It is no secret that the act of bathing has ties back to ritual and spiritual expression (1). The ritual bath, before rites, worship or significant events, acts not only to cleanse oneself physically in preparation, but also to cleanse oneself psychologically and spiritually. The bath is in preparation for an event or act, but it is also an event/act itself. Attention is directed to the body as one experiences the graces of Water. Tension is eased, warmth is delivered, and a kind of release is found. As the body relaxes, the mind follows. This helps to shift our brain waves from attentive beta to receptive alpha.
The pace, purpose and psychology of the bathing ritual can vary greatly depending on the time of day it is performed. In the West, typically people bathe in the morning, in preparation for their work, visitations or leisure. Those that do not engage in the morning ritual of bathing can be viewed as lazy, unkempt, or unmotivated. The purpose of the morning bath or shower is to prepare ourselves for productivity and interaction with others. It is often quick and efficient so we can arrive on time to our destinations. The ritual coincides with solar concepts of waking, presenting and acting. The bath may ease our transition from sleep and alpha waves to wakeful beta waves as we continue the morning ritual by gathering clothes, eating breakfast and getting our tools for the day in order. It is, in essence, a solar life ritual.
Many Westerners seem not to enjoy the pleasures of the evening bathing ritual. There is a distinct psychological difference. In the evening, the pressure or motivation of the day and productivity is not ahead of us. We are free to take our time in the bath, to relax and unwind. The mental shift here is from the wakeful beta to the dreamy alpha. We prepare our minds for dreamscapes that we will find in sleep. We are not preparing ourselves to meet others or to perform tasks; we are preparing ourselves to meet ourselves and reflections of our psyche and to simply be. Time, in this ritual, is hardly a concern; Time has no place here. The bath is preparation for sleep, dreams and/or nothingness. By bathing in the evening, we shift our attention to focus on the significance of these concepts and experiences. Sleep, dreams and nothingness are MORE than just something that happens or we do, they are experiences worthy of preparation and reverence. It is easy to see how these concepts can be akin to the concept of death, an unknown experience where Time has no purpose. In this sense, the evening bath/shower is a lunar death ritual.
By switching our routine, we can experience the different psychology of the morning and the evening ritual. Depending how we approach and regard these rituals, our experience of them can greatly change.