The one thing I hear daily from friends, yoga students, and family is: "I wish I had more time for me." This seems to be a ubiquitous observation that is repeated many times on daytime talk shows, in health and wellness articles, on the covers of women's magazines, and from almost everyone who is concerned about work/life balance.
Even my son chimed in the other day. He seemed unusually stressed with work and daily living. I suggested that he meditate for 10 minutes before he begins his workday. I was surprised to hear my son warm to the idea of clearing the mind and getting relaxed before starting his work routine. After all, he practices yoga and is receptive to the value of staying present.
"That's great, Mom," he said, "but I've got no time in the morning."
"Everyone has 10 minutes a day to clear the mind and do a little self-reflecting. You know, you'll be more productive when you start work."
"I get up, make breakfast and lunch for the kids, drive Greyson to school, go home and start to work. I've already lost work time just by driving my son to school. I get what you're saying, but it's not practical."
Is your mind so very busy, so full of stuff, so anxious to do the next activity that clearing the mind seems antithetical to creating your life in a meaningful way? Is everything in life equally important, every value the same? When was the last time you gave yourself the gift of time?
Here are five tips to help you make more time for yourself in an otherwise crowded personal landscape:
1. Practice making intentions.
When you are not fully conscious, you are not completely aware of your thought process hour by hour. Everything you do or say takes place below the level of awareness. In my yoga teacher training class, my master teacher made a suggestion relative to the practice of mindful awareness and making intentions: set your phone to ring every hour or so and either continue your present intention or change it as desired. Making intentions gives you the opportunity to choose to take time for you. Intentions give you permission to take care of your personal needs and desires on a daily basis.
2. Get rid of mindless activities.
I am hearing from more of my friends lately that they have canceled their cable television. They've eliminated the driving passive, mindless entertainment that takes a toll on their time. They decided to use the Internet to select quality programs that would satisfy curiosity, learn something new, and improve the mind. I'm not suggesting canceling cable -- I haven't done that yet -- but I have started to make a list of programs and hours watched and make an assessment of how much time it takes away from focusing on what adds value to my life. As you make this assessment, carve time out of passive entertainment, including video games, to take time for you. Either walk or meditate or simply self-reflect about your journey. You'll find out how much extra time you really have for personal growth.
3. Leave your comfort zone.
Make an intention to do something that takes you out of your comfort zone or that scares you or makes you feel strange. Making an intention to be brave makes you super aware of yourself--the sense that you own your day, your life. It's easy to feel that other people drive your life when, in fact, you are the only one who has the ability for choice. I do a headstand every day to remind myself that I can be brave, that what I am doing is an out-of-the-ordinary choice I am making. It assures me I control my mind/body and spirit and that I am completely willing and able to take time out for me.
4. Take on challenges or change.
Life never remains static. Learn to live skillfully by choosing to take on challenges or change. Allowing your mental skill set to see things exactly as they are gives you the ability to consciously assess the challenge or change that is required for your personal growth. Once that course of action is set and your choices are clear and consistent, possibilities open up to make more time and space for yourself. Lately, I've been contemplating a move to another city. I definitely need all the time for reflection that I can create so that I can address this challenge. I'm making time and space for me to accept responsibility for meaningful options and opportunities.
5. Shift your mindset.
Your life is truly important; your life is a gift that needs to be cherished and honored. It's difficult to make time in your life without examining or breaking old patterns of organization, control issues, things we can never change. Paradoxically, you actually lose control by limiting your life to these external issues. The real value of your life resides on the inside and that process takes personal time to develop. Decide what you really want in life. Everybody secretly wants to love, to have confidence, respectability, and excitement. Why would you want to compromise these values by mindless entrapments that limit your ability to create time to accomplish your dreams and desires?
Taking time for you is a choice and a practice. It is undoubtedly one of the most important gifts you can give yourself. Time adds value to your life and enhances your happiness. So, will you take time for yourself today?
Joan Moran is a keynote speaker, commanding the stage with her delightful humor, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. She is an expert on wellness and is passionate about addressing the problems of mental inertia. A yoga instructor, Moran is the author is "Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer." Visit her at www.joanfrancesmoran.com.