One of my worst habits is the shower — often times I take too long of showers. There is only one person to blame for this — myself. (What you think there were other people to blame?) Oftentimes time slips through my fingers; seconds trickle as drops from my fingers.
The next thing realized: This shower is way too long, and too much water is wasted. It’s a horrible habit. However, it’s worth my time.
There are a lot of creative minds out there giving credit to showers — they’re a catalyst for brainstorming. Luckily, I’m not the only crazy person out there.
In an article from Time, Washington University psychologist R. Keith Sawyer gives insight:
“In creativity research, we refer to the three Bs—for the bathtub, the bed and the bus—places where ideas have famously and suddenly emerged. When we take time off from working on a problem, we change what we’re doing and our context, and that can activate different areas of our brain. If the answer wasn’t in the part of the brain we were using, it might be in another. If we’re lucky, in the next context we may hear or see something that relates—distantly—to the problem that we had temporarily put aside.”
According to a variety of other articles read about the creative process, they all say something along the same lines. When we’re doing something along the lines of monotonous, our brains are problem solving in the background.
With places like the shower — warm water, the good hygiene — your brain is “waking up” (for lack of a better phrase) in many ways. It never really sleeps, your brain. The familiar process of the shower requires no significant thinking effort. The warm water feels great, and this is especially true during the winter months. You feel comfort, you feel good. And then: Hello, dopamine! It’s a reward.
It’s the same excitement experienced when that little red notification pops up on your social media page.
According to a WIRED article (where the main photo for this post came from), psychologist John Kounios at Drexel University states,“You become less aware of your environment and more aware of your internal thoughts.”
However, let’s be honest, embracing and utilizing the mundane moments of your life will help you be creative in your particular field, not all of them. Showering will not make you a superhero or a genius, it will allow you live out your dream as a member of society, to take part in group activities. (You know, because you don’t smell.)
So, keep your voice recorder at an arm’s length outside of the shower, because those nuggets of creativity shouldn’t be lost.
The shower among many other things is meditative. When trying to live up to personal promises this year, being aware of the surroundings is important. This may sound counterproductive, but it’s not. Taking a moment to sit and do nothing, to shut your mind off and admire whats around (while breathing with your diaphragm and focusing on those breaths) is where all these ideas come from.
If you live inside of a box or basement your entire life, you’d probably generate ideas, but the ideas may not be as educated or vibrant due to lack of experience.
Take David Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity — thank you, Matt, for allowing me to borrow the book and read it more than once in a couple week’s time — the director, writer and overall great guy doesn’t lead a guided meditation, but he explains how transcendental meditation has worked for him all of these years.
More than a handful of years ago, meditation was at the top of my list. It’s still up there, bit not at the top spot. Recognizing this lackadaisical attitude and the help of my friends have coaxed me to get back into the groove of it, because it’s an uplifting groove.
Taking moments out of the day to hit pause is healthy. It’s as healthy as looking up and away (for 20 seconds and at an object 20 feet from your position) from the computer after 20 minutes, which is difficult. It’s as healthy as getting up from the desk every 30 minutes to an hour to walk around, stretch legs.
Interruption from a task can require 20 to 25 minutes to get back into the groove again, but the stress, mental and physical relief is significantly different than the guy who comes to your desk eight times a day to ask you to change a something, or to deliver a verbal notification about the email he sent you two minutes ago.
During lunch, while working at Loretto, I’d take a half hour or so to meditate. I’d go into the bathroom to avoid disruptions. Because I took care of the bathroom, on top of the regular cleanings by maintenance, folding a coat up to sit on and prop my back against the wall did not gross me out. Sometimes I’d mediate; sometimes I’d accidentally fall asleep. (Whoops. Who can say no to a half hour recharge? This is where setting soft alarms come into play.)
Presently taking time out is a different story. I’ll take five minutes of deep breathing — however, this does not take place in the bathroom. It’s too cold to sit in the car, so the desk will do.
Meditating in public: It may appear as if you’re sleeping, so explanations may follow. However, the onlookers may realize, Oh, they are taking a breather. Just don’t put your head on the wall or bar or person next to you at the subway or bus stop.
The moments of small bliss project into something bigger, ignite creativity, encourage and add to a healthy lifestyle. Without having to blatantly tell yourself, the mediation and awareness allows you to get a better understanding of yourself.