It is an activity that allows us to disconnect from the outside world, and can serve to meditate and relax, as well as open new ideas and perspectives.
Have you ever been in the shower and a brilliant idea occurred to you? Maybe you didn't shout ‘Eureka', but you were surprised that in such a place you came to such an accurate conclusion about a problem. When the mind is focused on a problem it consumes much of its allotted bandwidth, whereas letting it wander while performing a monotonous or ‘mindless' task allows subconscious thoughts to wander beyond the activity at hand.
Automatic and routine activities can range from walking to driving on a habitual route, following an exercise routine, walking in nature or (you were expecting it), taking a shower. These are solitary activities, which allow us to disconnect from the outside world, and can serve to meditate and relax, as well as open up new ideas and perspectives.
Another likely additional benefit of the shower and the reason it is so good for thinking is that its white noise blocks outside stimulation.
As reported by ‘Psychology Today' another likely additional benefit of the shower and the reason it is so good for thinking is that its white noise blocks outside stimulation. It produces something like ‘partial sensory deprivation', and diverts to the mental space that the mind uses for wandering. Ideas incubating in the background can emerge into consciousness and lead you past a creative dead end.
In addition, the lack of external stimulation can lead to the state of “flow,” in which we are deeply, albeit distractedly, engaged in internal contemplations. On the one hand, shower thoughts are subconscious perceptions, and the result of deliberately thinking about nothing. When mixed, they give a relative calmness and quickness of mind with which one can unintentionally come to solve certain problems.
Each of us has two personalities that we adopt in our private walks, one “for the senses, the other for the intellect.”
Walking is another somewhat unconscious or mindless activity that connects us to the present moment. If you move in flâneur mode, imitating other greats like Virginia Woolf, Nietzsche or Henry David Thoreau, you will also carry a wandering mentality that follows the play of your feet. That leads to chaining associations. Rosenblatt develops the beautiful concept that each of us has two personalities that we adopt in our private wanderings, one “for the senses, one for the intellect.” The two never meet, but live connected “parallel lives…and side by side they move forward into infinity.”
Showers and walks can be meditative experiences and opportunities for introspection and reflection. They are also times when great ideas can pop into our heads.