Self Care is not Selfish – the Two Minute Mindfulness Jump Start
When we ponder mindfulness meditation, a common image comes to mind: a quiet setting, perhaps in the seclusion of the woods, or beside a body of water. A mat or a blanket on the ground, and a serene-faced, perfectly-postured being who has effortlessly folded their limber legs into a precise version of full lotus position, hands in a mudra, eyes serenely closed, a slight curve of a knowing smile on their lips…. The brook must be babbling, the birds singing, the woods silent but for the sound of the wind in the trees….
As we imagine this, our first question is “when in the world would I have time for this?” What would it take for our schedules to allow us to escape, our guilt-ridden minds to be able to leave behind the long list of to-dos, let alone our bodies to be able to bend even one leg for more than a minute into that pretzel shape? For any of us to achieve even one portion of that ideal state, mountains would have to be moved.
So, if that’s the goal, is Mindfulness Meditation even accessible for mere mortals with day jobs and children? Not only is it accessible, the benefits of brief mindful moments are being scientifically validated: it can help our health and well-being to practice just one to five minutes of mindfulness wedged into the moments between making bag lunches, dropping the kids off, or these days, getting them settled in front of their zoom classes at their home desks.
So, before you head off to your own zoom meeting, or catch up with your now-cold latte and soggy bowl of cereal at your home office desk, stop and try this 2 minute jump-start of a mindfulness moment. Go ahead, do it now… I’ll wait right here.
There, now don’t you feel better?
Now that you’ve made space today to try that, think about the prospect of fitting that in every day for the next seven days. You just did it, so why not try it tomorrow?
If it helps you feel better again tomorrow, and you manage to work it in for 5 more days, we’ve got more to talk about. If you make it through seven days, my belief is that those baby steps have proven that you are ready to begin your mindfulness mediation path that may even broaden into a deeper journey before you know it.
If even two minutes a day is just too much to ask of yourself, you may want to get a little curious, and take a look at that level of resistance to even the most minimal self-care. Would you allow someone you care about, your child or a very dear friend, to be so neglectful of themselves? In the time it takes to brush your teeth, you could complete your mindfulness exercise for the day. Don’t you deserve to at least give it a try?
Here’s the thing: Self-care is not selfish. It is by caring for ourselves that we are more able to care for others with more sincerity and less resentment. By opening to whatever is present, even if what is present limits the time we can dedicate to mindfulness to only a few moments for now, we give ourselves permission to be here now for ourselves. When our needs are met, we are more available to others and their needs. By “putting our own oxygen mask on first before helping others” we are functional, we can breathe, and we can help others do the same.
Begin with 2 minutes, and when it feels right, try out any manner of longer, (but still brief) self-paced meditations on any of the apps mentioned below, expanding to longer meditations only when you feel compelled, and perhaps you will find a desire to investigate the option of weekly virtual sits, (join our email list and I’ll send you the registration when we start them up!) Eventually, you may even wish to try a longer commitment to an 8-week class to deepen your practice. Just begin by putting one foot in front of the other. Baby steps. And the only pretzel will be the one you are snacking on. I promise.