It all comes out in the wash
A Shower Meditation Exercise for Rejuvenation
By: Leah Corder, MA LMFT
It’s been such a tough year for so many people. We’ve been berated with societal crisis after crisis, trickling down into our individual private lives. When you look around to see that almost everyone in your circle is struggling with their life in one way or another, it can be difficult to find respite and help. Despair can seep in.
But our track record for survival is 100%, and however things may be permanently changed when the dust settles- we are likely to be still standing. In the meantime, we have to focus on lessening the discomfort however we can. We have to fight the infection of despair actively, with a full arsenal. For many people, the skills they’ve used in the past are ineffective or insufficient for the struggles of today.
I propose letting it all come out in the wash. Something my grandma used to say, but I find it incredibly useful here. More specifically, I propose an intentional meditative shower exercise to rejuvenate your soul and replenish your strength.
I’d like to walk you through, to see if it can renew you.
You’re going to take a shower. Not your everyday shower, hurrying through with your mind elsewhere. This is going to be a very special shower and it starts with preparation. Take a moment to peek in your shower, make sure you have everything you need. Double check your razor- does the blade need replacing? Now to give your cleansing the highest honor, take out those scented bath supplies hiding in the back of your bathroom cabinet. If you are a woman, or if you live with one- you likely have a stockpile somewhere. Find your fluffiest towel, your favorite robe. Maybe even put on some music (calming tracks- there’s a Pandora station for that) or light some candles. Lock the door. Turn the water on nice and warm, notice the steam permeating the air.
Before you step in, take a moment to tune into your body and reflect on the state of your mind. Let yourself feel the pain, the exhaustion, the anxiety. I’m going to call this feeling The Hurt throughout this exercise, but the feeling is your own and it may have a different name. We’re about to wash this all away, but for this moment, let it be- knowing that The Hurt is evidence of your humanity, your capacity for love and hope.
Now ask yourself, how would I like to feel instead? This feeling, too, is your very own and could have any name. Maybe what you need right now is Strength. Maybe it’s called Peace. This is about setting your intention for your shower- when you leave the bathroom at the end of this exercise, you leave with this feeling solid in your heart. As you set your intention, take a moment to imagine yourself feeling the way you’d like to feel. Get excited about creating that feeling for yourself.
Now take a deep breath and step into the nice hot shower. Notice how the steam fills your lungs and hydrates even the insides of your nostrils. Feel the water on your skin, the goose bumps as they relax into the warmth. As you lather up, notice every little sensation along the way.
It’s time to scrub yourself clean. Wash The Hurt away. Imagine yourself covered in it. Know that Despair can seep in through the tiniest crevice, the smallest crack. Those vulnerabilities are made possible only by leaving The Hurt to fester. We must wash ourselves clean of this- so scrub vigorously, with special attention to the normally forgotten places (between every toe, behind your ears…). Focus intently on washing away The Hurt and allow your heart to say goodbye as it flows down the drain in a river of soft, fragrant suds. Know that right here, right now- you can allow yourself to feel whatever is coming up for you. The shower is an excellent place to sob openly. Sometimes our tears need to carry The Hurt out of our insides. This is part of our cleansing, let it be. Take as much time in this as you need, your intuition will tell you when you’re ready to move on.
And before you do- take a giant deep breath. Fill your lungs to the brim with steamy fragrant air. Let that air caress every space in your chest, scooping up any of The Hurt that has settled there. Exhale The Hurt along with the air made warm by your insides. Let it go. Wish it well, knowing it’s not gone forever but right now we intend to feel differently. It’s time to go about creating that feeling now, if you’re ready.
You’re going to nurture your tired body. Lovingly attend to shaving, conditioning, grooming- it’s time to take care of you. You’re in the shower with the bathroom door locked. No one is expecting anything of you right now, nothing is required but your attention to this task. Focus intently on it. Continue to notice every sensation. Take a little extra time to massage your scalp while washing your hair, to rub any residual tension from your sore shoulders. Feel the water running down your body and let it invigorate you. As you wash, scrub, shave, rinse- notice how your skin awakens under that touch and allow that feeling to permeate your body. Sit with that feeling for a moment. It’s nice, right? Take all the time you need. Soak it in.
When you’re ready, step from the shower- all clean and new- and dry yourself as you would an infant- with gentle loving pats and rubs. Hug yourself into the fluffy, thick towel. You’ve done well so far- be proud of yourself. You are clean and safe- in this moment, everything is all right.
Now it’s time for lotion. Let me guess- you usually skip this step in your hurried morning, don’t you? Today it makes all the difference. You’re going to lovingly and thoroughly lotion yourself, and by doing so- rub in your intention. Whatever it is you decided that you need to feel- give that feeling a home in your handful of lotion and spread it everywhere. Marinate in that feeling, rejoice in covering every last bit of your freshly washed and invigorated self. You can have it for now. You can create it in this moment. Allowing yourself to feel what you want to feel takes nothing away from anyone else, it costs nothing. It’s already yours.
You can take time here, if you wish, to continue the exercise through brushing your teeth, or any other grooming that comes to mind- giving extra time and space to the things you normally neglect doing for yourself. You likely have a face mask or two laying around somewhere, might that feel nice? Is it time to clip your nails, perhaps? Do so with clear intention to nurture yourself.
Now before you leave the bathroom, take another deep breath. Your attention and loving energy during this shower has sweetened the air and as you inhale, notice the feeling of your intention swelling in your heart. On your exhale, radiate gratitude for this moment that’s all your own.
I hope you walk through the rest of the day taller, stronger and more at peace. I hope this feeling lasts for you. And, as you find yourself muddied once again with pain- remember that it all comes out in the wash.