A soak in the bath can enhance our well-being
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To reflect upon the benefits of soaking and bathing for mind, body and spirit.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Bathtime Relaxation) and the means to display them.
- Have available the video ‘Religious Studies – KS2: a Hindu pilgrimage’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 2.52 minutes long and is available at: https://tinyurl.com/868yp66v
- Optional: you may wish to play the audio on the YouTube video ‘Relaxing music and water sounds’, in which case you will also need the means to do so. It is three hours long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQnLBxnkt3Q
- Show Slide 1.
Welcome the students to the assembly.
- Explain that you were going to ask for a show of hands as to who has had a shower this morning, but you don’t want to embarrass anyone!
Tell the students that today, we will be thinking about the idea of soaking in a bath and the benefits that can bring.
- Show Slide 2.
Nowadays, there are all sorts of products available that can help us to relax in a bath and enjoy a good soak. Bath bubbles, bombs and salts are all widely used to help us enjoy a bath. Some people like to add candles around the bath to create a chilled vibe, and perhaps read a book or listen to music while they’re in the bath.
- However, there are many other ways to benefit from a good soak in a bath, and some methods go back centuries. Let’s take a quick tour now of bathing customs throughout history. All of the customs that we will explore aim to offer benefits to our mind, body and spirit. We may even choose to try some of them when we’re next having a bath!
- Show Slide 3.
The Romans were famed for their fondness for baths. Taking a soak in a bath was a communal experience for the Romans – it was a social activity. Bathhouses contained a series of rooms where people could relax and enjoy bathing with others. Often, the water was heated by natural underground springs, as in the English city of Bath.
A catalogue of buildings in Rome that dates from 354 AD documented 952 baths of varying sizes in the city. The Roman bathing experience included various bathing rituals such as undressing, soaking, sweating in a sauna, receiving a massage and resting.
- Show Slide 4.
Cleopatra, queen of Ancient Egypt from 51 to 30 BCE, famously took baths in donkeys’ milk, to which honey and essential oils had been added. It is said that when she travelled, she even took a donkey with her so that she would have milk for her baths. She bathed in milk to enhance the appearance of her skin. Modern science confirms that the lactose in milk turns to lactic acid, which acts as a type of peel on the skin, leaving smoother, blemish-free skin underneath.
- Show Slide 5.
In more recent years, the idea of taking a cold bath or even an ice bath has become popular with some people as a means of promoting good health. After intense physical exercise, it is not unusual for professional athletes to jump into a tub of ice water to lower inflammation.
Recent studies also show that bathing or soaking in cold water can make you more resilient to stress and improve your immune system. These benefits are thought to be one of the reasons why wild swimming has increased in popularity. Of course, swimming in open water such as rivers and lakes does pose some risks that need to be taken seriously. However, when it is done with attention to safety as part of an organised group, swimming in a lake could be a way to try out cold-water bathing without needing a lot of ice cubes! If all of that is too tricky to manage, though, we can get similar benefits from reducing the temperature when we shower - even if we only do it for a few seconds!
- Show Slide 6.
We must also mention the classic fundraising idea of taking a bath in cold baked beans! Plenty of people have performed this feat as a means of supporting a good cause. Although the beans might not feel pleasant on the skin, knowing that you are doing something to help others can be a real feel-good boost.
- When we think about the idea of soaking and bathing, we tap into the symbolism of washing and water that is a feature of many faith systems.
Show Slide 7.
In Islam, the ritual of washing before prayer is an important act of faith and devotion in itself. It is known as wudu and involves a series of steps.
Show Slide 8.
Baptism is a feature of Christian practice. It symbolizes being cleansed of sin and given new life in Jesus.
Show Slide 9.
For Hindus, bathing in the River Ganges is a holy act. This short video explains more.
Show the video ‘Religious Studies – KS2: a Hindu pilgrimage’ up to 0.37 minutes.
- Let’s consider one more form of soaking before we consider how we feel about what we have learnt today. This form of bathing does not involve water or any liquid at all - not even baked beans!
There is a type of contemplative prayer that is known as ‘spiritual bathing’ or ‘soaking in the Spirit’. For Christians, it is a form of wordless prayer when they simply sit, lie or even stand in the presence of the Holy Spirit and allow themselves to receive God’s love. It is as if they are relaxing and soaking in a warm bath. They allow themselves to float, relax and soak in the presence of God without saying or doing anything. Like a literal warm bath with bubbles, praying by soaking in the Spirit works best when we can put aside distractions and worries, and simply ‘be’ for a while. Many people report that this form of meditative prayer brings them both mental and physical benefits of relaxation and calmness.
Time for reflection
Let’s take a moment to reflect upon what we’ve discovered today. Bathing in the various ways that we have explored offers a range of benefits:
- improved skin condition
- improved immune system
- a time to unwind and feel good
Within different religious traditions, the idea of washing, bathing and soaking can help us to connect with beliefs about:
- God’s love
- worship and devotion
Let’s take a moment to consider which idea in today’s assembly has appealed to us the most.
- What has struck us, or made us curious?
- What do we want to discover more about, or even try for ourselves?
- Does water or washing have any spiritual meaning for us?
Let’s take a moment of quiet reflection so that we can absorb what this learning means for us.
As we do so, let’s listen to some relaxing, water-themed music to give us time and space to consider these things.
Play the audio on the YouTube video ‘Relaxing music and water sounds’.
We pray for opportunities to enjoy relaxation and restoration,
Times when we can soak in a feeling of well-being and calmness,
Times when we can allow ourselves to take care of our body, mind and spirit.
We thank you for our body, mind and spirit.
We thank you that we can find so many different ways to help us towards well-being and quality of life.
The audio for the YouTube video ‘Relaxing music and water sounds’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQnLBxnkt3Q (three hours long)