So I may not have posted anything last night, but I did manage to write a little bit. It wasn’t much more than a couple sentences, but it was something. The reason I didn’t post it was simply because it wasn’t finished, it was only the basic idea behind what I wanted to say. I had the desire, and certainly the inspiration, but what I lacked was the sheer energy required to complete it.
This wasn’t due to being lazy or anything, I was merely spent and needed to sleep. You see, I attended my very first sweat lodge last night and though it was an absolutely incredible experience, I was exhausted by the time I got back home from the work my body had done whilst inside.
For those unfamiliar with what a sweat lodge is, it’s a traditional ceremonial practice intended to purify and renew the body, mind, and spirit. After requesting permission to enter, you go into a small dark dome shaped shelter and large rocks are brought in one at a time after everyone is inside.
These rocks have been heating in a fire for several hours before they are removed and brought in. As each stone is welcomed into the lodge, offerings of sacred herbs are placed on top, filling the lodge with sweet relaxing aromas. Once all the stones have been placed in a small pit at the center of the lodge, the door is closed leaving the interior in total darkness.
After opening prayers, water is poured at intervals onto the stones causing billowing clouds of steam to fill the enclosed space, blanketing the skin of all inside. Between the steam and the heat, you sweat. A lot. Beyond that, I won’t go into the particulars of the remainder of the ceremony as there is another aspect of my experience that I wish to share. If you are interested in learning more about it, I would suggest doing a bit of research and trying it for yourself.
It’s certainly an experience I would recommend, but I would advise you to make sure you are very well hydrated before participating in one. I was not entirely sure what to expect going into it and the final portion of the ceremony was challenging for me because I had run out of fluids to sweat out. Despite the challenge, I’m very grateful to have had a tough time for the final few minutes because it helped me push my perceived limitations and better know the extent of my strength, even when I experience doubts.
This concept of personal strength is the main idea that I managed to write a couple of lines about last night, despite my exhaustion. At one point in the evening, after everyone present had an opportunity to express their own personal prayers, the man facilitating the lodge and pouring the water shared a bit of wisdom from a previous sweat he had participated in.
He told us of another occasion in which someone else had shared their perspective of the prayers those inside had offered. Many of the participants in that lodge had spoken prayers asking for strength. He asked us to think about what is involved in gaining strength and building muscle. When working out, you start by lifting an amount of weight over and over, tearing your muscles down and rebuilding them until they grow stronger and the weight gets lighter.
As you gain strength, you keep adding ever increasing amounts of weight. This is how you grow stronger, you face obstacle after obstacle and push yourself harder and harder. So, in essence, when you are praying for strength, you are asking for greater and greater challenges to push you and help you grow.
He said to us that many people pray for strength when in reality, what they are seeking is peace. They often don’t really mean that they want more challenges to keep pushing them, they want to get through the tough time and not have it feel like it is as much of a struggle.
If you give any credence to the law of attraction, or prayers being answered, you should be mindful of what you’re really asking for and be aware of the power your words and thoughts have. If peace is what you seek, then that is what you should pray for. The way he described it, it made perfect sense and seemed both logically obvious, and immensely profound at the same time. I can only hope I’m doing justice to his intended message while trying to explain my perspective of what he shared.
Aside from feeling lighter and refreshed, in an exhausted sort of way, and a deep sense of being immensely honored to have shared such an incredible experience with amazing people, this perspective of strength and peace is what stuck with me the most. As I laid down after showering (I was very muddy after hours of sitting on the ever-dampening earth) this was the thought that lingered in my mind as I began to drift off to sleep for the evening.
A sweat lodge is a very sacred space, as is the bond formed by those who enter the lodge for the ceremony, and I wish to afford it and them with the utmost respect possible. I’ve done my best to do so tonight while sharing part of what I experienced. I know many people out there are experiencing trying times right now for a multitude of reasons and I thought that perhaps there were some who might find benefit, clarity, or comfort from this perspective.
I thank the lodge, the spirits, those who participated in the ceremony with me, and the earth itself for allowing me to have such a profound experience. And I thank you, for allowing me to share part of that experience with you tonight. I pray for peace for all of us.