I was recently inspired by the writings of Booker T. Washington. "Up From Slavery: an Autobiography"
One of the topics he spoke on was the simple pleasure of bathing. A daily function, we can take for granted, its healing properties. It is one of those luxuries we don't realize its importance until we are deprived of it. Booker wrote about the value in bathing. How a refreshed body leads to a refreshed mind and self respect.
"I sometimes feel that almost the most valuable lesson I got at the Hampton Institute was in the use and value of the bath. I learned there for the first time some of its value, not only in keeping the body healthy, but in inspiring self-respect and promoting virtue. In all my travels in the South and elsewhere since leaving Hampton I have always in some way sought my daily bath" (Washington, p.53)During my year of Esther in 2007 I took on redefining my life. One of the areas I focused on was that of personal health and hygiene. In my experience cleanliness brings about renewed thinking. So, I approached cleaning ones surroundings and body as a serious matter. Many of my closest friends joke about me having OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), however there is a thread of truth about my wanting things in order. I just find that if my surroundings are cluttered, so is my thinking. I am visually motivated and I enjoy a fresh, clean space devoid of clutter.
Many of the lessons learned during my year of Esther I carry on to this day. The following are some of the practices I added to my life to help keep my mind clear and refreshed.
I begin by simply cleaning the bathroom. I try to keep the environment free of visual distractions.
A recipe for pampering my body to nurture my mind:
* ---hot bubble bath with scented oils
* ---a good book
* ---soothing music
* ---no time restraints
* ---a snack and beverage
* ---candles for the scent and ambiance
(I've been known to take a two hour bath)
Then: BE IN THE MOMENT! Take care to thoroughly and consciously wash every part of the body. Consciously considering each part and its specific function. Thinking about the job of my legs and feet to get me around, my arm and hands for every good work, along with my all my sensory organs. Acknowledge every part of my body and thanking it for being my unique vessel. Notice the feel of touch. As humans we crave touch. Notice how buffing the skin sloshes off dead skin, leaving the skin soft and new. Consciously touching and cleaning my body, knowing every curve and turn. Caring for every follicle and cell.
After bathing I use oils and lotions on my body. I tend to face and nail care. Teeth and mouth hygiene are vital. Finally putting on fresh clean clothes helps keep me feeling refreshed and ready.
This is the body that is the tool to perform whatever task you ask of it. From eating breakfast to driving to work, running errands, manual labor, sitting is school or just lounging about! This is the body that will get it done. Honor it! Tend to it!
From washing your hair, shaving, cleaning under your fingernails, cleaning your ears, facial health, feet care, massaging your muscles, to moisturizing and dressing. Tending to your body will lead to self-respect, which opens you to respecting others and becoming more community minded.
What are some of your best practices to refresh your body and mind?