How To Gain Enlightenment While Taking A Dump

Today I felt like some good old fashioned toilet humour was in order, and so I came up with this stupendous blog post idea: How To Gain Enlightenment While Taking A Dump.

Or, to give it another title: What Makes A Good Toilet Book For Moments Of Profound Pooing. #toiletbooks #profoundpooing (I’m hoping to start a trend.)

Before I get onto it (ha), there is a serious point I’d like to make first. One about designing your environment to help cultivate better habits. In this case, putting a book to read next to your toilet instead of mindlessly scrolling on your phone (because I know you do) when you go for a number two.

James Clear talks about the power of designing your environment to help promote and stick to better habits (or break bad ones) at length in his brilliant book Atomic Habits.

He notes,

Environment design is powerful not only because it influences how we engage with the world but also because we rarely do it. Most people live in a world others have created for them. But you can alter the spaces where you live and work to increase your exposure to positive cues and reduce your exposure to negative ones.”

Some Examples Of Environment Design Include:

Placing a glass of water by your bed to drink first thing in the morning.

Leaving your phone in a different room when you go to sleep so its neither the last thing you look at before sleeping, nor the first thing you look upon waking (FYI there’s this great invention I heard of called an alarm clock).

Placing a fruit bowl on your living room table to encourage better eating habits. Similarly placing bottles of water around your house to keep you hydrated.

– And, if you want to promote better reading habits while also reducing harmful mindless smartphone scrolling, placing a book by the side of your toilet for when you sit down to do a poo.

So What Makes A Good Toilet Book?

When picking a good toilet book to read I think the topic of the book is less important than the type.

Novels tend not to work well because they are designed to be read over a matter of hours. Unless you had Indian for dinner the night before, I don’t think any heavy duty book which requires a great deal of reading at any one time is best.

Instead I suggest books designed to be read in short occasional bursts.

Generally you want lightweight books, although, if you have the space in your bathroom, larger coffee table style books could work too.

It can be fictional or humorous, depending on what your preference is, but for me, I find that spiritual books help to keep my grounded, while I’m giving back to the earth…

What Are The Benefits?

The great thing about toilet books, especially spiritual ones with many thought provoking quotes, is you can really sit on them. Read a quote, put the book down and then ponder the meaning of life.

You’ll also be surprised by how much reading you can get done as the weeks and months pass by. I only started this habit recently but have already finished several books.

An added bonus is that it serves as a great reminder to leave your phone outside the bathroom so you’re not making the very unhygienic and unhealthy habit of scrolling and wiping. (Hygiene being very important these days of course. #coronavirus)

While it might see like obvious etiquette to put the book (or your phone down) before wiping – should one accidentally mistake the order of things, something which, incidentally, is much more likely to happen when scrolling on your phone, at the very least the toilet book stays in the toilet. Should you make such a mistake – unlike your phone – it’s not coming out of the bathroom with you.

Do You Have Any Recommendations?

There are loads to choose from so I’ll just suggest one that resonated deeply. A beautifully illustrated book called, “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy.

It’s not only deeply moving and thought provoking, it’s a beautiful piece of art in its own right. I could pick any quote from the book and it would be worth sharing, but I’ll leave you with just one that hit home for me on a personal level (and just in case you happen to be on the toilet right now).

“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy…

“Help”, said the horse.


(Thanks for reading everyone! I’m curious if anyone else indulges in this peculiar habit of mine? If so do you have any good toilet book suggestions? Or any other good ideas for environement design around the house? I’d love to hear from you below.)

The Loving Nature Of Fear

Fear is part of what all of us should be feeling at the moment. It’s a good thing too! If fear didn’t play its part we’d have become extinct a long time ago. Self preservation is paramount to keeping all of us safe. However if this is the only reason, if all you’re thinking about is the I, it’ll wear you thin quickly. Fear on this level isn’t designed to keep you running for months or years at a time. It certainly won’t be what sustains you during this pandemic.

It can’t. 

To find motivation for long term action, for maintaining integrity, for anything, you have to consider love. Why are you doing it? For the elderly and the sick, the most vulnerable in society, your loved ones and your friends, your grandparents and your parents, your brother and your sisters, your children and your grandchildren…  Why are you doing it? 

Is it because of love or fear? 

I want to stress that listening to and acknowledging your fear is important. It’s telling us something. ie there’s a snake over there – I better walk the other way. Or, there’s a deadly and highly infectious disease outside, maybe I should stay indoors or wear a mask…

However our fears are often based on clinging and attachment – a fear of losing something – whether that’s something you have, control of a situation, other people’s behaviour, how society and governments should function, etc. 

Fear is telling us something about reality we wish were different. It’s telling us to act and to make it so! What’s often lost on people is what exactly needs to change. I can tell you, far more often than not, it isn’t reality that needs to change. Reality is perfectly fine as it is, because it can’t be any other way. It’s your expectations of reality. 

If you’re feeling angry that’s coming from you. It’s your emotion to deal with and take responsibility for. The same applies to anxiety and depression. Emotions I know well. They are my responsibility to deal with. Whether that means I need to take time to meditate or seek therapy – I need to work out the why. I need to understand before I can change – before I can accept what I cannot change. 

Ultimately fear is asking for us to change something or accept something. With regards to situations we have little or no control over, acceptance is key. You will never find peace in the moment, if you don’t accept it as it is. If it happens to be a situation like the coronavirus pandemic, as much as we might wish it to be different, if we cannot act, if we cannot change it, we must learn to accept it. That means to accept your fear of the situation. This isn’t easy of course. But I do believe, by acknowledging your fear, understanding it as a shared feeling that millions of others are also experiencing, you are actually coming from a place of love and compassion. It is this, that will lead to acceptance.

Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance, said it beautifully: “When we understand our pain as an intrinsic gateway to compassion, we begin to awaken from the imprisoning story of a suffering self. In the moments when we tenderly hold our anger, for instance, we cut through our identity as an angry self. The anger no longer feels like a personal flaw or an oppressive burden. We begin to see its universal nature—it’s not our anger, it is not our pain. Everyone lives with anger, with fear, with grief.”

She goes on, “Understanding that the pain in our life is an expression of universal suffering opens us to the fullness of Radical Acceptance. Rather than being a problem, our depression, fear and anger are “entrusted to us,” and can be dedicated to our awakening. When we carry our pain with the kindness of acceptance instead of the bitterness of resistance, our hearts become an edgeless sea of compassion.

Even in the grip of fear, pain or depression, we can act from love. In fact it’s possible fear can stir in us far greater compassion and love, than we otherwise knew we had.

Here’s a definition of courage for you:

Courage is acting from a place of love, doing what you know to be right, not in the absence of fear, but in spite of it. 

Let me ask you a question.

If you see a child, let’s say it’s your child, step out onto the road into oncoming traffic and you take the courageous decision to run out to save his or her life. Was that decision to save your child’s life based on love or fear? Have a long think about it. Most will answer without thinking. Love. But was it? Consider the crucial part fear had to play in this scenario. Fear of losing something you love. Fear of your child getting badly hurt or worse. I believe it was fear that sprung you into action. Don’t forget that fear can come from a place of love too. Fear when really acknowledged and listened to, it can be a powerful gateway to compassion. When you understand the love behind your fear, you will know how you should act. 

Back to the present – our only true reality – and the situation of the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re feeling fearful for yourself or your loved ones, if acting out of fear, fear that seems too much to bear, sit with it and be kind. Don’t resist it – you’ll only give it strength. Instead, remind yourself of the love behind that fear. Remember the loving reasons behind what you’re doing. Remember what we all are. It’s such a beautiful thing. It really is. To be part of something bigger than ourselves. Ultimately it’s the love that will sustain you. It’s the love that will sustain us all.