We went to a salt cave a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, I was living under a rock, because I thought we were going to a literal cave. But actually, it isn’t a cave at all. It’s a building that is filled with Himalayan pink salt, which has never been processed. People with allergies, dry skin, joint pain, and anxiety, can benefit from the atmosphere as they breathe in salty air, lay back in zero gravity chairs, and stick their sock-covered toes in the pebbles beneath them.
What I’m going to say does not reflect my experience at the salt cave in particular, so I am not going to say where I went. The staff was great, and people seemed to enjoy it, but I would neither recommend it nor tell you not to go. This is simply what went through my mind while I was sitting in that chair, in the dark, in a closed room with four other people I didn’t know.
When we arrived, the staff made us take off our shoes and recommended that we use the restroom before we started, since we wouldn’t be able to walk out once the session began. Oh, great, put me in a room full of strangers and lock the door. Sounds relaxing to me! Upon entering the room, we were told not to talk, snore, or get up during the experience. Again, I felt trapped. Thankfully, there was a chair right next to the door, and even if we couldn’t move, I at least pretended I could leave.
As we sat in our chairs, the door gently closed, and music began to play. For forty-five minutes. I had nothing to do but breathe and think. So that’s what I did.
I took a deep breathe and felt like I was at the beach. Oh, THAT’S why the beach relaxed me. I thought about how stressful my life has been, and how I hadn’t made any time for myself. But as I took another deep breathe, I thought about how many opportunities there are to relax. We can get a massage, we can do yoga, we can even go to a salt cave. But how come those don’t have lasting effects?
Needless to say, the salt cave did not help my anxiety, but it did make my skin feel like I had taken a bath in body lotion. Seriously, my skin was soft for at least a week after going. So, that was a plus. But since this post is about anxiety and not about skin care, I’ll finish my musings about anxiety.
What I didn’t mention was that I had done some research about this particular salt cave before making an appointment. They do not just have a spot where you can sit in salt for an hour; they also have psychic mediums, reiki, and singing bowls. Knowing this, here is why these self-care techniques don’t have lasting effects.
In my Christian faith and my understanding of the Bible, I believe that we are spiritual beings. Our souls have eternal value. I completely believe in the spiritual forces behind yoga, mediums, reiki, etc., because I have seen it first hand, before I came to know Jesus. However, I do not trust in these spiritual forces, as they are not for Jesus, but against Him. Jesus wants to set me free from anxiety, but the “other side” wants to keep me in bondage. While it looks like these mainstream self-care techniques want to give us peace, it’s not true peace. It’s numbing the pain, not dealing with it.
True peace comes from recognizing that our souls are secure in Christ. When we leave this life (because every one of us will one day die, or Jesus will come back), will we be in the loving arms of God, or far away from Him in the pit of despair? When we know that God will be with us no matter what, suddenly, everything we fear doesn’t seem so scary anymore. It’s not that we’ll never struggle with anxiety again, but that we have a Person to turn to when we do have those panic attacks, instead of dealing with it on our own.
In a world that wants to medicate pain instead of treating the wound, don’t lock yourself in a salt cave! Check your heart before you indulge in any self-care techniques. Some Christians enjoy yoga, and I have no problem with that, as long as they do their research and treat it more like a stretching exercise than like a spiritual awakening. No matter what you do to relax, meditate on the God who can offer you true peace. Only in Christ will you have true peace in God.