5 Mindful Exercises While in The Bathroom
Updated: Aug 4
Mindfulness is something we all need because it gives our life more clarity, relevance and balance. But how can we accomplish such a profound shift without meditation or a therapist? If a compulsive, self-critical person like me did it , then you absolutely can as well.
How? I use mundane daily activities and turn that wasted time into potent self-awareness therapy.
One of the most mindless things we do every day, is in the bathroom. Think about it. If we combined all those minutes of each day, after a month, we would have a substantial amount of time to use toward cultivating a new goal.
It's great because you don't have to change your current routine or stress out trying to fit in a new activity. Convenience is crucial to most professionals and millennials. I get it.
No longer can you use the excuse, " I don't have the time" to meditate, read, expand my mind, try something new, whatever. This is a simple solution that works!
Mindfulness, like anything new learning, requires repetition, and lots of it. Dr. Maxwell Maltz established that habits take a minimum of 21 days to form in his bestselling book, "Psycho Cybernetics" - A new way to get more out of living.
The great thing about using the bathroom as your think tank is that you're definitely going to be in there a few times daily. This supports an expedient means to accomplish your new habit. Assuming of course, you don't forget the goal each time you sit down, stand up or whatever you do.
Here's the problem: Your internal dialogue tends to run aimlessly while engaged in mundane daily routines. Often you are rehashing the past or worrying about the future. Both a waste of precious time, snubbing the moment in front of you.
Solution: Instead, use those minutes to train your monkey mind. Choose a new valuable habit to hone during bathroom time. If you stick to it, it will saturate and eventually reveal itself in other areas of your life, which is the goal. I promise.
With mindfulness as your new goal here are 5 exercises to play with.
1. Write a single goal on several stickies then put them on your mirror so when you look at yourself they are literally, in your face. It's best to start with something simple like, "I'm going to smile more today." Once you develop consistency smiling more, you can eventually tackle more difficult subjects. Don't make the mistake of overcomplicating it. If you start with a doable goal, you will gain the confidence to tackle larger issues over time. When you consider how forgetful we can be, this is a powerful tool to remind ourselves regularly. I stand by it.
2. Note what you are thinking as you enter the bathroom. You can have a notepad, a piece of paper taped to the wall, anything that works for you and is accessible and easy to jot thoughts down. Bathrooms have wet areas, so be mindful to place it where it will stay dry and doesn't have to be moved. If you have to fuss over it you'll be less likely to use it. The goal here is to notice your thoughts as you enter and exit. Is there a connecting thread, or just a jumble of random thoughts? The first step to more mindful living is to notice what you're thinking. That awareness will evolve with repetition.
3. Focus on the evacuation at hand. That's right. Why are you in there? To release the waste from your system. Rather than just getting it over with, focus in. Feel the internal movement, various functions activating and the relief afterward. Surrender to the process itself. Most of all, be grateful. If you have ever suffered from the inability to evacuate or have had severe diarrhea, you know how debilitating it is. Worse yet, it is actually harmful to your biology not to release those toxins. So, try a little appreciation while you are on your throne and be grateful that your body has the miraculous ability to recycle effectively. This will train you to be in the moment.
4. Here's an oldie but goodie, READ. To avoid the rambling internal dialogue that just circles nowhere, try having some reading material in your bathroom. It conjures focus, which we can all use more of. Since it will be minutes not hours, choose something that you can digest in small bites but that doesn't leave you hanging so you feel satisfied and renewed. Poetry, quotes, inspirational articles, or short books like Master Your Monkey Mind which specifically support mindfulness without meditation.
5. Breathe Although the air in your bathroom may not be fragrant, I recommend checking in on your breath. Not controlled breathing, just regular breathing that you mentally monitor. Close your eyes. Notice the rhythm and ease of it. Consider how subtle, yet profound this action is. Try to do it for the full length of your visit. This type of mental attention is a great exercise to hone your mindfulness. Who knows? It may lead you into a regular meditative practice. Wouldn't that be amazing?
So, bathroom mindfulness? Yes, it can be very useful and a great way to introduce a more conscious way of being without any major strategies, philosophies or new time considerations to factor into your life. We are all in need of convenient solutions to navigate our chaotic world. These are just a few of many.
I have used these repeatedly with excellent results. Just start with one that works easiest for you and then explore others as your awareness expands. You can find more tips to transform habitual, mundane daily practices into transformative self-improvement techniques in my book, Master Your Monkey Mind, or my course, Mindfulness for the Restless.