on relieving anxiety: a bath ritual
I navigate a lot of anxiety. Its a real relationship killer.
Reading ‘Attached’ and connecting how I show up in relationships to the intensity I often feel — the propulsion, the fear, the harsh voices coupled w the desire to always want and need more from the other person — it changed my life. I recommend the book. Highly.
When COVID first descended upon NYC, it felt like I was living with a constant hum of anxiety, centered in and around my chest. It felt fully somatic, an emotional and cognitive experience that was invading my organs.
Upon arriving at my gf Matisse’s home (where I stayed for those early weeks) — I knew I had to figure out something — and the ‘solution’ was to be found in my body.
Chest tight, muscles tight, jaw tight — I drew a bath in her tub.
From that first bath, the ritual I created has served me over and over. If the initial intention was to navigate those early, deadly days of COVID, I’ve discovered it serves me real well in sticky, crunchy relationship moments when I wanna act from that fearful, egoic place.
I’ve bulleted it here in case it resonates + you wanna try it out.
- Creating beauty in the (bath) space feels important: salts, soaps, candles, petals, scents. Signaling to my body + spirit that I’ve created beauty for it to enjoy
- I settle into the tub, and allow the water to create a somatic state change
- After a lil bit, I start down at my toes. I hold them, and tell them 3–4 things I appreciate about them: ‘thank you for every step you take. Thank you for walking me. Thank you for holding me up. Thank you for how perfectly imperfect you are’ [imp cuz I have 9.5 toes — really, true story — so have always been ashamed of them]
- I rub or caress the body part while I’m saying these things, creating another opportunity to be present w sensation
- I close that body part with the same phrase each time: “I’m here, we’re here, you’re safe and I love you”
- I move up my body — my calves, my thighs, my pussy, my back, my stomach, my breasts and on and on — telling each part how grateful I am for that special thing they do
- I close with a prayer of gratitude for my body: “thank you for all you do for me. I love you”. I might pull forward other work I’m doing: “I forgive you. I’m here to forgive. I trust you. I’m here to trust” — before closing out fully
- I get out of the bath and lay myself down on the bathroom floor. The coolness of the floor after the warmth (or hot) of the water allows me to feel my chest, my body in a way that feels acute and presencing
- I stay there till there’s been a shift back to conscious thought, till it feels like the time to peel myself off the bathroom floor has arrived.
The time w that voice — the nurturer, the kind one, the wise one — feels like an ascension beyond the ego, a session w the animistic, if you will.
An erotic and intimate space.
Its also elegantly simple: you w you, me w me.
Its a fun adventure to go on.
If you feel called to try it and you wanna share what comes up — I’m here.
Email me: email@example.com