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A Rustic Soaker’s Guide to Bathing Etiquette

by Marcus Coplin

There are many different thermal mineral springs all over North America. The range of experience is vast. Many are well established resorts and smaller stewarded sites. These places tend to have their own rules of conduct and as a guest in any place, one should follow those guidelines respectfully. But, there are also hot spring sites that are considered rustic or off the beaten track. It is for these places and in hopes of maintaining their uniqueness and intimate healing environment that the following guideline of hot spring etiquette was written.

  1. A rustic spring must be shown in person. Never give out directions to someone who you are not taking yourself and pass that rule along to anyone you do bring. In this way the respect and reverence for the site can be shown by example and the tradition of care-taking can be directly passed along.
  2. NEVER pollute a site. If you pack it in, pack it out. And if you see any old trash, pack it out.
  3. The spring is for healing. Keep respect for this by:
    – Keeping Alcohol and Recreational substances away from the water.
    – Being mindful of your voice. Many times the conversation at a spring can be wonderful, but chit-chat is distracting. Choose your words carefully.
    – Soak nude. Give your skin the chance to fully soak in the minerals, while keeping the pool free from any potential chemicals. Acknowledging that nudity is not the normal social experience is part of the disarming that can occur in order to facilitate healing at a rustic spring. It is never appropriate to stare, make suggestive comments or advances to anyone. This is a sacred space. Act right, everyone who enters a spring is there to heal on some level, keep that in mind. If you experience unwanted attention, just remind the source of that attention of why you are there and thank them to please not direct that towards you. People listen.
  4. The native tradition around many healing water sites is that they are places of peace. Weapons would be laid down around the periphery and feuds put to rest whilst in the area of the spring. This shows respect for the gift of the healing water as being a universal gift. Do not bring your anger, hostility or weapons to a hot spring site, only the willingness to heal the injury underlying them.
  5. Be Responsible for your health. Even experienced soakers can overdo it. If your heart rate is going too fast or too strong, take a break. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids and that you have dry clothes to change into.
  6. Make room for others. Everyone loves coming to a rustic spring and getting to stretch out in the pool. Sometimes everyone shows up to love that experience at the same time. Remember that trying to control that or getting upset about it will not facilitate your healing. Go with it, make room for everyone to have a soak and take turns.
  7. Give thanks. The waters are listening.

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