Feeling guilty about taking time for yourself? Don’t.
No, seriously… cut that out.
I know, you’ve probably been conditioned from young adulthood to work hard and keep your nose to the grindstone and sacrifice, all in the hopes it’ll pay off some far-off day. Oh, that magical promise of retirement! Never mind that the pension funds are gone, work benefits rarely exist anymore and most of us are staring down an endless supply of mac n’ cheese and discount canned soups enjoyed from the cold concrete patio of our geared-to-income seniors’ apartments.
No, you should definitely keep working 50 or 60 hours a week and feeling guilty about wanting those five minutes in the washroom all by yourself, without brawling kids or needy coworkers scratching at the door. God forbid you actually thought you could do something so crazy as watching a whole movie by yourself, or taking a drive with no purpose other than feeling the sun on your face and the wind in your hair.
And that book that’s been staring at you from your nightstand for 6 weeks now? Yeah, right. If you have time for that, why isn’t the lawn cut/roof fixed/kid’s treehouse built/insert other busy work here?
You lazy so-and-so.
We’re our own worst critics, aren’t we? Those things we tell ourselves about taking time out—that it’s selfish and unfair and we don’t deserve it—are such crap. We’re so convincing, though! That’s because our guilt has become so ingrained, it’s our knee-jerk reaction to immediately and authoritatively strike down any thought of putting ourselves and our own needs first.
What if I told you that you could make that guilt disappear? You can, with meditation.
Stay with me for a sec. Meditation freaked me out, too, for the longest time. I have a good friend who’s also a writer, who uses meditation to focus and stuff. I gave it an honest try, so many times, but it was so frustrating.
There’s really nothing I despise more than being alone with my own racing thoughts.
But that was when my understanding of meditation was that it’s this insanely quiet, deep sense of peace that makes you all truthy and gooey inside. That you have to sit perfectly still, drain your mind of all contents, and somehow become one with the forest and things.
There is that type of meditation, but there’s another type too.
The kind of meditation I’m talking about is the act of transforming your thoughts by training your brain to think in more positive, constructive ways. You’re replacing a bad habit (negative self-talk) with a good one (happy thoughts). It’s like chewing gum to stop smoking, or taking up soccer so you can stop kicking puppies (gawd, you’re so mean).
Still, I hated every second of it. Let’s be honest, if I’m able to carve 10 minutes of Me-Time out of my day, I probably don’t want to spend it cross-legged on the floor, thinking about my grocery list and stressing over how awful I am at this anti-stress exercise.
Finally, after bragging for so long about how awesome and meaningful his meditation was and half-listening to me gripe about how I just wasn’t getting it, my friend said, “Why don’t you try guided meditations?”
It was my meditation revelation.
Guided meditations audibly (and visually, if you want) walk you through an exercise in first clearing all of the crap off your plate, and then replacing it with happier, nicer, more productive and healthy crap. There are guided meditations for everything you can think of: relieving stress, calming anxiety, sharpening your focus, boosting your productivity, spurring creativity and more. There are meditations to get you up and going in the morning, and meditations to bring you down at night.
Finding ones that work for you is as easy as searching around on YouTube. Do you like a water background, or maybe sounds of the forest? Would you like a male or female guide? Is there a particular issue you’re having trouble with, or do you just generally want a bit of help in letting go of destructive self-talk like all of that guilt jazz about making a bit of time for yourself?
Promise yourself you’ll at least give a few guided meditations a try.
It won’t kill you, I swear. You don’t have to love it or stick to it if it doesn’t work, but you may surprise yourself. I can think of way worse things than having some stranger with a soothing voice boss me around into a state of tranquility a few minutes at a time.
Here are a few to try out. Remember, no multitasking! Don’t try this while you’re driving. It’s adult storytime and all that’s required of you is that you listen and take it in.
Clear the negative cobwebs:
Try this for getting started with meditation for inspiring your creativity:
To help combat anxiety and depression:
I couldn’t write a blog post about guided meditations without including my all-time favourite, NSFW as it may be. Sorry, mom. (Captain Obvious says, “Don’t listen at work without headphones.”)
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