“Mindfulness has to do above all with attention and awareness, which are universal human qualities. But in our society, we tend to take these capabilities for granted and don’t think to develop them systematically in the service of self-understanding and wisdom. Meditation is the process by which we go about deepening our attention and awareness, refining them, and putting them to greater practical use in our lives.”
-From “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” page 10 in e-edition, by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Recently, while in the shower, I’ve been thinking about being aware and what it could do for me.
It’s not that I do all of my deep thinking in the shower. The problem is, I often get lost in thought. The time gets away from me, and I take a long shower and end up running late for work, for church, for everything.
I think that’s part of the cause of my tendency towards procrastination. I don’t stay in the moment enough, but lose myself in thoughts of what I’ve done, what I might have done, what I want to do, what I should do, etc.
I think I’m doing this at least partly to keep at bay anxiety in the present moment, or things I want to avoid in the present moment.
And I have some issues about the shower. I worry that I won’t rinse the soap out of the bottom of the shower and leave it slick, and then my husband might slip and fall. I fill my hands with water and splash it around until it looks OK. And I compulsively push the shut-off handle to make sure it really is off. (I have gotten that down to pushing it two times.)
What I’ve read so far about what Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz advocates is that it can help with OCD if you pay close attention to doing what you know will bring about obsessions and compulsions.
Say I have a problem with making sure lamps are turned off (I do). If I am aware that I am turning off the lamp, I create a mental picture I can later pull up to help me deal with anxiety about it.
In other words, I can tell myself, yes, that’s OCD, because I remember turning off that particular lamp. I don’t want to check the lamp again. I have a compulsive urge to check it.
So back to the shower. I found I got through the process faster if I kept telling myself things like, “I’m in the shower. I’m taking a shower. Now I’m going to wash my hair.”
Sounds kind of crazy, but I think it may be helpful to me, not just in hurrying myself through the shower process, but in learning to pay more attention.
Does anyone else have this problem with keeping the mind in the present? Do you see it as a problem? What do you do about it?