Who doesn’t feel energized, happy and calm near a still lake, a magnificent waterfall, the ocean’s crashing waves or a retreat to the bath? Since ancient times, bathing has been seen as a ritual synonymous with purifying and calming. We deeply honor ourselves when we “take the waters” with scented oils from botanicals and herbs. We intertwine with nature. In our holy, enchanting sanctuary of aroma and water, we can breathe, rejoice and feel the wholeness of life.
Whether taking a shower, bath or enjoying a whirlpool (truly a non-prescription muscle relaxer), bathing is liquid tranquility. Water relaxes tight muscles, rejuvenates sore joints and stimulates the release of endorphins, all while lulling you into a better physical, mental and emotional state. Cultures and spas around the world know it—from the Japanese onsen or bath soak, to the sulphur springs in the mountains of Taiwan; from the clayladen hot springs in the Ecuadorian Andes to Europe’s venerable spas, with freshwater mineral baths or coastal locations offering heated seawater ones. In the Middle East and North Africa, there is the wonderful Turkish bath. Russia enjoys soaks, steams and mud baths. And Scandinavia has the sauna—one of life’s simple luxuries.
These influences are now all available stateside. Personally, I’ve enjoyed everything from hot mineral springs and waterfalls in our national parks, to the chakra hydro-massage to chromatherapy (color therapy in a water jet tub), to the tented steam bath of the Himalayan Rejuvenation Treatment at the Chopra Center for Well-Being, accompanied by Shirodara (warm herbal oil dropped continuously onto the third eye area). There’s also Santa Fe’s Ten Thousand Waves hot spring onsen experience. I’m fortunate to be near the renowned Kohler Waters Spa in the Chicago area. With additional locations in Kohler, Wisconsin and St. Andrews, Scotland, Kohlers’ is all about water. The Water Experiential Area offers a waterfall, whirlpool, several different types of showers, and more—heavenly!
The bath (along with the shower) helps to nurture, balance and release energy. Metaphorically, bathing washes away the pressures of daily life, while rejuvenating our well-being. A cleansing ritual is a deeply meditative experience of purification and renewal. Awaken and/or calm the senses in the bath with aromatherapy, music, a lit candle and, dare I say, a glass of organic pinot noir and chocolate truffle, along with a good novel! It may involve closing your eyes and moving into a deep inner silence. For others, an energizing shower with alternating hot and cold water will stimulate blood circulation and tone the skin.