Have you ever heard of toilet meditation? It goes along with the idea that no one is too busy for meditation–if you have time to sit on the toilet for three minutes just once per day, you have time to meditate. Think meditation isn’t for you? Bear with me and I’ll show you why you’re wrong! Here’s the thing: We all have those moments when we wish we could press a little reset button on the day–to get our minds back on track and focused on what’s really important.
Maybe we need to stop worrying about something out of our control (Am I going to get called back for that interview- What if I never find a job?), to move past the feeling of being irritated at something or someone (I know she apologized, but I’m still so upset that it happened!), or to stop a negative pattern of self-hate (I can’t lose weight- I must not be a strong enough person- No wonder I can’t get that raise- I bet my friends think I’m stupid!)
I know I have moments where I allow myself to get worked up about something like I’ve just jumped on a runaway train. Before I know it, I’m shouting at my family, being rude to strangers, and withholding treats from my dog–all because I didn’t allow myself time to reboot before getting carried away about something I’m upset by.
- Give yourself permission to notice when things have gotten out of hand. Check yourself! Am I reacting in proportion to the situation at hand, or have I possibly gone a bit overboard? If the answer is yes, you get a pat on the back for noticing! No guilt allowed at this step.
- Step back. Survey the situation for an escape hatch! Excuse yourself to the restroom, go sit in your car, hop in the shower. Whatever your options might be, try to move to a quiet place where you won’t be bothered for a few minutes. (That’s why it’s called toilet meditation. No one will ask questions about “what you were doing in there” for three minutes.)
- Sit. Or stand. Just be still.
- Follow these instructions (the only bits you actually need to remember!):
- For ONE WHOLE MINUTE, let yourself go crazy! List in your head all the things you’re mad/sad/worried/scared/frustrated about. Recognize ’em all! (I’m feeling hormonal and my boss is annoying me and my mother won’t stop calling and I wish I hadn’t eaten a second piece of cake last night and, and, and…)
- For the second minute, allow that big list you just created to float away on a cloud/ be burned over a flame/melt into a puddle of water. This second minute is just for breathing. Don’t worry about how you do it–you’re good at breathing already. Just let the air come in and out, maybe closing your eyes and focusing on the feeling of air passing your nostrils or filling your lungs. When items from your list try to pop back into your consciousness, which they will, just let them move on through and bring your mind back to that breathing.
- For the third minute, allow a few bits of your surroundings to come back into focus. Maybe you’re in the shower and there’s a blissfully warm stream of water falling on your shoulders, and you can smell soap. Maybe you can hear the murmur of traffic outside, or notice a ray of sunshine peaking through a window. Or maybe you’re on the toilet, and you allow yourself to notice the temperature of the air in the room or the fact that your foot is falling asleep. Let all this in.
You did it! Every time I finish this exercise, I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. It feels SO GOOD. Next time you notice yourself getting out of hand, give it a shot! Practice it a few times, and see if it makes a difference for you.