I come from two cultures that are a little obsessed with cleanliness and bathing. The Jewish people were some of the first to document the ritual bath or mikvah and I’ve met few Mexicans who don’t shower every day. I think it comes from the Native Americans who took great pride in keeping clean only to be wiped out by the mugre (filth) of Europeans.
As a kid I took a bath every night before bed without fail. I remember whining and trying to get out of it, but my mother was adamant. “But so-and-so doesn’t have to” I’d wail, “Cochinos!” (pigs) she’d exclaim scandalized and turn on the faucet. Of course once I was in I loved it and would sit in the tub until my fingers were white and wrinkled. I don’t think I even took my first shower until I was ten and even then bathing was the norm until college. I’m guessing this isn’t that common which is too bad because a hot bath really does make everything better.
When I got to college I had no choice but to shower as the dorms and apartments I lived in rarely had bath tubs and I had little time for long baths. On breaks I’d come home and soak in my parent’s 19th century claw-foot tub, but other than that it was seven-ten minute utilitarian showers. During that time I’d long to submerge my body in water and come out new. I understand why so many of the world’s culture’s have some sort of bathing ritual because not only does it cleanse your body it purifies your soul.
Recently, baths have become a regular part of my life again. When I went to the doctor she suggested soaking in two pounds (!) of Epsom Salts a night to boost magnesium and help with insomnia. Due to money and some plumbing issues I have not been able to do it everyday, but I do aim for once or twice a week. I’ve noticed that I sleep better and am so much more relaxed on those nights. I also try and focus on my breathing and quiet my mind. Last week in herbalism class we had the owner of Sacred Moon Herbs come and give a lecture on sacred bathing and went home with a bag of delicious smelling bath salts. I’d love to share my favorite simple recipe with you, but don’t fret if you can’t make it, epsom salts alone will do the trick!
Sleepy Time Lavender Bath
3 C. Epsom Salts or Dead Sea Salts
1 T. lavender buds (optional)
10-15 Drops Lavender Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils
If I am feeling sick I throw in a few drops of eucalyptus oil (it burns so use sparingly) to clear my nose. I am going to experiment with rose water soon because it has been so helpful in clearing my allergy rash. A bath is a time to indulge so experiment and find what works for you!