According to my habit-tracking app today marks the 45th consecutive day of meditation for me. Instead of explaining why I'm meditating I'm going to talk about showers.
I see meditation, in part, as a kind of practice in sensory input management. What the hell does that mean?
From the moment that we wake up, every second we are experience millions of sensations every second. The feeling of the sun on every millimeter of bare skin, the sounds of cars when you walk down the road, the smell of food in a restaurant, the sight of the afternoon sunshine as it pokes through the window, aches and pains, heartbeats, breaths, and the thoughts in your own head.
It gets tricky to come up with a measure of the amount of data we absorb every second without making some tenuous assumptions, but needless to say it's a lot of information. Clearly we don't experience all these inputs with the same intensity simultaneously and constantly. Your brain may actually explode1.
Instead the brain manages those inputs, making the important ones more clear while dulling others. If I ask you to focus on the sensation of your feet inside of your shoes you'll quickly discover some new sensations you didn't know were there. Your toes might be kinda warm, while your ankles are a little colder. You might be surprised to find you were curling your toes or that there was a little bit of tension on the arch of the foot. Perhaps the sole of your shoe is slightly rougher in one spot than the rest. When you focus attention on a particular sensation it gains in intensity, clarity, and resolution.
In part, the process of meditation is about developing the ability to focus on sensations. It doesn't mean you'll develop x-ray vision or that you'll be able to throw out your prescription glasses, but what you can see, feel, hear, and taste will be a bit more nuanced, clear, and intense.
This leads me to showers.
Having an improved ability to focus on body sensations has made my showers more enjoyable. Instead of seeing them as a chore or letting my brain run wild with thoughts, I sit on the shower floor, close my eyes, and focus on the feeling of the water flowing over me. Instead of getting this dull blob of sensation all over my skin I sense detail, differences in temperature, and flowing patterns. I hear a mixture of sounds as the water hits the shower floor at different times, and the sound of the water going down the drain.
It's akin to what artists refer to as the artistic eye. The skill of actively analyzing how an object or a landscape looks. What shapes make up the object? How do these objects overlap? How does lighting create a complex pattern of soft shadows and highlights? You focus on the subject and pick out as much detail as possible.
You are noticing things that were always there but to which you never paid much attention and that has made showers way more awesome.
Until next Time. Have a great one.
-- Jay Blanco
- Though probably not. I didn't find any references to brains blowing up because of information overload. ↩