Recently I was in Chennai for an official tour. I reached my hotel in the morning and since the classes were going to start the next day, I was quite free for the whole day. Then it became really busy. So I decided to use my free time to try something I had never done before.
Relax in a Hot Water Bath
The bath tub in bathroom inspired me to get out of comfort zone and try one of Leo Babauta’s tips which I read on his blog. A mindful hot bath to relax and heal myself is what came to my mind. So, I filled up the bathtub with hot water, took off my clothes and tested the waters with my right foot. Well, it was damn hot. The temperature must have been about 70 degree celcius (just a guess). So, added more cold water to bring it to a bearable level. After a number of hit and trials, the temperature came to about 40 – 50 degree celsius. I can guess the temperature because the water was hotter than the body of a fever ridden person and was not as hot as completely unbearable.
So, the important thing was to be mindful, to feel how the heat seeps into my body. Slowly and mindfully, I put my left feet inside, let is get used to hot water, then slowly the upper part of my body. When the water reached my neck, I waited for a while thinking all sorts of ridiculous things like:
1. What if I catch fever when I come out of hot water into the ambient temperature?
2. Should I take a cold shower after I come out of hot water?
3. I was already sick with cold because the train to Chennai was air conditioned and I am not so used to AC travelling that too for as long as 24 hours. What if my sickness increase?
4. Chennai climate is different from that of San Francisco (much colder in US), did Leo meant this exercise only to be carried out in US or Antarctica.
5. I remembered when I went to Manikaran Sahib near Manali in Himachal Pradesh where we took bath in hot Sulphur geasers and nothing bad happened to me. May be this time also nothing would happen. Just relaxation and healing.
6. I also thought how my body will look resin-like, after coming out of shower. Leo said it feels good.
7. In ‘My Experiments With Truth’ Mahatma Gandhi talked about hydro therapy. Would it be a similar experience?
So, when I was having all these thoughts in my head, my body was getting used to water. I broke my chain of thoughts and fear and tried to immerse my head in the hot water. I closed my ears and took a dip. But, the water filled part of my nose and it was too hot for my head. But, its OK. I will try next time with both my ears and nose closed. I started sweating just as Leo said and it was comforting because it meant that I was doing it right.
Now the temperature of water, although a bit uncomfortable, became much bearable and my fears slowly and mindfully started leaving my mind. I could now focus on how I was feeling. Archimedes’ Principle came to my mind beacause this was the first time I was taking a tub bath after learning the principle. I thought I could calculate my volume and weight by measuring the amount of water spilled over and the bouyant force respectively.
A similar moment must have been when Archimedes’ would realised his principle. The Eureka moment, when he ran around naked shouting like a mad man. A mad scientist. This was my Eureka moment because I was also feeling something completely new.
I mindfully realised that when I take a deep breath my chest and upper body felt more bouyant force then when I release my breath. So, it drifted upwards and downwards with my breath. Even though it is interesting, I did not find it amusing, so I took less deeper breath so the movement is less. Breath, deep breath is what Leo says will help me relax.
When I was a child, I used to go for swimming with my father and siblings. The swimming pool water sometimes kept so still. Moving only when our body moves. Not like that of sea. It felt peaceful. The similar stillness I observed in the bath tub water.
Restlessness or Anxiety
I was being mindful. Or say trying to be. Because still many thoughts of past and future were travelling my mind. Worst thing was when I started feeling restless. Anxious. I think being restless is something which is easy to control. A common thing and everbody gets restless. But being anxious sounds more like a medical term. I started worrying about my blood pressure. I tried to check my pulse rate and it felt higher than normal. Outside my bathroom, my mobile phone alarm also began to ring — ‘Don’t want be an American Idiot?… ‘. I wanted to switch it off but did not because my body was struggling, because even after about ten minutes in hot water, i was not getting used to it. But the song was too long. The restlessness was too high. The water was too hot. I was wondering why it was not coming back to normal temperature? Why my body was not getting used to the hot water? And why was I sweating too much?
Sweating, yes sweating was the reason. I forgot Leo’s one more advice. I was getting dehydrated. Ideally, Ishould have kept a water bottle along with me to replenish the water lost due to sweating. Oh my god! Why did I not realise it earlier? I came out of the tub, gulped some water and also utilised this opportunity to ‘dismiss’ the alarm. Relax.
When I was back into the hot water along with a water bottle, all the feeling of restlessness was gone. Now I didn’t mind sweating because water was in hand. My pulse rate seemed to come to normal and my body seemed to accept the hot water. I relaxed and enjoyed being there for another half an hour or more. I felt good. I even added more hot water when I felt like doing so.
Then, I came out of hot water, took a cold shower (15 degree celsius, again a guess), rubbed my body with the heavily starched, white hotel towel. Overall, it was a good experience. I am thinking of doing it again. Sometime when I feel like. Nothing bad happened to me. I had two feelings when I came out of the shower:
1. Relaxed and proud of my body.
2. Much cleaner and less oily skin.
But, I felt bad about one thing. I wasted so much water. I don’t know if it was OK to do so at the cost of about a tub full of water. Generally, I take bath under a tap with a bucket a mug and I bet I use less water than how much I used that day. I will think about it later because anyhow I do not have bath tub at my home and it won’t be so frequent I would take a hot water bath in a tub.