How Your Shower Can Help You Focus
Learning how to focus better can reap untold rewards. But it’s hard to find time for it in our busy lives. Now you can boost your awareness just by making a few small changes to your shower routine.
Close your eyes (yes, I know you can’t read the rest of the instructions if your eyes are closed – read all of the instructions and then close your eyes).
If you are sitting at your desk, think of an object that is on the desk and within reach. With your eyes closed, reach for the object. See how close you can come to connecting with the object on your first try.
If this proves too easy, then pick a smaller object or one a little farther away. But more likely than not, you had to feel around a bit for the object. Either - without being able to see it - it was farther away than you thought, or a little to the right or left, or below your hand, so you didn’t immediately make contact.
To connect with and pick up the object, you need to develop a refined sense of spatial awareness. You need to be aware of where your body is, the space surrounding your body, the approximate distance and direction of the object from your body, and the object’s size and shape. You then need to be aware of the distance your hand travels through space and its relative distance from the object until you connect with it.
Why is Spatial Awareness Important?
What does spatial awareness have to do with mental focus? Well – everything.
You can connect with an object with your eyes closed only if you are simultaneously highly aware of your body and your environment, and your mind is quiet enough to notice the various spatial and sensory signals that will enable you to connect.
By developing a better sense of spatial awareness, you will find it easier to focus in general. In fact, the next time you are trying to work on a project but your mind keeps wandering off, try this:
Stop and focus on the space of your body and the space surrounding your body. Become super-aware of the spatial relationship between your body and the floor, your chair, your desk or any other nearby objects, as well as the walls and ceiling of the room (or visible landmarks if you are outside).
You’ll notice that your mind quickly settles down, and you’ll feel more centered and grounded and better able to focus on the task at hand.
Increased spatial awareness brings with it several benefits. In addition to heightened mental focus, better spatial awareness can improve your balance, give you a keener sense of your surroundings, a better feel for the distance and speed of others while driving, and a better sense of direction and improved coordination in sports and everyday activities. You also may find it easier to pick up on social and emotional cues when interacting with others. Better spatial awareness even can make reading and math easier.
How to Develop Spatial Awareness in the Shower
The challenge of many mental focus exercises is not that they don’t work, but that they work only if you do them. As with physical exercise, many of us intend to meditate or to work diligently at exercises designed to improve our mental focus. But life gets in the way. We rush through the day and never seem to find the time to develop our focus.
It's counterproductive of course. Because when we improve our focus, the time we save through our increased productivity and improved performance eclipses any time we spent working on our focus. Nevertheless, it can still be a challenge to find the time in our busy lives.
Fortunately, with many of the focus exercises I teach, there are workarounds – ways to improve your mental focus without taking much time away from the rest of your life. When it comes to improving your spatial awareness, the regular shower (or bath) you already take offers the perfect setting.
Just as I asked you to close your eyes while at your desk and reach for an object, I am now going to ask you to close your eyes while in the shower.
Notice the feel of your body situated within the space of the shower and try to feel the distance between you and the soap dish. Reach out for the soap with your eyes closed and grab the soap as you normally would with eyes open.
You may grasp the soap on the first try. Or you may underestimate or overestimate the height or distance of the soap dish. (It’s important to move gently while reaching for the soap. You don’t want to overestimate the distance and hit your hand hard into the wall. The goal is to improve your spatial awareness, not to hurt yourself.)
Use the same eyes-closed process when reaching for the shampoo. And then use the soap and shampoo with your eyes closed. At first, this may be a challenge. Over time, your spatial awareness will improve and you’ll find it easy. And your better spatial awareness will spill over into many other areas of your life.
Of course, you can practice this spatial awareness exercise in many settings. The shower offers you the opportunity to work on your spatial awareness without taking any more time from your day.
Imagine that – you can boost your focus and improve many areas of your life - just by taking a shower.