Do you ever (or always) stand in the shower and think less than flattering thoughts about your naked body? (well of course you do!) Do you let negative thoughts (about anything and bloody everything) wash over you with the steady stream from the shower rose?
Is taking a shower a time for clarity or confusion? Are you in and out quickly for the sake of water conservation, or do you stand under the shower forever working your problems into a lather while hoping to wash them away? Do you turn off the tap feeling refreshed, all your doubts disappearing down the drain, or does your mind feel as foggy as the steamed-up shower screen?
I love a long shower, a simple (if guilty) pleasure. I’m conscious it’s still a western world privilege and in times of drought I do cut short this (sometimes twice) daily routine indulgence. But a good shower is a self-care essential (and not just for the practicalities of getting clean).
It’s a place of solace, respite from the world (even with a whinging 3 year old watching on sometimes). Which is why I’m doing my best to make it a judgement and worry-free zone.
I could look down on my naked body and judge but I try to look inward instead (I find lots to judge inside too, but at least I’m not focusing on the cellulite).
I can’t pretend negative thoughts don’t wash over me, but I try to let them flow like water off a duck’s back.
I don’t usually sing (cue self-critic) but when I do it’s joyfully and probably somewhat tunelessly, but nevertheless loudly enough to drown out the inner cries of derision.
I like to daydream in the shower but I also like to focus on my day and I reckon it’s all about balancing (surprise, surprise) both.
When I shower after hot yoga (which I love, but think incredibly sweaty and stinky) it is both welcome relief for the muscles and a reward for the exercise – motivation for my next class.
To me a shower is the ultimate (surpassing sex?) yin yang experience – water and the opportunity to stand still are both passive yin, while the flow of water and its warmth represent yang energy.
No wonder a shower can be such a balancing experience, but only if you leave judgement and worries at the bathroom door. So here are my essential tips.
1) Turn the water on and get the temperature right then strip off with your eyes closed. Try to keep them closed as much as possible throughout your shower (perhaps not advisable to shave your legs, never mind your bikini line). Not only will closing your eyes suspend your judgement of your physical appearance but open your other senses (including your inner sense).
2) You must wet your hair. Wash and condition it if you want to as I reckon it adds to the showering experience, but make sure you let the water stream over your head and face. There is no substitute for this feeling even with the blow-dry trade-off.
3) Imagine those negative thoughts washing off your back and flowing down the drain and don’t think them again – they are gone for good. Worries evaporate with the steam from the shower. All those useless fears are so much condensation.
4) Let the warmth of the water leave you feeling warm inside and appreciate how lucky we are to have hot running water on tap – turn the temperature up a little to give that extra burst of energy.
5) Savour the sensation of a nice body wash – lavender for anti-stress perhaps, or mint for that blast of skin-tingling – especially if you turn the temperature down and give yourself a shock of cold water to awaken the senses. Have a couple of different types on hand to suit your mood.
6) Save the practical jobs to the end of your shower – let yourself luxuriate under the water first before you get to the shaving and the scrubbing as that mundane grooming stuff will just break the mood.
7) Sit down sometimes – OK this is an admission of a long, lazy showerer (not a real word) – it is the ultimate indulgence, like a bath but with running water. I’ve been known to sit for, well….(meditation anyone?)
8) Clean body, clean mind – use your shower to deliberately clear thought blocks, re-state mantras or affirm actions. In the morning mindfully establish your mood for the day. In the evening set yourself up for pleasant dreams.
9) Draw love hearts on the steamy shower screen or spell out a word or intention – let the condensation on the screen be a canvas for your positive thoughts and expressions of love.
10) DO NOT RUSH – this may be the only time of peace you get all day, especially if you have pre-school children. Counter unwanted interruptions with perfectly reasonable excuses such as: ‘I can’t hear over the sound the water’ AND ‘I’m just not clean enough yet’ or just lock the door!! Ignore all attempts to distract you unless they involve small children and knives.
I can’t believe I’ve come up with ten tips for such a simple thing as showering!
The thing is if you can just concentrate on making your shower an enjoyable, refreshing and focusing experience then it can become a daily routine that helps bring balance and mindfulness in your life.
If you rush because you’ve slept in or are running late or are being whinged at relentlessly, then you rob yourself of a simple pleasure that can make all the difference.
Alas our ensuite shower is out of action having sprung a leak about six weeks ago (Oh how I daydream in the family shower of a new ensuite and lust after the above shower heads), so I sometimes take a shower while Little Yang is in the bath (a great way of supervising without really supervising). And the perfect excuse for a long shower (I wouldn’t want to cut bath time short).
Love to hear any other shower porn indulgence tips. Has a good shower ever saved your life sanity?
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.
PS – those who read my post last week about Camp Good Enough – sadly Miss Yin wasn’t well enough! She soldiered on through her ballet exams and then decided she didn’t want to go to camp after all (her sickness being a valid, if convenient, excuse). Sickness has prevailed in our household since, so just love escaping nurse-maid duties by jumping in the shower.