On Veterans, Spas, Sex and Healing

Today, we’re grateful for veterans. Which is obvious, on Veterans Day. At a basic level, we’d like to thank veterans for their service to all of us, and underscore that they’re among our most important clients, because of the “sweet spot” that they’re in, in terms of the benefits of floating. More on that at www.olyfloat.com/veterans. We also, by the way, have FOUR floats available in our Freedom Floats fund – donated by our regular float club members – that can be used by any vet who wants or needs to float.

I also wanted to share a quick tale, too, about veterans, floating and sex. Yup, sex. Okay, spas. And sex.

In Ancient Rome, when armies were returning from battle, they often were made to wait outside the city walls before entrance back into civilian life. Carrying the wounds of war (physical, mental and psychic/spiritual) and collective masculine energy of violence about them, having lost a part of their humanity from looking other men in the eye as they took the life from them, they were considered “inappropriate” for re-entry into civilian life until they had had an opportunity to heal and deal with those wounds. So entire armies would be sent to the spa. The Baths of Caracalla, constructed in 217AD, for example, could accommodate 1,600 bathers in an area of more than a million square feet. Diocletian built baths in the year 302 that were large enough to accommodate 3,200 bathers.

These ancient houses of healing would usually include an exercise room, a sauna, hot and cold pools, and rooms for massages. Some bathhouses also included libraries, gardens, and lecture halls. And, in particular, many of the bathhouses would have women, perhaps men too, whose entire lives were dedicated to learning and practicing the art of sexual healing (known as tantra in eastern practice). Experiencing pleasure was viewed as key to shedding the pains of suffering. These women were viewed as prestigious, not tawdry, as an essential part of society being balanced and healthy. The women who served the returning armies were healers, serving a core function to society.

So there was a time when relaxation, body work, pleasure and even sex were an intrinsic part of the culture that was essential for healing veterans of battle.

That culture – certainly in military circles – is now near non-existent. The idea of relaxation is viewed in our military culture as an absurd idea for healing the damages of war, as not masculine enough. Veterans are basically told to suck it up, suppress it with drugs, or spend 20 years in psychotherapy to try and deconstruct what happened through the narrow confines of the conscious mind.

What we try to offer is akin to what one of the greatest and most successful cultures in the history of humankind deeply recognized as not valuable, but essential: a place to allow the deep wounds to be seen and for the clenched fist to be opened again, to allow the act of touch to be one of love and healing instead of violence, so that veterans can return to civilian society without so many of the physical, emotional and psychic burdens of battle.

We don’t offer tantric sex services. Sorry, guys. Just to be clear.   That’s not our jam. There’s other places for that, and there’s actually great classes on tantra, that can help couples heal each other. But we certainly offer the spa services that the Ancient Romans viewed as an essential healing process that enabled society to function correctly.

So, I’m grateful to the Ancient Romans, for the history and the example, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve our veteran community and help restore them back to balance.