Increasing Daily Mindfulness: Starting in the Shower
Many, unfortunately, zoom through one of the most pleasurable parts of the day.
Posted September 5, 2019 | Reviewed by Devon Frye
Did you know you can increase daily mindfulness without meditating?
Yes, I know the title of this article sounds funny. Let me point out a flabbergasting irony: many of us tend to shower (one of the most pleasurable experiences of our day) in the mornings when we’re super-rushed to get our day going.
Here's an embarrassing personal disclosure (now indispensable to my articles): two times this month (and it's only the 5th) I couldn't remember if I had already shampooed as I was in the middle of the shower; thus, I may have shampooed twice! Can you say "mindlessness?" (Jason: don't forget to read your own articles!) Clearly, I've been too busy and need to slow down.
My second personal disclosure: writing about mindfulness is one of my most effective reminders to come back to the practice (most practitioners tend to ebb and flow from the practice, and once I finish this article, I can't wait for my mindful shower).
I know I'm not the only one. In the mornings, we're often racing to get breakfast going or get our children ready; we're often feeling sleep-deprived, and are ultimately aiming to maximize time-efficiency. We’re thinking about our day and the tasks and challenges ahead instead of savoring the moment.
Yet, the shower has all the essential ingredients of a sanctuary: privacy, silence (besides the water), and no interruptions—plus, it can be nice to be naked. Showering mindfully can facilitate an ideal pause: a moment of liberation from your daily tasks and distractions, as well as a place where you can train your body for pleasure, healing, and cleansing—not only physical but psychological, too.
Showering is also a golden opportunity for gratitude. Do you know how many people in the world don't have access to hot water, let alone running water? At least a billion, and likely more. A similar amount of fellow humans don't have access to soap, shampoo, or conditioner either. It's time we appreciate these luxuries and stop taking them for granted.
So the question comes, how present are you in the shower? Your body is obviously there, but how often are your mind and attention there with you? Showering doesn't need to be another chore or mundane daily task. Mindfulness can covert the shower and other daily tasks into a ritual you can savor and look forward to, in which warm water massages your muscles and removes the accrued gunk from the previous day and night.
To practice a more mindful shower:
- Start by slowing down your bodily movements as you prepare to shower. This means removing your clothes slowly and carefully.
- Normally, I would recommend leaving electronic devices outside, but you may find that you would like soothing music in the background. Test the optimal volume beforehand. I would still recommend leaving the device outside the showering area, even if your device is water-resistant, so your main focus is the shower. (This doesn't mean you can't dance in the shower).
- Hear the sounds of your hand turning on the faucet, as well as sounds the nozzle makes right before it ejects its first spurts of water.
- Notice the luxury of adjusting the water temperature to your preference. Then, place your attention on the warm water relaxing, softening, and warming your muscles (a natural de-tenser!).
- As you apply shampoo and conditioner, do so slowly, with care. Notice how it feels on your hair. Good massage, right? Then, let the lather accumulate for a moment before you rinse it out.
- As you apply soap to your body, do so slowly, with care. Notice how it feels on your skin. Good self-massage, right? Then let the soap accumulate for a moment before you rinse it.
- Before finishing, leave time for mindful towel-drying.
- Apply lotions and creams if you'd like. Notice and enjoy how it feels on your now clean skin.
- Check your experience; how did it change your time in the shower, and the rest of the day?
You can modify these steps to your preference. Even if you're still rushed at certain inevitable times such as the morning, you can still do this. Mindful showering doesn't need to take much extra time. Mindfulness is ultimately about the quality of attention, not the amount of time.
When you slow down and are fully present (or at least more present) for the pleasant experience of showering, it can be one of the most pleasurable activities of your day—comparable to sexual pleasure, eating your favorite food, and watching your favorite show.
How many other daily experiences may you be glossing over, instead of savoring? Stay tuned for the follow up article of going to the bathroom mindfully!