20 Aug Incorporating Meditation into Your Steam Shower Experience
There are innumerable reasons to make steam showers a part of your life, from the abundant health benefits to simple relaxation at the end of the day. And these days, with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on our physical and emotional well-being, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself and find ways to relieve stress.
One way to do this is by incorporating meditation into your steam shower experience. Meditation is the practice of focusing your attention on the present moment and letting go of the jumble of thoughts and worries that occupy your mind throughout the day.
In this post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about meditating in the steam shower, from the science behind the practice to easy ways to get started.
Quick tip: A typical steam shower of 20 minutes or less offers the perfect opportunity to meditate. “Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Humans have been meditating for millennia, but the practice has risen in popularity in recent years, in large part due to emerging scientific evidence of its profound impact on the mind and body.
A recent Harvard study found that mind-body practices that elicit the relaxation response, such as meditation, can do everything from lower your blood pressure to change the expression of your genes. Meditation is now being used to treat a wide array of physical ailments, from heart disease to irritable bowel syndrome, as well as mental health challenges, like depression and anxiety.
But even those without a specific condition can reap the rewards of a regular meditation practice. According to the Mayo Clinic, the emotional benefits of meditation can include “gaining a new perspective on stressful situations,” “reducing negative emotions,” and “increasing patience and tolerance”—all of which can be helpful in our work, family, and social lives. Pair those perks with all the health-boosting, stress-relieving elements of a steam shower, and you’re well on your way to becoming a happier, healthier you.
How to Meditate in the Steam Shower
“The beauty and simplicity of meditation is that you don’t need any equipment,” says Burke Lennihan, a registered nurse who teaches meditation at the Harvard University Center for Wellness. “All that’s required is a quiet space and a few minutes each day.” If you’ve carved out time for a steam shower, then you’re already halfway there. Once you’re seated comfortably in the shower, simply sit still with your eyes closed and immerse yourself in the present moment: any sounds you hear, the feel of the steam on your skin, or the rhythm of your breath. When your mind begins to wander to work projects or your grocery list, gently bring it back to those sounds and sensations.
This type of meditation, known as mindfulness, is just one variety that you can try in the steam shower. Others include mantra meditation, where you focus on a word, thought, or phrase, and guided meditation, led by a teacher, often via audio—a great option if your steam shower has built-in speakers. This practice of being still in the moment may feel uncomfortable at first, given our modern tendency to multitask and race through our days, but over time it will come more easily.
Quick tip: Need a little help getting started with meditation? Try one of the many free or low-cost meditation apps available for smartphones and tablets.
How Long and How Often?
There is no set rule when it comes to how long or how often to meditate. Most experts recommend starting with just a few minutes and then working up to longer sessions as you get into a groove.
There is also value in making it a regular, even daily, practice. As Sadie Bingham, a clinical social worker who specializes in anxiety, explains, “It’s important to meditate daily because you’re cultivating a habit.”
She recommends that beginners start with five minutes a day, three times a week, and increase from there. “Eventually,” Bingham says, “you’ll feel the tug to sit and meditate.” You probably already feel that tug toward your steam shower at the end of a long day, so why not pair the two? Your body—and your mind—will thank you.
Quick tip: Incorporate aromatherapy into your steam shower for the ultimate relaxation.