Meditation is an effective stress reliever and can lead to increased inner calm, happiness, and well-being with regular practice. But, like with many habits that are good for us, we often can’t find the time to make them happen.
Luckily, there is more than one way to meditate. One blissful method is to meditate in the bath. Bath meditation combines standard meditation with the soothing, calming atmosphere of a steamy, relaxing bath. Research has shown that hot baths are as effective at relieving depression as physical exercise.
Bath Meditations Around The World
Bath meditations have been around for centuries. The ancient Romans were known to enjoy soaking in hot baths, and they even built public bathhouses for this purpose. Japanese baths, called onsens, are well-known and date back thousands of years.
Onsens are still popular in Japan today, and many people travel there specifically to relax in the country’s natural hot springs. There are even some onsens that are only for women or men. Other countries have traditionally used baths for relaxation and meditation, including Finland, Hungary, and Russia.
If you’re an avid traveler, you can even combine your love of meditation with your wanderlust by seeking out baths worldwide. For example, you can meditate in an infrared sauna in Reykjavik, Iceland, or in a natural hot spring in Banff, Canada.
Sometimes, bath meditation doesn’t have to revolve around water. In India, a type of bath called an ayurvedic abhyanga is often used for medicinal purposes. Abhyanga massages the body with warm oil, improving circulation, lymphatic drainage, and joint function.
More Benefits of Bath Meditation
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, there are even more reasons to try meditating in the bath. Some people find it easier to focus on their breath and let go of intrusive thoughts when in a warm bath. The physical sensations of the water can also be grounding and help to bring you back to the present moment if your mind starts to wander.
Bath meditations can also be a great way to reset after a long day or week. It can be hard to find the time to fit in full meditation practice, but what a brief bathtub meditation can do is give you a moment of stillness and clarity. And, unlike a temporary feeling from a cup of coffee or glass of wine, the relaxation you get can last long after you get out of the tub.
If you have trouble sleeping, a hot bath before bedtime can also be helpful. The heat from the water can help to soothe tired muscles and prepare your body for sleep.
Studies show these standard benefits:
- Soaking in a hot bath can help to improve heart health.
- Hot baths can help to reduce blood pressure.
- Hot baths can help to improve cognitive function and mental health.
A warm bath and your parasympathetic nervous system
Meditating in the bath can also help to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. This part of your nervous system helps your body to rest and digest. When you meditate, your body goes into that “rest and digest” mode with your parasympathetic nervous system, making you feel more relaxed.
If you’re new, you may also consider seeking professional medical advice. A doctor or therapist can help you understand the benefits and risks and offer guidance on getting started.
Types of Meditations You Can Do in the Bath
Bath time is the perfect opportunity to try these out:
1. Mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness practice involves focusing on the present moment and being aware of your thoughts and sensations without judgment.
2. Guided meditation. You may listen to a recorded meditation or have someone guide you through the meditation. This can be helpful if you are new to meditation or have trouble focusing.
3. Loving-kindness meditation. This type of meditation involves sending thoughts of love and kindness to yourself and others. This is a great way to increase feelings of compassion and connectedness.
4. Visualization meditation. In this type of meditation, you focus on a positive image or scene. This can help promote relaxation and well-being.
5. Body scan meditation. This bathtub meditation focuses on each part of your body, from your toes to your head. This can help you to become more aware of your body and any tension you may be holding.
You can mix these meditations, practice mindfulness with each one, or try whatever resonates with you the most. Your inner peace is what’s important.
The Debate: Cold, Warm, or Hot Meditation
Now that you understand the basics, it’s time to talk about temperature. Regarding meditating, some debate over whether cold, warm, or hot water is best.
Some argue that cold water is more stimulating and can help increase alertness. Shower meditation often involves cold water for this reason. Others say that warm water is more relaxing and can help to reduce stress. And finally, some people say that hot water is the best for promoting relaxation and improving circulation.
There is no right or wrong answer regarding the debate over cold, warm, or hot water. It ultimately comes down to what works best for you. If you’re new to this experience, you may want to start with warm or hot water and see how you feel.
You can always experiment with different temperatures to see what you prefer!
Get Prepared for a Bathtub Meditation
Now you know that you can meditate in the bath. Here are the things you need to do to prepare for a soothing bath meditation.
Select a guided meditation
Choose a relaxing meditation on the BetterSleep app, such as the Bathtime Relaxation Ritual. Whatever guided meditation you select, make sure it is one you feel comfortable with and can easily follow. If you don’t want to use this type of meditation, you can also create your own space for quiet reflection.
Fill your bath with warm water
Warm water is known for its ability to help the body relax. Add a bubble bath or a bath bomb of your choice. Use some aromatherapy or bath salts to enhance the relaxation effects further.
Choose a calming essential oil
Sprinkle a few splashes of lavender or chamomile oil into the water for relaxation. Other essential oils that work well for both meditations include ylang-ylang, rose, and neroli.
Create a relaxing ambiance
Light a few candles around the bath and dim the lights. Sensory experiences such as these can help to set the tone for relaxation.
Keep your phone out of the room and let your family know you need 30 minutes to yourself.
Maximize your pampering time.
Treat yourself to a nourishing face mask, herbal tea, or a cool glass of lemon-infused water.
How to Meditate in the Bath
Now you’re ready. Climb the bath, close your eyes and take a few seconds to center yourself. Inhale the delicious scents around you, then exhale, sighing deeply.
Rest your head on a folded towel on the side of the tub and breathe deeply.
Take a moment to feel the warm water soaking into your muscles and stretch out your toes. Take a few more deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, letting your body relax every time.
Start your guided meditation on the BetterSleep app.
Continue to breathe and take in the wonderful scents wafting around you. Notice how the bubbles pop and fizz in the warm water and gently soothe your skin.
Stay in the present moment.
If you notice your mind wandering or thoughts racing, gently bring your attention back to where you are without judgment. If you’re new, aim for 5 minutes and work your way up.
More ways to practice meditation in the bathtub
- If you’re not using a guided meditation, choose a mantra or affirmation to repeat to yourself.
- Focus on your breath and the sensations in your body.
- Notice the feel of the water on your skin, the warmth seeping into your muscles, and the sound of your breath.
- Gently bring your attention back to the present moment if you find your mind wandering or worrying about daily life.
- When you’re finished, sit up and take a few deep breaths. Notice how your body feels relaxed and rejuvenated. Exhale any remaining tension and take a moment to reflect on what you’re grateful for in your life.
Bathtub meditation is a great way to fit meditation into a busy schedule. Don’t pressure yourself to feel or perform a certain way. Aim to breathe deeply, focus on the present and enjoy the bath experience.
Meditate with BetterSleep
If you’re looking for more support to start your bathtub meditation practice, download BetterSleep for relaxing meditations and soothing sleep sounds.
Meditation apps like BetterSleep offer various guided meditations and sleep sounds to help you relax, de-stress and get a good night’s sleep. With BetterSleep, you can customize your meditation experience to fit your needs.