February 6, 2008


A hot bath accompanied by lots of candles, deliciously-scented unguents, a glass of wine and music to fit my mood...is a pleasure in which I often indulge. It is private time - except, perhaps, for the cat or two sitting on the edge of the tub and squinting at me - when my thoughts can trickle and splash with the water, flowing wherever my mind wants to go. I can't help but breathe deeply as I sink into the embrace of the water. There are those who don't care for baths (often men, I find - what's up with that?), but most people love a good soak.

Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.
Saint Thomas Aquinas

The sumptuous way of bathing was invented by the Egyptians. It is an art that can be invigorating, restorative, sensuous or calming, depending on ones mood. The Egyptians were known for their scented oils and perfumes and would often follow a bath with a massage using these oils to soothe and calm the nerves. Cleopatra was probably the ultimate woman of decadence in the arena of self-indulgence. God, I'd have loved to be her! :-]

The Romans were famous for their baths, and they brought them into Gaul and Britain. While Roman manors often had their own smaller, private bath-houses, the Roman public generally frequented relatively inexpensive public baths. By the peak of their popularity, they included hot and cold rooms, and medium-temperature lounging rooms with a variety of extra services such as food, wine, exercise and/or personal training being offered. I've been lucky to see the Roman baths at Bath, England and drink the waters there(sulphurous, salty, icky) as well as spend a delightful day of pampering at the Roman era baths at Baden-Baden, Germany. At different points in the history of Rome, baths were gender segregated by place or time, while at other times the bathing was mixed. Unfortunately, my hubby and I booked our bath day in Baden-Baden on a segregated day! Poo.

Aromatherapy works on the principle that specific scents have properties which affect the mind to produce certain effects in the body. Lavender for metabolic stimulation and emotional relaxation, Citrus for energy and vibrancy, etc. The ancient peoples knew this and used scent far more extensively than our modern society today. But, thankfully, there are many products available to turn to...especially for bath time! My favorites are eucalyptus, rosemary, lemon verbena and lilac.

I think a lot of contemplation happens in bathtubs. It does for me. Nothing like a hot bath to ease the tension and think about what's going to happen next. -Sarah McLachlan

I love this quote. I often listen to Sarah McLachlan's music when bathing. The mood just seems right and I do tend to think of "what next" while I'm submerged. My body's weight is lifted, my thoughts are somehow more free. The anticipation I feel when the bath is filling...it's palpable. One of my friends who travels to visit here always asks me, "Will you make me a bath?" She feels like here, she can let herself go, sink into the water and relax. I always make her a special bath...with homemade bath salts or oils befitting her needs. It makes me happy to give her that escape. We should all make sure we have those moments.

Happiness lies in the fulfillment of the spirit through the body. -Cyril Connolly

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