As I was heading to Kundalini yoga class first thing this Sunday morning the last place I expected to be that afternoon was in a circle of 9 luminescing women, singing, praying, swimming and respecting silence together in the nude.
We laughed and loved and healed... we honoured our minds, bodies and spirits for all the work they do in this life but mostly we honoured Mother Earth and all she does for us, our loved ones and our communities near and far.
We were naked not just of body but of soul. Bare to each other and ourselves, bare to the World. We connected with the spirits of the land and the four directions, North, South, East and West. We called on our spirit guides and ancestors to lead us and did the work we were there to do to heal them in return.
There in the darkness, we saw the past, present and future, we were connected to that thing greater than us, the ever present and unnamable one - universal consciousness.
The Practical - What’s Behind the Native American Sweat Lodge?:
A sweat lodge is a ceremonial way of prayer to connect with a higher consciousness, to purify the mind and body and honour the elements of the Earth.
It is a small dome like structure made of natural materials with a pile of large hot rocks in the centre - ours was big enough to stand upright. Water infused with herbs and essential oils are poured over the rocks to create steam and the steam in this dome like structure is said to represent the womb of Mother Earth, the heat produced by the rocks represents the light of the World.
The beautiful leader opens the ceremony with prayer and song and then everyone joins in before getting a turn to say a prayer or words of healing in each of four rounds honouring the directions, taking breaks outside the lodge to embrace the sky, air, trees and animal life. The ceremony then closes respectfully with intention.
I am not sure whether the Native Americans anticipated the health benefits imparted by a sweat but they are plentiful and if you remember how good you've felt after a 10 minute sauna or steam room, imagine how good you'd feel after a 4 hour combined steam room and sauna! That's because they increase circulation, repair broken skin tissue, relieve joint, muscle and arthritis pain and detoxify our skin. And I know I detoxed, my skin told me so;)
The 4 hours of heat was broken up by three 15 minute cold river swims...the benefits of immersing your body in cold water are increased metabolism, mental endurance, immune system and libido. I definitely felt all of these though I was too chicken to put my head under!
There was also the healing aspects of the earth elements on our breaks between - the wind on our skin, the dirt and twigs beneath our bare feet, the sun upon our faces and the oxygen and beauty of the towering ponderosa pines and quaking aspens overhead, connecting to the healing power of the earth elements is much easier after sitting in a sweat.
The Irish have a saying I love, they say, “what’s for you, won’t pass you”, well that’s Divine Timing, trusting that what you want will come to you at the time it is meant to and for me it made perfect sense that on my journey in search for what can bring us more love, health, healing and happiness, while on Native American soil, - mind you not planned at the outset of my trip - an invitation to a sweat lodge ceremony fell in to my lap.
I did not know what was in store for me this Sunday but I am not surprised because now that I am "in the flow", miracles keep happening. And even though I know to expect miracles in my life now, I am still pinching myself because miracles, especially ones like a synchronus sweat lodge should always be pinch-worthy.
With love and light,