Bathtub Yoga & Prayers from the Porcelain Throne
Working meditation and spiritual practices into your chaotic life.
I know how regular exercise, meditation, and spiritual practices can improve my life. I know the physical benefits of regular exercise, the benefits of meditation for focusing on goals and managing stress, the comfort found in trusting a greater plan. However, making these practices into disciplined and consistent habits has been a challenge for me. These are the practices noted in decades of New Year’s resolutions, and goals revisited across decades of birthdays.
For most of those years, my goal included establishing a set time and/or routine for yoga/exercise and meditation/prayer. “I will get up an hour early to _____.” Yeah, well. I am so NOT a morning person. I love sleep above nearly any other activity, and the older I get, the more I love it. Who knew middle age was filled with random aches and pains and consistent exhaustion? Yeah, well, that’s what happens when you don’t exercise, meditate, and take care of your entire wellbeing.
The problem was, that I was trying to set a time to ______. I was trying to offer something I have little of, and I was trying to put myself on a schedule. I’m also not so good at functioning on a schedule. Most of my life is dealing with what’s in front of me at the time, meeting schedules that other people set — addressing priorities and projects as they strike me. I also, very rarely realize what time it is, and have a hard time keeping track of what days of the week it is. I operate on my own schedule and try to integrate it with the world’s schedules. That’s the best I can do.
I have a family member who often says, “I don’t like appointments.” That may seem odd to people who run, run, run all day long, but for someone who spends their life on a farm or working at home, appointments are heavily considered an interruption to an ongoing natural process.
I have a friend who prays and meditates every morning and evening. He’s an interfaith chaplain, so it is quite his thing, but I remember admiring his discipline and dedication to his spiritual journey. I was trying to be like him. But last fall, I spent some time with a cousin of mine, who has such a personal relationship with God that her faith is interwoven into her everyday life. Like me, she spends her day managing messes, disasters, the daily minutia. She has no routine of her own, her routine is set according to the needs of her family, which includes two elementary-age boys, a young man, her husband, her mother, and two cats.
During my visit, we talked about her relationship with God, and how she wove Him into her life. “I pray on the toilet,” she admitted with a giggle. “It’s the only uninterrupted time I get alone.” We laughed at the irony of it, the lack of ceremony, the realization that God is ALWAYS with us — even on the porcelain throne.
And that’s when I realized, I didn’t need to set a time for this or a time for that. I need to simply discover my opportunities to integrate them into my life. The day after my cousin made her spiritual confession, I began the same practice. Every day, over my morning constitution, I talk to God.
I began to discover other ways to integrate. When I let Mattie (a 10-month-old beagle) out for her morning constitution, a go through a few standing yoga poses while I wait. When I take her and Dandelion (cat) for a walk, I pause to soak up the sunshine, breathe fresh air and meditate on nature and life. Sometimes, I let Mattie set the pace, walking at a faster pace. And when she gets stuck in a spot by her nose, I roll my shoulders, my neck, and stretch my arms up to the sky.
I have also started doing yoga in the bathtub. Spring leg shaving alone is a yoga practice, but I also have found that certain yoga positions are much easier when immersed in an Epsom salt bath, and as long as the floor isn’t slippery, I can at least do warrior poses while showering.
The point is to take those moments when your mind is cluttered and just breathe. Focus on blessings, listen to your body, your heart. Find those moments of private solitude, and use them to integrate self-care, and gratitude, to connect with the universe, and spend time with your faith. These stolen moments can integrate improvement into our lives.
One thing I cannot do in a stolen moment is write. My recent return to work in the midst of home improvement projects, spring cleaning (inside and out), and prepping for the summer season has kept me from my writing space. I do apologize. I am working on setting boundaries in my life and creating a balance between work and home.
The recent primary election was also stressful for me, and I am grateful that Gilmer County voters supported the library levy. We also had high water last weekend, and so I lost sleep two nights of the last seven. One night watching the water rise, another praying for levy support and proper community leadership.
So often I feel I am being pulled in multiple directions. I am often overwhelmed by the work that needs doing — at work, at home, in our lives, in our communities. Our renaissance is needed, but the busyness of life can keep us from addressing our renewal. Remember to make use of those moments of quiet, those private moments in the shower or on the porcelain throne to ask for help, courage, fortitude, and guidance.
With inflation, war, shortages, and challenges, it is easy to forget we have an opportunity for renewal and rebirth. It is difficult to find time for growth and creative endeavors when you’re simply trying to make ends meet. Remember, our current challenges are temporary — but our decisions and our prayers pave our future.
Be patient with yourself, and keep the faith in a brighter future. It will come.
Thanks for reading, and being patient with me as I work to be more diligent and disciplined with my renaissance updates. Don’t forget, you can always check twolanelivin.com for installments from Robin Holstein and past posts. New features are on my to-do list, and I will get to them… Soon.