Ethereal Baths: The Romance of Ritual

We’ve lost touch with the art of slow living and the romance of indulging in subtle pleasures. Cultivating self-care practices that use holistic and intuitive remedies to calm the mind and soothe the body are essential to achieving vibrant health. Reclaim your bathtub – a dedicated Zen space – and soak your way back to simplicity with these 10 rituals.

  1. Clear your space. Consider decluttering your room or cleaning up your messy bathroom to put your mind at ease. The restorative effects of your soak will fade when re-emerging to find disarray.
  2. Choose 100% beeswax candles when setting the mood. As much as you might love your scented candles with their soothing perfume and beautiful design, many candles available for purchase today are made from a petroleum byproduct, paraffin, a toxic chemical known to cause damage to the lungs and nervous system. When burned, generic candles can emit unsafe levels of cancer-causing benzene and toluene pollutants into the air, mimicking the dangerous effects of second-hand smoke. Although some turn to soy candles as an assumed upgrade, standardized labeling of soy candling is unregulated and unenforced, meaning the likelihood of the company using hazardous chemicals is still high. Moreover, 100% soy candles are extracted from GMO soy seeds– commercially farmed with pesticides like hexane (a volatile gasoline byproduct) that end up in your candle. If you’re still craving the soft, warm glow of candlelight, choose 100% beeswax candles (like those from Big Dipper Wax Works). Beeswax is a renewable resource that, when burned, cleans the air by emitting negative ions that actually bind to toxins, increasing their molecular weight and lowering them to the ground – no longer airborne and breathable.
  3. Pre-bath dry-brush and shower. Because baths are about calming the mind rather than cleaning the body, consider taking a quick shower prior to your bath to avoid soaking in dirty water. Before showering, spend a few minutes brushing your skin. Dry brushing helps sweep away dead skin cells and stimulates the lymphatic system – a network of vessels just below the skin which transport toxins and unwanted materials out of the body. Brushing also leads to smoother, brighter skin and might reduce the appearance of fat deposits (cellulite). Begin with your feet, then work up towards your heart (where the lymph system drains). While redness is normal, you aren’t trying to scratch the skin, so treat yourself with care.
  4. Enhance your olfactory experience. Mix 1 cup pure Epsom salts, 2 teaspoons of jojoba or sesame oil with up to 5 drops of 100% pure and therapeutic grade essential oil. Consider soothing scents such as rose (a supporter of sensitive skin), lavender (quintessentially calm), and jasmine (exotic and uplifting). Add this concoction to your bath as it is being drawn. Never add essential oils directly to bath water – their lack of dispersion can irritate the skin.
  5. Bathe mindfully. Turn off your phone and focus on your sensory experience. Tune into your sight: noticing the ripples of water and their expansion. Listen for any sounds: perhaps the faint noise of the drain gurgling or the soft movement of bubbles expanding. Take a deep, cleansing breath, connecting with a scent you might have chosen to enhance your experience. Feel the water as it glides over your skin, its temperature, its salinity. Notice which parts of your body are tense and in need of deeper relaxation. Visualize your body detoxifying, your body and mind being restored, your muscles relaxing.
  6. Use eco-friendly bath products. As with any product you introduce into your home, consider its exposure impact on yourself and the environment. Avoid synthetic fragrances and harsh detergents that can strip important protective oil layers from your skin and alter its pH. Refer to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin-Deep database, which scores products by hazard assessment rankings.
  7. Develop your own skincare products. Our skin is our largest organ, and the products we use directly affect our microbiome. Consider feeding your skin just as you nourish your body. Use simple, homemade recipes, including this manuka cleanser (a homemade concoction that leaves your skin feeling hydrated and blemish-free) or an almond sea scrub which recycles remaining pulp from homemade nut milk.
  8. Enjoy a homemade face mask. If you’re soaking for at least 15 minutes, apply a spirulina face mask to reduce the skin’s free radical damage or an anti-inflammatory turmeric face mask to enhance your beauty routine.
  9. Continue self-care rituals post-bathing. Water evaporates off of the skin quickly when emerging from a shower or bath, leaving the skin dry and vulnerable. Moisturize immediately to keep your skin soft, referring again to the Skin-Deep database for recommended brands. This practice complements your dry-brushing routine as well. 
  10. Take your float to the next level. If you’re a lover of warm water and salt baths, consider booking a session at your local float spa. This involves floating in an isolation tank (sensory deprivation chamber) filled with a shallow layer of 11-12 inches of water saturated with one thousand pounds of Epsom salts, creating a zero-gravity sensation for the participant. Without the continuous barrage of external stimuli, one hour of floating yields an efficient state of deep, mindful relaxation by slowing the brain’s alpha wave and boosting its theta waves – equivalent, according to research, to as many as 4 hours of sleep. The weightless achieved by the salinity of the water also takes complete pressure off the spine, shoulders, and hips, allowing the body’s muscles to relax completely.