Hot Tub Water Meditation Techniques
A hot tub is a perfect place for meditation, if you can get it all to yourself that is! I'm fortunate to have one evening per week when I'm alone with my tub, and take the time to practice short mindful meditations.
Emphasis on the word 'practice', because meditation is something that gets better each time you do it, and becomes easier - the more you practice.
If you've never tried to meditate, or have given it only a few sporadic efforts, you are missing out on one of the best ways to relieve stress, pain and fatigue. There are too many benefits to list; trust me - meditation is good stuff!
Meditate in your own spa or hot tub!
Set the Mood
Turn down the lights, turn down the heat, and turn off the pumps and air blower. You can light a scented candle, or add aromatherapy salts to your hot tub. Put the heat at whatever temperature you like, I tend to prefer 100°, but it depends on the outside air temperature. 104° is really too hot for quiet meditation, but something between 90-100 degrees (32-38° C) seems to work for most people.
You don't necessarily need to be alone to meditate, but it helps if others also remain still and quiet, preferably meditating as well. If you like, you can add some soft music, without lyrics. Yoga music or meditation music works well. I prefer the still sounds of the night, but then my neighborhood is fairly quiet. If you have more urban sounds, or cacophony of crickets, meditation music can be helpful - to set the mood.
Focus on the Body
The first step to hot tub meditation is to focus briefly on the body for a quick minute. Find a comfortable kneeling or seated position, cross legged or not, and sit up straight. Now begin to slowly check the sensations in each body area, and allow yourself to relax, bit by bit. Start at the toes, and move up the body to the top of your head. Focus your attention on your bones, muscles and joints, and allow the buoyancy of the water to take over. Pause along the each section of the spine, and you move up the body. Allow your arms to float freely in the water, limp at the wrist. Finally, relax any tension in the neck, face and scalp, and allow your body to become buoyant.
Focus on the Breath
The Yogi Complete Breath, from the book Science of Breath, written by a Yogi over 100 years ago, is a long and slow breath, combining low breathing, mid breathing and high breathing techniques. It takes time to master fully, but most people lock onto it after a dozen or so attempts. Once you have a comfortable seating position, sit up straight and start by 'belly-breathing', pushing out your stomach, as you breath deep into your stomach for a count of 2. On count 3 and 4, allow your side ribs to open up, and fill up your lower diaphragm. On count 5 and 6 fill up the upper diaphragm as your upper sternum rises toward your chin. Hold for a two count, and then slowly exhale for a 6 count, in the reverse order of inhalation. Chest down, ribs inward, stomach deflates. After much practice you can increase the time, until a complete breath takes a full minute! Advanced breathing can add-in elements of Pranayama, by breathing-in through one nostril and exhaling through the other.
Breathing is the ladder to the next step in meditation, it is used to quiet the mind as you focus on the simple mechanics of inhaling and exhaling. Counting the breaths in your mind, with a 1-1 thousand, 2-1 thousand (or Mississippi if you prefer) can also help to drown out other thoughts and help you to remain focused on the breath.
Focus on the Mind
When we breathe deeply, the increased oxygen wakes up many dormant cells, and the mind can wander easily. Try to stay in the present moment, and don't allow your mind to play tapes of the past or predictions of the future, just be here, now, in the present.
When thoughts come into my mind, this sounds silly but, I like to imagine them coming in near my ears, and a broom in the middle of my head sweeps them out the other side. The key is to catch yourself drifting into a thought, and let it go, sweep the thought away, or just let it go, and return to focus on the breathing.
Don't chastise yourself, or wince at catching yourself thinking again, just make the neutral observation, let it go, and return your focus to the breath and body. What I do is - I relax my body and breathe deeply, and bring my attention to a spot behind my forehead, which some call the third eye, or the 6th chakra, and my thoughts diminish.
Water is a symbol of purity and a cleansing element. Our connection to water in this world is profound, it flows through our rivers and oceans, and through our bodies. Scientists recognize water as one of the most important elements on the planet, next to the sun's energy, in allowing life to exist.
A water meditation is allowing your mind to wander into a short story. As your breathing continues, guide your mind to another place, a wet place - and since you're already floating in your hot tub, why not !?!
Imagine yourself sitting in a warm, crystal clear tropical pool, surrounded by lush foliage of all types, with a soft waterfall cascading down in front of you. The waterfall fills you up, and joins the rhythm of your breathing. A clear mist fills the air around you as you move under the waterfall. The soft waters dance over your shoulders, cleansing and purifying.
In this mindful meditation, you'll take a seat near a small babbling brook, choose the season you like, I usually use autumn. Feel the water as it rushes around you, flowing to ever larger tributaries, and eventually out to sea. Allow the river's flow to match your rhythm of breath, while it cleanses and purifies.
Hot Springs Meditation
Same thing here, just a different location. You don't even need to leave your spa - sometimes (Ok, this is getting embarrassing) I imagine my hot tub in different locations, and in my water meditation, my spa is transported, deep into the jungle, or to a cliff overlooking the ocean, or on a desert island somewhere. :-)
Bonus Tips for Hot Tub Meditation:
- Start with just 10 minutes, and build up to 20 minutes over time. Set an alarm for safety.
- Meditation Music - search on Google, and you can find long songs or videos to play on your phone.
- Aromatherapy - Aroma really helps with water meditations, and can become the entire meditation!
- Mantras - short words or numbers said slowly to yourself, on the exhalation.
- Asanas - simple yoga poses or postures, some of which are done while seated. I don't use these myself in hot tub meditation, but you can try a few positions.
"Open your pores and bathe in all the tides of nature, in all her streams, and oceans, in all seasons".
- Henry David Thoreau
Hot Tub Works