, “what, scared to be relaxed all the time?”  That’s just silly–nothing can come of this experiment but positivity, even if I don’t make it every single day (which I nevertheless intend to do.)

NO EXCUSES

My favorite part of this experiment is that I am simply not allowed to worry.  Its against the rules, so any time I catch myself thinking negatively or worrying about the outcome of a decision or “what will happen if…,” I must catch myself and remind Least Self that she is not welcome for the next 30 days.  If I miss her at the end of 30 days, she is welcome to come back, but for the time being, she is banished.

REALITY CHECK

This isn’t to say I expect to be happy and upbeat the entire 30 days (though that would be cool, and if its a result of being relaxed all the time, then bring it on, universe.)  But when I have a low energy day or I’m not feeling in tip-top shape, I have to remember that its not the end of the world.  I have to accept my feelings and remember that it will pass.  Like Steve Pavlina says, I need to observe and appreciate the storm rather than getting caught up in the drama of it. Before this experiment, I have already experienced a few instances of being in a relaxed state during periods of low energy or sadness, and it feels different than giving into the grief and feeling hopeless and angry at myself: rather, it feels good to savour tears sometimes, in the same way that being sore from a workout is satisfying.  So when I have a low day, I just need to relax, enjoy it, and remember that its just part of my natural balance and that it will pass.

IMPLEMENTATION

I don’t mean to avoid stress at all times and to spend the next 30 days lying on the beach, but rather to avoid unnecessary self-imposed stress and worry.  I am not so naive to think this is an easy task, but i think it could provide some really excellent growth.  I know it will be tough, and while I’m full of energy today and feel very gung-ho, I’m pretty sure my focus won’t remain so strong the entire time.  So, when I don’t think I can relax, I have come up with a few techniques to refer to when the going gets tough:

- ask myself what a relaxed person would do in my situation (or the relaxed version of me).

- breathe deeply

- remind myself to remember that stress & worry is not allowed for the next 30 days, and if I allow nervousness to settle in without redirecting my thoughts, I have to start the challenge over from Day 1.

I’ve successfully remained relaxed for the last 3 days, but I actually already had to enforce the last bulletpoint of this list and start over. (Damn, 33 days of relaxation.. how awful.)  I accidentally got stranded in a strange part of the city late last night far away from home and for a brief moment I allowed worry to overwhelm me.  However, after a 2-minute freakout, I remembered to remember to relax, organized my thoughts, found a map, and navigated my way home.  Even though it was a small and brief event and I am proud that I recovered quickly, I’m considering it as a violation of the rules and a reason to restart the challenge because I acted on my thoughts of fear rather than relaxing before acting, even if only for a moment.  I know I will have more worrying instances in the next 30 days, but if I can relax before taking action, then I will consider this challenge a success.

EAGER TO CONTINUE: RELAXATION IS AWESOME

I am really excited to continue this challenge, because in the first 3 days I’ve already noticed some positive effects.  I don’t think that less stressful things are occurring, but rather in a relaxed mindset, I am able to see events in a different light and move past them.  I don’t get stuck in a negative zone of inactivity when I relax: I can accept the situation and carry on my way.  I’m looking forward to the challenge…

Berlin 4-Hour-Workweek Recap for 5/27: Marketing, Networking & Credibility

4-Hour Workweek afterparty. (Ok, not really)

We had even more new people at the meeting than last time! Here’s a quick recap of what we discussed:

- Networking: Rachman reccommends asking people for feedback on your business, and spreading your ideas far and wide. He sets aside 30 minutes every day to email people.

- Using a 110% guarantee on your product. Its more than just risk-free for your customer, and it works.

- How to increase credibility: getting publicity in newspapers, magazines, and blogs – Fabian Dittrich joined us for the first time and he shared his awesome project Fab & Vivien Around the World: they will quit their 9 to 5 jobs and travel the world to increase awareness about social causes and raise money for local projects.

- Chris Williams visited us from the US and shared his experience building his successful business, Heat Spring Learning Institute, which provides education on clean energy training.

- How to make money before your product is ready, and how to prepare for product creation: Teach a class on what you know and charge for it–you will get great feedback from the participants, make money, and gain experience.

- Marketing tips for PPC and in general: Ask a question. For example, if you’re selling a “How to Dance” product, write “Do You Like Dancing?” in your ad

- Using Evernote to streamline & organize notetaking.

So excited to work with you! See you Friday :)

30-Day Challenge: Learn German

30 Day Challenge: Learn German

Closeup from my journal... oooh.

Last night I completed my 30-day German Journaling challenge and I’m pretty damn proud of myself.  My german is nowhere near perfect but for the last 30 days, I promised myself that I would write a journal entry every single day in my desired language, and I did it.  I didn’t miss a single day.  If I was cranky as a motherfucker and just wanted to sleep, i wrote in my journal.  If i didn’t have anything interesting to write about, I wrote in my journal.  If I came home drunk and tired at 6 in the morning, I wrote in my journal.  Like i said, I’m nowhere near mastery of the language, but I sure am a lot better than I was 30 days ago.  i’ve learned 248 new words and filled 15 pages with quality, flawless German writing (yeah right… special shoutout and some serious gratitude goes to my roommate Jenni for reading and correcting all of my word-vomit).  I still have a long way to go, but I have written proof that I’ve made at least a little bit of progress.

I was inspired to take on this trial by Steve Pavlina’s 30-day challenges.  The rules are: you have to stick to guidelines you set for yourself, and if you miss even one day, you have to start over from the beginning.  If you don’t like the results after 30 days, you’re totally free to ditch your new habit or state of being.  I think its such a great concept: because its a limited time, and you have an end goal in sight, its a manageable task.  Telling myself “I’m going to learn German” is a vague goal which is allowed to stretch on forever, but putting it in the context of a 30-day journal writing exercise, I had clear actions to take with a light at the end of the tunnel.  Knowing that its only 30 days means there’s no risk–I can try a new habit and see results without guessing about the outcome.  Then I can make an informed decision about whether I would like to continue my habit or go back to my previous state.

I’m so excited about my results though, that I am truly looking forward to continuing the daily habit.  I found that it doesn’t take more than 15-30 minutes per day, but it really makes a big impact on my learning.  Many tiny repetitions, which seem insignificant on their own, accumulate to create something big and meaningful.  Just like one pushup doesn’t give you huge biceps, if you do just a few every day, you’re going to see results.

The 30-day challenge not only improved my German, but also my confidence.  I may have dragged my feet many days, but I reached the finish line.  I am damn proud of myself: I’ve grown my self-discipline muscle a little and proven to myself that if I put in the effort, I get a result.