As creatures of habit, we rarely look for new ways to conduct our personal care. We often hear the advice to be present in our thoughts and actions. Lately, I’ve been wondering if there’s a way to bring those ideas – personal care – and presence – together; if it’s possible to be present, to try new things, and still get to work on time.
It’s a dilemma.
Very often when opening a new bottle of shampoo or moisturizer we are seduced by the new scent, the creamy texture and all the sensory stimulation that comes with it. But within days or weeks, we’ve moved on from the infatuation phase. Now, it’s passé. Routine.
In our meditative practices, we are often encouraged to be present. And it’s hard, especially in this fast-paced culture in which we live. Our center often drifts. I know I’m forever thinking about upcoming appointments or last night’s conversation, maybe this afternoon’s meeting. I try to stop, to breathe deep, to experience the moment in the moment. After all, that moment will never return. I try to take advantage of it, to savor it.
Each day is a new opportunity to designate moments for personal care and wellness, to physically care for our bodies while we apply and experience our self-care. It can truly become a moment of peace and tranquility. It can be profound.
It’s what I call applying stillness.
Start with your morning shower. Instead of running through the days' tasks and shopping lists, take a moment to experience the warm water washing over your skin. Immerse yourself in the tactile comfort of your own touch. Smell the bar of soap or wash you are about to cleanse your body with. Breathe it in. Let its scent and luxury envelop your senses. Take the time to notice the smooth texture of your skin. When you shampoo and condition your hair, take time to massage your scalp, to feel the endorphin release while exciting those follicles with blood flow. As you rinse away the conditioner, run your fingers through to the ends of your hair. Take notice of your hair’s condition. Notice if it feels dry. Study it in the mirror. Maybe it’s time for a new cut and color. After all, you’re worth it.
Enjoy how thick and lustrous your hair feels and give gratitude for those beautiful strong locks. If you wear your hair short enjoy the clean, smooth feeling of the back of your neck. Continue noticing and feeling gratitude for your entire body while you dry off. Lovingly massage body oil into your skin using long deliberate strokes, enjoying the renewed texture. Let your body unwind in a gentle stretch of your back and limbs as you reach for your ankles and toes.
Focusing on the experience of your life and your body as its happening is the most profound way to being present and grounded. Your touch is your stillness. We don’t have to be sitting in a lotus pose to be present. We can do all the things we already do while keeping our mind still for just those fleeting moments. If you do that, if I do that, if we all commit to that we will truly enjoy our own company, our own skin, hair, and reflection.