It’s Day 5 of my 60-day journey through what I’m calling mini-mindfulness, & I’m already noticing myself shifting into a broader perspective. As my friend Mary commented on one of my previous posts, I’m starting to be mindful about becoming mindful. To put it another way, I’m noticing what I’m noticing—sometimes. And that’s a start.
I’ll take it! In less than a week, I’m already having these solid micro-moments of awareness where I’m totally present & engaged in whatever I’m doing. Contrast that with most of my day that happens to look a lot like what’s happening right now: sitting on my couch, my laptop in my lap, typing up my thoughts & snuggling with my 3-year old in front of the Angry Birds movie while simultaneously chatting with him about what we’re watching, checking text messages & periodically snaking a hand out to catch my almost-8-month old who’s cruising around the couch on wobbly legs. How disconnected from every moment can I be? Just Google “multi-tasking” & you start to get a clear picture when you read the title of the first article, “Multi-Tasking is Killing Your Brain.”
A synopsis of said article contains such scary points as: multi-tasking lowers your work quality & efficiency; significantly lowers your IQ; increases the stress hormone cortisol. Need more? Some preliminary studies in the U.K. posit the idea that the brain damage from multi-tasking may be permanent.
And yet, I continue to operate as I do night after night & day after day. See any similarities to your own life?
Fortunately, there is good news: Mindfulness improves whole brain health, rewiring neurochemistry & neural pathways to potentially thicken the cortex. This promotes clearer thinking & even longer living!
My personal good news is that I’m making some progress. I’m starting to use my mini-mindfulness tools more & more throughout each day—& attempting to utilize one new tool each & every day, so that I can post in this burgeoning blog. Today, I used my Star Pose anchor (see Day 2), prayer (see Day 4) & used a new tool—that’s completely new to me—shower meditation.
My friend Sarah shared a Facebook meme with me about the shower meditation concept some weeks back, & I’ve been wanting to try it. Showers have become a haven to me in a way they never were, pre-motherhood. Before kids, I was a morning-only kind of shower-er. Since showers tend to wake me up (whereas baths relax me), I was reluctant to shower at night & possibly trigger insomnia. Now I steal both showers & sleep wherever I can.
In fact, showers have become like mini-spas to me. So much easier to schedule than full-on baths, I can pop on some feel-good music, crank up the heat to steamy, lather on my favorite lavender bath gel, & rinse off with bergamot essential oil just to balance things out. It’s amaaaaaazing. But none of it is mindful. Once again, I’m mutli-tasking, this time overloading all my senses with sights, sounds, smells & sensations. Shower meditation is meant to do the opposite.
In essence, shower meditation consists of tuning into yourself & your one single experience of standing under running water. So, tonight, when my husband agreed to solo parent for a bit after dinner, so I could steal some time to myself in this way, I knew exactly what I was going to do.
Let me explain further that after dinner is my “witching hour.” That means I’m quick to snap at my family, impatient & just ready for some downtime. A shower spa can help me tune into my own needs. But tonight’s shower meditation truly helped me be intentional about my entire evening & getting the kids to bed (which I’m just about to do).
At the end of my shower tonight, I turned off the iTunes, stepped out from under the water, then took a deep & centering breath as I stepped back in. I stood momentarily still, feeling the water cascading over my head & down my back. I noticed the warmth & the wetness. Then I noted how my scalp felt as I moved my head under the shower nozzle. I closed my eyes, heightening my tactile senses. I took a long, slow deep breath & inhaled the scents of the shower: lavender, bergamot citrus, freshness & cleanness. I noticed myself noticing all this for just a split second, achieving a true meditative moment.
Then I turned on the intentionality with a little visualization exercise. I imagined the water washing away all of my stress; pictured it pouring right down the drain. I pretended a resilience was washing over me then, stiffening me for the nighttime task at hand & armoring me with a resolve for flexibility, love & patience. I took another deep, slow breath, then stepped out & turned the shower off & the music back on.
In my hypnosis certification course, I learned an NLP visualization exercise that’s very similar to this, only it can be done by merely picturing a shower instead of actually taking one. Because of the mind’s inability to distinguish between a memory, an imagining & an actual experience, it works just as many wonders. I’m guessing the benefits of experiencing the shower in real life outweigh the visualization by at least a little for simple biological health reasons (who wants to be stinky & shower-less?), but I haven’t done my research on that to say more yet.
Tonight, however, I consider the mini-mindful exercise a success: Both little ones are sleeping, the Angry Birds disc menu is playing quietly on repeat in the background & I am concluding this entry, showered, centered & clean-smelling & ready to turn in, myself … & it’s not even 9:00.
Day 5 Mini-Mindfulness Tool:
Shower Meditation (which can also be done outside of the shower using only your imagination as an NLP exercise). Try yours at night to de-stress from the day or in the morning to arm yourself for battle victory!