The physical world is a place of tension and stress. Often, this stress finds itself compounding in our minds and bodies. It is trapped in us—bound up, if you will. Perhaps the most direct way to relieve yourself of this weight is to, well, relieve yourself. The key to this cleansing process is to practice proper bathroom Zen. A wise man once said that when a single poo hits toilet water, it forms ripples that extend throughout time and space. To attain clarity of the mind, you must first find clarity of the bowels. With the right poo, you may free yourself from this mortal stress and be at one with nature. Throughout, you will learn how to reach Poop Nirvana (not to be confused with The Foo Fighters), the ultimate form of bowel movement enlightenment. With some guidance, you will be a total Zen master, like Van Damme in Bloodsport when he does that sweet split and doesn't even flinch because he's a bad motherfucker. Your mind is constipated. Let the truths of Siddhartha Gautama be your ex-lax.

Before you begin your journey to enlightenment, you must find the right setting for your meditation. The bathroom is your temple. It is a place of divine peace and tranquility. Many students of the Zen philosophy rework the layout of their bathroom to establish an acceptable degree of feng shui. Try installing a Zen rock garden or a tranquility pool to balance the spiritual tendencies of the room.

Ideally, you will use your own personal bathroom in your home. However, if you are in a foreign environment, like the city or your place of work, you will have to improvise. Sometimes, it is necessary to make a pilgrimage to a distant part of the building to find a bathroom that is private and quiet enough for the process to work to its full effect. For example, if you are at your in-laws, journey away from the gathering in the living room and find the bathroom in the master bedroom for your transcendent dump.

If you are using a public bathroom, make sure you set up in a handicap stall. These stalls have ample amounts of room and handrails to hold onto during intense meditation. Sure, you’ll probably piss off the guy in the wheelchair that you work with, but he's kind of a dick and he already has the best parking spot, so fuck him.

Before entering the bathroom, strip yourself of all worldly material possessions. Bring with you only your soul, and your cellphone. You will use this phone to play games or read articles from various blogs and websites such as this one. You can even tweet about your experience, saying something along the lines of: "Achieving Poop Nirvana, y'all #PoopThereItIs #TagTeam #ThrowbackThursday." Activities like this help loosen your conscience and thus prepare it for mediation.

At this point, you will want to follow what is referred to as The Noble Eightfold Path of Pinching a Loaf. The 8 elements of this path are to be understood as follows:

1. Right View

Remove the evils from your surroundings. Steer clear of evil like motion sensor toilet flushers. Often, they will go off prematurely, constricting both the iris of your mind and the iris of your butthole.

2. Right Intention

Learn to focus your motivation. Do not lay cable out of resentment or anger. Upper-deckers are simply projections of hatred toward one's self. Rather, be at peace and understand your excretion. Fully realize your poop before you make it happen.

3. Right Action

Never perform this act with the thought of harming those around you. If you must use a public restroom, make sure there are no others in the surrounding area before you do the deed. Try lighting a candle or incense before you start, or, at the very least, bring a matchbook.

4. Right Speech

Make a concerted effort to refrain from yelling or cursing during the process of your bowel movement. Your natural inclination might be to yell something like, "Hot! Hot! Hot!" but you must remain steadfast in your resolve.

5. Right Livelihood

Before engaging in the act, make sure your life is on a trajectory that is fulfilling. If it is not, you may bring negative emotion and karma into the sanctified bathroom.

6. Right Effort

Make sure your self-control does not translate into laziness. You must bring heart and determination into the bathroom to aid you in your quest toward harmony.

7. Right Mindfulness

Do not let poops of days past run through your conscience. Rather, focus your attention on your present poop and strip your mind of the pain of bygone logs.

8. Right Concentration

Finally, you have reached the point where you can begin true meditation. Focus on one constant item in the area, like the bathroom fan or the flow of water through pipes or some dude doing blow by the bathroom sink. Let the sensory details of this item penetrate the membrane of your conscience. Eventually, you will release these senses from your mind's eye and allow them to roll over you like ocean waves. When your conscience is finally free of stimuli and emotion, you will have achieved poop nirvana.

Remember, if you feel as if you are having a hard time taking a poop, take solace in knowing that this is but a worldly pain and the poop does not really exist. The poop is simply a construct of your mind. Your job is to purge this construct from your consciousness, so that the asshole of your spirit can be free.

Another school of thought attests to the idea of poo reincarnation. Perhaps one day your dump will be reincarnated as a bonsai tree or a beautiful butterfly. It's all part of the mystery of bathroom Zen.

Matt Rimer is a writer living in Boston. Follow him on Twitter here.