The “art of bathing” is more than simply getting clean in the tub. For many of us, an evening bath is a way to wash away the troubles of the day. With the right intention, the bath presents an opportunity for physical, spiritual and mental renewal. The earliest written information on therapeutic bathing is recorded in the Indian Vedas, 1500 B.C.
In numerous ancient cultures, public baths were once the social centers of society. In the western world the Greeks and Romans are most well known for their palatial bathhouses.
According to Hippocrates, “The way to good health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day.” Hippocrates is said to have learned about the aromatic bath from Egyptian sources and later taught hydropathy (hydrotherapy) as a key component in healing.
In these ancient societies, herbs, ointments and aromatic oils were used extensively in bathing practices for their soothing fragrances and healing capabilities. In Constantinople bath pavilions were attached to hospitals, acknowledging that beauty and health were inseparable.
We are witnessing a resurgence of this therapeutic approach with the popularity of upscale medical spas. Today, these spas offer luxurious recovery destinations following illness or surgery and provide a wide array of complementary and palliative care options.
After the Renaissance and Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church forbade bathing as a physical indulgence, making the European bathhouse nearly extinct. Some considered bathing a health hazard and still others thought it indecent. For many decades it was not unusual for some cultures to bathe rarely and even then, fully clothed.
Ritual Bathing has been acknowledged by many cultures from ancient times to the present. Whether in a public bath in ancient Rome, a pristine mountain stream or wilderness hot springs – to “take the waters” was considered a special sacrament.
Considered by many to be a psychic medium, water is the most receptive of all the elements and is acknowledged as life giving, purifying and renewing. Our bodies are about 70 percent water and the earth is covered mostly with water. Japanese researcher, Dr. Masaru Emoto has illustrated the ability of water to record vibrational and energetic information and contends that water has memory and carries with it our thoughts and prayers.
Water is the source of all life, a tool of baptism and a medium for physical and spiritual renewal. Even the sound of water lapping upon the shore promotes wellbeing with its soothing rhythm. It offers a reflective atmosphere for one to contemplate the mysteries of life.
With very little effort and a bit of imagination you can turn your own bathroom into a sanctuary for healing the body, mind and spirit in the presence of water. Recreation with water becomes the foundation for Re-Creating your own essence.
The Ritual Bath
Most of us bathe every day with little intention other than getting clean and racing out the door to begin our daily tasks. But the Ritual Bath is a very different experience. The ritual begins with the conception of the bath and its intentional purpose. Consider your goal – whether it is to rejoice, release, revitalize, surrender, celebrate a rite of passage or physically heal, your intention has the greatest power. The bath is the perfect place for renewal, especially from distress.
Meaningful accompaniments to creating your metaphysical tsunami can include oils, herbs, candles, crystals, stones, shells, music and any other accessories that are personally important to your ritual process. Choose things that are significant for you and this special experience.
Mindy Green is a nationally recognized authority on botanicals and co-author of Aromatherapy, A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, 2009 Facebook Mindy
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