Mindfulness in the Bathroom
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness and meditation are often accompanied by a preconceived idea of having to sit still and not do anything. While this is certainly an option, it’s okay for your individual practice to look different. Having said that, there’s nothing stopping you from incorporating mindfulness into your everyday activities. The aim is to bring focus and awareness to the present rather than having the mind wander off and having worries related to the past/future. It’s quite simple to integrate mindful habits into your daily life, and here are some pointers to get you started; in the bathroom! There is a lot going on when we go to the bathroom, although we generally overlook the elaborateness of this activity.
To start, you’ll have to open the door to get inside the bathroom. Try and do this with some attention to the process; the door (which was once a tree!), moves as you push against it, supported by it’s hinges. When you go to use the toilet, notice the sensations in your body as you go through this process. The way that our body systems function is amazing - we consume food/liquid, which is processed by our organs so that the nutrients can be absorbed and finally our body removes what it no longer needs. Each day we’re doing amazing work, something which we often forget.
Pay attention to the sensations of the soap as you put it on your hands. Feel the touch of your skin against the tap as you turn it on, followed by the water as it spills over your hands. Lathering is a pretty remarkable feat, if you think about it! Then there is the stream of soapy water as it’s taken by gravity down the drain, the water following the shape of the basin and pipes that it comes into contact with. I’ll let you discover the marvels of the hand drying process for yourself!
Another helpful and fun (maybe) practice is to embrace the brief moment of cold after showering. I’d often find myself frantically fumbling to put clothes back on, balancing on one foot as I attempt to equip my sock in the quickest time possible, desperate to relieve myself of the chilly aftermath of a hot shower in the winter time. I have learned that acting franticly is not enjoyable, and I’d sometimes lose my balance and end up in the cold for much longer than if I had been less urgent about putting my socks on. Nowadays I do my best to embrace the uncomfortable sensation of cold, rather than allow it to frustrate and drive me crazy. You can practice this in other aspects of life too; when you’re angry, sad, jealous etc. We may not have control over the situations we find ourselves in or the emotions that come up as a result, but we do have control over our experience of it all. Just because you’re wet, cold and uncomfortable does not mean you have to suffer!
In our lives there is a lot that we disregard due to overfamiliarity. If we carry out our regular activities with more care and awareness, it’s fascinating to see the intricacies involved in seemingly insignificant things. It’s common that we consider necessary tasks such as using the bathroom a burden, because our focus is always in the future. What we do next most likely isn’t going to change, whether you rush through life or not. The only difference is that if you act mindfully, you might find more calm, joy and appreciation in all of the varying aspects of life, not just the monument occasions like a concert, celebration or a tasty dinner. Besides, you’re probably going to have to use the bathroom during these events at some point or another anyway - you may as well make the most of it!