SFG 1 Resources – Bathtub Meditation

Bathtub Meditation

(Posted on: February 27, 2013 by David McMillin)

Several Cayce readings that discuss mediation recommend cleansing with water. Actually cleansing and purification with water is a pretty common ritual in many spiritual traditions. I have been told that they built a shower adjacent to Edgar Cayce's study in the last house they lived in, based on the recommendation for cleansing prior to giving the readings. He was achieving a very high level of attunement, so maybe he needed that.

For years I have used a hot soak in the bathtub as a means of altering consciousness when I am working on creative projects and need some input from Spirit. When I get stumped or need inspiration on some phase of a project, or need guidance, I have come to rely on this as a form of attunement to the Creative Forces. More often than not I will get an answer or guidance to whatever I am struggling with.

Sometimes I will even take a pad and pen and lay it next to the tub to make sure I don't miss anything that comes through. I try to be as clear in my mind as I can about what I need, or think I need. I say a prayer and then be quiet and listen. I usually notice my consciousness shift inward as I relax. Sometimes it is the still small voice within, or an inner knowing, sometimes a train of thought or germ of an idea that has that "feeling tone" or quality of spirit that I have come to recognize. This is practical attunement, somewhat like one of the Attunement exercises (Seeking An Answer Within) in the Searching For God lessons.

To be sure, this practice may not have as much to do with cleansing per se, as a change in the balance of the deep and superficial circulation.  The Cayce readings linked such physiology with states of consciousness associated with alterations in the nervous system.  Those of you familiar with John Van Auken’s “Spiritual Breakthrough” model might recognize this as being similar to the subtle, “thin veil” between conscious and unconscious states associated with the shift in the balance of physiology between the central nervous system (CNS) associated with the conscious mind and autonomic nervous system (ANS) associated with unconscious functioning.  John liked to tell the story of remembering a dream while lying in bed after just awakening (unconscious/autonomic predominant) and then getting up to go to the bathroom (conscious/CNS predominant) but not remembering the dream because of the shift in consciousness associated with shifts in nervous system balance.  To remember the dream, he would have to shift back to a more unconscious (ANS) state by meditating. (Van Auken, 1992, pp. 41-42)  In psychology this is called “state dependent learning,” a very useful tool for understanding changes in consciousness. 

In the bathtub meditation experience I described above, I have essentially flipped the pattern described by John by beginning in a conscious state and utilizing the shift in circulation and nervous system balance to enter a mild trance state.  Since state dependent learning applies, it is handy to have a pad and pen handy to jot down some notes, almost like a dream journal.  Otherwise, when I get out of the tub and cool off, I will not have access to the information that was so clear in my mind while in the tub.

There is another way of thinking about my bathtub meditation method from the standpoint of hypnosis and the work of Milton Erickson, a major figure in the field of hypnotherapy.  I encountered Erickon’s ideas about altered states of consciousness while in graduate school where several of my professors were very experienced with his methods.  Erickson observed that every person tends to go in and out of light trance states naturally during the day.  He said these were examples of “common everyday trance” which he sought to utilize in his technique.  From an Ericksonian perspective, bathtub meditation is simply a naturalistic trance induction technique.  The hot water relaxes the physical body and allows me (through my prayer and intention) to enter an altered state.  After all, physical relaxation is an important aspect of most approaches to meditation.

I don’t attempt to do meditation every time I take a bath (and I usually take a shower for cleansing anyway).  But as I noted previously, when I am involved in a creative project and need some special assistance or inspiration, I have come to rely on this technique.  So I thought I would share my experience with this unique approach to meditation (and some of my thinking about how I think it works) just to illustrate that there are many different ways to work with attunement.  It is helpful to be flexible and find what works best for you as you seek to attune to the Divine within.


Van Auken, J. (1992). Spiritual Breakthrough. Virginia Beach, VA: Inner Vision.

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