Refresh Your Mind with a Daily Brain Shower

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Do you shower every day? Why?

How do you feel after a hot, refreshing shower?

Showers are wonderful things. I enjoy them daily myself. It always amazes me how a bit of warm water shooting out of a spout can make me feel reborn and revitalized. In fact, during the hot and humid Barcelona summers, I sometimes treat myself to two to three showers per day. Pure heaven!

Imagine, a mere generation ago it was common to bathe only once a week. In my grandmother’s time, it was a monthly event with the whole family sharing the same bath water. The daily shower really is one of the Western world’s modern luxuries.

Once in a while, when I have a hectic morning, I might drop off my kids at school before I have had time to have my shower. Oh, how I hate that feeling! It’s on those days that I try to avoid chitchatting with the other moms, or bumping into one of the kids’ teachers. It’s a funny thing, as I am sure no one would ever even notice, but I just feel like my day hasn’t started properly if I haven’t had my shower. I just feel icky. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Reset Your Mind With a Daily Meditation Practice

You are probably wondering what on earth all this has to do with meditation.

Well, as a meditator for over fifteen years now, I have found that meditation is like my mental “brain-shower.” On the days that I don’t manage to fit in my meditation practice, I just don’t feel right. I tend to lose my mental clarity, my mind feels cloudy and I’m just not on top of my game. When I meditate, it seems to cleanse me of any stress and negativity that has built up from the day before, and I can start afresh. It’s like pressing the reset button.

Meditation gives you mental purity. When you are alert and rested in your mind, you are also more productive, more likely to make good decisions, have better problem-solving skills and are more likely to produce new ideas.

When the brain is relaxed, your brain waves slow down into the alpha and theta state. These states activate your right brain, and this is where your creativity and genius lie. Meditation cleanses your mind (it really is a “mental shower”). Even a short meditation session is enough time to flush out any negative emotions and thoughts that have been building up in your brain throughout the day. Many successful people use meditation to rest, recharge and reset their minds to enable them to take on any new challenges which arise and to keep them at the top of their game.

For example, Oprah Winfrey spoke to the media (actually she’s revealed it many times) about the profound effect meditation has had on her life: “The one thing I want to continue to do is to center myself every day and make that a practice for myself, because I am one thousand percent better when I do.”

Even right now you can close your eyes for the next three minutes and put 100% of your attention on your breath. Just notice the sensation of your breath as it enters in through your nose and travels down and fills up your lungs with rejuvenating oxygen. On each new exhale allow any tension or stress to flow out of you. If you can do this, then you can meditate. This will bring you into the present moment, quickly recharge your brain and refresh your mind.

I challenge you to try this three times per day during the next week. Soon you will see how this simple practice is like a wonderful refreshing shower for your brain.



Begin Hacking Your Way to a Solid Daily Meditation Practice

zen stones

One day a sage and his students were meditating together. At one point the student noticed the teacher floating in the air.

Frustrated, he said to his teacher, “Master, I don’t understand why I’m not floating too. What is the difference between you and me that you can do this and I cannot?”

From his position aloft, the master looked down at the student and said, “Practice.”

How many articles, blogs, or social media posts have you read lately that start like the next sentences?

“A 2014 Harvard research study determined that meditation builds the brain’s gray matter in eight weeks. Grey matter, composed of neurons, makes up about 40 percent of the brain. More is good.”

Then they continue by citing more research.

“Meditation reduces anxiety, according to another study. Meditation reduces age and race bias — meaning that meditation could be an antidote to racism and prejudice — says a 2015 Central Michigan University study. According to the American Psychological Association, “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy [meditation] may prevent and treat depression.”

More research: Vast swaths of first-world societies struggle with self-acceptance, experiencing “body dissatisfaction.” Results of a 2014 study report that meditation increases “self-compassion,” meaning reduced “body shame,” and increased sense of self-worth.

And one more: The Mayo Clinic reported that a growing body of research suggests meditation may help manage symptoms of asthma, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and irritable bowel syndrome, and offers methods such as guided, mantra, and mindfulness meditation as well as qigong and tai chi.

At this point, not making the effort to establish a meditation practice might be likened to not flossing your teeth. And the benefits, including emotional hygiene, addiction resistance, enhanced immune system function, etc., are so far-reaching, one might think humans require meditation for optimal function. Just the fact that meditation is proven to increase happiness should be enough to send us running, en masse, to our cushions. So why aren’t we all meditating like a nation of monks?

Good question. Consider this.

We like to imagine we’re “free” to do what we like.

Think again.

As adults, we’re free of parental regulation — yay — but if, when encountering friction, we give up on creating new habits, we’re slaves to our own resistance. This means we’re not free to easily embrace and integrate habits that dramatically increase our well-being and quality of life.

For many, failing to meet goals on the first few attempts means lost resolve. Initially, when we’re practicing our new thing, be it a musical instrument, a language, or maybe fencing, we feel solid and inspired. Sooner or later we miss a day because (pick your favorite): We didn’t practice but we’re tired and it’s time for bed. Or there’s a crisis. Or a distraction. Or we’re traveling. Or it gets harder and not as fun. Or boring. Or we weren’t in the mood, or we had a sick child, or we forgot (the most insidious). The rationales are infinite. A couple of “misses” can mean a loss of momentum.

Then we beat ourselves up a little (or a lot) and slide back into old routines, waiting for the next upswell of inspiration, the next urge for change, the next training or class, or in the case of meditation, the next weekend retreat. “Maybe a new method will do the trick,” we think.

If this doesn’t sound familiar, and you are someone who seamlessly integrates new disciplines into your life without missing a beat, skip the next section. Flawed mortals, read on.

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