Don’t Look Back

I’m going to sound like your kooky crystals hippie friend when I talk about this service, so I apologize in advance. Based off the traditional jjimjilbang experience, the Korean Scrub is two parts: you shower off, then sit in the steam room for about 15 minutes. The steam helps the outer layer of your skin plump with water so it will slough off easily. After that, our lead scrub therapist, Brittan, will come get you from the steam, and lead you over to a table where she will exfoliate your entire body with exfoliating mitts.

Armpits, behind your ears, behind your knees, your bellybutton, your buttcheeks. All of it. Every part you don’t think about gets attention from her kind, patient hand. After she exfoliates you, she plunges a big bowl into a deep sink of warm water and pours it over you and you feel like crying because it feels so beautiful. While that probably sounds vaguely painful and weird, the weirdest part is that it feels curative, and restorative, and refreshing. It feels like it was overdue. There is a reason something as unglamorous as having someone exfoliate you feels ritualistic or spiritual in nature. Stress isn’t just something that affects us in the short term by making us lose a little sleep here and there, but the hormones our bodies produce in reaction to external stressors (like the p*ndemic which is still somehow a part of our lives) affect us at the cellular level. Our hair falls out, our skin gets dry and papery, our nails get brittle and split. Part of the reason that happens is because all the excess hormones from extreme, prolonged stress gets stored in things that our bodies eventually slough off like skin and hair. When we leave dead skin sit around, we are hanging onto what our bodies are secretly trying to get rid of, so the symbolism of “shedding the past” has just as much of a physiological implication as the spiritual. I know everyone has really been beating to death the idea that these are “challenging times,” but the reason everyone is hammering on about it is because things have never changed this rapidly for this many people all at the same time. And if things are changing, for better or for worse, that also means things are ending.

A sentimental part of me always wants to hang on to the past, and I know many of you reading this can probably identify with that notion. But moving up a ladder means you have to let go of the rung below that you’ve been holding. You have to let go in order to grow through this chapter. At one point towards the end of the service, Brittan asked me if I wanted to feel all the dead skin she removed from my leg. After I felt it, she simply said, “let it all go.” And slowly poured an ocean of water over me.

– Colleen, Sacred Hour Massage Therapist + Head Staff Writer