Frustration Through Mindfulness?
If you’ve ever tried to practice mindfulness, the act of being aware of the present moment, you may have initially found it a frustrating process. We’re so used to rehashing the past or planning for the future, that we rarely spend time enjoying the now. When we try to clear our minds of all past and future thoughts, it’s common to find that our minds often wander. This can quickly lead to feelings to frustration and disappointment.
So how can you regularly engage in mindfulness without constantly berating yourself for your wayward mind?
Learning How To Shower Again
Although I’ve been meditating for more than a year, I consider myself a noob when it comes to mindfulness and meditation. So rather than try to banish thoughts of the past or future from my mind all the time, I work on finding specific times or situations during my day where I can return to the now.
One of my favourite ways to do this is in the shower every morning. I had my very first panic attack in the shower, so it seemed like a natural place to start.
In thinking about my normal shower routine, it didn’t take long for me to realise that the shower was a place where I mentally planned my day or thought about the past. I would think about work, what I would wear, breakfast, how my last workout had gone. Everything other than how the shower felt. So that’s what I focussed on, how the shower felt.
When I did this, a very specific scene from a movie came to mind.
No, not that one.
The shower scene from City of Angels.
Without going into the ins and outs of what is a very average 90’s chick flick; Nicholas Cage plays an angel that becomes human because he loves Meg Ryan so much blah blah blah. He takes a shower for the first time (remember, angels can’t physically feel anything), he feels every drop of water on his skin for the first time. He basks in the warmth, the steam, the solitude. He’s in ecstasy.
I remember watching him and being in awe of how much he enjoyed something I did everyday and took for granted.
That is how I now try to take my showers today and everyday.
Rather than allow myself to think about mundane things that distract me, I try to experience each shower like Nicholas Cage’s character did. I pay attention to every physical sensation and clear my mind of bullshit. I experience nothing but that moment in time.
When I told my therapist what I was doing she exclaimed…”That’s mindfulness!”
Since then I’ve taken all my showers with this in mind and the difference it’s made to my mood when I start my day is palpable.
I’m not going to lie, it’s a daily battle. During every shower, my mind wanders. However, the physical act of water hitting my skin makes it slightly easier to bring my mind back to the present and off whatever nonsense I’m distracted by.
Some days are easier than others, and I’ll admit that sometimes I have to repeat to myself “just enjoy the shower” to almost give my mind permission to relax. Doing this has made the shower a somewhat indulgent experience that I can look forward to every morning and enjoy.
It’s also a great barometer for how my mind feels that day. If my mind constantly wanders to a specific subject that I might be worrying about, I don’t fight it. I give it a little attention. Like a recurring dream, once I discover the reason the thought bubbles to the surface, more often than not I’m able to let the thought go and I’m plagued by it no more.
Remember that it’s your mind’s job to think.
It’s completely natural for your brain to think about things, so don’t berate yourself for it. Every person that meditates or practices mindfulness has a mind that wanders.
Also, when you notice that your mind has wandered, simply recognise that it has wandered and return back to whatever your point of focus may have been. By doing this you’ll forgive yourself for something that’s not your fault in the first place and return to the relaxing place you were in.
Are You Stinky?
I really hope you’ll try doing it in the shower. It’s how I began to incorporate mindfulness into my life and I’m confident that as long as you shower daily, it can be a great place for you to start too.
What’s the worst that could happen? You enjoy your shower more than you’ve ever enjoyed a shower before in your life.
Hmmm. Sounds risky...
What’s that you say? You don’t shower everyday so you can’t do this.
You may have bigger problems than a lack of mindfulness.