Usually we use the toilet, we’re rushing or our minds are distracted from the intention of visiting the bathroom: elimination. What if we began to think of this in a new light? The bathroom is a private place where you can shut the door, sit down and be still and quiet.
Bringing meditation practice into the bathroom is a great way to begin to integrate mindfulness more into your whole day, rather than just the minutes you spend sitting in formal meditation on a cushion. We talk about mindfulness during many everyday activities, from walking to eating, driving to conversing. It’s also important to be mindful while going to the bathroom.
Pelvic health problems like irritable voiding symptoms, incontinence, constipation and chronic pelvic and lower back pain can arise when we do not fully empty the bowel or bladder or if the pelvic floor muscles are rigid and not able to fully release. Preliminary research has shown that Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction has a positive effect on urinary urge incontinence, chronic pelvic pain and interstitial cystitis and bladder pain syndrome.
Being fully present and aware of our body, breath, mind, and emotions when we use the toilet helps relax the pelvic floor muscles.
Here are a few quick and easy meditations you can practice on the toilet, in the bath and in the shower.
When sitting on the toilet, prop your feet up on blocks so that your knees are a bit higher than your hips. This position helps enable the muscles of the pelvic floor to relax and allows for smoother bowel movements.
As you start to empty your bladder or bowels, visualize your pelvic floor, imagining the muscles spanning across your pelvic floor as healthy and functioning optimally. Let go of as much tension as possible in your pelvic floor muscles. Be patient and kind towards yourself if this is challenging. Letting go requires courage, concentration and practice.
Breathe naturally. As you inhale, your belly relaxes and your pelvic floor descends. As you exhale, the belly and pelvic floor muscles return to their resting positions. While you are emptying your bladder or bowels, allow the quiet rhythm of your diaphragmatic breath to occur on its own. If needed, push gently (without straining), sigh out loud, lean forward, or place your feet in a different position. As you refine your awareness skills, you’ll be better able to trust what feels right.
Finish with gratitude. Honor this complex function that our body does for us on a daily basis. Each time you complete your toileting practice, send some love and appreciation to your body and all its phenomenal parts.
What better place to relax and center then among bubbles and warm water? It’s natural to sink into a deep meditation when soaking in the tub. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils and bask in self-love and self-care.
Take advantage of these moments to rest and do nothing but float in the warm water. Leave your phone in the other room or, better yet, turn it off!
Start with a body scan from head to toe, observing any physical sensations with compassion and without judgment. Notice both internal and external sensations. Notice any areas of tightness, discomfort or pain, as well as areas that feel light, free and healthy. Observe the thoughts and emotions, allowing them to come and go without getting involved in any particular train of thought.
As you wash your hair and body, send love and compassion to your skin, organs and cells. Imagine the soap is purifying your whole being. Let the water wash away the soap. Visualize a favorite natural body of water and send love, gratitude and healing light to all the waters of the Earth — every ocean, sea, river, stream, lake and pond, so many of which are contaminated and need to be purified and treated with greater care by humanity.
Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of time for a long soak in the tub. Even just splashing water on your face causes what scientists refer to as the mammalian diving reflex. The body believes that it’s going to go for a swim underwater, so the heart rate drops, leading to a sense of calmness.
Take advantage of your time in the shower to perform a little meditative ritual. Bring mindfulness into the experience. Feel gratitude for the fact that you have a home with a bathroom and hot water on demand. This is something we often take for granted, while millions of people across the planet do not have easy access to clean water for showering, much less drinking.
When you step out of the the shower to dry off, take a pause and take three deep breaths, sending love to yourself, to all beings and to Mother Earth, before continuing on with your day.
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