Relaxing in the bath

The artist Joe Fletcher Orr recently told Culture 24 that the bath is where he finds most of his ideas. Instead of a traditional studio, he’s planning on getting a membership at a luxury spa so he can spend time in a relaxation pool.

He’s not alone in the regard with which he holds the humble bath. Famously, Douglas Adams found it a perfect relaxing antidote to deadlines which allowed his ideas to mature unconsciously during bouts of procrastination.

Less famously, I, and others, find the bath an ideal place to perform mindfulness meditation.

Hot water, locked door, maybe some lavender essential oil, maybe some relaxing music in the background. Sounds an ideal recipe for beneficial altered states of mind.

Instant relaxation

Recently, there’s been press  coverage of a wearable gizmo called Thync, that provides its wearer with electric shocks to the head. It’s reported to cause instant relaxation.

I’ve no experience of using the device, but see no reason why it shouldn’t be effective. Shifting states of mind is something that we can all do, very quickly either unconsciously (you don’t need to be told to start pumping adrenalin when you’re threatened, for example) or consciously, such as when relaxing or meditating.

Nearly all of my clients have seen how they can quickly relax in a minute or so, just by adjusting their breathing so that they’re breathing out for longer than they’re breathing in. For those who don’t like the idea of counting breaths, I’ve used different breathing rhythms as the basis for a few music tracks – just listen and let your breathing match the rise and fall of the music.

Breath Of Calm
Relaxation Response
Breathe Easy

Rewiring the brain with meditation

An Australian psychologist David Roland , has written a book about his recovery from stroke – How I Rescued My Brain. In the book he describes how he effectively rewired his brain to be arguably better than it was before the medical trauma.

He used brain-training programs to regain basic auditory skills.  And he practised mindfulness meditation: “The evidence is pretty clear,” he told the Express, “even in an eight-week programme, that it changes your brain structure long-term.”

He also ensured that he exercised, enjoyed good sleep routines, ate well and listened to music. “Listening to music is a little bit of magic for the brain, as countless studies have proved,” the Express reported. “Scientists believe it’s because music activates lots of brain regions at once – attention, memory, verbal, emotion and meaning. One study in Finland among stroke patients who listened to music every day for two months found they had better verbal memory and focused attention after the trial.”

Roland’s tale is inspirational and the methods he used are available to all. Meditation and relaxation are much more than enjoyable states of mind and body, they’re drivers of beneficial effects throughout out entire biology.