Sometimes the most simple self-care rituals can be the most profound, especially when done with great intention. I'm sharing one of my favorite self care rituals for winter, one that is especially beneficial to do when we feel we need to drop into a deep state of relaxation, and fast! Though this can be done any time of the year, I especially love this self-care ritual for winter because winter is the season of the water element, and it is the time of utmost yin, which is the energy of stillness, silence, darkness, and going inward. This self-care ritual of immersing oneself in water and darkness is the ultimate yin experience, and a wonderful way to deeply soothe the nervous system.
The salts used in the bath contain magnesium, which the body can absorb through the skin. Magnesium is a mineral that most people are greatly deficient in, and it is deeply relaxing to the muscles as well as the mind. The essential oils that I've listed as options are the ones that I personally find to be most deeply calming to the nervous system. Lately I've been using frankincense and cedarwood a lot, but you can experiment with whatever oils you have, or skip them and just use the salts if you prefer. If you don't have a bathtub you can also do a foot bath instead, using a big pot and filling it with hot water, salts, and essential oils, and sitting somewhere you can lean back and fully relax, preferably in darkness.
Here's how I recommend doing this self-care ritual...
Preferably at night, light a single candle for light and begin to draw a bath with water as hot as you can comfortably tolerate. Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salts, Magnesium flakes, or Dead Sea Salts and stir them in so they dissolve completely. As the bath is filling, you may want to smudge your body as well as over the bath itself, using white sage, cedar, or palo Santo. Smudging is a wonderful thing to do before any sacred ritual, and though it is simple this is a sacred ritual of self care and going inward. Once the bath is full, add 5 to 10 drops of the essential oil (optional, see below), swirl the water to mix in the oils and get into the bath. I recommend taking the bath in total darkness or only by the light of a candle. If you work with crystals, bringing one into the bath with you is a beautiful way to be with its essence (Labadorite, Amethyst, and Jade would be nice ones for this). Let yourself soak for at least twenty minutes, thirty is better. Having some tea or a glass of water to drink is a good idea to stay hydrated. As you soak in total darkness and silence, try to also silence your mind by simply focusing on your breath, and not your thoughts. With each exhale allow yourself to release more fully into the water. Let yourself completely merge with the water, and with the yin qualities of darkness, stillness and quietude.
Recommended essential oils:
Sandalwood (be sure it's sustainably grown, usually from Australia or Hawaii. I love the one from Floracopeia)
Avoid lemongrass, peppermint, and the citruses, as these can be irritating to the skin when undiluted (and they also tend to be more stimulating then calming)
I am a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with a Heart-centered practice in the Santa Cruz mountains. See my About page for more about me and the work I do.