Dear Dr. Shyft: I am really irritated with myself. I have been working hard at improving myself. I have been trying to meditate daily, do yoga regularly, and be grateful. I try to eat well and exercise. But lately my self care plan feels more like self punishment. I keep falling off the wagon and then beating myself up for not being better at taking care of myself. It is especially hard to keep up with my daily meditation practice, even though I feel so much better when I make it a priority. Somehow life just always gets in the way. Why is it so hard to stick with something that I know is good for me?
Signed, Struggling to Sit
Dear Struggling: I completely understand where you are coming from. We all know we would feel better if we meditated daily and were mindful, compassionate, grateful, and healthy all around. But sometimes it can be helpful to remember that meditation and mindfulness were not created to be yet another self improvement project to impose upon ourselves. In fact, just the opposite. We are not trying to “get” anywhere or achieve anything through meditation. It is our time to practice simply being. That’s it. Even if we “be” for one breath or one minute, that is great! Once we start puffing out our chest about how often or long we have meditated for, we know the ego has snuck in the back door, which means it is time to get back to the basics. Gentle structure and accountability (like a timer, an app, a class, a friend, a routine) can always help. But let’s not berate ourselves to be good to ourselves, because, well, then we miss the point altogether. Do your best, be kind to yourself and others, and if that’s all you can do, well, that is just perfect.