Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sweating the Details

When I worried about how to ground the energy of this trip once returned home and buried in the daily details of living, I had not paid attention to my calendar.

The very next evening, still jet-lagged, I went with a friend to a lecture by Dr. Yonten, a Tibetan healer who talked about the mind/body connection. This gentle man, soft-spoken with a delightful laugh, related the health of the physical body to the spiritual well-being of a patient. Emotional pain can radically affect how well the body functions and be more a cause of disease than any bacteria or virus.

This subject has become important to me as my doctor friend and I embark on a venture to write about alternatives to standard medical practices for healing. His own experience in the hospital has been life-altering and motivated us to move from theory to actual words on paper. The more we articulate the idea, the more contacts we have with people like Dr. Yonten.

The next day, I returned for a consultation, not suffering from any particular aliment, but curious to learn what could be prescribed to alieve the emotional stress in my body over these many years of failing business and struggling marriage. He received me in the side office of the Sanctuary where he had lectured, listened to my story, felt my pulse and looked at my tongue, then dealt me a month’s worth of Himalayan herbs that taste horrible, but are predicted to cleanse my chakras. My heart certainly felt calmer in his comforting presence.

On this glorious spring Saturday morning, as buds burst and snow is forgotten, a leader of my men’s group hosted a traditional Native American sweat lodge. Starting early to cut the sticks to bend in the frame and the logs to heat the rocks, there was much work to be done, and the men set to it mindfully. Every aspect of the event was ceremonial and full of ritual, providing a long opportunity to meditate in motion.

Once the lodge was built, covered and blessed, and the fire set ablaze, the ten of us lounged in quiet conversation. I played some music to accompany the peaceful hours, and we nibbled on nuts and oranges until it was time to enter the sacred space.

Ritual directed all the movements; there was order to everything. The fire was due east of the door, connected by a pathway that could not be crossed except by a man carrying the rocks, glowing with heat, carefully on a pitch fork. The actual sweat lasted about three hours, the ten of us circled around a pit, shrouded in absolute darkness, surrounded by the powerful smells of sage, sweet and bitter roots, cedar and lavender. Water created steam and our bodies were purged of toxins, our spirits purified.

The process allowed for guided acknowledgement of the life force energies around us, opportunities to celebrate our victories and pray for the souls of loved ones we know are suffering, and commitments of intention in our own lives. We sat vigilant in the darkness, breathing deeply, heavily rooted to the circle of brotherhood that contained us.

Cleansed and liberated this evening, I am content to sit alone, resting from all of the spiritual encounters of this past week. I suck on the muddy herbs of the Himalaya and rinse my mouth with hot water, contemplative and peaceful.

It is marvelous that boundaries are collapsing, allowing us to experiment with a mixture of philosophies, cultures and practices. In a very short time, I have walked with pagans, meditated with a Tibetan, sweated with new warriors of integrity, and played music at a raucous party in a garage. Life is full of spirit around every corner if we just make sure we slow down enough to notice.

Please share with your friends


Anonymous said...

I can feel the calm radiate from this post Kip. Such a sense of peace.

persistentillusion said...

I love sweat lodges. There is just nothing to compare to the experience.

P.S. I am uber excited to see what you and your Dr. friend come up with!

Laurie said...

I would love to know what you do for anxiety. I am concerned that I will end up with some disease caused from anxiety but I can't seem to shake it.