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The Lemon Foot-Bath

I sort of missed the great time of citrus abundance here in Australia in time for this post, but whilst visiting home last month in New Zealand, I was sent out to collect a lemon from Dad’s tree, and, see:

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Total abundance!

This prompted me to share with you a wonderful skill I picked up earlier in the year, that of, giving a loved one a lemon foot-bath.

Let me describe first what you will need:

  • 1 bucket, a lá foot-bath (something both feet can rest comfortably in with water reaching above the ankles)
  • several towels or blankets
  • 1 juicy lemon
  • 1 knife
  • hot water, and maybe a jug to top up the bucket with
  • copper, olive or other massage oil of choice
  • socks for recipient (optional)

This foot-bath may of course be given to yourself, too!

Secondly, let me share the directions with you:

  • Prepare the chair for your friend, make sure it is comfortable and supports the lower back
  • Gather a few blankets, as many as you will need to cover your friend’s lap, shoulders and torso for warmth
  • Fill up an appropriate sized bucket (both feet will need to rest comfortably in it, submerged) with water as hot as your friend can handle
  • Pop your friend in the chair, help them get comfy and bring the either full-of-water foot-bath over or proceed to use a smaller jug to fill the bath
  • Score and graze the lemon using a knife, under the water, with the aim of releasing the essential oil from the skin, then cut the lemon into quarters squeezing out the juice into the water
  • Remove the lemon wedges from the water and scoop out the pips and pulp with your hands and invite your friend to place their feet in the foot-bath, checking that the temperature suits them
  • Place the blankets over your friend’s lap and around their body so they will be warm and comfortable. Use a sarong or other light cotton fabric in warmer climes. Since your friend will be sitting for 10-20 minutes something over bare skin will help to elude any chill

Allow 10-20 minutes of quiet for your friend to sit, relaxing their body, enjoying the aroma, to allow the processes to take place.

  • When time is up, gently lift your friend’s feet from the bath and pat them dry with a towel. Get the bath out of the way so their feet may rest again on the floor. Gently rub some oil into their feet and pop woollen socks on them, or wrap them up in a towel or blanket. Let your friend rest another few minutes until they are ready to emerge from the treatment.

img_7722Processes?  So what is happening here?

Let’s begin with the unique characteristic of the lemon.

Of all the fruits, lemons do not contain sugar. For some reason the energy they receive from the sun is not converted into fructose in the fruit. Even when we think of others in the (sour) citrus group, orange, mandarin, cumquat, even lime, a vivid sweetness is brought to mind, especially when compared to the acid sourness of a lemon.

Through this, we can think about the warmth process being held back in the lemon. There is no fructose, no warming sweetness to stimulate the senses the way a sweet fruit would. Instead, the lemon has a definite quality of inwardness, or of drawing energy downward.

Think about the reaction we have when we suck on a wedge of lemon – we pucker – this is a drawing of reaction downwards. In contrast we can think about how a sweet sensation warms or opens us up, outward. In simplistic terms, a sweetened drink is given in times of shock, for this reason, to balance the reflex of a closed inward reaction.

How and why is this sweetness held back? What prevents the energy of the sun to be converted into sugar like with every other fruit? How is it, this ‘held-backness’ characteristic is able to benefit us in a therapeutic way? I don’t know the answers to these questions… but do you? Please add any insights and knowledge in the comments section below!

I have always admired the ‘grand design’ of lemons ripening just when we need them, just when we get sniffles and think about those honey and chilli, ginger and lemon tea concoctions, there they are, tear drop orbs of condensed sunlight, hanging patiently from the tree, ready for when we are ready to pick them.

 

When did the lemons learn the same creed as the sun?

Pablo Neruda

 

Condensed sun energy, held back from full fruition into fructose, the lemon holds a unique gift for us.

This characteristic is exploited by the simple use of a foot-bath to relieve the head, the mind, the brain, the intellect, of over-stimulation and to draw this energy downward throughout the body thus rebalancing it.

How exactly this happens by placing your feet in a lemony bath, I am unsure… but by direct experience, I can say the process that occurs is relieving and reviving.

I would love to hear your reactions to the process you experience.

I have felt gurgling in my tummy as what I assume ‘energy’ is directed downward and has had an effect on my gut. I have felt a sleepiness and lightness too as a result. It really is a relief to have that stuffy mental cloud ‘shifted’ after a heavy conversation or stretch of study, an exam, or a period of cerebral stress, for whatever the reason.

Why not give your hard-working partner a lemon foot-bath at the end of the day and without too much more stimulation, tuck them up in bed afterwards and note the quality of their sleep? Indulge yourself, or simply take care of yourself (!!) when you know you have had a tough one and need some mental relief.


I received my first rather blissful lemon foot-bath by the lovely Rose, back in May, during a workshop called Conscious Parenting. I wrote a blogpost immediately after my time there and you can find it by clicking the above link. The workshop was run by Melanie, Fiona and Katerina who are involved here, at The Inner Work Path and who are active in the northern NSW and Bellingen areas of Australia.

We learned that the lemon foot-bath may be used for the relief of intellectual stimulation which may have led to headaches or over-thinking/anxiety, to use as a ‘grounding’ tool after a tough day, or to aid in other transitional times when stress is being held in the head and needs some help to flow downwards and out.

This treatment is perfectly safe for school aged children too, just be mindful of adjusting the time they would feel comfortable sitting with their feet immersed. Be sure to create a trusting a serene atmosphere for the foot-bath and never be forceful in offering the treatment.

Contraindications for a lemon foot-bath include when the recipient has a fever, or is pregnant. If in any doubt, talk to an anthroposophical nurse, naturopath or other health professional experienced in this treatment.


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Citrus x limon, incredible bundles of therapeutic goodness, and just ripe for the picking
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