Do you remember when you were a child and your mother bathed you in the tub? She lovingly washed your skin with a soapy washcloth and made sure to clean behind your ears and the other hard-to-reach places. The washcloth felt good as it took off dirt and old skin and your feet and hands wrinkled up from being in the tub so long the water went cold.
If taking a bath is such a very soothing experience, why then has it disappeared?
When was the last time you took a bath? How long did you linger in the water? Did you notice that each time you moved, the water made lapping noises and soothed your frayed nerves.
The sensory experience of a bath is one made all the nicer when there is no rush. In the sanctuary of the tub, water laps, washcloths scrub, and aromas invite. In the tub there is temperature and texture and buoyancy and lifted spirits.
Just south of Seattle, there is a Korean bath house for women. My friends and I have gone there and enjoyed the soaking pools and the heated rooms with canvas-covered sand floors. We’d lie in the dry heat until we were sweating and we soak in the pools until our skin wrinkled, just as we did as a child. Then, we’d lie on a table and a Korean woman scrubbed our skin until we think it would all fall off. It didn’t, but the dead skin did and when we were done, our skin felt baby-soft and baby-smooth.
There are women who use the spa daily and go through a ritual soaking and doing their own scrubbing. This is their bath house, just like they had at home in Korea. No one cares about appearance and no one worries about shape and size. The experience is about the water and the healing and the clean spirit that one carries home.
I am not close enough to that bath house any more that I can go there daily, let alone weekly. But, the idea of soothing in a bath came back in my mind the other day when a friend gave me some lavender bath salts from a lavender farm. I’m re-inspired to run a warm bath and settle in to let the water restore my nerves and thoughts until I am once again still.
A water bath is only one kind of a bath, however. There is also a sun bath, when even if the weather is not warm enough for a bathing suit you can get benefit from 5 minutes of taking in the sun. I met a woman recently who likes to moon bathe. For her, that means taking off her clothes and letting the moonlight touch her body. I haven’t tried moon bathing, not having a place that feels comfortable to do so, but it’s an intriguing thought.
The gist of any type of bathing is that the elements can come into contact with your skin and your experience can change. Nature is not limited to the dog that follows you around or the birds that love your flower garden. It is in the sunlight, moonlight, and buoyancy of water that touches our every moment.
If you can’t sneak in 5 minutes in the sun or strip down to moon bathe, there is also great merit in locking oneself in the bathroom for a time out. Why save closing the door and locking it only for those times when you need to relieve yourself? No, locking the door is the escape you need for those 30-seconds of deep breathing so you can pull things together. And, if you train your family to leave you undisturbed, the tub is right there and only takes a few moments to fill.
If you’re worried that bathing is not environmentally friendly, consider that a long shower takes as much water as a bath so it’s definitely more earth-friendly to bathe than run the water for-eeeever.
My vote is to bring back bathing and let the water do the healing.