Tanya Borodina
sweden teaches
NOT TO BE SHY
If you're about to undertake a course of anxiety therapy, you should start with the Swedish baths. One of the finest exemplary bath is located in Malmo and called Ribersborgs kallbadhus. It's literally situated in the sea, with both the facade and interior remarkably Swedish in aesthetic. Equality desired by the progressive part of mankind comes true right here.

Here we are, in a crowded steam room: men and women, naked or draped, of different races and ages, touching one another as the space for movement is scarce. And we endure these 70 to 80 degrees Celsius, breathing regularly and sweating profusely. I am a human being, and so are the others. We're not the same, but we're equal. There are amphitheatrical benches with windows overlooking the sea, much better than any TV programme, I shall say. If you're lucky enough, you may even witness the process of pouring an oil-potlicker over the stones. The ten-minute show with towel flailing has an interesting outset and a gorgeous finale. By the end of the show you're almost dying, deafened by your own heartbeat. And then it's a high time for girls and boys to go seperate ways: down the stairs and into the arctic-cold sea. In the buff, obviously. With the feeling of rebirth comes the awareness of one's fleshliness and potency.


Then you may want to spend a few days in a representative Swedish house or flat. Transparency and opennes are postulated in Sweden regarding laws and media. But not only them. Swedes do not favour curtains covering the windows, and rarely ever use them. Such attitude is rooted in the Middle Ages, the time when an honest man was considered to be the one with nothing to hide. It's interesting to watch your habits change over time when you aware of the fact that anyone can see you, and later on you completely forget about it.

Promenades in the centre of the city also have therapeutic potential. One question had been haunting me since childhood: "What would people think?" "Nothing", the realization finally came. Swedes neither scan, nor judge you by your looks. You may look whatever you feel like: although the percentage of individuals looking weird to Russian tastes is high, you will never come across anybody staring and gazing at you, no matter if there's something wrong with the way you look, or contrariwise, if you look flawlessly. It takes time to change your own attitude to it and stop taking yourself up short, or be frightened by the thought of leaving home wearing stockings skirtless, or wearing makeup on a single eye, but it definitely pays off with usury in the long run.

Time after time I peep at Swedes (can afford it for the time being), adding to my personal example. Swedes value comfort over appearance. At any moment feel free to take off your shoes if they hurt your feet, or repose anywhere if you're tired, or put on a coat over your winter jacket if you're cold. The way to enlightenment is undoubtedly a long one, but there's no coming back,
for sure.
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