Now, I've followed the Mikveh process twice before. Once in a local swimming pool and once at the natural pond in East Hampstead - but now that I have been given full advice on how to perform the Mikveh, I feel that I can truly benefit.
My teacher was very interested in telling me everything I needed to know about the consciousness of using the Mikveh and gave me as much information as he could.
- The Mikveh is open to women on a Monday
- You need to remove all jewellery and be wearing no makeup, deodorant, etc
- The first immersion should be performed with the eyes and mouth open
- The consciousness should be one of re-birth - returning to the embryo state, oh and requesting before entering the Mikveh that your Ego is left at the door.
Men and women do not discuss the technicalities of the Mikveh as a general rule - it seems to be a very private thing. Probably because it also requires consideration of the menstrual cycle - and we all know how much men love to discuss periods. (And I know that this was wrong, but when my teacher said "And of course you cannot do this when you have your period and you don't need to discuss this with me - you can discuss this with one of the girls if you like" I was so tempted to say "Oh I don't mind, really, let me give you all of the detail..." just to see the look on his face.)
Anyhow, so for the past few weeks my teacher has been tentatively asking whether I had booked the mikveh and what with one thing and another, I said no. And then when I said that I planned to do the mikveh next Monday (i.e. today) he asked me whether I had already booked it. Book the mikveh? Nobody told me this before. He also suggested that perhaps for the first time one of the women from the centre should come in with me (in to the room, not the mikveh) and walk me through the process.
I thought that this was a very good idea. And it gave me the opportunity to ask all of the questions that I had really been itching to ask, like:
- Do I need to bring my own towel?
- Are there hairdryers?
- Is the water in the Mikveh cold?
Honestly - nobody thinks to tell you these things.
So, anyway, I booked the Mikveh for today. I was offered 8, 8:30 or 9. Probably 9 was the best time, because it takes an hour and a half to get in on the train, after which I could head to W's house to work for the day, so I booked it.
After a lazy day yesterday I couldn't get to sleep. Must get up early. Must get up early. My head ran through the checklist one last time:
- Laptop bag packed: check.
- Make-up bag packed: check.
- Clothes laid out ready for the morning: check.
- Belly-button ring removed for the first time in 13 years: check.
- Contact lens case and glasses packed (so that I didn't lose my lenses during the first immersion and have to grope my way home on the tube): check.
- Alarm set for 6am: check.
I looked at the clock: 2:30 am. *sigh* Only another 3 1/2 hours to SLEEEEEP-why-can't-I-SLEEP?!.
Surprisingly I woke feeling reasonably refreshed at 6am, got up, showered, washed my hair and dried it without adding any product. Left the house without make-up. Patiently waited for the delayed trains to arrive. Marched swiftly down to the centre just in time for my appointment. I was ready.
There was just one tiny little detail that somehow had escaped me. At no point when I asked all of the stupid questions or booked my appointment did I think to check one crucial point:
Is that 9 in the morning? Or 9 at night?
I was 12 hours early.
If I am lucky, I will get to visit the mikveh tonight. And if not, then this dirty, small, contaminated vessel might have to wait another week.
Oh well - you cannot say that I wasn't willing...