I recently had the opportunity to participate in a sweat lodge, which is a form of prayer held by the Native American Church.
This was my first time ever going to a sweat lodge, so I was really excited, and wasn’t sure what to expect.
Upon arriving at the location, I was welcomed very lovingly by several of the church members. I was shown the area where the sweat would be taking place, which is located in the yard behind their house.
The lodge itself was made very simply. Tree branches were used to build the frame, and the entire structure was covered with blankets.
It’s sort of like a teepee, but instead of a pointy top, it has a round dome shape, which perhaps helps to circulate the heat.
In the center is a pit about a foot or two deep, which is where they put hot rocks in order to generate heat.
Here’s how it works – when the sweat lodge begins, everyone makes their way inside, and then several hot rocks are added to the center. These rocks are glowing red, because they’ve been sitting in a fire pit for several hours.
After closing the door, and covering all air holes with blankets, water is then added to the rocks, causing steam to rise, which raises the temperature inside the lodge.
The sweat lodge is considered a prayer meeting, so during this time several songs are sung, and we focus very deeply on prayer.
They also say that the rocks carry our prayers to heaven. This reminded me that I use quartz crystals in a similar manner because of the energy they carry. They can be used as a powerful tool for interacting with other dimensions, and adding fire to the mix causes it to become even more intense.
After each hot rock was added, they also sprinkled a pinch of Cedar on top, which instantly burst into flames due to the intense heat. This filled the entire lodge with a beautiful fragrance.
One aspect of this experience that I really loved, is how each item being used is honored in reverence before God. The entire experience was very spiritually focused, and before every action there was a pause, where we take a moment to give thanks.
Gratitude has been a major theme I’m seeing lately in my own journey, and I’m learning how powerful it can be to stop and say, “thank you”, for everything I’m experiencing.
The sweat lodge was done in four rounds.
The first two rounds lasted roughly 20-30 minutes each. They were tough at first, but once I got used to it I was able to manage.
The third and fourth though, were SUPER intense! They added WAY more water to the rocks this time, and it got so hot we needed to finish much more quickly.
The last two rounds only lasted about 5-10 minutes each, and it was so intense I was DRENCHED in sweat by the very end.
During the very beginning of round one, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I’d been to a sauna before, but this turned out to be much more intense.
Within the first few minutes I became so hot and uncomfortable, thoughts of quitting were already entering my mind. I knew I didn’t want to give up that easily though, so I decided to stick it out until I absolutely couldn’t take it anymore.
The longer I stayed in, the hotter it got, and all I could think about was how uncomfortable my body was feeling.
The facilitators let us know that we’re welcome to go outside to get some air at any time, especially since overheating is a real issue if you pass out or try to stay longer than your body can safely handle.
It’s also important to keep in mind though, that this is a sweat lodge, so it’s expected that you’re going to be hot and uncomfortable throughout this process. Whenever this happens and you feel the desire to quit, it helps to focus on your loved ones, as well as praying to God, your spirit guides, or guardian angels.
During my time in the lodge, I did just that.
I had a very spiritual experience, and my guides were leading me through the entire process.
I was led to focus on my higher self.
In my mind, going up higher and higher, one dimension at a time, I was led to tune-in to particular states of higher consciousness during each of the succeeding rounds.
This is something I’d already learned to do in my own spiritual practice, but most people will at least do some form of prayer while they’re in the sweat lodge.
Doing this helped a LOT, as well as focusing on my breathing, and generally just being aware of how my body feels. Even when it didn’t feel good because I was REALLY uncomfortable, I was led to focus my attention on whichever part of my body was feeling the discomfort, and breathe INTO it.
It doesn’t help if I try to negate the uncomfortable feeling, or ignore/run from it. The way to find wholeness is to breathe into it. Be completely present with what you’re experiencing, and give yourself permission to be where you are.
Round 1 and 2 took a little getting used to, but once I was acclimated it felt pretty easy.
Round 3 and 4 though were on an entirely different level!
It was so intense I could hardly breathe. The air itself was painful, and I wanted to get away from it. I actually had to open my mouth and pant like a dog because of how intensely hot it was. I was sweating profusely, but the best I could do was just focus on being present.
I naturally have a tendency to tense everything up, and scrunch up my face when I’m in pain, but during this process I was led intuitively to relax every muscle in my body.
Starting with my face, then releasing my hands, and eventually my entire body, I made sure every single part of me was completely relaxed.
Doing so, I found peace. It didn’t matter how insanely hot the air around me was, internally I was completely calm, and I went into a deeply relaxed meditative state.
Throughout this journey, it felt like the discomfort of the heat was a spiritual dying process, and we were being reborn with new life. That’s actually what they say the sweat lodge represents, it’s the womb of the Earth, and the entire ceremony is a rebirthing process.
In between each round, they pull up some of the blankets to let some fresh air in, giving us a chance to cool down.
After the final round was complete, I eagerly anticipated taking a breath of fresh air, and once I’d done so, it was without a doubt the most perfect breath I’d taken in my entire life.
I was so happy just to breathe again, I couldn’t even express how thankful I was!
After making our way out of the sweat lodge and getting reacquainted with the cool air, my experience seemed to become even more intense.
I immediately started feeling dizzy, and it seemed like I was about to go unconscious. My vision started blurring, and in my ears I could hear a ringing sound.
For some reason though, I never felt like passing out while I was actually inside the sweat lodge. It wasn’t until after stepping outside that I became light headed all of a sudden.
This may have been because I was sitting down the whole time, so standing up suddenly may have caused a shift in blood pressure.
I took a moment to kneel on the ground until I got my bearings straight.
While this was happening, everything got really intense all of a sudden. My vision faded and all I could see was a ring of light. I was fine after a moment, but I waited until I was feeling better to get up again.
Afterward, we took some time to rest and soak in the experience.
There was food prepared, so we went into the house and had a feast.
All in all, it was an amazing experience.
I’m sure the way I explained everything may have sounded a bit off to anyone who’s more familiar with Native American Culture, because I didn’t know what everything was called or how to describe it properly. I had never done anything like this before though, so I’m happy to explain it the best I know how.
I’m still learning, so I’m eager to experience more, and I look forward to going to my next sweat lodge again very soon.
Thank you to everyone who facilitated this, I look forward to seeing you again.