Why Me-Time and Meditation Isn’t A Selfish Act

When it comes to yoga, meditation and even me-time in general, we can sometimes worry we are being a little selfish. Dedicating time to our own wellbeing can feel overly indulgent, and there’s even a creeping suggestion self-care is little more than an excuse for self-absorption. Dr Alison Gray, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, has warned that “inward-looking” spiritual practices (like meditation) can make us more selfish – but is this actually true?

Like most things, this would depend on how you look at it. You could say that any action that isn’t taken for the betterment of humankind is selfish – from eating what we like for dinner to pursuing our hobbies – because we do them primarily for our own benefit. But unless we’re planning on becoming monks and completely giving up any notion of doing things for ourselves, there doesn’t seem much to gain from worrying about this.

In this context, meditating and other forms of self-care are no more selfish than having a bath, and the fact they’ve been singled out as particularly self-indulgent starts to look rather strange. However, it can be pretty easy to feel guilty about doing things for ourselves.

Why Self-Care Isn’t Self-Indulgence

People start meditating (and carving out a little time for self-care in general) for all sorts of reasons. It might be that we need a way to calm down, have a health problem that meditation helps with, or have found ourselves burnt out and chronically stressed. We may even have a religious reason.

But as soon as we’ve decided “you know what, I’m going to take a little time for myself,” the guilt can start to creep in. Shouldn’t we be working, volunteering, or spending that time on our kids, partner, or friends? Maybe we should be focusing on changing the world rather than pursuing personal happiness, and the people who claim it’s selfish to think of ourselves in this way are right. Meditation, yoga, and self-care are no longer neutral acts that you can pursue in peace, but have joined the truly vast number of “Things People Have Opinions About.”

That’s why it’s a shame that certain voices have found a place in the media to criticise meditation as selfish, because it adds yet another thing to feel guilty about in our daily lives – as if we don’t get told enough that everything we do is wrong, in one way or another. Women especially can feel guilty for devoting time to our own personal development, and so much cultural messaging reinforces our fears; pursuing a career = bad mother, focusing on the family = lazy and spoilt, being interested in health and wellness = self obsessed.

At the end of the day, life can be tough even at the best of times. If we’ve found something like meditation or yoga helps us, then we can probably safely ignore any idea that we shouldn’t be so “inward-looking” in our hobbies.

How Taking Care of Ourselves Helps Everyone

It’s become a bit of a cliché to say that you have to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can help others, but it really is true. Practices like meditation give us the breathing room to calm down, de-stress, and understand ourselves better, all of which can make us much nicer people to be around. It’s often the inward-looking habits which help us understand ourselves better, and in turn, understand other people as well.

Some of us can even find that regular meditation increases our compassion, as we experience less stress and therefore become less fearful, irritable, and angry – negative emotions that can drive some pretty problematic behaviors. Meditation and yoga are also habits which very rarely take more than an hour out of our day. It’s not as if they take up time which could be spent helping others – it’s perfectly possible to do both.

Ultimately, self-care is about keeping ourselves as healthy and happy as possible in a world that can feel pretty hostile at times. It isn’t selfish (in any meaningful interpretation of the word) to want or need coping mechanisms, or to pursue self-improvement. In fact, many of us want to improve ourselves in order to become kinder, more well-rounded people, and do more for the world around us. And if me-time is the thing that keeps our heads above water, then there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Holly Ashby. Holly is a wellness writer who has worked with the London meditation center Beeja Meditation for three years. They teach a form of transcendental meditation to help people cope with the stresses of modern life, and help those living with issues such as anxiety and depression.

10 comments

  1. I truly believe in metime…. and I completely agree that you cannot take care of others till the time your own health is good… while everyone should make an effort to take care of their own health.. but women should especially be more careful… so without guilt she should do whatever is necessary to be on good shape… whether it is drinking that one glass of milk daily… loved your thoughts in the article. Thanks for sharing

  2. Meditation and yoga has transformed my life for the better over the years. I have gotten to know myself better and understand the people around me more. I have also been critisiesd as being selfish for devoting time to myself and my peace of mind. I guess people always love to criticise what they do not understand. Please, check out my blog at

    http://www.mylifeingreens.com

  3. Absolutely great stuff! I love reading about how people discover yoga and find their happiness with it. It takes me back to when I first fell in love with yoga and my life has changed for the better. Check this yoga program out if your interested it changed me and hopefully it will benefit someone else! Have a great day everyone! https://tinyurl.com/ybf7kzrl

  4. shuch a great artical, loved every word of it. yoga is my passion and my whole life, I’ve been practicing it for about 19 years now.
    you should definitly check out my program, it will change your life.
    https://goo.gl/mMJTYm

  5. I’m in love this this article. Always hearing to much about me time is selfish. During me time i like to detox also and just enjoy myself and relax. I use this detox tea too sometimes. After a glass I feel like weights been lifted of my shoulders (all the nasty toxins leaving). I got my mother into it also. Here’s the link I made for you to have easy access to the amazing Detox tea! I promise it is worth the shot of trying a glass http://bit.ly/2FAz86K

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