While showering in a Japanese bathroom in Kyoto this Fall, I noticed that the shower was really secondary to the bath – the shower/bath area is set up so that a small, typically hand held shower is used to first cleanse the body, and the deep, short tub nearby is for relaxing rather than cleansing – shower first, then soak and enjoy. That way the entire family can bathe one after the other, with the tub water kept warm between individuals with a cover that keeps the heat in, and clean enough because everyone showers first.
It also got me thinking how this shower/bath combo reminded me of mediation – how the mediation process allows the participants to clean themselves with their opening statements and emotional venting before jointly starting the work of option development and collaborative resolution together – in the same hot tub (or least it can feel that way!) Showering off the day’s sweat and grime was a respectful way to honor the group before climbing into the hot bath and engaging in conversation. It also put us on an even footing – we were all clean, naked and vulnerable – no hidden agendas! And at the end of our soak, we all wrapped up in identical kimonos and slippers provided by the Japanese ryokan (guesthouse) and padded off to respective rooms and our futons spread on tatami mats – amazingly comfortable and wonderfully sleep inducing!