Most of us need more self-care in our lives.
We may even be making an effort to do so. Yet, when was the last time you let yourself fully, deeply, and blissfully enjoy your self-care? How has taking care of ourselves become such a burden and endless to-do list?
Personally, I find that I can turn into a bit of a task-master when it comes to my self-care routine. The problem is, it sucks all the fun, joy, and pleasure out of something that is supposed to be good for me. Out of something that, by definition, is meant to nourish me and give me a respite from all the relentless doing in my life.
Something that is meant to help me sink into and cultivate the art of just simply being.
That’s why, during these cold, damp, and dark winter months, I like to take a pause and sink more deeply into my self-care rituals. This year, I am flowing more freely with the seasons. After an active summer, I am ready for deep rest.
I am ready to slow way down and enjoy my self-care more fully. And what I have found is that each time I do so, the effect is far more profound than a thousand little marks checked off a list.
I had to shift gears from my more intense writing about deep inner work and share my favorite ritual of them all with you: the tea bath. Because in between deep inner work and the general stress of life, we all need moments that allow us to rest, relax, and reintegrate.
As a degreed nutritionist and practicing folk herbalist, tea is one of my favorite things. And tea baths, an herbal remedy used for countless centuries, are one of my favorite ways to take it. The delightful thought of a mad hatter tea party in my bath tub is not the only reason why.
Perhaps you are aware that your skin is the largest organ of your body? Also known as the integumentary system, your skin has a massive surface area and is permeable to many things. We live in a rather toxic and stressful world, where we are constantly bathing in a sea of chemicals that stress our bodies—some of which we have very little control over.
Why not try a salt tea bath to gently and lovingly support your body’s natural detoxification pathways (read: sweat) and absorb a whole bunch of relaxing, natural, and gentle plant compounds instead? Not to mention, it feels amazing!
When was the last time you really let yourself sink in and be present for all that great self-care you are doing?
For me, baths are one of the easiest ways to pause, relax, and enjoy how good my body feels enveloped in hot water. There is something primal about it, like being held in the womb. Many of us love baths, if we would only allow ourselves the time to feel that good more regularly. Which is why I also love turning simple self-care practices into more elaborate rituals.
With the decline of religion and rise of spirituality, many of us have a sore lack of ritual in our lives. I personally believe that rituals are an essential human need—that something happens in the mind-body when we take time to honor what we are doing with our beautiful presence. Enter, the tea bath ritual: making bath time fun again for adults (though it’s great for children too).
Sacred Ritual Tea Bath
Cleaning products (as natural as possible)
Herbs of choice
Body brush (optional)
Your beautiful body
Magik and intention
1. Lovingly scrub that tub. If she needs cleaning, cleanse her. Use gentle products like Bon Amie (borax) and rinse well to avoid adding more chemicals to your system. If you are feeling too tired, visualize how wonderful it’s going to be to slip into a luxurious, soothing bath after a five-minute scrub. You got this!
2. Set the mood. Mood lighting y’all! Maybe you have a dimmer switch in your bathroom. Maybe you light a candle (or ten). Check in with yourself. Can you make it more lavish and luxurious than you think you should? The idea is to be as indulgent as you possibly can. You are not a human who just got home from a hard day. You are a priest/ess and this bath is how you care for the temple of your body: the holy seat of your magnificent soul. Honor her. I love to put on gentle music as well. Romance your Self!
3. Run the water. The running of the water is important. Visualize all the beautiful storms and rivers and oceans and humans who brought this sacred resource to your ritual. Thank them. If you feel guilty about using a whole tub of water, remind yourself that you deserve to take up space and resources and feel good, too. That you can honor the planet better when you take epic loving care of yourself. Pro-tip: set a timer for how long it takes to fill your tub, so it doesn’t end up a cold brew.
4. Make it salty like the sea. Pretend that you are a mermaid (you are). Add a huge scoop of salt (1-2 cups). I love some combination of Epsom, sea, and Himalayan salt. Whatever you have on hand or prefer is fine. The salts will help your body detox and relax, allow you to absorb some minerals, and keep the water as hot as a cauldron for your ritual.
5. Brew the tea. While the water is flowing into your sacred bath, pop into the kitchen. Set a kettle to boil (or if you are an over-achiever like me, do this whole step ahead of time). Meanwhile, mix up whatever herbs you feel called to take a bath in. You can also use herbal tea bags. My favorite tea bath brew is a combination of hops, chamomile, rose petals, and lavender. I like to add whatever comes to mind, by intuition, because we are all wiser than we know. Steep them in a covered pot of boiled water, for 5-10 minutes, while the tub fills.
6. Pour the tea. When the tub is full, stir the water to make sure all the salt is dissolved. Then, before you get in, gently and lovingly pour the tea into the bathwater while setting your intention for this bath. Caution: the hot pot of tea will increase the bath temperature. Be careful not to burn yourself. Perhaps you want to feel deeply rested, sleep better, or relax fully. I like to ask the waters to cleanse me—body, mind, and spirit. Just be sure to infuse them with your intentions and embodied presence. There is no wrong way to do so.
7. Dry brush your skin. Dry brushing removes dead skin cells, increases circulation of blood and lymph, and prepares your largest organ to release toxins and absorb all that good stuff in your bath. It’s not a requirement, and I often forget to do it myself, but it is wonderful.
8. Sink. In. Deep. After praying over your bath, let yourself slip in and stay present for as long as possible. Feel the heat sinking into your skin. Let yourself unwind and relax. Float away. Visualize all of your worries, cares, and pain being washed away by the waters. Imagine yourself releasing toxins and healing. This is actually the most important step of them all: enjoy your tea bath ritual! Notice when you are feeling good and let yourself luxuriate in the pleasure of this ritual. You deserve it. Notice how your mind wants to jump to stressful thoughts to deprive you of pleasure. Allow it, then sink back in anyway like the renegade you really are.
9. Drain and Rinse. When you feel thoroughly cleansed, relaxed, and soaked, pull the plug while still sitting in the bath and relax as all your worries drain away. Imagine the drain pulling down everything that is no longer serving you with the water. When the tub is fully drained, be sure to rinse all that salt and sweat off.
10. Relax and Moisturize. I often feel relaxed and a bit drained after a delicious tea bath ritual. Be sure to lay down if you are dizzy, drink lots of good, pure water, and then slather your skin with a favorite lotion or body butter like you are anointing your holy body temple with precious oils. She will thank you in spades for taking the time to luxuriate in this pleasurable antidote to adulting.
Whether you complete all of the steps above or none of them isn’t really important. What I truly want to leave you with is the understanding that self-care is about pleasure and ritual. That when you infuse your daily acts of self-love with your unique presence you can elevate your self-care game to the next level.
What are some ways you can extend this kind of lavash ritual to your ordinary activities of daily life?