Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Shower for Your Brain: Who Would Have Thought?

Since becoming a mom, bathing has taken on a whole different meaning.  It means fending off the stink with a quick washcloth wipe-down.  I bathe to get the job done.  I haven't fogged up the bathroom mirror in ages.  No time for that.  There's a little person standing at the side of the bathtub, launching her toys into the water, trying herself to dive in.  I now consider a shower (one that's long enough to shave my legs) somewhat of a far-off luxury.  

As an educator, I always did my best thinking in the shower.  It was home to countless teaching "aha!" moments, and thus, scrapped lesson plans.  It was in a hot, steamy shower that the mental fog lifted.  I often thought God, why didn't I think of this sooner?  The answer: I wasn't in the shower.  

In the July 2008 issue of The New Yorker, Jonah Lehrer writes a fascinating article entitled, "The Eureka Hunt: Why do good ideas come to us when they do?"  He says that it is common for insight to come to us in a warm, relaxing shower. (If that's really true, I'm doomed.) Lehrer believes that insights originate as a result of a flood of neural activity in the right side of the brain, and that we are best able to tap into that hemisphere when we are relaxed. 

I need a shower.  Maybe that's why I can't think straight, why I walk into the same room five times and can't figure out why I'm there.  Although, to be honest, I'm not looking for an epiphany, just a few coherent thoughts.  As a mom, it's a real challenge to find time to linger, to open ourselves up to possibility, to "aha!" moments.  While I can live with a little stink, maybe I've underestimated the value of a shower.  Perhaps my daughter is onto something.  She's inviting me to dive in! (with her, of course.)


Sam said...

I always find when I am having one of *those* days where I feel too tired to be supermom and on the brink of exhaustion that a simple 10 minute shower is like my superhero phone booth, haha...I come ot refreshed, less stressed and ready for a new activity...i get so thankful when i actually have time for one!