I went to my first ever sweat lodge ceremony today in the South Valley (in Albuquerque, New Mexico) led by a LOVELY soul named Patricio. When I lived in Albuquerque, I had gone to a kiva ceremony at his place that was great a couple of years ago. The kiva is 4 feet underground and 2 feet above ground…but is a totally separate structure than the sweat lodge. The sweat lodge is much smaller and not below the surface of the Earth. Before going into the sweat lodge, Patricio talked to us in the kiva and told us what to expect. After he said that his goal was to make us as uncomfortable as possible without killing us, a woman left. LOL! We did talk about the horrible incident in Sedona where a “spiritual leader” showed gross negligence during a sweat lodge event and 3 people died. Today’s sweat was scheduled for 3 hours, but didn’t last the full 3, and the ceremony was divided up into 4 segments, with breaks in-between where we went outside to cool down. I brought in bottled water, which I learned 3/4 the way through was kind of a no-no according to purists. (Patricio didn’t mind.)
I do have to say, that if you have claustrophobia issues…and can’t handle humid heat…you may want to rethink doing a sweat lodge. That being said, even with my blood sugar issues, I did fine. I will admit to sitting near the door though. Ha! Just in case I needed to escape…but, I never felt the urge to run out. I’ve taken Bikram Yoga classes before, so I’ll compare it to that. Picture a Bikram HOT yoga class but it being done in a low ceilinged adobe hut where it’s 3 times hotter…and pitch black so that you can’t see anything. 🙂
Patricio mentioned that when he went to a Lakota sweat years ago, it was so hot, the water that dropped down onto him from the ceiling literally caused skin blisters…so I feel very lucky he took it easier on us today!
I’ve had horrible edema for some menopausal reason this past week, so I’m hoping the gallons of sweat today released some of the trapped water in my stomach and legs/feet! I will admit that it was hard to keep my mind focused on the numerous toning sessions, prayers sessions, verbalized intentions, Native American spiritual songs, etc. while in the sweat lodge. My mind kept going to, “When is the next break? When are we done? Can you last for the entire ceremony and not be a wimp?” In defense of myself, this was my first sweat. 🙂 Hopefully, with successive sweats, I’ll be able to go deeper than, “When can I get air?” I did try to focus on my 3rd eye and going within…but I am easily distracted.
Since, because of my Federal Government day job, I can’t do things like Peyote and Ayahuasca, I need to do what I can that’s acceptable to achieve altered states of consciousness. (I don’t like barfing anyway and know that Peyote makes you vomit.)
This is me after surviving 300 humid degrees. 🙂 Yes…I have no make-up on needless to say!
I am very drawn to Native American spirituality and spiritual practices, in addition to my Tibetan leanings. I’m very glad I went today, and do urge others to look to experience FIRST HAND spiritual experiences vs. just going to church and listening to other humans talk about what you should and shouldn’t believe and do. Personal experience and KNOWING the truth is SO much more important than just believing what some other guy/gal tells you. It does take effort, though, and is not for the lazy.