Where Innocence and Joy Reside

Archive for January 10, 2012

Write About It, Talk About It, Pray About It.

A dear friend invited me to participate in Sweat Lodge ceremonies on New Year’s Day. She had an invited me before, but there always seemed to be scheduling conflicts. But not this time, this is where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing on New Year’s Day. My friend has spoken so lovingly of the people involved and what it has meant to her over the past years to be a part of this family and tradition. I wanted to experience this for myself, and I was thrilled to be there. I have never been a participant in this type of ceremony and cleansing (at least in this lifetimeJ), it was all new to me, but as I said I was very excited about it. Part of my friend’s intent in inviting me was that I had just moved to the area where I am residing a few months ago, and the sweat lodge is a few miles down the road from where I live. She thought it would be a good way for me to meet people in my community, which I agreed was a wonderful plus.
My friend explained the general process to me prior to attending, so I would have some context of what would be happening. It all sounded good and I didn’t give it a second thought. Then the Medicine Man that presides over the ceremony took me aside and spoke to me about what would go on and if for any reason I start to feel uncomfortable due to the heat, please let them know and I could leave. I shook my head yes as to confirm I understood what he was saying. I knew I would be well taken care of after our discussion. The people that have been a part of this community for some time, it’s about the cleansing & healing of the body, mind and spirit. The ceremony this day consisted of honoring all four directions, South, West, North and East. Each direction consisted of a round, with a break in between each round.
The first round after I had been in the lodge for about 15 minutes my mind started telling me I was having problems breathing due to the heat. I resisted to the heat by lying on the ground where it was cooler, but that relief only lasted a short while. I struggled with my mind; reasoning with it, knowing that the fear that was gripping me was caused by the thought that kept repeating itself. Finally I was able to concentrate on what the Medicine Man was saying. He was speaking about the breath of Spirit….anyway that’s what I heard. As I listened more it came to my thought to stop resisting the feeling of not being able to breathe but surrender to the feeling. Once I was able to do that, I became much more comfortable and relaxed, and was able to finish the first round.
Inspired by overcoming the fear of the first round, I went on into the second round. I felt comfortable the first half of the round, and then we went into quiet meditation for a time. My mind started again…..this time it was telling me I was feeling claustrophobic. As much as I tried to resist that thought, it enveloped me in the stillness of the lodge. I started to become panicked at which point I had to talk myself through till the end of the session, which I was grateful for. At that point I decided that was enough for me for the day. I had really intended on going through the whole process when I began.
I was confused by all the fear that came up for me. What was that all about? Where did it come from? I didn’t have any answers. I spoke to the Honorable, Gentle and Humble Medicine Man afterwards to let him know what had occurred. I asked him what to do because I really didn’t want fear dictating what I did or didn’t do. He said softly and powerfully, pray to the Great Spirit. Ask for help with this by taking it away from you. He said sometimes you will get an answer quickly, other times it may take longer. He also told me to write about it, talk about it and pray about it, to keep repeating this cycle until it is put to rest for me. I thanked him and told him I would see him in a couple of weeks for the next lodge.
So I ask myself maybe I am fearful of the closeness and intimacy of the lodge. Maybe I am fearful of intimate relationships? Maybe fear doesn’t want me to know myself better? In my experience, especially these past few years, whenever I’ve encountered fear….it’s tried to keep me from the very best things for me. The stronger the fear usually indicates that what direction or path I’m taking is really the best for my Soul. I don’t have the answers right now. But I hope to soon when the Great Spirit feels that I’m ready. Until then, “I’ll write about it, talk about it and pray.” AHO.

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