Adult Time Out: When To Sit Yourself Down For a Good Thinking
Let’s make time out great again. Sit yourself out for three minutes of quiet when you do any of the following:
Act like a jerk at work
Say mean things to self or others
Treat people crappily (especially those people that make your coffee or serve your food!)
Yell at your kids unnecessarily
Make a lot of mistakes in a row
Break your ‘good health’ habit
(Insert a bad habit here)
Does anyone else think this is a great idea? A lot of you already know that meditation is helpful but you tell me all the time that you are afraid to start for lack of knowledge or skill. I have heard at least 1000 times in my office “But I can’t make my thoughts go away!!!” spoken with despair.
Well, guess what Sally… Neither can I! (and I’ve been working on it for 17 years!)
What if … I took the difficulty out of meditation for you and you starting giving yourself adult time outs instead. You all know the rules of time outs. You must sit or stand in a particular place for a certain amount of time and have no contact with friends or phones.. that’s pretty much the crux of it.
There is often another layer.. “and think about what you’ve done!” but I don’t suggest adding that here. No need for extra work or stress.
Limit it to 3 minutes.
If you are smart, you’ll be wondering, why just three minutes?
Here’s why: because it’s easy and not overwhelming and it’s said to be enough time to activate the part of your nervous system that is responsible for relaxation and regeneration. I don’t know if that has been studied (a quick search left me with nothing concrete) but I have used the 3 minute rule for years with myself and my patients and can attest to the fact that it slows you down, helps you to create space for creative solutions to come through.
“But what if my thoughts don’t stop?!?!?”. Er…. they won’t. Don’t worry about it or even think about it at all. That is not the goal anyway. My suggestion would be to focus on forgiving yourself and focusing on what you can do after these three minutes to feel better… or, just sit there. Most practitioners would tell you to focus on your breathing and while I love that idea, it is another layer that tends to stress you out. You are worried that you don’t know how to breathe properly and you focus so much on getting it right that you miss out on all the benefits of just being still and quiet for a moment.
So, if meditation / breathing is hard, skip it for now. Stick with 3 minute time outs. Learn how to be still and quite again. No phones. No distractions. Maybe someday you’ll start to meditate naturally 😉