What the Water Gave Me: A Series of Bathtub Meditations (intro)

I have been practicing meditation for roughly thirteen years. I have been in groups where I’ve been guided through meditation, I’ve listened to audio recordings of guided meditation, and I’ve done some one-on-one with various therapists or doctors. In 2007 or so, I started building my own meditation material. I meditate in the bathtub. This ten-part series will take place completely in the bathtub.

Please note that I am not a professional in any way. I’m sharing my own experiences and practices. I wrote these to help myself. I have passed on small tips to friends over the years, sometimes it has helped them, and sometimes it has not. It will be different for each person.

If at any point during any of the meditations you feel too uncomfortable or unable to continue, please stop. Pause, maybe change your location or even take a break. While sitting alone with thoughts can be difficult, especially if they are negative or traumatic thoughts. If things are going too far in any way, exercise good self-care and take a break. Reach out to a friend or spend some time outside in the sunshine. The concepts you need to address will wait. Trust me.

Why the bathtub?
My family was always large when I was growing up. It included step-siblings, friends, parents’ partners, and lots of pets. The place where I could always guarantee my privacy was the bathroom. It was also the only room with a lock for most of my childhood. I would spend hours locked in the bathroom with my nail polishes, a book, and my radio. As I started healing, I found the bathtub to be the easiest place I could ground myself. The water temperature, the smell of different soaps, the texture of oil in the water, and countless other factors gave me tethers to reality. When I first owned a laptop, I started to play movies while I would soak in the tub. Over the years, I would find myself practicing new mantras, affirmations, and unraveling therapy concepts in the bathtub.

The benefit was two-fold. I was working on therapy things without feeling weird or awkward. Therapy already felt/feels weird and awkward. In the bathtub, I felt comfortable and safe. I wasn’t sitting in an office or at a work desk. I could dim the lights, or turn them off completely. It made me feel safer dealing with scary mental concepts knowing that I was physically safe in a place I knew well.
The bathtub also provided compartmentalization. It is easy to get sucked into constantly working on self-improvement. The result of that, for myself, was that I was always training and never practicing. In order to put therapy into practice, one needs time away from therapy to encounter the “real world”, which is not always a mentally safe place. In the bathtub, I was safe. It was a defined area and time where I could feel all of my feels. There were times when it took hours. However, it would always end, and I would dry off and put on clothes. I’d be back to “normal”. This gave me a clear line between when I was feeling and sitting with unfun ideas, and when I could put them away and find joy in my friends and life.

What do I need?
If you’d like to follow along with me through the month, a few tools might be helpful. I have been living up my bathtub love for over a decade. I have a lot of fun bath stuff that I’ve accumulated. Despite how much fun candles or bubbles or scrubs are, all you to do this series is a tub of water and courage. If you feel like investing a bit more, I recommend the following:
-at least two different scents of soap/body wash (ideally your favs)
-bubbles (can even be dishwashing bubbles in a pinch)
-candles (size, scent, etc at your discretion)
-loofah (sponge or brush or any sort of exfoliating cleaning thing)
-washcloth (small linen cloth, can use small dish towel in a pinch)
-plastic cup (or any cup for pouring water)
-portable music device (safety first: keep all electronics a safe distance from the water)

What will we meditate on?
The ten meditations are divided into two groups: physical grounding and internal self-talk. First, we’ll walk through finding your body in the tub. The first five meditations go through movement in the water, using your other senses to ground, and feeling present in your skin. At meditation six, we’ll switch over to self-talk. Because this is meant for beginners, newbs, and those who may not have tried before, we’ll go slowly. I’m working more on general concepts that specific instances.

My meditations were meant to battle my physical numbness and hateful self-talk. Each person is layered with their own past, and so I cannot write a mediation that would be ideal for you, specifically. The series is therefore intentionally loose. As we go through the ten meditations on basic grounding and restructuring self-talk, I hope you’ll see places to modify each meditation to better suit yourself. Please take any/all opportunities to personalize this process. It is your process, and you will reap any benefits therein. My ideal goal is that you can write your own meditations after working through this series.

Get your favorite body wash and run yourself a bath, my friend. Let’s get working.

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