The Zen of Men’s Grooming

We’ve all heard of the Zen of “x” or the Zen of “y”, and believe it or not the Zen of men’s grooming actually does exist! As men, we are not taught at any stage of our lives about grooming. Somehow we’re just supposed to magically figure out what to do when it comes to shaving, skin care, body hair trimming, hair maintenance, etc. It’s just fantastic to think that girls at a very early age, are playing with makeup and watching (and learning) how mama cleans her skin every night. All boys are taught to do is wash their hands and brush their teeth before going to bed! When it comes to boys, maybe they see father shaving in the morning, but most likely they’re busy getting dressed and eating breakfast. Suddenly, puberty hits, the facial hair starts coming in, and the pimples start appearing. With no talk about such things from family or friends, and seeing how the media caters to teenage girls clearing their skin, what is a young man to do? Maybe, just maybe, the father will see that his son needs a shaving lesson and some help with clearing his skin. But I ask, are the fathers of the world teaching their sons how to shave, how to take care of their skin, how to look their best? I would like to say YES, but I fear that in most households that is NOT going on. Fathers of the world must start teaching their sons good grooming techniques so it’s not such a mystery. There’s more than throwing the football, playing video games etc., that can be shared between father and son.

Hopefully as an adult you’ve taken the time to find out how to take care of your grooming needs. You’ve learned how to get the perfect shave (whether it be a wet or electric shave); how to keep your skin looking great; in general, how to look your best.

Here comes the Zen part! When it comes to meditation, I like to practice and recommend Vipassana meditation. Vipassana meditation is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity (resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion). The most standard way of practicing is to simply observe the breath going in and out of your nose. Simply focus on the breath, observing the body sensations. After even just a few minutes you can feel yourself become more focused and calm. You can also practice meditation when you walk by simply observing each step you take – the foot hitting the ground, the movement of the foot in each step, etc. Doing this brings you back to the “now”, calms the mind and focuses you.

This can also be practiced while you groom yourself. Yes, believe it or not you can meditate while you’re doing your grooming routine morning or night. Here’s an example of how you can bring zen into your shaving routine. The main point of this type of meditation is to observe your body during an activity. One way to do this is to slow down your movements. Be 100% aware of your arm as it picks up the razor. If you practice doing a wet shave, observe the movement of the arm soaking the razor in the warm water. Simply follow each step of your routine paying attention to the various movements of your body. Keep your attention as much as possible to the present moment. If your mind starts wandering about what you’re doing for dinner or what meeting you have to get to, simply return your attention to the present moment. Follow the sensations of the blade as it glides across your face. Observe how your body is standing, what your hand is doing. Don’t judge anything. There’s no “right” way to do this. The key is to just observe the experience. You may even get a better shave since you’ll be more aware of what you’re doing! You can also do this when taking a shower, and even at night when your cleansing your skin. When cleansing your skin observe the sensation of the cleanser in your hand, the swirling sensation as you swirl it over your face, etc. It’s a wonderful habit to get into. The more you do it, the more focused and calmer you will be. The point of most meditation is to bring you to the present moment, keep you in the “now”. This is a wonderful way to stay in the present and give yourself the gift of a calmer life.

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David Bartky

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