Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bathroom Meditation

According to Wikipedia, Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness.
It has been defined as: "self regulation of attention, in the service of self-inquiry, in the here and now."
When you Google meditation, 118 million results show up. It just goes to show that it must be something people are interested in. I decided to do my own research and read all that I could. But reading is not doing. No amount of reading would have given me the taste of real experience.
So I decided to go for the real thing. I enrolled myself into a 10 day silent retreat where all I was allowed to do was sit cross legged 10 hours a day for 10 days and not speak a word. Suffice to say it was an experience I will never forget.
Although the first six days were a tough ordeal, by the seventh day I had started to experience some benefits of the catharsis that I was going through. The physical silence had finally started to calm the mind, but not before I’d had my share of tears and hysteria in the solitude and silence of my room.
By the 10th day I was relieved that that I had survived and elated that I had an experience no amount of reading could have offered.
Having taken the first step towards self realization I promised myself that I would continue with the practice. Like someone in the throes of young love I was all excited at having found a way to salvation. My passion and my excitement stayed with me precisely for 5 days. 6th day back at home in the real world I slipped back into the so called normalcy of life and couldn’t even spare 20 minutes for something that was supposed to elevate me towards Buddha hood.
The conventional understanding of meditation is sitting cross legged with your eyes shut trying to focus and calm the mind that refuses to be tamed. Most people shy away from meditation because instead of calming the mind it may lead to stress due to the inability to quiet the mind. In fact the moment one sits for meditation, the ‘monkey mind’ starts to run in every possible direction. My mind was no different. The moment I would sit down to meditate; all sorts of thoughts would start popping up. Things that were never on my conscious mind would suddenly start to take over. I would go into a whirl pool of thoughts and eventually get so frustrated and angry that I just gave up.

Until I devised a plan that worked for me!

I had to find a way to calm my mind and stay connected to the source. Necessity is after all the mother of invention.

I invented my own way of meditation and it may not be what the sages ordered but it sure gets me my 20 minutes of .... “self regulation of attention, in the service of self-inquiry, in the here and now."
The bathroom meditation is something I feel we all can do. This is pretty much the only time we can shut ourselves out from the outside world.
Let’s break up our bathroom regime into chunks of activities. Starting with brushing the teeth. While brushing just focus completely on the movement of the brush, the taste of the toothpaste, the smell and the froth of the toothpaste. While rinsing, pay complete attention to the water in your mouth and to the swirling motion. Now the best part. Look at yourself in the mirror and say something complimentary to yourself.
Let’s skip the ablution part and move straight to the bath. Run your bath and if possible add some aroma oils, then step into the bath and now pay attention to each and every body part. You could say something nice to each part, starting from your feet move upwards thanking each part in the way it supports you. Say thank you to the feet for allowing you to walk, the legs to carry you, the hands for helping you write, eat etc. You can even go further and thank your internal organs.
I understand for most of us it is a race against time in the morning and we really don’t have the luxury of a bath. Even a three minute shower is enough. The key is in being aware of ourselves and taking this opportunity when we are alone with our thoughts to appreciate and thank our body for all it does.
Many of us use the time in the bathroom for contemplation and planning our day ahead. But we have the whole day ahead of us to do that, so please use this time as ME time where everything else should not be important. The only thing you are going to focus on is you and be grateful for being you.
Next step- out of the bath/shower and wipe yourself dry. Again use this time to appreciate and thank your body ...if possible each part as you wipe it dry. For most women and the few men who indulge in oils or creams..take this opportunity to repeat the exercise gain.
Finally face the mirror one more time and compliment yourself again and wish yourself a wonderful day.
It sounds extremely narcissistic and it probably is, but why would you expect others to be nice to you if you yourself can’t be nice to yourself?
You must be wondering, how is all this even remotely close to meditation. Well it is not meditation in the conventional sense, but when our focus is one pointed and we are full of gratitude our mind learns to relax. If you continue this exercise for a minimum of 30 days you will begin to notice a change in your attitude and will feel much calmer and relaxed. The key is to do this continuously for 30 days. If you forget even one got to start all over again. It’s kind of antibiotic for the mind. If you start the course, you better complete it to get the full benefit.
After 30 days of the bathroom meditation, you can now move on to the more advanced meditation.
In the next few days I will share some other not –so- conventional ways of finding peace and happiness.
So get moving and use your bathroom time as your me time to get in touch with the inner you. )
Happy Self appreciating…