Few things are as relaxing to me as taking a bath. Well, getting a massage, or lying in the arms of the person you love while they whisper comforting words aren’t bad options either. But I just got out of a nice, long bath and have to wonder; why is it that being in water feels so good?
They say it’s because our bodies are mostly made up of water. So our bodies feel at home in water. Or because we spend the first nine months of our existence in amniotic fluid. Which is why birthing in water is gaining popularity as a much less traumatic experience for mother and baby. Seems women have done it alone instinctively for thousands of years all over the world. And by the way, babies can instinctively swim, from birth, they loose that ability at about six months.
Or maybe it’s because the first organisms on earth lived in water. I’m not a scientist but I think I remember from biology class that ‘life’ has technically existed on earth for almost 4 billion years, but life on land only for 400 million years. Without giving yourself a math headache, you can tell that’s a long time it took for ‘us’ to get out of the water. Tolle, the modern-day philosopher and ‘spiritual’** teacher, who wrote two of the books that are always somewhere by my bedside, tells it nicely:
It is believed that the lifeforms on this planet first evolved in the sea. When there were no animals yet to be found on land, the sea was already teeming with life. Then at some point, one of the sea creatures must have started to venture onto dry land. It would perhaps crawl a few inches at first, then exhausted by the enormous gravitational pull of the planet, it would return to the water, where gravity is almost nonexistent and where it could live with much greater ease. And then it tried again and again and again, and much later would adapt to life on land, grow feet instead of fins, develop lungs instead of gills. It seems unlikely that a species would venture into such an alien environment and undergo an evolutionary transformation unless it was compelled to do so by some crisis situation. There may have been a large sea area that got cut off from the main ocean where the water gradually receded over thousands of years, forcing fish to leave their habitat and evolve.
So somewhere in our cells or ancestral memory we must still feel subconsciously that land and gravity are foreign and tiring to us… thus we feel so free and happy and light when we are floating in the sea or soaking in a bath. Sea water heals your skin and your soul. Running into the ocean or jumping into a pool can be exhilarating and fun.
One bath souvenir I have is from when I once was in Winnipeg, Canada, and here I will go a bit- a lot, off-topic. Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of the province of Manitoba, which is somewhere in the center of Canada. It was quite a random place for me to be. I had never heard of it when I was invited to go, nor had anyone I knew. I don’t think it’s exactly a place you’d randomly decide to cross the world to visit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice place- as most of Canada is. Nice, peaceful, laid-back atmosphere. And it boasts the Royal Canadian Mint, where coins for many of the world’s currencies are made- you’d be surprised, countries from all over the world. Speaking of the Royal Canadian Mint, they are now working on creating digital coins, so you don’t have to carry change in your pocket. It won’t be like a credit card, it will be anonymous, not connected to you, just like coins. They are still developing it, and trying to attract tech geniuses, software developers and hackers to help, and are going to pay them in solid gold. 50,000$ worth of solid gold coins and bars to start with. So get on it, friends.
Northern Manitoba even has Polar bears (though I didn’t see them). What’s not so pleasant about Winnipeg however… are the mosquitos. There are so many of them that you’ll find postcard and magnet souvenirs that humorously depict the Mosquito as the Provincial Bird of Manitoba. Here’s a photo of the one I have on my fridge:
It’s so bad that I had to lather on industrial amounts of mosquito repellent cream and spray myself constantly. Even then, I would have to watch as tens of them calmly stung me. See, they don’t move like regular mosquitos if you wave your arm. They are happy and comfortable, and don’t let their meal get disturbed. As the Winnipeggers or Manitobans advised, the only way to get some small measure of relief (ah and here we return to our topic) in the evenings from the swelling and itching is to soak in a bath of Epsom salts. Which we did. And it was so lovely it turned me on to baths. Usually sans Epsom salts though.
I especially love having my ears underwater in the bath. Do you know the sound? Seems to quiet out the whole world and your thoughts. Baths sometimes make me feel guilty though; ‘Waste of water’, ‘the environment’, etc. I always turn off the water when other people are brushing their teeth and letting the water run. Maybe we should all take ‘navy showers’- where you turn the water on for a few seconds to get wet, then turn it off to shampoo and soap and lather, then on to rinse. But I’m not ready to give up my baths just yet. And I really only have them very occasionally.
Yet it is true, world water supplies are shrinking and the population is increasing and we need to be more mindful of our water use. Last year, a certain small island country actually ran out of water (read here). Writing about water I also can’t help but think of all the people who don’t have access to clean water to drink. I had no idea just how many until now. Over 800 million people (source). That’s more than one in ten of us! Thankfully, a lot is being done and the situation is improving little by little (a bit of good news). Will list some ways we can help at the end of the post.
Water is a very particular liquid, defined by my mac’s built-in dictionary as ‘a colorless, transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid that forms the seas, lakes, rivers, and rain and is the basis of the fluids of living organisms.’ Have you read or seen Masuru Emoto’s work on messages in water? Though considered pseudoscience by most, it’s still fascinating to look at. He basically thinks that feelings can affect water molecules. He takes photographs of the frozen water molecules, then exposes them to music, prayer, or simply loving words, then photographs them again.
Here are before and after pictures:
Even if physicists are right in saying that his “watery fantasy is all very entertaining and imaginative, full of New Age feel-good platitudes, holistic oneness, consciousness raising, and warm fuzzies”(Hall A. H.), the results are still beautiful, regardless what it means, or how ‘real’ it is.
This may not be the deepest or most emotional blog post, I really wrote it as a way to answer my own wondering this morning about why being submerged in a bath feels so good, but why not celebrate water? Such a simple yet wonderful thing. It feels pretty darn good to have a drink when you’re parched. Or to have a shower with someone… So just remember to enjoy it. And get your eight glasses a day ;-)
(** I marked the word because it’s a word I don’t always feel comfortable with. It feels a bit pretentious and at times too loaded with connotations).
‘Water‘ is a beautiful movie about the plight of widows in India, set against the backdrop and theme of water. ‘Flow‘ is an award-winning documentary that explores the question of privatisation of water, and whether anyone (let own big multinational corporations) can own water.