Inspiration in the Shower: Optimize Your Creativity

Photo: Sarah Kunst

I get my best inspiration in the shower first thing in the morning. The combination of hot water and smell-good products create a perfect environment to wake up my body, mind and senses. Invariably, I get a bright idea as I’m lathering up and rinsing off. There’s something meditative about the repeated motions of washing our hair, the slick of soap, the softness of a good foam, the rough grain of a body scrub. I love to crank the pressure and stand under the pelt of water, letting my mind go blank. It’s a strange feeling of being in your own skin.

I’ve been very tuned into the mind-body connection as part of my Get Go process. I’ve begun playing self-detective and connecting the dots to when I’m my most creative. What are the triggers?

My Theory: Focused vs. Open

For me, physical activity or sensation is closely tied. We’ve heard of out-of-body experiences, but my big ideas tend to come when my focus is out of my head and in my body. Ideas come when I’m at yoga or working out. They come when I’m walking. They come when I’m in the shower; when I’m not thinking about anything in particular, just feeling the warm water, smelling all my delicious products. Sometimes they come as I’m sitting in a taxi, my mind wandering as I watch the city go by through the window. I’m the opposite of focused, I’m open.

Focus is excellent for precision work, whether physical or mental. But creativity is an imprecise art. Just as you can’t bottle lightning, there’s no predicting or codifying our own flashes of brilliance. You never know when they might strike. But I’ve found that you can set yourself up for the possibility of it.

A Therapist Says: A Mind At Rest…

When you’re moving, whether during a workout, or performing repeated mundane motions as in a shower, your mind is actually at rest. Your focus settles into your body. Your mind is relaxed. You’re enjoying yourself. I think those are the optimal conditions: when you’re out of your head and aware and in tune with your own body. It’s part of the reason why I’m such an advocate of exercise and movement. Our bodies are our instruments. But not just in terms of physical acts, they harmonize our thoughts as well.

I asked Dr. Vivian Diller, Ph.D., who happens to be my therapist, why the shower serves as such an escape and an incubator of creativity.

“A relaxed mind is a fertile one,” she says. “Showers tend be calming, like taking a nap. Some people say their best ideas pop into their head just as they’re falling asleep. When the mind has time to relax, creative thoughts can emerge.”

It’s a time when we can be alone with our thoughts.

She adds: “Showering is time we disconnect from every day stimulation (phones, computers, TV, people).  When we’re free from distraction and the white noise of life quiets, our minds are better able to focus on big ideas.”

Seeking Inspiration vs. Attracting Inspiration

So by allowing our minds to rest–whether in sleep, a physical workout or practice, even in the shower–we set up conditions for the brain to make connections. We often think that external stimulus is the catalyst for creativity. We seek out inspiration in people, art, travel and beyond. But I think of reflection and introspection as the moment when inspiration comes to you.

In our highly stressed world, relaxation has numerous health benefits. Doctors agrees that stress is a trigger for not only nervous conditions, but actually contribute to disease and physical inflammation. A shower is an ordinary daily ritual for most of us. But our simplest, most ordinary acts hold the keys to unlock so much.

Here, a few of my favorite products for your most inspired shower…