Undread of the Shower

The Shower Holds No Fear for Al

Al Levi shares a story from The Mighty.

This is an experience of a different kind in which the mind has been tamed.

Al cites Psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University. They believe that “a human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”

This is what we found out about Libby in the previous shower blog.

Just about 50% of our waking hours are taken up with mind wandering.

Believe it or not, this figure includes daydreaming. Daydreaming often leads to negative thoughts because they have to do with the past or the future, not the present moment.


I have said it elsewhere: Your thoughts are not you, they are the mind raising them up to your consciousness.


So when you have a shower next, try and use all your senses in those moments, each one new and different from the last.

I like lists. Here’s one for showering:

  • Feel the temperature of the water, name it
  • Listen to the sound of the pulsing water, describe it
  • Let the shower run over your face, open your mouth …
  • Sense the play of water in the different places on your body
  • Sing or recite
  • Compare the rough flannel to hand lathering
  • Smell the fragrance of soap, gel, water
  • Keep going – think of some yourself

I kept the experience going when I toweled myself after my shower.

But now I take time and dry myself very slowly, or even sensuously, loving that I don’t need to hurry or worry.



When I was working full-time, my wash in the morning was as fast as I could make it (three other people needing the bathroom after me)

In my head I was going over things I needed to remember to take with me, what order I was going to teach my lessons that day, lunch money for the girls, getting something out of the freezer for evening meal, worrying about the so-called “friend” who was giving my daughter a hard time, asking the old ladies next door to take in a parcel and so on.

What of my needs? There was no room for them.

And when I got to school early, I hit the floor running. I won’t bore you with what.

This was part of the reason I burnt out.

Now I am retired, I can look after myself properly. Whereas some of my colleagues are as busy now as before. They are looking after ancient parents, doing lengthy babysitting for their grand- children (fun but exhausting), some have taken on other jobs. It was worth all the grinding years to earn the time to do this blog and other activities I wanted to do while I am still healthy.

I am trusting to Mindfulness to keep me from crashing and burning ever again.

Back to the Shower


Shocking news overheard!

Shocking news overheard!

I work at the till as a volunteer at a charity shop a few days a week.

One of the keys to happiness is to give some time freely to a good cause. Remember I had bowel cancer? Well, you might guess the name of the charity.

Bits of what I overheard from a covey of old biddies:


No, I haven’t seen her for ages…

She’s getting £2 more for this than me…

I’m claiming SSE as well…

How long are you stayin’ off?…

Or an elderly pair:

My mum was a Green Apron in Glasgow during the war…

She should have met my mother, what a pair they would make…

Oh, I haven’t thought about my home in years and years…


Yes, my lugs were flappin’

The Sottish accent makes stories so much funnier. I don’t to make myself feel better or luckier than others. I will never see the people again. There are people I know who should be taped, like Doreen Scott who has been around Crail for all her 82 years. Or old Pete Smith, gone now, who was a maths teacher in the local high school. He was also an expert on all things maritime from days gone by when most locals were at the fishing for their livelihoods.

They well-known writer about times past in the East Neuk of Fife is Christopher Rush. In fact, though the names are fictitious, everyone local knows who they are. Not always kind, but always funny. Here is a short excerpt by Mary Munro from the Ballater Eagle:

Twa auld biddies across the aisle were busy takin some o’ their friend throwe haun. “Did ye see Jessie’s perm at the Bingo yestreen? Fit a sitter! She hisna Macklemore hair at the best o’ times, but then perm has just frazzled it dry as a been!” Wi a moofu o’ scone, the ither wifie nodded agreement, syne cam oot wi’ – “That cardigan ye’ve on is a richt bonny feuchy-brown colour. It fair matches yer even. Did ye weive it yersel?

Aye, I thocht it wisnae a bochte ain – I can see the wee holie aneth the oxter far ye’ve drappit a stitch!

(The Ballater Eagle, Autumn 2008)

Go and try and say it out loud. You will tickle yourself.

See my other stories about Africa and life in general.

Mindfulness shows itself when we listen and are entertained by stories of others. You are in the moment listening non-judgmentally, taking in every detail.

Do you have a story to share, overheard or otherwise? Will you share it with us?


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Sassy American Expat has Solution for your Problem

Sassy American Expat has Solution for your Problem

Baby Matilda studying a flower






Are you tired and frazzled? If so, I want you to give Mindfulness a try.

I myself found Mindfulness many years back when I hit a rough patch in my life and work.

Since then, I have learned a great deal about Mindfulness by observing children focussing their whole attention on an object.

My granddaughter inspecting a flower is a perfect example of paying attention, in the moment, non-judgementally. This attitude is the essence of Mindfulness and the outcome is Happiness.

Amazing what you can learn from babies! You, too, can learn Mindfulness when you visit my website at:

What is Mindfulness?

How often do you hear this?

There is Balm in Giliad called Kindness


“Thank you for showing me loving kindness and gratitude.”

It means you are more than just pleased. If you feel gratitude, it is something you appreciate fully. I imagine people are more often grateful for things.

Have you tried making the gratitude collection at tinygratitude.com? Each day you type in no more than 3 words to do with something for which you feel gratitude.

My collection is getting enormous! And I enjoy poring over all the words that mean something special to me. This little exercise has me pondering ahead of time by noticing many possible choices throughout the day. And I can never run out because the object is new every time It attracts my attention.

Things I am grateful for

I want us to think about people now. You may love, desire, imitate, dislike, agree with or like individuals, but who are you grateful for?

Gratitude plays a role within Mindfulness. Gratitude makes us notice the good other people do for us in life.

Let’s face it. No one can be happy and successful in his or her life without someone to look up to. For me it was, and still is, my mother. I know I could not live with her, don’t get me wrong. But she is my mentor, weather vane, my starting place. Of course, you have someone or some people, too.

so today, we are going to mention them by name. The first or last person to name is yourself. Oh no, You hear you say. I have nothing to be grateful to myself for. Start small and It will get easier, you will begin to believe your own words. This can be treated as a formal or informal Mindfulness practice:

May I be safe and free from suffering.

May I be happy and healthy as can be…

May I have ease of being.


May I be safe and free from suffering.

May I be happy and healthy as can be.

May I have ease of being.


May I be safe and free from suffering.

May I be happy and healthy as can be.

May I have ease of being.


Next, it is time to choose someone you truly love:


May __________ be safe and free from suffering.

May __________ be happy and healthy as can be.

May ___________have ease of being.  3x


Next, choose someone you recognize but you may not know:

Say the words of gratitude 3x as before.

Next, choose someone who has supported or mentored you to achieve your goals:

Say the words of gratitude 3x as before.

Next, choose someone with whom you don’t see eye to eye:

Say the words of gratitude 3x as before.

Next, choose everyone living on the whole planet:

Say the words of gratitude 3x as before.


You will be surprised at who you think of. I had the hardest time showing gratitude to people I generally don’t get along with.

How do you feel after this practice, I think closing your eyes helps you to concentrate.





A Formal Mindfulness Practice

The second type of Mindfulness Practice

I haven’t pushed this aspect of Mindfulness mainly because I don’t want to scare off people who would benefit from learning this practice. These are the ones who are leaning towards trying the practice but are still suspicious of the stereotypes of the hippy or the ninja mentioned in the Science or WooWoo page mentioned earlier.

The most formal postures for meditating require sitting on the floor or support and resting your palms together. I have never done that.


But if you are comfortable this way, that is fine. I have not sat with others doing this perhaps because I am getting on and we might not be able to get up!

CHAIR – Formal Mindfulness practice is usually done sitting on a chair. Curiously I haven’t been able to find a good photo (still looking) of the typical Mindfulness meditator. Think about it as I explain:

An upright chair is best with or without a back. When you sit, your bottom wants to be halfway forward on the seat of the chair. Your position is dignified but not tight. Feel as though you are being gently pulled upwards by a cord on your head but don’t stretch.

What you want to achieve is a posture of attention to this moment.

Having said that, when I was new to meditating I could not sit long before I would get a shooting pain down the right side of my back. That did not do much to encourage me to carry on. More advanced meditation can banish the pain.

What novices can do is mindfully shift position to feel the discomfort less. The second method and I often resorted to this in the early days, is to get a cushion behind your back for support.

Wonderfully, you can eventually train your back, perhaps with the help of some stretching exercise. But the pain will go away anyway with time.

HANDS – These may lie on your knees or be cupped one inside the other in your lap.

FEET – These should be flat on the floor. This is difficult for a shortie like me. Sometimes another piece of furniture works for me – not a puffed up sofa! I often use a small table.

Your hips should be a little bit higher than your knees, ideally.

EYES – These can be open and gazing unfocused on the floor in front of you. Otherwise, close them. Personally, I prefer closed because I am less apt to be distracted by things around me.

REMEMBER – You are wanting to be in the moment, not wanting to change anything, neither concerning thoughts of the past or future without judging yourself.

This is the first moment of this time sitting even if you have done it millions of times before. The sense of newness is palpable. But if you do not feel a thing, don’t give yourself a hard time. It’s fine. Every time you remember that your mind has wandered, that is your opportunity to practice escorting the mind back to the breath or body.

That is Mindfulness, the returning.

That’s already starting to strengthen that ‘muscle’ that you are trying to exercise and develop. Fantastic. This is good enough to practice for ages.

You can also do this waiting in line for the bus or at the supermarket or be waiting for the lights to change, anywhere you might otherwise feel frustrated or grouchy.

When you are done after 10 minutes or whenever the queue starts to move, ask yourself how that felt.

And please tell me too.



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