Here’s what we know: Even a few minutes of practicing mindfulness every day can change your life. Here’s what else we know. No one thinks they have room in their schedule for “even a few minutes” spent sitting still, breathing.
Luckily, there’s a way to fold it in seamlessly. We won’t call it a mindfulness hack because that wouldn’t be very mindful of us. Plus, it’s almost too easy to call a hack.
The Big Idea
Turn your bathroom into your meditation studio. Here’s what it doesn’t require: A renovation budget, power tools, inspirational posters, a live-in shaman. Here’s what it does call for: A commitment to rethinking the space with a focus on calm, serene touches that skew toward the minimalist. (Sorry, statement shower curtains and hair product collections: Into storage you go.)
We tapped Adrienne Glasser, an LA-based psychotherapist and meditation instructor to explain. “Mindfulness is the practice of attuning to the present moment – essentially, concentrating deeply on a single object,” she explains. “Normally, this is your breath, but it doesn’t have to be.” (Those who tried, and failed, meditation apps are likely glad to hear this.)
This means that the shower or bath – one of the places you can’t be plugged in – makes an ideal place to practice. You can use the water as the object of your concentration (how does it feel, smell, taste, etc), aiming to focus your entire mind on that one thing in great detail. Another option is choosing a scent to focus on (as Glasser points out, a popular method in yoga studios, especially when you can tie it to the light of a candle), or the texture of a washcloth, body scrub, whatever you choose.
If this sounds boring, you’re partially right, but we promise that it also holds a strange and addictive allure. You’ll impress yourself with the details you can hone in on, and it’s a wholly more pleasant experience than, say, going over and over an embarrassing moment from the day before.
As for what to do when your to-do list starts creeping in? Relax. “The biggest misconception about meditation and mindfulness is that you have to block out other thoughts,” Glasser explains. (Cue the sigh of relief.) “Instead, acknowledge the thought, and that it’s a normal reaction, say hi to it, then ask it for space as you return to your object of focus.”
But… what’s the point of all this?
Not simply to have a pretty and relaxing bathroom. Which, sure, is a bonus.
“If you can train your brain to concentrate on an object during your mindfulness practice, imagine how you’ll be able to transition that skill when you’re out in the world,” Glasser explains. This helps to train your body to be calm, productive, and in-tune no matter what’s going on around you. “It’s practice for your nervous system,” she says. Like mental and emotional sit-ups, but without the sore abs.
Another benefit here – not just of practicing mindfulness, but of sprucing up a bathroom to be your designated place for it – is establishing a morning or nightly ritual. “Everyone has bathroom rituals, and you get to choose if yours is stressful or sacred, says Glasser. “If you have control over the look and feel of your bathroom, why not make yours a place you love to be? Set it up so everything feels soft, looks beautiful, and is scented so that all your senses are pleased.”
We’re biased, sure, but who are we to ignore doctor’s orders? Our cushy bath mat, streamlined shower curtain, and cloud-soft bath towels and bath sheets, in their rainbow of super-neutrals, make it incredibly easy.
So here’s to a better bath – better looking, better to be in, and better for setting the tone for your day (and mind). Just add water.