After the Morning Shower

by on 08 July

The practice of mindfulness is about being present for your life and experiencing it just as it is, without the judgments that can lead you to a conditioned reaction. I remember this every morning when I take my shower.

I quite like my morning shower. I enjoy the sensation of the warm temperature and the shooting water massaging my skin. I know I will soon feel clean and refreshed. So, pleasant sensations and thoughts. And then, as I turn off the hot water and step into the cold air outside, the ball-game changes!

Before I started meditating, I would have two responses to the cold air. First, my body would feel it as a physical sensation. And, then, my mind would label the experience as unpleasant and go into an over-the-top "aversion" mode. My inner voice would shout "I'm freezing!", converting the experience into a stressful event. And my body would tense up – my shoulder, arm and neck muscles would tighten as a frightened response to the negative experience. That, of course, restricted the blood supply and made me even colder. Reacting in this way – automatically, by habit – I would magnify the negative experience – both mentally and physically.

But after meditating for a few years, I found a better way to respond to the cold air. By responding mindfully, I could greatly minimize the negative experience.

Now, as I step outside the shower, I anticipate the lower temperature with an open mind. My inner voice, wiser now, says "I'm having a negative sensory experience – this is the way it is right now. I should not judge it, just observe it". I refrain from creating negative, stressful thoughts and focus my mind – my awareness – on reality, the physical movement of toweling the body and the sensations that result – the warmer feeling and the positive effect of rubbing the skin ("Great. A second massage! ")

By focusing my attention – my mind - on the physical reality, the process of drying the body, I cut short the tendency of my mind to engage in negative, stressful thoughts. And, I resist the urge to tense my muscles by consciously relaxing them. I enjoy the process of becoming dry and warm again. And, I feel satisfaction in minimizing the negative experience of the cold air. Perhaps my shower didn't actually "make my day" - I do occasionally experience more momentous events than my daily shower! But, the drying process has become less unpleasant by doing it mindfully.

I recently read a wonderful description of mindfulness that conveys very well what I'm trying to say here. It comes from Janice Marturano, former vice president at General Mills, where she was responsible for a mindfulness program for the corporation's employees - http://instituteformindfulleadership.org/founder

When you are mindful of this moment, you are present for your life and your experience just as it is . . .
Not as you hoped it would be
Not as you expected it to be
Not seeing more or less than what is here
Not with judgments that can lead you to a conditioned reaction
. . . but for exactly what is here, as it unfolds, meeting each moment with equanimity.

I hope you enjoy your next shower, including what follows!

 

1 comment

  • Tamilyogi

    Pretty nice post. I’ve truly loved surfing around your blog posts. I will be subscribing for your feed and I hope you write again soon.

    Tamilyogi Wednesday, 08 November 2017 16:49

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