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Self-Care is Not Selfish – Three-Minute Mindfulness Practice

When we think about starting a self-care practice of mindfulness meditation, how can three minutes be enough? What image comes to mind, and what kind of a time commitment? Probably the serene image of the seated meditator. Or better yet, a quiet natural setting,  secluded in the woods, or beside a body of water? Do you see this serene-faced, perfectly-postured being with effortlessly folded limber legs, eyes closed, a slight curve of a knowing smile on their lips? The brook is babbling, the birds are singing, the only other sound is the wind in the trees, and the being in question is on retreat, having escaped the cares of the real world,  for a month.

As we imagine this, our first question is “when in the world would I have time for this?” What would it take to schedule, to leave behind the to-dos? Can I even fold my legs like a pretzel? Mountains would have to be moved.

Spine? Or tent-pole in the 3-ring circus of life?

In reality, when we sit, trying to focus on the moment we are in, it’s more like our spine is the tent pole in the 3-ring circus of our ever-revolving mind, like the first meditator illustrated above, thoughts swirling, shifting from tasks to familial duties to obligations piling up. Is Mindfulness Meditation even accessible for mere mortals with day jobs and children or with businesses or elderly parents to care for? Not only is it accessible, but also, the benefits of brief mindful moments are being scientifically validated.  Even just one to five minutes of mindfulness a day can make a difference.

Before you head off to your next Zoom meeting or catch up with your now-cold latte at your home office desk, stop and try this three-minute jump-start of a mindfulness moment. Go ahead, do it now… I’ll wait right here.

Three Minute Mindfulness Jump Start

Annie Shull • 3 min • Download File

There, now don’t you feel better? Are you less like our 3-ring circus friend, maybe moving towards the middle, a little less circus tent, a little more draping shawl?

Now that you’ve made space, for just three minutes, could you do that each and every day, for just three minutes, for the rest of the week? If what we practice grows stronger, realistically, our transition to serene meditator sans circus tent will be gradual, but, it will happen…

From baby-steps to making strides on self-care path

If you manage to work in a three-minute meditation for five more days, we’ve got more to talk about. If you make it through seven days, those baby steps have proven that you are ready to make strides towards a more substantial mindfulness mediation path. Before you know it, a deeper journey may expand before you.

On the other hand, if a self-care three-minute mindfulness practice is too much to ask, it’s time to get a little curious. Without being critical, ask yourself why? Why are you resistant to minimal time for self-care? Would you allow 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?

Self-care is not selfish

Here’s the thing: Self-care is not selfish. By caring for ourselves, we are able to care for others with more sincerity and less resentment. By opening to whatever is present, even if only for a few moments, we give ourselves permission to be here now for ourselves. Unless we practice non-judgmental kindness and acceptance towards ourselves, we are incapable of doing the same for others. As flight attendants always remind us, 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 your self-care journey with three-minute mindfulness practice, and when it feels right, try out longer, (but still brief) self-paced meditations available on many apps (see our Resources page for monthly recommendations on various topics). You can also set a timer on your phone for five minutes, expanding to longer meditations only when you feel ready. Perhaps you’ll want to try weekly virtual sits, (join our email list and I’ll send you the registration when we start them up!) Explore our 1-hour class offerings, available for individuals or groups. Eventually, you may even dive into 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.

It is entirely possible to start small, expanding into the possibilities as your lifestyle allows. If you experience is anything like mine, Mindfulness may surprise you and take root, eventually becoming an integral part of your every day.” -- Annie Shull