The Toilet of Bathseba by Rembrandt
The loo is an essential place to go to. And while it may not show up on maps, it’s a place we can’t miss going.
The word ‘loo’ happens to originate from Waterloo, a trade name for iron cisterns in the early part of the century. We refer to it differently as toilet, washroom, restroom, lavatory, or latrine. What we mean by loo here is the Western Commode or, if you prefer (and you should), the Squat Toilet.
You may have secretly reached the conclusion several times in your life that many of the greatest mysteries of science and philosophy were unraveled from exactly that place. Some of the things in this universe are so convoluted that you just gotta take to your ‘holy seat’ to untwist them.
For many, the most peaceful time of their entire day are the minutes they spend sitting on the pot. It is justifiably so, because you know you are not going to be called out to do any of those ‘silly’ things of a routine day. On a side note, just thinking of doing these activities will risk you getting ‘stuck up.’
10 Happy Things To Do While In The Loo
Of course, you’ll do the things you’re supposed to do in the loo. What’s new here is 10 simple, easy, but surprisingly useful things to do for happiness while your highness is seated at your comfort abode, i.e., commode:
This is the best thing you can do while there. The next best thing appears last on this list. There are many categories of thinking, and you can do them all.
- Reminiscing — remembering fond memories from the past, bringing a warm glow to your face and a lighter weight to your existence.
- Memorizing — learning the details of a particularly complex topic by heart, which happens best when there are no distractions around you.
- Pondering — the deep thought process that involves a devotional focus on thoroughness, usually done to conclude a perplexity.
- Ruminating — the thinking of distress, also known as ‘overthinking’, which takes away your happiness and peace.
- Planning — the ubiquitous kind of thinking we are born to do every day of our life, perhaps from even before the age that we learn to think!
This is a given. A socially accepted and perpetrated ‘do in the loo’! As kids, many are made to read the alphabets and numerals. As adolescents, we get to read many things of cryptic and abstract origin — texts, messages, memes, signs, symbols, pictures. Let us be very clear here that those things that teens and post-teens do are mostly outside the realm of our understanding, so it’s safe to group them under ‘cryptic’.
Sometimes I wonder if Morse did his most famous work — the dot-and-dash code — right from his high seat!
And then, as grown ups, we have our reading options explode — we read newspapers, sales charts, annual projections, balance sheets, business books, self improvement articles, and a lot of ‘garbage’. So read if you may, read if you must. This is the easiest thing to do on this list.
A great book I would recommend you to read: Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by rising science star Giulia Enders. It is a cheeky up-close and personal guide to the secrets and science of our digestive system.
Now, we’re talking, as the multitudes of fitness freaks will wring their hands and say! I wonder why no health article has ever explored this aspect, perhaps because they might feel it’s too far below their standards.
Right then, the kinds of exercises we can do from there are:
- Neck rotation — Bob your head in slow rotation around your neck, clockwise and anticlockwise, and repeat. This is known to release a lot of stress (lactic acid and nitrogen gas, in scientific terms) that gets collected in the joints and muscles around your neck.
- Hands over head — Spread your arms to your side and slowly bring them up to above your head, go down, and repeat.
- Forward bend— Bend your upper body, the torso, forwards so that your chest touches your thighs, raise up, and repeat.
Of course you’ll breathe! What I profess here is practice deep breathing. Take in a long, slow breath through your nostrils while filling up your chest, hold for a count of five, and release it slowly through your mouth.
Deep breathing has a few proven benefits — it repletes your blood oxygen levels, it expels some extra amount of exhale-able toxins, and it relaxes you — this last thing is something that I would necessarily recommend to everyone as long as they are seated there, as it has been observed that a relaxed mind relaxes the guts invariably. And it has a physiological mechanism — deep breathing works your diaphragm, the partition between your belly and chest, and thereby stimulates your vagus nerves, which then kicks in your parasympathetic system to bring down your heart rate and blood pressure; this relaxes you.
And if you really thought I forgot, I did not: Please breathe as much as you want, but remember to smell as little as you can. Thank you!
“My heart is singing for joy this morning! A miracle has happened! The light of understanding has shone upon my little pupil’s mind, and behold, all things are changed!” That’s what Anne Sullivan said. She was the one who taught the Braille to Helen Keller.
So, singing is something I would ask you to do. And pay heed, in the case that the door lock of the restroom is broken, I would implore you to sing — to save your modesty, and that of others who may chance upon your hapless seated self. Sing out loud, with no shame, for no one is to judge you for singing from the loo.
On the contrary, if you’re loud enough to reach them, your neighbors might brand you as a happy person who sings his heart out when alone. And yes, of course, your songs might also mask certain clamorous sounds that escape into the wind.
Listen to your favorite music — loud out or with earphones plugged in. Listen to some podcasts that you have been meaning to hear for long. Listen to the radio news. Listen to your thoughts. Listen to the voices in your memories. Listen to yourself barking back at your boss. Listen to a distant song playing from a bird’s throat. Listen to your neighbors talking in hushed tones. Listen to the sounds about the house.
Listen to your heart, and your fa…
You’re going to lose some part of your hydration there, so why not drink up on some fluids? I may suggest a fruit juice, a lemon drink, or a yogurt drink. At the least, a glass of warm water. Or your morning coffee or tea. Or a glassful of milk. Or, if you’re a bit adventurous, you can get in bowl of hot soup.
The short of it: Drink up something warm, it would start and intensify the peristalsis movements of your guts and help things moving in the right direction.
This is the toughest on on this list. But this is for those aces that are forever juggling their minutes throughout the day, and find no time to meditate. If you observe closely, being seated ‘defenseless’ is half-way down the path to meditation. Just imagine how easy it is going to be from that half distance!
There are a few types of meditation that you can practice here:
- Heartbeat meditation — Focus on your heartbeats, listening to them intently, while imagining the blood flowing out from your heart to various organs of your body. Try to listen to the blood rushing through your arteries.
- Visualization meditation — Imagine yourself in a calm, serene place. A grassy meadow, a placid beach, or a peaceful forest. Perhaps you can also imagine yourself seated on top of Eiffel tower, with a few shades of cloud floating by. You can use a recorded voice guiding you into this visualizing exercise; just make sure it’s not asking you to lie down.
- Mindfulness meditation — the most popular form of meditation today. It involves being aware of the train of thoughts that are passing through your mind, in a manner of passive observation, without getting entangled in them or starting to judge them. In essence, in mindfulness you practice detachment — letting go!
9. THANK THE UNIVERSE
Feel thankful and grateful for everything that is good with you, around you, and about you. Do not pray — a prayer is a petition, an askance. Do not feel indebtedness — which is an obligation to pay back. Just feel appreciative of all that you have, within you and with you. Just feel grateful.
A large number of research studies in psychology has proven that people who are grateful lead happier, more fulfilled lives. They also have higher levels of self-acceptance. They are more socializing in nature. They think less negatively, and less likely to blame themselves or others. They cope with adversities and life-challenges better.
In general, grateful people are less stressed, less depressed, more generous, and more likely to help others. Gratitude makes one sleep better. Such people are more satisfied with their lives and their relationships.
Jeff Dixon reminds us, “Sometimes we focus so much on what we don’t have that we fail to see, appreciate, and use what we do have!” And Yuval Levin says, “Gratitude magnifies the sweet parts of life and diminishes the painful ones.”
10. JUST SIT THERE
Don’t do anything. Just don’t do any damn thing. Simply sit there, relax, and let nature take its course.
Once you get up in the morning, till the time you go to sleep, you are always into some act. Did it occur to you that you can spend these few minutes in absolute inaction?
In doing nothing, you assert that you’re no slave to the bondage of modern life. You proclaim that you were born free!
. . .
Originally posted at Maptia on 18 January, 2015. Written by the same author, Sandip Roy.