To anyone who, in a fit of boredom, has gotten to the last tab of my skincare spreadsheet, you may have seen an idea for a future blog post called “skincare and PTSD”.
That future post will be about why I find skincare to be such a powerful tool for mental health. This post is specifically focused on one aspect of that – the meditation potential provided by those li’l packets of luxury we call sheet masks.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, like many other manifestations of anxiety and/or depression, shoves your face against the window of your memories and anxieties, coaxing you to dwell on the past or worry about the future. Meditation helps focus you on the present moment, especially through sensory awareness (touch, smell, sight, sound) and a focus on the body. If you let the present moment saturate your mind, there’s less room in there for depression about the past or anxiety about the future.
So every time I put on a sheet mask – already a very physical, soothing, calming experience – I make a point to meditate. Sometimes it’s just a couple minute check-in, sometimes it’s a half hour of awareness practice. Whatever I feel up to.
Here are some of my favorite meditations to accompany sheet masking. I encourage you to try one out.
Tending Your Inner Garden
Close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breaths. Now, imagine you’re in a garden. What kind of garden is it – flower, desert, forest, water? Where is it? How big, and what shape? Imagine yourself walking through your garden. What animals are there – a family of rabbits, or an owl watching over everything, or your dog sleeping in a patch of sunlight?
Look at your garden. What plants are there? Are there any trees, rocks, fountains? If there are any weeds or plants you don’t want there, you can wave your hand and they’ll disappear instantly.
What do you smell? Can you smell the wet soil, the fragrant flowers, the herbs and blossoms? What sounds do you hear? Trickling water, leaves rustling in the breeze, your owl hooting softly? Sit down in your garden. Take a few more deep breaths. Stay as long as you want.
Ball In Orbit
This is a much simpler one, and it’s great if your mind is going a mile a minute or you have trouble focusing on a longer meditation like the garden one.
Close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breaths. Picture a ball, about the size of a ping pong ball, hovering just above the top of your head. Slowly, it starts to orbit around your head, gradually working its way down and around your body.
Follow it in your mind as it circles gently around your head, then your shoulders, then your torso, then your hips, then your legs, then your feet. It pauses below your toes, then begins its slow circles back up your body.
Full Body Check-In
You’re giving your face some love with the sheet mask; let’s spread that love to your whole body.
Close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breaths. Focus your energy on your feet. How do they feel? Are they relaxed or tense? Hot or cold? No judgments, just notice the sensations.
After a few moments, move up to your ankles. How do they feel? Any sensations you can discern?
Keep moving up your body and check in with everything, part by part. If you notice any area that feels tense or sore, focus on sending it some love and warmth. Wrap it in a mind-hug, then gently move on to the next part of your body.
When you get to your face, imagine your sheet mask permeating your chin, cheeks, nose, forehead with affection and support. It’s a sheet mask made of pure love.