As your body relaxes in the warm water of your hot tub, your mind will surely follow, right?
Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps it’s easy for you to calm your mind when you choose to. If you have a technique for doing that in the face of stress and overstimulation, keep doing it.
Like many of us, though, you might need a little help.
Would Meditation Help?
Yes, consider trying meditation techniques as a way to relax. In general, meditation has been shown to help reduce stress, lower heart rate, reduce anxiety, and increase feelings of well-being.
However, practitioners of meditation would be quick to say that such benefits are not its goal. Its purpose, they say, is to simply detach the mind from things it can’t control, such as external situations or stressful emotions.
What Exactly Is Meditation?
The word ‘meditation’ is equivalent to a word like ‘sports.’ “It’s a family of activity, not a single thing,” Dr. Richard J. Davidson, University of Wisconsin neuroscience lab director, told the New York Times.
There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques, but all share a goal of a relaxed state of being. Rather than go into all the different forms of meditation (including concentration meditation, mindfulness meditation, walking meditation, tai chi, chi kung, and so on), we’ll stick to some basic descriptions and core techniques.
Think of meditation as a focused use of your mind separate from the mental distractions that tend to fill your day. For example, as you drive home, you may be thinking about dinner, weekend plans, worrying about a project, or a host of other topics that wander in and out of your mind. Amit Sood, author of The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living, describes this action as ‘autopilot daze’ and refers to it as our ‘default mode’ where we spend about half our time. In it, he says, we’re typically unhappy. Spending too much time there can lead to increased risk of depression, anxiety and attention deficit.
In the driving-home scenario, imagine you see a police car in your rear view mirror. Now you’re in ‘focus mode.’ All thoughts are immediate, concentrated and in the present. All your distractions are replaced by a clear, single-mindedness. You check your speed, concentrate on holding a straight course, and so on. You’re completely in the moment.
Meditation, Sood told the U.S. News and World Report is essentially that process of cutting through the brain’s static and finding focus.
Can I Meditate In My Hot Tub?
Of course you can! One of the steps in learning meditation is to get as comfortable as you can. Sitting in warm, buoyant water that decompresses your joints can be an ideal way to get yourself as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
How Difficult Is It To Learn?
Like any other activity or skill, meditation takes practice, and with practice, you’ll improve. Here are some basic tips to help you get started:
- Start by practicing for just two minutes at first and then increasing the time you spend over time. Add a couple minutes every week and you’ll be up to 10 minutes in your second month of practice.
- Try to do it at a specific time each day. Why not try scheduling a 20-minute renewal soak in your hot tub every day? As you relax your body in warm water, you’re able to relax your mind at the same time.
- Before you begin, make the decision to devote all your effort to resting with complete stillness, wakefulness, mindfulness and awareness.
- Get as comfortable as possible. Choose your favorite seat. If the jets distract you, turn them off and soak quietly for a bit.
- Try to relax completely. Close your eyes and mouth, breathing normally through your nose. If it helps you relax, take a few deep breaths.
- Turn attention inward, away from the outside world. Focus on your breathing. Become aware of each breath.
- Feel each inhalation and exhalation. Draw your attention away from all other thoughts and become more and more immersed in the feelings of your breathing. As you begin to be distracted by other thoughts, bring your focus back to your breathing. Stay completely in the present.
- Slowly turn your attention inward and try to achieve complete stillness. Yes, you’ll find your thoughts drifting, but try to bring them back to stillness. Over time, you’ll be able to accomplish this more and more. Like any other skill, it takes practice.
- Don’t be hard on yourself when thoughts wander, because they will. You’ll get better at it with practice.
Finding silence in the mind is the most challenging part, because it’s foreign to how our minds work. But keep at it, and you’ll find that the effort can be an excellent stress reducer.
Using meditation isn’t the only way to consciously relax. In an earlier blog, we suggested several breathing techniques that can be useful in reducing stress, including the 4-7-8 technique recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil. Try any or all of these ideas and see what works best for you.
What Do You Think?
Do you meditate? If so, do you regularly practice it in your hot tub? We’re interested in whether you find it more comfortable in the warm water and easier to focus? Does it help to meditate while you’re outdoors in your hot tub? If you try daily hot tub meditation now, please report back to us and let us know how it worked for you. Have you noticed a reduction in your personal stress levels?
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