I’m not much of a bath person, in general. Showers are faster and use less water, (appeasing two of my favorite personal buzzkills, Efficiency and Frugality). Plus, I shower before I bathe anyway (so as not to sit in a pool of my own dirtiness), so baths are truly a wasteful indulgence for me.
But every once in a while, when I’m feeling a bit creaky or beat up by the constant business of life, a hot bath sounds too good to pass up.
So the other night, I took a nice, long bath. When I do bathe, I like to read. Right now I’m slowly making my way through “Eat, Pray, Love.” On this bath night, I started the part of the book where the author goes to an ashram in India to pray and meditate. Elizabeth Gilbert (the author) has a very eloquent way of describing her experiences, and a gift for helping the reader feel what she’s feeling. Reading about her meditation experiences had me wishing that I could hole up in some spiritual spot halfway around the world and do nothing but hone my prayer and meditation practices for a few months.
So-o-o clearly not going to happen, probably ever.
But I decided there in the bathtub to take a few moments to just be still and try to quiet my mind. I usually try to meditate on something specific, but this night I wanted to just be, to feel the presence of tranquility and sit with it for a bit in sweet silence.
My body was already feeling quite peaceful in the warm water, the family was otherwise occupied, and for once I didn’t feel anything pressing that needed my attention. So I floated. I let my body totally relax, put my head far enough into the water to cover my ears, and breathed. In. Out. In. Out.
A common meditation practice is to sit comfortably and focus on your breathing. My problem is I can never get into a truly comfortable sitting position. I’m always distracted by my back aching or my ankle bone pressing into the floor or some such discomfort. My best meditative moments have been lying down. But then there’s always the risk of falling asleep. There in the bath, though, I was uber-comfortable, and not in any danger of drifting off. Putting my ears under the water muffled all other sounds except my breathing, which was actually amplified. So ignoring everything else and focusing on my breathing was SO easy.
Perhaps that’s meditative cheating. I’m OK with that. It worked.
After a few minutes, for the first time in . . . well, a while, I felt a moment of utter and total peace. No worry, no tension, no thinking about what I needed to do after my bath, no thinking about anything at all. Pure, heavenly nothingness. Physical, mental, and spiritual weightlessness. All the words, thoughts, and voices that constantly stream through my mind were quiet. It was wonderful.
Of course, it only lasted a few minutes before I started thinking about how my breathing underwater sounded like Darth Vader and I came drifting back to Earth. But lightly, like a feather gently and gracefully giving in to gravity. And that was okay. It was good to know that I could get to that peaceful place fairly easily.
Bathtub meditation. I might have to do this more often. 🙂