I dearly love the British-English term “ablutions,” which refers to washing yourself, brushing your teeth and other personal grooming habits to get ready for the day. Unfortunately, we may sometimes give ablutions for mental hygiene the short shrift.
We might tell ourselves, think or feel like we’re too busy on a given day to care for our mind. That’s unskillful. There’s an old story about a meditation teacher advising a student to meditate at least 20 minutes daily, but if their life is too busy to spare 20 minutes—increase the minimum to one hour. It’s like that for mind ablutions.
Many people recognize they benefit from yoga, meditation, writing in a journal and other practices that help slow down, relax and focus the mind. The problem is that sustaining healthy practices and overcoming self-invented obstacles can be tricky, especially when the mind becomes too distracted by worldly concerns.
Somehow there’s always time to check social media updates or do something else less important – but these are merely distractions that create perceptions of busyness. The mind is off and running here and there and everywhere. And our ablutions for mental hygiene get curtailed or completely forgotten for that day, that week or longer.
We probably don’t neglect our ablutions for our body, but sometimes it might seem okay to skip our ablutions for our minds, perhaps because we prioritize distractions or believe it makes no difference. Nobody can see or smell our minds, right? Not exactly.
All our actions, feelings and thoughts influence, follow and chase each other in patterns, pulling us this way and that way, causing reactions and perpetuating karma and cycles that manifest in how energy flows through our minds and bodies. It’s a constant interplay between cause and effect.
If we are fortunate to live with some degree of mindfulness, we might be the first to notice any differences when we slack off our mind ablutions—but we cannot if our mindfulness becomes obscured in a fog of worldly concerns. Other people will definitely notice any changes in how we interact with them, especially if emotions get stirred and egos act out.
Taking care to make time for our mind ablutions restores mind-body balance and awareness, which is no secret for many people practice mediation and yoga. The same can be achieved by practices such tai chi. Writing in a journal is another effective method for taming the mind and letting go of mental rubbish.
None of this is a state secret. Though we need to keep reminding ourselves and remembering why we have a particular practice and to consistently maintain it as much as possible, regardless of whatever worldly concerns arise. Don’t allow transitory distractions to deter you from doing your mind ablutions.
Mental hygiene is beneficial like brushing your teeth, because the alternative is to walk around all day with a sticky and slimy mind so to speak. Think about it.
Share some of your thoughts about your practices below!