Make Your Morning Shower a Meditation
with Meditation Teacher Lorin Roche
Morning Person or not, the Monday through Friday grind likely has you on autopilot. Alarm sounds. Regretful groan. Check device. Get Vertical. Bathroom. Brush teeth. Shower. Rinse and Repeat.
We are creatures of habit. Webster defines habit as an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary. Through this lens, our morning routine becomes a missed opportunity to cultivate intention and consciousness.
Mindfulness has become a popular tool in all sorts of organizations seeking to cultivate effectiveness, productivity and morale, from corporations and schools to hospitals and veterans associations. We hear so much about the benefits of meditation to keep our minds in check. Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by attending to the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Studies have shown that cultivating a state of mindfulness reduces anxiety, increases mental acuity, reduces stress, which in turn lowers blood pressure and boosts the immune system.
We tend to think that a necessary component of meditation is spontaneously clearing the mind of thoughts, Forget it. Body-based Mindfulness is a meditation process using physical sensations as a pathway out of our busy minds. When we are perpetually distracted by thoughts and concerns about what’s going on in our lives—career, relationships, family, finances—we are never really present to what is right in front of us. Our ability to navigate our lives powerfully depends on our presence and engagement in each moment as it unfolds.
Cool Your Jets
Best-selling author and meditation teacher, Lorin Roche says that starting your day with a level of awareness—both mental and physical—is a powerful way to set the tone for your day. “The shower is the perfect venue to start this shift,” he says. “Begin by setting the temperature of the water a few degrees cooler than you normally would. I’m not suggesting that you step into an ice cold shower,” he explains, “but lowering the temperature to the point that you notice the shift will wake up your skin.”
While the physical experience of colder water than your accustomed to makes us physically alert, there is also something to be said for change for the sake of change. “Altering habitual behavior and conditions, even when self-induced, forces the sleepy mind to be alert to what might come next. When we do something by rote, we don’t need to process it mentally. When we switch up the action, our minds and bodies engage at a more active level.” Roche suggests alternating warm and cool temperatures a few times, to enhance the benefits, before settling on a comfortable temperature. In this way, you can learn mindfulness a few seconds at a time, in the midst of your morning ritual of bathing.
Leonardo da Vinci said, “water is the driving principle of all life.” Water is a powerful force of nature, and it is also soothing. Roche suggests turning away from the showerhead and letting the water saturate the crown of the head and run all the way down the spine. “There is an energy channel that run all the way down our spinal column. Our entire nervous system connects to the spine. And yet we cannot see or touch our spine ourselves.” Roche directs us to appreciate the subtle way the water massages the backbone and relaxes the muscles that work hard keeping us upright. “Water is there for us to enjoy. It’s a form of rejoice,” he offers, “Savor the comforting sensations.”
Roche recommends a simple after-shower ritual to set the energy that you just cultivated. After toweling off, stand straight with feet hip-distance apart, take a deep inhalation all the way into the belly. When your lungs are full, pause for a moment and notice how the breath feels filling your body. On a slightly slow, steady exhalation (whoosh), take the fingertips of your right hand and sequentially touch your forehead, heart, and belly. Roche advises, “this three-fold salute to the intelligent energy centers in your body, is subtly both grounding and uplifting.”