I’m a big believer that you can meditate anywhere, anytime, and while doing anything. (Such as, say…when snowshoeing.) Stated differently, I strongly believe you can do anything meditatively. This morning I tried a new practice: shaving meditation.
Normally, I will meditate in a more traditional manner after waking. Then, when I start my morning routine, my brain is kind of limbered up and ready to start the day’s heavy lifting. Occasionally, if time is short, my meditation takes place during my morning routine — while I’m pulling out clothes to put on, feeding the cats, and so on. Then the flow of thoughts starts up along with the water in the shower. Throughout the showering process — washing, shaving, shampooing — my brain is actively organizing itself and preparing for the day ahead.
My available time was shorter than usual this morning, so I got in the shower rather quickly. My brain was ready to kick into its stream of organizational consciousness, out of sheer habit. But I hadn’t yet had my meditative equivalent of the morning cup o’ joe. So I decided to meditate while showering.
It can seem counterintuitive that one can meditate while being active. That is because we mentally limit meditation to sitting still on a cushion. Meditation does not require physical stillness. What is more important to successful meditation is stillness of mind — rooting the mind in the present moment, completely aware of what is going on inside us and around us. It may be more challenging to find that awareness when active, but it is by no means impossible.
We can be focused while active, paying close attention to what we are doing as we are doing it, all the while practicing breathing out distractions and breathing in focus on what is happening right now. And so I focused on the elements of shaving. I felt the facial wash cleaning away dry skin, smelled the aroma of the soap; saw the bristles of the shaving brush in detail and felt their soft strokes across my skin; experienced the tingle of the pre-shave cream and breathed the eucalyptus scent in deeply; watched extraordinarily closely as the shaving cream spread across my face and was subsequently removed column by column by the razor along with my beard stubble. I shuddered at the initial sting of the hot shower water as I rinsed the leftover shaving cream from my face. I luxuriated in the clean, fresh feeling on my cheeks, chin, and neck.
It was a truly amazing experience. It was as if I had never shaved before, though I must have shaved thousands of times. I don’t know that I will ever shave un-mindfully again — it was that revelatory. Most importantly, when I emerged from the shower my mind was awake, alert, and ready to go, just like it is after I meditate on my cushion. Cool, very cool.
This can, of course, be done with just about any activity. Eating meditatively, for instance, is surprisingly easy to do and incredibly beneficial. But that’s a story for another blog post. Right now, I need to look into trademarking “shaving meditation.” You never know when something is going to go viral.