We live in a “get it done” world.
Even more so today as we deal with a variety of roles and responsibilities – employee, parent, care giver, significant other, teacher, and countless others. In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to forget to take the time to unwind, meditate and sooth the senses.
Yet, escaping the stress and pressure we face each day is an important part of maintaining a healthy attitude and mindset. With that in mind, let us introduce you to ofuro, an ancient Japanese bathing ritual that encourages embracing calming and peaceful sensations.
Self-care, Not Selfish
In America, the quick shower rules. We’re mostly about speed and efficiency. Too often, we confuse the value of slowing life down and mindfulness with wasted time and selfish behavior.
However, in truth, it is difficult to me your best self if you’re stressed and mentally fatigued. Your presence is more meaningful, and beneficial, to those around you when you are at peace, both body and soul. The time you give yourself is an investment in your care and attention to others.
Soak Your Soul
We have largely forgotten the healing powers of a bath. We underestimate the benefit of soaking in a hot tub. Research by the University of Oregon shows that regular hot baths can lower blood pressure and diminish feelings of depression and pessimism. Additional research shows a significant drop in fatigue, stress and pain in subjects from taking baths compared to showers.
The Art of Ofuro
Ofuro is more about the experience and ritual of the bath, than it is an exercise in getting clean. In fact, a traditional ofuro ritual is to shower first, then move to the tub for the meditative experience. Here are three easy steps to delight in the ritual of ofuro at home.
Set the stage
- The ritual of ofuro is about the experience as a whole, and it begins by creating the proper environment.
- Create a space free from clutter and distraction
- Remove all of the typical accouterments – sponges, shampoos, perfumes, etc.
- Use unscented candles to set the right mood
- Draw a bath hot enough to create plenty of steam in the air
- Add your favorite essential oil blend
Wash Away the Day
- Begin the experience with a vigorous shower, washing away the day before entering the soak
- If possible, use fragrant soaps and shampoos with natural scents
- Take your time, allow the water to wash over you, still your mind and feel your body begin to relax
- This part of the process is intended to cleanse both mind and body
- Once finished, exit the shower and step into your prepared hot bath
Embrace the Experience
- An ofuro bath is your time; forget the tensions of the day, let your mind go free and allow your body to relax.
- Lie so that the water is just under you neck and your body is fully submerged
- When comfortable, close your eyes, breath-in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth
- Clear your mind – thoughts will come, acknowledge them and let them go
- Focus on the moment, be aware of the experience; the warmth of the water, the peacefulness of the room, the calming scent
- Allow the tension to drain away from your muscles and your mind
- Do not rush the process, take the time you deserve and need to reach a sense of well-being
The goal of ofuro is to create an oasis of calm and tranquility at the end of busy days; it nourishes our soul while relaxing our physical being. We can all benefit from that prescription.