Individuals in increasing numbers are seeking out sweat lodge experiences for various reasons. This comes as no surprise due to the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits that a sweat lodge can offer! Sweat lodges are an ancient tradition that is found in many cultures all around the world. These traditions certainly vary from each geographical location, but there are common benefits and purposes shared by those who participate. Sweat lodge ceremonies in North America are typically associated with Native American cultures, but other cultural influences can be found as well.
If you’re thinking of attending a sweat lodge, it’s important to do your research! Find out how they work, contemplate what you're hoping to accomplish through your experience, and learn about how you can benefit and stay safe!
How does it work?
Sweat lodges are typically made from materials such as clay, stone, tree branches, or other natural materials. In some lodges, inorganic materials are incorporated in the structure. Stones are placed in the center of the lodge, water is poured over the stones, and a heavy steam is created which fills the air. Complete silence during ceremonies may be a part of the process, as to allow for participants to conduct work inwards. It is not uncommon for ceremonies to include chanting, drumming, or periods of meditation. Checking ahead of time to understand the atmosphere of a ceremony that you plan to attend will help you select the experience that you most desire.
Sweat lodges typically last between 2-3 hours. Much longer than the mere 20-30 minute limit recommended for a sauna! The spiritual aspect of a sweat lodge is what sets it apart from the experience of a sauna. During the 2-3 sweat, there are typically breaks between rounds and water is provided. It is a good idea to completely familiarize yourself with the procedure of a sweat lodge that you plan to attend as they may vary depending on venue.
Why are people seeking this experience?
The reasons for attending a sweat lodge ceremony vary greatly for each individual. Traditionally, Native American cultures engaged in ceremonies to show gratitude, facilitate healing, seek wisdom, and welcome visions. Participants enter into these experiences today for many of the same reasons and leave feeling cleansed and rejuvenated.
Sweat lodges are said to bring spiritual purification, mental clarity, and a renewal of inner strength. Many may be seeking to experience an emotional release or have come to heal ailments of the body or of one’s soul. The atmosphere of a lodge allows one to learn about themselves and revive their inner strength. We highly recommend evaluating your purpose for attending a ceremony and select one that can best help you achieve this purpose!
What are some Health Benefits?
Imagine you are a sponge filled with water. When squeezed, water, dirt, and other toxic materials are expelled and flushed out of the system! There are proven health benefits to sweating and the release of these toxins. Sweat is not the only thing being released from the body! Endorphins, that are typically present during heavy physical activity, are also released during a sweat lodge. The increased temperature in the body during the ceremony is said to help fight infections, ease muscle pain, and benefit the body in other ways.
Are Sweat Lodges Safe?
Sweat lodges are safe. As long as the leader puts the safety of participants first at all times and ensures that the conditions are completely safe within the lodge as well. It is important to research a ceremony you wish to attend and their leader before attending. It is also crucial to check with your doctor to evaluate any pre-existing conditions that you may have before entering into this experience. ALWAYS ask for help if you’re in need! Due to exposure to the heat, it’s vital to reach out if you are feeling dizzy or dehydrated. Don’t feel the need to push yourself. Listen to your body, take breaks, and consult with your leader for any needs you may have.
By Sarah Blanks