I was sitting in the bath last night, and by sitting I mean soaking for over an hour, having made sure the bath was so hot I could almost faint on entrance. Anyway, I was in the bath, thinking how funny it is that people who don’t like baths get so irate about them. Equally, it’s amusing (and sometimes aggravating) that people who do like baths promote them as if bubbles and epsom salts are a panacea for all of life’s problems.
The bath is not the thing, of course, it’s the act of doing something for yourself that allows you to be less immersed in your own shit, which most of us are approximately 99.9% of the time. Baths work quite nicely as a metaphor here, soaking away the layers of dirt and emerging a little softer, a little brighter. To be fair, you are basically sitting in a pool of your own filth, but afterwards there’s this sense of being scrubbed clean, ready to face the world again. It’s not the bath though, it’s the act.
When people say they took one yoga class and it changed their life, I’m hesitant to believe them. However, after more than a decade of practising yoga, I am very confident in saying that it’s changed my life. It might do the same for you, or it might not. Maybe your practice takes a different shape. But that’s the real secret right there my friends – it’s in the practice.
Yep, the art of taking care of yourself doesn’t involve quick fixes. It’s not as simple as a single bath or class every once in a while. It’s not as easy-to-digest (and may I add, easy-to-sell) as a once-in-a-lifetime transformative course. It’s in a dedicated, consistent practice, one that is also adaptable, because as my teacher says “the practice has to work for you”.
This is where the process of unlayering can begin. The unravelling, as you learn to understand yourself, to tend to yourself, to move yourself, to question yourself, to know and grow yourself. It takes a long time. It’s a constant work in progress. But once you see that you have access to all this, why wouldn’t you keep on doing your practice?
Like anything else, a practice ebbs and flows. Sometimes, when I move through mine, I have a strong sense of my soul as an entity in my body, something I am carrying and protecting, and I feel strong and certain. Sometimes I move with an ease like water, my body moves my mind and leads it somewhere unknown but somewhere vital. Other times, I’m doing it because I feel I have to. Other times still, I feel so full of everything outside me and I can’t move through it. There are also times when I’m basically rolling my eyes and saying it’s stupid and wondering how it could be that I’ve spent over ten years of my life on this thing, yet I’m still as ridiculous and restless as ever.
All of it is the practice. All of it. I think lots of people only see the shiny good bits, or at least that’s what they want to believe in most. If you’re expecting perfection and positive vibes only, then you’re in for a bumpy ride. But a good one, nonetheless.
Anyway, back to the bath for me. It won’t solve all my problems, but it’s a pretty good place to not think about them for a while.