The bath. With the relatively recent addition of indoor plumbing, baths have become something so common that we take them completely for granted. Our lives are so rushed and bustled that, when we do find time for it, the important healing and restorative aspects of bathing are completely lost to us. Important body cleansing has been demoted to a hurried slopping of soap and water across our bodies on a busy morning. With the holidays fast approaching, now is as good a time as any to reexamine the simple pleasures of bathing.
The ancient world built much of its social structure and religious rituals around bathing. The Greeks and Romans erected fanatically elaborate bathhouses which became meccas for human interrelations. Men conducted business at the bathhouse, while women socialized. The Japanese built unisex baths, but the intermingling of men and women was eventually prohibited as it created a more consequential kind of human “interrelations”. The Russians only bathed at certain hours to avoid the bannik or goblin believed to haunt every local bathhouse. In fact, a Russian who didn’t frequent the banya at least three times a week was not considered a true Russian.
For these ancient cultures, bathing was associated with soul purification. In Christian cultures, the holiday associated with bathing became known as Epiphany. Initially associated with the Magi’s realization of Christ’s divinity, the use of the word Epiphany is telling. Bathing in this sense of the word is a stripping away of the non-essential so the mind can be cleansed to accept revelation – and not just in the religious sense. Think how you feel after a hot bath. You’re relaxed, rejuvenated. Your mind feels open, at peace and clear of the demons from the day.
So obviously, the benefits of bathing are not limited to cleanliness or ritual – there is a real physiological purification that happens during bathing that is highly restorative and reinvigorating. Baths are especially good for your skin. A hot bath “opens up” your skin’s pores – or more precisely – it loosens the sebum (oil secreted by skin) and dead cells clogging up the skin’s pores and makes the removal of pollutants easier. Adding natural sea salts or green algea powder to your bathwater makes this process of restoration even more effective. The natural minerals in seaweed and sea salt treatments penetrate the dermis and help restore vitality and beauty to you skin.
So if you want to go totally “old school”, take some time to go back in time and experience what humans have been enjoying for thousands of years: a soothing, healing, private bath. Enjoy!