“You can’t pour from an empty kettle” is a common saying, but one that nobody seems to live by. Increasingly, it seems that taking time out for yourself is a selfish act. Meditation is often seen as an even more selfish act because modern people don’t often understand the benefits of meditation. The ability to sustain silence, quiet, and look inward is a self-survival tool. In fact, meditation is an effective stress management tool, and stress is linked to a number of diseases. A stressed out person is not operating at full capacity which means every part of their life is suffering from health to all types of relationships.
Stress is not success
Stress has been linked to depression, anxiety, heart diseases, and the exacerbation of countless injuries, diseases, and disorders. Still, we live in an era where “stress” is equated with hard work, and hard work is revered. Another common saying is to work better, not harder, and that “mantra” is often ignored, too. Somehow, we’ve developed into a society where the mark of a “good person” is that they’re constantly on the go and busy. That’s not necessarily the mark of a good or even successful person. It might just be the sign of a person who doesn’t take time for themselves, doesn’t know how to say no, and isn’t giving 100 percent to any of their endeavours.
Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish. Meditation isn’t selfish. Rather, taking time for yourself and giving yourself permission to meditate means that you are making sure your machine is working at top capacity before giving away any of your resources. Consider if you had a collaborative project meeting at six in the morning. However, you were so busy the day before with other tasks that you didn’t go to sleep until midnight. You were so worried about an unrelated event earlier in the day that your sleep was compromised. When you do get to the early morning meeting, you’re tired and might be on your third cup of coffee (the caffeine further stressing you out).
Do you think you’d be a very good or effective team member? Probably not. Simply showing up doesn’t mean that you’re successfully joining the meeting.
Types of Meditation
However, if you take time for yourself, you allow the body to recuperate. Meditation is the practice of sitting in comfortable, sustained relative silence. You’ll have outside thoughts creep in. Acknowledge them and send them on their way. Pranayama, or breath control, can be part of a meditation practice (either before or during). Relaxing pranayamas such as three-part breath allow you to concentrate on counting breaths and the inhalation, hold, and exhalation which helps keep outside thoughts at bay.
Others prefer to meditate with japa beads, which are 108 beads similar to a rosary. You recite a mantra, internally or externally, as you roll the bead between your fingers. The mantra should be positive, short and sweet. Some people prefer to chant the names of Hindu deities, while others prefer a secular but heartfelt saying.
Making Time for Yourself
Making time for yourself and meditation don’t have to eat up a lot of time. You don’t need to travel far or black out a large chunk of time for these mini-retreats. A lot of people prefer to meditate first thing in the morning and right before bed. For newcomers to meditation, five minutes is a great starting point. Moreover, taking time for yourself doesn’t always have to include meditation, though it can. It does need to be a relaxing, enjoyable experience though where you feel the stress in your body reducing. It can be virtually anything from a manicure session to a walk around the neighborhood. The only rule? No multitasking with tasks that can cause stress.
You want to give the best of yourself to the people in your life, particularly your loved ones. However, if you don’t take time for yourself, how present will you be at date night? How about at your child’s recital or during that important meeting? Selfish is putting yourself before others regularly with no care to how that affects your relationships with them — taking time for yourself couldn’t be farther from this definition. When you take care of yourself, you’re ensuring a higher quality relationship with yourself and with others. When you meditate, you re-learn how to appreciate and recover by way of quiet and reflecting inwards. Both are important tools in a society where we’re expected to be “on” all the time. Consider them a means of survival and bettering every other part of your life.
This is a collaborative post supporting our Peace In Peace Out initiative.