Key Takeaway: If you’re having your own spa experience at home with, say, scrubs and aromatherapy, then it’s but natural to include a meditation process in it! Here I introduce my Shower Meditation practice, and now you can do it too in six easy steps.
The bathroom is my favorite room in the house.
More than the kitchen, the bathroom is what connotes “health” the most for me: it’s the one room I can be fully myself. I do my rituals here, I exercise here, I style myself here… You get the drift.
It’s also the place where I can really unwind and relax – even though I don’t have a bathtub. Actually, I don’t need one.
I decided to set for myself a weekly ritual: every Saturday evening, I take an extended shower, including a facial and a body scrub. Scrubs are good for you: they help remove your dead skin cells that lie on the topmost layer of your skin – the skin is actually our largest organ, and is a “breathing” part of us that needs as much care as our hearts or brains to. They make me feel refreshed the same way a haircut makes others feel refreshed – that “lightening” feeling that an unpleasant burden is being lifted from you, revealing the true you underneath. In a way, that is literally what a body scrub does.
But I decided to go further last week.
A month and a half ago, BuzzFeed introduced the concept of “shathing“, or sitting down in the shower, as a way to make the showering experience less boring, or simply as a better substitute for a traditional bathtub bath. I tried it myself the Saturday the post came out. It felt awkward at first, but then refreshing afterwards.
At the same time, I had already been employing a practice suggested by Joy Carpio of Human Nature Marikina: to have a regular “spa-at-home” experience that would be therapeutic for your body and spirit. Besides using Human Nature products, I added to the spa atmosphere with an aromatherapeutic air purifier, only half of the room’s lights switched on, and meditation sounds and music care of Ipnos Software‘s Relax Meditation: Sleep Yoga app. I would rinse my entire body first, partially dry my face to make it just damp, apply facial scrub, then body scrub. Then I’d sit in the shower for the full 5 minutes recommended, and rinse everything off before changing into, yes, a yukata (hey, I love traditional Japanese culture). It’s a most beautiful and serene way to end the week.
But then I realized, “What if I could use those 5 minutes – or more! – to meditate more fully and in a more focused manner?” And, as a Christian growing up in the Jesuit tradition, I’d meditate the way St. Ignatius of Loyola taught – the Examen!
And so came out my Shower Meditation.
Shower Meditation is a process that’s meant to take time because you’re meant to relax and dwell on individual communion with your God or inner spirit. I estimated it would take half an hour, but mine went on for almost three-quarters of an hour! That’s fine – there is no set time. The only rule is that you don’t rush it.
Because the guided meditation I’m most used to is the Examen, I based my framework for Shower Meditation on it, interspersing it with my personal spa framework. Here are the steps:
1. Prepare the room.
It goes without saying that your environment should be conducive for your purposes, lest you won’t achieve total effectivity with it. In this case, you should eliminate all unnecessary distractions – including and especially your phone! (Tell your frequently-calling contacts that you need to take a break) – so as to prepare yourself for this time of tranquility. Keep the room dimly lit for an atmosphere of solemnity and solitude. You may want to use aromatherapeutic devices, and/or play quiet meditation music (besides the aforementioned app, I find Kevin Kern‘s music ideal for this, especially his walk-through-nature album The Winding Path; or any reiki music).
Most importantly, inform people living with you that you will be taking a shower meditation for a while and that you should be left in peace for about half an hour to an hour.
2. Prepare yourself.
After preparing your environment, you need to prepare yourself. Self-preparation comes in two levels: physical and spiritual preparation.
Prepare yourself spiritually by calming down. Take deep-breathing exercises – inhale through your nose and inflate your stomach, exhale through your mouth and deflate your stomach. Clear your mind of everything, especially all negative things. Set aside positive things for the moment – you want to have a relaxed, calm mind that is open to and ready for the mental exercises that are to follow.
To prepare yourself physically, you need to find a position that’s relaxing for you in a way that it won’t hurt in that position for extended periods of time, but not too relaxing that you fall asleep. You’ll also need to wash yourself: Whatever your preferred position in the shower (or the tub, if you insist), prepare for it first by rinsing yourself thoroughly. This is a preliminary cleansing that will prepare you body and spirit for the meditation to follow.
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Ps. 51:7, NRSV)
As a Jesuit-educated Christian, my reflection process is as follows: I make myself aware to God’s presence, enter a state of prayer, then reflect on my past day (or week). I think about it from a bird’s-eye point-of-view, then on to the positive things, then on to the negative things. For the positive things, I express gratitude, while for the negative things, I express regret. Through it all, I look for God’s hand and his purpose.
Because this is a shower meditation, involving a physical cleansing, I elevate the process to include spiritual cleansing as well. As such, I pray for forgiveness and blessing – such as David did in the psalm aforementioned.
If you’re not Christian, my process above may still be helpful. Reflecting on your day, on the good and bad things that happened, your feelings towards such, and your readiness to start anew is a very universal thought process.
Now is the time to be, as the psalm said, purged and washed. First, the purging: Apply your scrubbing solutions on yourself. For me, I use Human Nature’s Detoxifying Mask + Scrub on my face, and their Coffee Body Scrub on my body. In spite of so many good reviews from customers regarding the Purifying Facial Scrub, I have yet to use it; I will do so once the Mask + Scrub runs out.
Scrub in an unhurried, tranquil, and rhythmic manner. Remember, you are in a state of meditation, and the scrub while being a physical cleanser is also supposed to symbolize spiritual cleansing. Of course, if you’re Catholic like me, you’ll need to complete your spiritual purification through confession, but that’s a different story altogether. :p
Scrub thoroughly, and when you’re done, return to your preferred position.
Continue your meditation process – or rather, wrap it up. Now that you’ve “cleansed” yourself, so to speak, it’s the time to speak to your God from the bottom of your heart – again an Ignatian Examen element. Tell him everything you want to tell him, and ask for his grace, love, and blessing. Then, in turn, listen to him talking to you, answering you, perhaps advising you, or showing you the way.
Non-religious may see this as an opportunity to completely purge their minds of all worries, heartbreaks, or stresses, to ready them for the journey ahead.
Once you’re finished, gently wash off the scrub, and rinse yourself thoroughly once more. Then wipe yourself dry, put on a fresh change of clothes (although nothing beats a robe, in my opinion – like my yukata), and let your spirit revel in the moment of peace. Perhaps have a cup of tea.
The first time I did it, the moment between my first meditation and the scrubbing felt a little too abrupt in transitioning, which is why I cannot stress the importance of not hurrying. Take your time and relax: this is a meditation period meant to slow things down for you to take a breather. In our ever-quickening world, this is of particular importance. So go ahead and try it, try it tonight!
Wishing you a purposeful weekend!