Featured Articles

A Mindful Poop

At the Interdependence Project, we support all types of mindfulness—mindfulness of mind, mindfulness of breath, mindfulness of emotions, mindfulness of eating tacos, and, yes, mindfulness of poop.

Pooping is an age-old art that almost all humans partake in. Though some may deny it, chances are if they are alive, they have pooped.

The Buddha encouraged us to pay attention to our poop:

…just as if a sack with openings at both ends were full of various kinds of grain — a monk reflects, 'In this body there are…FECES (emphasis mine), bile, phlegm, pus, blood...'

(From Satipatthana Sutta: Frames of Reference, Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)

Some people might say that poop is not something to be discussed in public. Seng-ts’an, the Third Chinese Zen Patriarch would disagree:

If you wish to know the truth,
then hold to no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.

(from Hsin-hsin Ming: Verses of the Faith Mind, Translated by Richard B. Clarke)

So, we can be open and mindful of our poop. It doesn’t matter what kind of poop it is — runny, yellow, furry, slow, boring, ugly, painful, beautiful — we can be mindful of it.

Sadly, in this day and age, we have become dangerously unmindful of our poop. We have brought our cell phones into the bathroom, and we play games and text our kids while we are pooping.

This isn’t really new. I’ve seen copies of Reader’s Digest near toilets as long as I can remember pooping. I’ve seen opened mail in a bathroom. A few times, a television. Have you ever looked at pictures of your family while pooping? I have. How would my brother like to know that I was laughing about the time he lost his swimming trunks in the river when I should have been noticing the opening of my rectum ampulla?

When we are not mindful of our poop, we lose our sense of connection between our mind and our body. We lose a sense of what needing to poop feels like, and we think we have to poop all the time. Or we get so into the New York Times that we don’t notice our body saying, “Get up and go back to that meeting already!”

So, let’s get back into a Right state of Poop. Here are some simple steps toward a mindful poop.

  1. Take your seat. Before pooping, we generally have to remove our pants and underwear so that the poop has a clear pathway to the toilet. Find a comfortable posture. Some people like to hunch forward, that’s fine. Others don’t like to sit, but instead prefer to squat. If you do so, make sure you are balanced so you don’t fall. There is a Burmese style of pooping that is comfortable, but requires some getting used to. Whatever posture you choose, make sure your body is energetic, but filled with ease.
  2. Check in with yourself. What is your state of mind? Are you filled with fear? Filled with hope? Is your mind open? Closed? How does your body feel? Tense? Sore? Loose? Ready to poop?
  3. Bring awareness to your pooping mechanism. Feel the pooping in your body, not your idea of pooping, but the felt sense of pooping. As the poop goes out and even when it comes back in, notice that.
  4. If you find yourself thinking of Branson, Missouri, or fantasizing about Jimmy Fallon, or wondering where that taste in your mouth came from, gently bring your awareness back to the area of pooping.

When you are done pooping, please take a moment to clean. You can dedicate the merit of your cleaning to the free pooping of all beings everywhere.

Many people feel joy after pooping. If you feel as if your poop was incomplete, you might want to try pooping again — that’s ok too. Whatever you feel, notice that.

To close, I will leave you with the words of a full-time working, married, 2-children having, bills-up-the-yingyang-owing, tired mofo, blogger named lostmindfoundsoul:

puzzling. inexplicable. sad. unfortunate but the last five years of my life have revolved around poop, poopoo, caca, poo, #2, ddong (korean poop).  you really don’t realize until you have children how pervasive this disgusting digestive waste is in every fabric of your life.

(From Poop Makes the World Go Round)

Don’t be surprised by the pervasiveness of poop. The next time you poop, be mindful of it.

Image from Wikimedia Commons. For further information about poop, click here.

Dedicated to my brother, a man who never tires of speaking about poo.

Vote for this article to appear in the Recommended list.

Comments

poop

Oh this is great Robert!

this stirred a memory of a talk that Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi gave called

ZAZEN IS LIKE GOING TO THE RESTROOM.

it can be found in "Not Always So" and here for your listening pleasure!

http://suzukiroshi.sfzc.org/dharma-talks/?p=1196#more-1196

thanks so for your personal perspective :)
Joren

blessing

This reminds me of the traditional Hebrew blessing for such things. Here's a modern translation and adaptation of it. The blessing is called Asher Yatzar ("the one who forms")I find it quite beautiful:

By Elliot Rose Kukla | Prayer

ברוך את יי אלוהינו מלך העולם אשר יצרה את האדם בחכמה

Barukh At Adonay Eloheynu Melekh ha’olam asher yatzrah et ha'adam b'khokhma

Blessed are You, Eternal One our God, Ruler of the universe, who has formed the human being with wisdom.

You created in the human body openings upon openings and cavities upon cavities. It is clear and well known that if just one of these unique valves within the complexity of each body was blocked or ruptured, it would be impossible to survive. May the day come when it is also obvious and evident that if just one unique body within the complexity of Your world is blocked or ruptured, if just one of us is not allowed to make our distinctive beauty manifest in the world, then it is impossible for all of Your creation to thrive and rise each day joyfully before You.

Blessed are You, Source of all life and form, who implanted within us the ability to shape and reshape ourselves – molding, changing, transitioning and adorning our bodies – so that the fullness of our many genders, the abundance of our desires and the diversity of our souls can be revealed.

Blessed are You, Eternal One, who has made me Your partner in daily completing the task of my own formation.

(Note: The author made an intentional choice to mix the gender of the subject and verb in the Hebrew of this blessing.)

Site developed by the IDP and Genalo Designs.