When we tune in to our innate capacity for mindfulness, we’re better equipped to show up for our patients, our loved ones, and ourselves, without burning out.
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Begin every morning with a simple “shower meditation” to wash away your stress, anxiety, and negativity. Learn to start each day on a fresh and clean slate!
A shower meditation is an easy and convenient way to inject a little self-care into your daily routine.
Since showering is already a part of most people’s daily habits, it’s the perfect opportunity to step back and improve your mental health. It’s also a great place for everyday reflection since we are already away from our phones and any other distractions.
You only need 5-10 minutes total. It requires the same amount of time you need to take a regular shower, the only difference is you’re adding an extra mental layer to the routine.
Remind yourself to do it by adding a small sticky note in your bathroom. Showers can be so second-nature to us that it’s easy to forget to do it, but with practice it can become just as automatic as any other part of your morning routine.
Here are step-by-step instructions.
Shower Meditation: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Choose a comfortable temperature. Start your shower as you normally would. Find a comfortable temperature that suits you best.
- Focus on your breathing. Once you’ve entered, begin the exercise with 10 deep breaths. Pay attention to the motions of your breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Feel your body and mind begin to relax.
- Be mindful of your senses. Now take a moment to cycle through your 5 senses. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you smell/taste (if anything)? Focus on the sounds of the water flowing and the sensations of the water hitting your body and skin (a great grounding technique to get your mind focused on the present).
- Visualize your stress and anxiety washing away. As you clean yourself, imagine that you are washing away all the stress and anxiety in your body. Picture any stress and negativity as a black slime washing off your body and visualize it swirling down the drain.
- Add a mantra or affirmation. Consider adding a small mantra to your shower meditation as you wash yourself. Something simple like “I am washing away all stress and anxiety,” or “My body and mind are being cleansed,” can make the exercise more effective. You can check out other affirmations here that may be helpful – experiment and find what works best for you.
- Imagine a relaxing aura surrounding you. As you finish washing yourself, picture a relaxing energy surrounding you. What is the color of relaxation for you? Picture an aura with that color. Imagine yourself breathing it in as it fills you up and puts you in a comfortable and rejuvenated state. As you dry yourself and get dressed, continue to imagine this relaxing aura following you.
It’s a super easy exercise if you remember to do it – and it takes no extra time or effort.
With practice, the association between “washing yourself” and “washing away stress” will become stronger and stronger.
Water in general can be a powerful symbol for healing and cleansing, which is why it’s often used in religious practices (such as baptism) and other spiritual traditions.
Interestingly, some research suggests that even the simple act of washing yourself (without the visualization above) is enough to ease people’s troubles and anxieties.
According to one of the researchers:
“Cleansing is about the removal of residues. By washing the hands, taking a shower, or even thinking of doing so, people can rid themselves of a sense of immorality, lucky or unlucky feelings, or doubt about a decision. The bodily experience of removing physical residues can provide the basis of removing more abstract mental residues.”
In general, daily activities and chores can be a great way to integrate small mental habits. Showering, eating, and cleaning are all opportunities to practice everyday mindfulness.
There are other versions of the shower meditation that I’ve seen people practice as well. For example, someone on social media shared their experience of imagining themselves as a flower or tree being nourished:
- “I like to visualize the water as rain and that I’m a flower or tree. I visualize roots growing from my feet and a trunk growing strong throughout my lower limbs. My arms are like strong branches and then my heart and head is where flowers and foliage bloom. I’ll also imagine the warmth of the shower as sunlight warming me and nourishing me. It can be extremely grounding and is one of my favorite feelings of comfort and joy. Swaying in the wind with the rain bouncing off my branches.”
I’m a big believer in using your imagination to change your mental state, so there’s no right or wrong way to practice this meditation. The key is always to find out what works for you.
Try doing a shower meditation every day this week and see how you feel!
Stay updated on new articles and resources in psychology and self improvement:
The post Shower Meditation: Wash Away Your Stress and Anxiety appeared first on The Emotion Machine.
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True maturation on the spiritual path requires that we discover the depth of our wounds. As Ajahn Chah put it, “If you haven’t cried a number of times, your meditation hasn’t really begun.”
Almost everyone who undertakes a true spiritual path will discover that a profound personal healing is a necessary part of his or her spiritual process. When this need is acknowledged, spiritual practice can be directed to bring such healing to body, heart, and mind. This is not a new notion. Since ancient times, spiritual practice has been described as a process of healing. The Buddha and Jesus were both known as healers of the body, as well as great physicians of the spirit.
Wise spiritual practice requires that we actively address the pain and conflict of our life in order to come to inner integration and harmony. Without including the essential step of healing, students will find that they are blocked from deeper levels of meditation or are unable to integrate them into their lives. Many people first come to spiritual practice hoping to skip over their sorrows and wounds, the difficult areas of their lives. They hope to rise above them and enter a spiritual realm full of divine grace, free from all conflict.
Some spiritual practices actually do encourage this and teach ways of accomplishing this through intense concentration and ardor that bring about states of rapture and peace. Some powerful yogic practices can transform the mind. While such practices have their value, an inevitable disappointment occurs when they end, for as soon as practitioners relax in their discipline, they again encounter all the unfinished business of the body and heart that they had hoped to leave behind.
True maturation on the spiritual path requires that we discover the depth of our wounds: our grief from the past, unfulfilled longing, the sorrow that we have stored up during the course of our lives. As Ajahn Chah put it, “If you haven’t cried deeply a number of times, your meditation hasn’t really begun.” This healing is necessary if we are to embody spiritual life lovingly and wisely. Unhealed pain and rage, unhealed traumas from childhood abuse or abandonment, become powerful unconscious forces in our lives. Until we are able to bring awareness and understanding to our old wounds, we will find ourselves repeating their patterns of unfulfilled desire, anger, and confusion over and over again. Healing can develop in part through a systematic spiritual practice.
Another kind of healing takes place when we begin to bring the power of awareness and loving attention to each area of our life with the systematic practice of mindfulness. The Buddha spoke of cultivating awareness in four fundamental aspects of life that he called the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. These areas of mindfulness are: awareness of the body and senses, awareness of the heart and feelings, awareness of the mind and thoughts, and awareness of the principles that govern life. (In Sanskrit these principles are called the dharma, or the universal laws.) The development of awareness in these four areas is the basis for all of the Buddhist practices of insight and awakening.
This excerpt is taken from the book, “A Path With Heart”
Transforming Anxiety and Difficult Thoughts
In Buddhist psychology, the instructions for thought transformation are very explicit. The Buddha instructs his followers, “Like a skilled carpenter who removes a coarse peg by knocking it out with a fine one, so a person removes a pain-producing thought by substituting a beautiful one.” The carpenter’s peg is a practical description of how we can remove unhealthy thought patterns such as self-judgment, worry and anxiety by thought substitution. What is required is the selection of a helpful substitute and repeated practice. Repetition is key. Repetition, compassion, and the belief that the painful cycles of thought can be transformed all have a part in developing new patterns of thought.
The most common replacement thoughts are variations on the practices of loving-kindness and compassion. When a repeated negative thought arises, one of worry and anxiety, of self-criticism or depression, first study it. When does it arise? How often? What is its tone of voice? Does it appear as words or have images too? What story does it want you to believe? How painful is it to hear it over and over? Now that you see it clearly, you can say to the thought, “Thank you for trying to protect me, but I’m OK now.”
Then choose a suitable replacement such as:
“I am a compassionate person, I care for people.”
“I care for myself.”
“May I be safe and protected.”
“I will live with a peaceful heart.”
“A day at a time.”
“I will live with trust and kindness.”
Even so, some patterns of unhealthy thought—jealousy, anger, fear, unworthiness, and anxiety—are so stubborn they are hard to tame by simple substitution. For these thoughts, the Buddha offers more forceful methods. His instructions continue: “And when there still arise patterns of unskillful thought, the danger that thoughts will cause pain and suffering should be clearly visualized. Then, naturally, like the abandonment of garbage, the mind will turn from these thoughts and become steady, quiet, clear.” We can actually feel the danger when we are possessed by thoughts of jealousy or anger, or we are in the grip of anxiety. These tighten and stress our whole body. They keep us from rest. And when we consider acting on them, we know the results could be regrettable.
It is important that we don’t judge ourselves when we see these thoughts; they are just thoughts! The transformation practice is simply to set a powerful new intention. We can see that certain thoughts are unbidden, impersonal, and unhealthy thoughts are painful and do not have our best interest in mind. Out of compassion for ourselves we can feel their danger. “Like unhealthy garbage,” says the Buddha, “we can put them down.” Or we can visualize sweeping them out of our body down to become manure for the earth. Then we can add a skillful replacement.
Still, some patterns of destructive thought are so strong that even more forceful measures are needed. The Buddha tells us to “deliberately and directly ignore these thoughts, turn away, giving no attention, as if shutting our eyes or quickly looking away from a disturbing and harmful sight.” And if such patterns continue, “the wildly unskillful thought stream should be gradually slowed and stilled by slowing the breath step by step as if gradually slowing one’s pace from a run to a walk to standing.”
Now we are talking about thought patterns that are “sticky.” We all know them from experience, when a fear or doubt or obsession just won’t go away. The thoughts may be unpleasant, but our mind gets in a groove and we don’t know what to do but stay there. For example, the thought of letting go of our ex-lover becomes a form of thinking about him or her. Ignoring the thoughts and walking mindfully and breathing slowly may reduce them. If not, the Buddha recommends a final and rarely used last resort: “Such thoughts should be met with force, teeth clenched, tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, determined to constrain, crush, and subdue these thoughts as if constraining a violent criminal. In this way does one become a master of thought and its courses. In this way one becomes free.”
As we can hear, these are not sweet “self-esteem” practices, looking in the mirror every morning and saying, “I am a loving person and the world will give me what I want.” The destructive habits of mind can be tenacious. There is an element of fierce determination and courageous self-discipline needed to take them on. When we do, we discover that we can train and direct our own mind. What a blessing!
Visit the Pandemic Resources page on my website for meditations & other materials.
Conscious living means paying attention to your thoughts, choices and actions. It means making conscious decisions and acting more consciously.
How do you live your life, consciously, making your own judgement and decisions, or acting automatically, programmed by the past, the media or the opinions of other people?
Are you thinking and acting like a robot or as a conscious being?
Living consciously means, making conscious choices in an unbiased way. It means looking more deeply into things and not just accepting the obvious.
It’s a mindset that can help you awaken and live more consciously. It would help you bring your attention to what you are doing, instead of being scattered-minded.
Conscious living clears the fog through which most people drift, and lets you see where you are going. It helps you make conscious choices instead of automatic ones.
Conscious Living Means that You Take Control of Your Life
Do you sometimes awake to the idea that you might be drifting through life? Do you feel you are lacking a purpose?
Do you feel that whatever you accomplish seems not enough, as if something is missing?
Nowadays, the strain at work, the media and the Internet, are are producing too much stress, lack of focus, and short attention span. This makes you less productive and less focused.
Stress and lack of focus lead to impatience, unhappiness and anger, and can hurt your health.
Conscious living can change all this. It would help you gain more control over your life. It would put the steering wheel of your life into your hands.
This is a mindset that can change your whole life, making your life interesting, fascinating and full of purpose.
It is a way of life leading you to become a person with awakened awareness and consciousness. It would make your life better and more purposeful.
It’s a mindset that allows you to be more aware of your thoughts, behavior and actions, and being more aware of the world around you.
Are You Living Unconsciously or Consciously?
Ask yourself the following questions, to find out whether you are living consciously or unconsciously:
1. Are you making your own decisions, with common sense and thinking, or just doing what others do or say?
2. Are you doing in your life what you really want to do?
3. Do you control your life, or do people and circumstance control them for you?
4. Are you doing the things that you really enjoy doing?
5. Do you make any effort to improve yourself and your habits?
6. Do you think in a limited way, instead of thinking in unlimited ways.
7. Are you spending your time being busy, but making no progress?
8. Do you find yourself overweight, unable to take any positive action to change the situation?
9. Do always look for excuses not to exercise, learn new skills, or make changes in your life?
10. Are you always following the herd in matters of opinions, lifestyle and behavior?
11. Do your days pass by doing unimportant things, watching TV, or spending hours on the social media?
Your answers to these questions will let you know whether conscious living is part of your life or whether you are acting, thinking and living automatically and unconsciously.
Conscious living means stopping acting like a robot. It means sitting in the driver’s seat of your life. It’s something you can do.
How to Live Life Consciously
Living your life consciously is not something you can change overnight. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a skill that you need to develop.
It’s an ongoing process, not something that you do just once.
It’s a simple process, but it requires constant training and awareness.
You need to strive to be conscious and pay attention to your thoughts, actions, reactions, and the world around you. You need to make conscious choices rather than doing things without thinking.
It sounds simple, but it requires constant attention. It requires that you stop living your life on autopilot, as most people do.
It’s not easy to changes our lives, to get out of our comfort zone, and to begin to live the life we want and decide about.
This requires some effort, energy, discipline, and constant vigilance.
However, once you become aware of the benefits of conscious living, your passion and desire to adopt this mindset would become strong.
Tips for Living Consciously
- Review your day in your mind, before going to sleep at night. Think about what you did and what you wanted to do, but didn’t do. Do this review calmly, without anger or remorse.
- During the day, try to be aware of the thoughts that pass through your mind, and ask yourself whether you really need them, and whether they are useful.
- Pay attention to the words you repeat in your mind and to the words you utter from your mouth. Say positive and encouraging words, instead of belittling or criticizing words.
- Pay attention to the way you treat your colleagues, family, and the people you encounter in your daily life. Are you treating them well or badly? Decide to strive to be more positive, loving and encouraging.
- Consider whether you are making an impact on the world around you? What kind of impact, positive or negative, constructive or destructive?
- When walking outside, look at the world around. Don’t immerse yourself in your smartphone. There is a whole beautiful, fascinating world outside.
- Look at the flowers and the trees, the birds, the sky and the clouds. Look up, down and around you, and you will discover things you have never seen before. Be more curious.
- Make your decisions consciously and not automatically. Do not do things just because others do them, or because you heard about them on TV or the social media.
- You have to be unique and different. Why do you need to follow others? Where is your individuality? Don’t be afraid of what people might say if you make different choices.
- Think before you spend money. Think before taking action. Do not act impulsively and without thinking, just because someone said so, or because this is habitual behavior.
- Get out of your comfort zone.
- Practice meditation and mindfulness. These two practices would take you far on the way of living your life more consciously and purposefully. Even just 10 minutes a day, would in the long run, expand your consciousness and awareness beyond the ego, limited thinking, and living on autopilot.
Start today to gain control over your life, improve your ability to make conscious choices, and live a conscious life.
I would like to add that developing a certain degree of willpower and self-discipline can be very helpful. Therefore, I recommend that you read my book about Willpower and Self Discipline.
Another great book that would help is Calm Down the Nonstop Chatter of Your Mind.
You might also like reading conscious living quotes.
Original broadcast date: November 15, 2020. Cities are never static; they can transform in months, years, or centuries. This hour, TED speakers explore how today’s cities are informed by the past, and how they’ll need to evolve for the future. Guests include archaeologist Alyssa Loorya, architects Marwa Al-Sabouni and Rahul Mehrotra, and landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom.