"You American's don't know how to relax!"
As I luxuriated at the Kabuki bath house yesterday - somewhere around hour FIVE, I was reminded of a bath house experience in Capetown South Africa. I was traveling alone and decided I would check out a bath house I read about in my travel book. When I went in and tried to schedule an appointment time for a massage, I was confused when the woman at the desk told me I would get the massage when I was ready.
She led me to the bath house where there was a sauna, steam room, cold plunge hot tub and lounging area where I found three Malay (local) women smoking cigarettes. So I got undressed and started the "circuit". After my first circuit I told the woman in charge - and seemingly the only person there - that I was ready for my massage. She then went on to scold me and said she's always amazed at "the americans". She said we didn't know how to relax. We are always in a hurry. She then told me I wasn't ready for my massage. The three women laughed and then welcomed me into their bathing experience. Although I didn't take them up on the cigarette smoking (that seemed a little counter-intuitive!) I had a joyful day lounging, loofahing and snacking with them and after about five hours, the woman in charge came in and told me I was now ready for my massage.
Lately when I've gone to the Kabuki bath house, I've met my sister-in-law after work, we do the circuit for an hour or hour and a half and then leave to get in a gab-session and dinner. Although I love this time with my sister-in-law, I realized yesterday that once in a while, visiting the bath house on my own, staying for hours and truly relaxing is an incredible experience. Alone with my own thoughts, the sounds of trickling water and hushed whispers between friends and loving hands and warmth around my body is an incredible meditative experience - one that I hope I will do at least a couple of times a year. Someday I hope to structure my life in a way - The Healing Farm! - so that I can do this once a week. I can't even imagine what an incredible state of mind it will produce. Just six hours and I'm completely refreshed and inspired!