By Elizabeth Scott, M.S. - Stress Management Expert
There are many different ways to experience the benefits of meditation. One soothing method is to meditate in the bath. A bath meditation combines the standard benefits of meditation (you can read about the benefits of meditation -- they’re pretty amazing) with the benefits of a soothing, hot bath, which can relax tired muscles, provide a relaxing atmosphere, and allow a temporary feeling of escape from stressors.
How do you make a bath meditation effective? Here are some things to keep in mind.
Time Required: 15 Minutes or More
Block off at least 15 minutes where you won’t be interrupted. That means creating a few extra minutes in your schedule, putting the phone straight to voicemail, telling others in your household not to disturb you unless it’s an emergency.
Use Aromatherapy Bath Products.
As you run the bath, you may want to incorporate some of the benefits of aromatherapy by using bubble-bath or bath oils scented with lavender (shown to be relaxing), peppermint (if you want to feel more alert), or another scent that you really like (studies show that subjectively pleasing scents bring stress relief benefits, too). This way you can add another layer of stress relief with no additional effort.
Get In and Relax.
Let your breathing become slower and deeper, allowing your belly to rise and fall with each breath (instead of your shoulders or chest). This type of breathing is more natural, and can help turn of your stress response if it was still triggered from earlier in the day. (Read more about breathing exercises.)
Focus on Sensations.
Now just focus on the sensations you feel in your body -- the warmth of the water on your skin, the pressure of the tub against your back -- and let go of all other thoughts. Try to keep your mind quiet and your attention focused on only the present moment.
Stay In The Present.
If you find thoughts of the past, the future, or any form of internal dialogue happening, gently redirect your attention to the present moment. Continue for several minutes, and you should feel soothed and relaxed quickly.
If you’re new to meditation, you may want to try the meditation part of it for 5 or 10 minutes at first, and work your way up. (Time spent in the tub -- in meditation or not -- should still be relaxing enough.)
If you find it difficult to keep your mind completely clear, you may want to try a mantra meditation. This is a form of meditation where you focus on repeating a sound or phrase over and over. It can be a nice alternative for those who become frustrated by a mental voice that wants to keep talking. (See these tips on mantra meditation.)
You can also add music as a focal point for your meditation with the Musical Bath Meditation.