ften many of us get ideas and solutions to problems when we take a shower. The main reason being it is a place where we are alone, and relatively free since we do not have to think much as to what we got to do since it is part of our habitual life. Unlike other faculties, the mind works best when it is quiet and undisturbed. Mindfulness developed as a skill helps us bring that stillness at will.
Let us see how we can practice mindfulness in the bathroom.
Take a simple routine like brushing teeth. Try and observe every step of the process – “being totally aware of the process of brushing teeth”
First become aware of the intention to brush your teeth.
Then pick up the tooth brush, notice how you recognize your tooth brush from those of others. Feel the touch sensation, notice the intention to take tooth paste and pick up the tube, squeeze the toothpaste and become aware of the touch sensation and the intentions involved with the process.
You can also mentally label the activity as “ Taking” “ Squeezing” “closing the tube” “ placing the tube back” and “ Brushing”.
Listen to the sound of brushing and be aware of the whole process of brushing – the different movements of the brush, spitting etc. Just become aware the mental commands needed to make every movement. Yet we hardly notice those intentions or commands since it happens in such quick succession. If you stop brushing consciously you need to decide to do it again if the process is to continue. This observation will help you realize the process of intentions and actions.
As always, you will find your mind wondering away to things unrelated with brushing. Relax and come back to brushing your teeth.
When you shave you can try to do that also mindfully. You can count the number of times you pull the razor, the feeling and the sensations, and every step of the process. The trick is to bring the mind to the present moment to observe what happens, and the associated feelings, sensations and thoughts such as intentions.
If you do not have much time to do this experiment slowly ( which is the normal reality) you can consider noticing the total activity with the thought that you are “Brushing, Brushing, or Shaving , Shaving” Remember the objective of all these efforts is to develop the skill of bringing the mind to the present moment.
While bathing you can either try to become aware of the whole process of bathing as one activity by labeling it mentally with a single word such as “ Bathing, Bathing” or if time permits, break the activities to its small components. Become aware of the feeling as water touches the body, how you rub the body with your hands, the touch sensation, observe the intentions to change the movements of your hands, and the feelings when you use shampoo, soap or gel etc.
The art is in becoming one with bathing. Being totally aware of the whole process. Because it is such a habitual activity you will initially find it very difficult to observe the steps of bathing and to slow down the process. Then just try to remain only with bathing. Become aware at least of the predominant sensations.
Then take the process of drying yourself with the towel. Observe the intention. Which part of the body do you usually wipe first? Break the habit and become aware of the intention. Go on doing it but have your attention on to the movements, sensations and any thoughts that arise.
When you do this kind of regular routine activities as your Practices to develop the skill of being mindful, it is also important to become aware of the thoughts that come as a consequence of what we do. For instance, while washing yourself you might notice a scar or a lump or a pain that was not there and might have a series of other connected thoughts immediately. Just notice how this happens and say to yourself THINKING, THINKING !
Do not make trying to become mindful a serious affair. Treat it with a light heart. Make it a game you play with yourself. You have enough serious stuff to worry about. Practicing mindfulness shouldn’t be one more of those.