The past couple of months saw an unprecedented bad case of eczema, which started off as an innocuous patch of dermatitis, contained on one of my fingers, spread angrily all over my chest and stomach and onto my back, and finally, to each of my four limbs.
It wasn't pretty, and it eventually got me really down, which obviously did not help!
Since becoming an almost organic vegan, my diet has been more or less in first gear over the past few years, and so I knew that the eczema was attributable to the stress I was experiencing in my current living situation. So much so, that the only thing that finally cleared it up, was taking a few weeks away from the environment; no amount of fresh green vegetable juice seemed to help clear this completely, affirming my theory that your mental health can manifest in your physical health.
Whilst I tried to get my stress levels under control, a good friend told me about bathing in oatmeal in order to sooth inflamed skin. The porridge bath, as I now like call it – cheap as chips and really easy!
There’s just two easy steps:
1. Take the leg of an old pair of pantyhose, and fill it with about a cup of oatmeal.
2. Tie it off, and immerse it in a warm bath
Make sure that you keep the bath water warm, as lounging in hot water warms your blood, which if you are prone to eczema or psoriasis, can further inflame the skin.
The water will become milky after a few minutes, and the ball of oatmeal will drip with a thick, gluggy porridge between your fingers when you squeeze it.
The thick, syrupy-like oat milk feels amazing when massaged into your skin, and even if you don't have eczema, it's an excellent natural moisturiser in its own right, and is cheap enough to regularly bathe in.
It really does soothe any itches you might have, and you all of a sudden realise the value of Cleopatra's famous milk baths!
The Mind and Body Connection
In addition to your physical self, the bath is also beneficial for your mind. It's the perfect time to meditate, and let go of any stresses that may have caused unnecessary worry during your day or week. Visualise and recall what it was that happened to cause you to feel how you do, accept it, and then try to let it go.
I have a few meditations that I have used to facilitate my stress abandonment and ultimately my clear skin, but my favourite technique for letting go is the visualization technique. Unlike other meditations, the visualization technique requires you to envisage what it is that you want; Not only did I want peace of mind, but I also wanted clear skin.
I have three meditations which helped me to achieve this, that I would like to share:
The first involves visualizing yourself breathing in grey matter, or the worry, as you inhale through your nose. As you exhale through your mouth, visualise yourself releasing the worry, in the form of pink or golden sparkles.
The second is to visualize your body as the colour red, which represents the rash. Concentrate on watching the angry red slowly change to an alkalising green colour, which starts at your toes, and then slowly extends all over your body, until it finally creeps up to your head, where any red remains are released with each exhale.
You could also visualise the steam coming off the water as representative of your stresses, dissipating into the atmosphere...
The scenarios are limitless!
I realise to some, it might sound a little bit whack, but it really does work!
This technique was inspired by a colleague with whom I used to work. She told me that when she had cancer, she would spend days meditating by visualising her body as a real life game of
Her good cells were represented by a hungry 'Pac Man' who would go around her body, slowly conquering all of the cancerous cells, until they had all been swallowed and destroyed. Pac Man.
Eventually, along with a few other fundamental life changes, she was declared cancer free.
Suffice to say, the mind can be as powerful tool as we choose it to be, and just as we exercise our bodies, we need to exercise our minds by way of meditation, in order to create the lives we want:
Healthy, happy and stress-free.