April 8, 2012

The Beauty of a Bath

Doing nothing has always felt like sheer laziness to me.  And though I definitely enjoy doing nothing on occasion, I usually feel a little guilty about it.  Even if I have no plans, a scant to-do list, nothing to clean or cook, I usually try to find something to do.  But lately, I've had an ephipany -- that sometimes "doing nothing" allows you to replenish dwindling energy stores so that you can do the things you need to do, with care, focus, and enjoyment, even. 

Enter The Bath.  For as long as I don't know when -- months at least, I did not have a single planned nighttime commitment this week.  During one of the nights I ran a couple errands (for the record, they were legitimate ones) but during the other nights I just came home after work, made myself a light dinner, and relaxed by either doing yoga, toning, reading, or TAKING A BATH.
The Bath happened on Wednesday night.  I had it on my list; I declared it to my husband.  In other words, it was written in stone.  There was no escaping it, no last-minute excuses.  I came home from work, sifted through the mail, made myself a simple dinner of steamed vegetables and eggwhites (yes, I enjoy boring dinners like this most nights of the week), and prepared my bath. 

Do bathe as Jo Ann Kemmerling does, but lose the book.

There are a few steps that I've found to be most important when taking a grown-up bath by yourself:
  1. Use epsom salts (at least a cupful, but ideally two).  They are the dream product for easing tension and loosening tight muscles.  If you're any kind of normal person with a job and life stressors, you're going to need this.  It's one of those things that makes taking a bath feel a little bit like a necessity, a trick that works for people who need to do something that has a benefit.
  2. Do not allow yourself to listen to music.  This surprised me for I usually have music playing all the time -- when I workout, in my office, in the car, when I'm cooking or doing chores, etc.  Taking a bath forces your world to slow down and come to a hault, which is an incredibly beautiful experience; listening to your mind come to a hault is important, and music might dampen that from happening.
  3. Do not exfoliate, shave, or wash during your bath. That's what showers are for, child!  Plus, who wants to be soaking around in your filth anyhow.  If you're dirty and need to get clean, shower first and bathe second. 
  4. Do not read, write, or do anything other than float around and just be.  I don't know why, but every single time I take a bath (which is literally three times in the last six months -- that's a lot considering prior to that I had taken maybe 2 baths in a decade), with all good intentions I bring a book in with me.  I NEVER READ IT.  Beside the point that it's completely impractical with your hands drenched and pruny, all I wind up wanting to do is nothing, floating around, giddy to be in the moment, enjoying my body being completely submerged in 87+-degree water. 
A bath need not take hours or even an hour.  To get maximum relaxation benefit, I say you only need a half hour.  That's all it takes.  And if you're a non-bather, I will say -- THERE IS NOTHING MORE RELAXING THAN TAKING A BATH.  It is one of, if not, the most, underrated rituals in my world, and I assume yours as well.  Another bonus?  The benefits do not end when you step outside the bath, dripping wet and steaming hot.  You'll feel warm and languid, relaxed like you've had a couple drinks, and happy-happy.  Anything annoying that happened during the day will no longer matter and will not be a consideration in your current state.  You'll be in the present -- aware, but at complete ease with yourself and your world. 

Trust me -- I was a skeptic too, but now I'm a convert.  It might save your sanity, if your sanity needs to be saved.  And even if it doesn't, it will still work wonders.  Do yourself a favor, and add a bath to your weekly to-do list.

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