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After a hectic day or week, there’s nothing better than a soothing massage. In fact, merely filling up a basin with warm water and dunking your feet in it or relaxing in a bathtub is more than enough to calm you down.

The first impression of the Keerimalai pond in the Northern Province is one that is full of loud boys and men who keep splashing water at each other or jumping into the water in various ways. This doesn’t seem like the best place to relax. However, this is the men’s pool. On the other side, hidden behind a wall is the women’s bathing area and this secluded pond could be described as paradise.

It’s sure to get loud, women are chatterboxes after all. However, it was less crowded when we visited Keerimalai ponds two weeks ago. There were a few women and while they were having fun with their children, it wasn’t as loud as the men’s bathing area. While we didn’t have extra outfits so we could have a bath, we did want to at least feel the water.

So, we pulled up the legs of our pants, sat on one of the steps and relaxed while the water surrounded our legs and lapped at our knees. It felt as if suddenly the world had stopped its journey around the sun and that someone had pressed pause.

Water is used as a metaphor for many things. Water also symbolizes many things, for instance, purity, clarity and calmness. The five hindrances
(pancha nivarana) in Buddhism were compared to types of water, for instance water covered in algae or muddy water. Thus a life without sensory desire, ill-will, torpor, restlessness and worry and doubt could be described as clear and thus clean water. Most relaxation methods involve the sound of the sea or flowing river.

Thus water, whether it’s how it feels or sounds, is able to calm the mind and rid it of any obstructions or interference from the outside world.

Thus it’s no surprise that people want to spend hours and hours in a place like Keerimalai. It washes away all those feelings you have bottled up and eating at you.

However, this isn’t something you can only achieve in Keerimalai, which isn’t just a hop, step and jump away for those from Colombo. In fact, even from the Jaffna town, Keerimalai is quite a distance away. Is the trip worth it, though? Definitely.

For me, it took the trip to Keerimalai to realize just how easily I can relax and calm down. While a visit to a spa will cost quite a lot, Keerimalai was free to all. Streams and ponds are also usually free and a dip in one will bring you no harm. Even filling a basin with warm water and dipping your feet in it for a short while will be extremely beneficial.

However, today, we are quite used to paying for things rather than making use of what’s free to us. For instance, while you can listen to an audio of the sound of the ocean, you can also relax in the morning or evening by going to the beach and listening to what the sea actually sounds like. Yes, relaxing in a bathtub feels good, but it feels even better to rest against a rock and let the water of a stream cool you and also calm you.

So take a dip. Plunge right in if you would like to. Either way, just spend some time with water and notice how water calms you and also reaches to the depths of your mind that needs cleaning. It isn’t only for drinking and a dip will cause no harm at all.

Pic by Sakuna M Gamage
Pic by Sakuna M Gamage