On busy days, taking a shower can seem to be the day’s biggest luxury. The streaming water is soothing, hypnotic--precious time away from it all. But the moment I step on the bathmat, real life crashes in, urging me to get dry and get on with it. I’m already there in my head, as distinct from being here in my body. But I’ve found that continuing to luxuriate has special merit.
Interoception and Your Sense of Self
Toweling off is opportunity to activate the sensors in your skin and superficial fascia. Most of our bodies’ interoceptive nerve endings are in the fascia just beneath the skin. Interoception-- knowing how we’re doing on the inside—could be the foundation of the body-mind connection. Only humans, and possibly other primates, have a sense of selfhood that is linked to our bodies. Other mammals simply don’t have the same body/brain wiring. It’s unique to us.
Contemporary living undervalues body awareness and overrides it most of the time. But could it be that listening to our interior body signals has an evolutionary advantage? If so, we undervalue this capacity to our detriment. We need to practice activating it.
Three Little Minutes
So I take three extra minutes this morning to enjoy toweling off, to let my skin take in the sensations of the fabric, to feel the rhythm and pressure of my contact with myself. I work at keeping my attention trained on the interface between my skin and the towel. I try new angles, different strokes, aware that I’m renewing my sense of bodily self.
Once dry, I pause for a moment more, sensing the air’s touch on my skin’s surface, noticing how my skin abuts the space in every direction.
Doing this makes me feel bigger in the space. Expanded. Ready. It’s a fine way to start the day.
© 2016 Mary Bond