Some of my best ideas come when I’m in the shower. It happened just this morning. I’ve been anxious and concerned about how to prepare aaaalllll the content needed for my IGNITE! membership while I am away teaching in June and July. I have only about two weeks left until I leave and although I’m making headway, I do at times feel overwhelmed by the task! Especially as some days seem to get eaten up by unexpected derailments (for example, technology glitches!). So, back to those shower ideas…
I have the June plans sorted but how in the world was I going to prepare a lesson and demo for July with everything else I needd to get done? (And no, I won’t bore you with the whole list – just know it’s a freaking long one!)
As I stood in the shower, water flowing over my head, relaxed and not thinking about anything in particular, all of a sudden, out of the blue, a solution popped into my head! Suddenly, I feel more able to cope. Hallelujah!! I think I can make it work!
I’ve also had shower ideas that bubble up in response to struggles I may be having with a painting. For instance, a composition doesn’t look quite right. Or it may be even more vague than that – something is “off” in the painting but what? And if I don’t know what that is, I can’t resolve it. It’s often in the shower, that I come up with the answer. I’ve had ideas about things to add or things I should remove, of ways to make a painting simpler (and therefore stronger). I’ve had a flash of inspiration about a colour change be it temperature, intensity, or hue.
Here’s an example of a painting that was bothering me. Nearing the end of creating Gazing at Gertrud, I knew that something wasn’t quite right but for awhile, I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. It was while I was in the shower that I had the realisation about what needed to be changed. And with that knowledge, I could go about fixing it.
Whenever I’m wrestling with a problem, I know that often, the way forward will come as an epiphany while in the shower. I’m always grateful for the double pleasure that comes with the soothing effect of running water!
Shower ideas. Do you have them?
I actually think it’s quite miraculous that shower ideas happen. Knowing that studies have been done on this phenomenon, I poked about on the internet and found a recent article by Dr. Richard E. Cytowic entitled Why You May Do Your Best Thinking in the Shower. It’s main points are:
- Mindless activities (like showering) can actually be mindful experiences that enable us to fully engage in the present moment and achieve a state of “flow”
- When we stop actively thinking (which I often do in the shower), we allow ideas that were previously incubating in our subconscious to rise to the surface, leading to unexpected insights
- Engaging in solitary activities (eg showering by ourselves) allows us to disconnect from the outside world, providing meditative intervals that allow us to gain new perspectives
Bring on the shower!!
These words from Cytowic stand out out: “Two widely agreed features of “shower thoughts” are that they are insights from the subconscious and the result of not thinking deliberately about anything. Sometimes breakthroughs occur in an “aha” moment. Two features of this kind of insight are the need for relative mental quiet and the suddenness with which they arrive when not intentionally thinking about the problem at hand.”
These features are ready and waiting for you in the shower!
As an artist, I’ve found that being open to ideas that surface while in the shower often results in solutions and insights I may not have come up with while thinking and chewing over a problem. The shower is such a great place to generate new ideas! And the sub-title of the article noted above says it all: “a break from deliberate thought leads to surprising insights.” Heck yeah!!
So tell me, what happens when you’re in the shower? Do you get shower ideas?
Or if you’re a bather, does this same thing happen? I’m kind of thinking it does but I’d love to know.
Make sure to leave me a comment and share your thoughts. Have you had a breakthrough while in the shower?
Until next time,
PS. Yes, total and utter silliness…Too bad they don’t include the-waiting-for-a flash-of-inspiration person!