Sometimes You Just Need to Sweat it Out
By Rev. Kat
Life is like that, right? There’s that feeling of satisfaction when you’ve accomplished a task, chore or work-out and sweated it out to completion.
In this case, I’m talking about the physical sweat that cleanses our body of toxins. You know how good you feel after a workout with your skin glistening. Men sweat, women glow, LOL! (Don’t kid yourself, we ladies sweat too!)
Feeling good after exercising is caused by the release of hormones called endorphins. But you don’t have to hit the gym to get the same rush and the healing effects. More on that…
Native Americans brought us the ceremonial sweat lodge to purify the body and to connect with the great power of Wanka Tanka (Sacred Mystery) or great spirit. Native American tribes utilize them to offer gratitude, heal, seek knowledge, and cleanse the mind, body, and spirit. I have participated in the Inipi or sweat lodge ceremony and it’s wonderful but can be daunting for the uninitiated.
One enters the womb (lodge) a small round tent or dome of branches covered in tarps and skins to hold in the heat. Some are covered in earth or even built underground for that purpose. Participants sit on the earth in a circle around a pit of hot rocks surrounded in smoky darkness and heat.
Large rocks are heated for hours in a special ceremonial pit facing the East doorway of the lodge, then brought inside glowing hot, and placed in the center of the circle. There may be drumming, prayers and chanting. But once the tent flap is closed, and the Shaman, Elder or spiritual leader of the ceremony, pours water over the rocks, and you are blasted with hot steam and sitting in nearly complete blackness.
Herbs are used within the sweat lodge: sage for purification and sweet grass to bring in good spirits. Other herbs are used in the lodges, as well. The herbs honor the living plants of the earth. Water is poured on the heated rocks. The science aspect is, as the water turns into steam, it releases negative ions that are physically healing. If you’re curious about setting up a traditional Lakota sweat lodge, I included a link at the end of this article.
Many believe it was the Nordics who brought the world the Sauna. However, ‘sweat baths’ in Europe alone can be traced back to early Greek-Roman, Arabic, Scandinavian, Slavic, and Irish cultures. There is no single place of origin and sauna use spread across Europe from multiple independent origins.
An ancient Greek steam bath was called a Laconia. It was usually a circular room with a large, conical domed roof. It was heated either by fires underneath the floor, or by rocks heated in a fire, which were then brought into the bath with pitchforks and placed into a central tray. Water was then poured onto the hot rocks to create steam. Sometimes, the leaves or branches of Bay Laurel, Fir, Pine, or Juniper were added for their therapeutic essences. Or the infusions or essential oils of these plants were used.
The sweating process could be enhanced by first massaging the body with oils medicated with these or other essences, or by downing a cup of hot diaphoretic herb tea like Peppermint or Elder flowers before entering the steam bath. This was designed to open the pores of the skin to release toxins. As you can see from the image above, Greco-Roman bath houses were popular and crowded with less shame of the naked body in those ancient days.
Toxins are stored in our fat and brain tissue, which lingers in the body and can heavily impact all our essential systems that are meant to protect our immune systems and naturally detox our bodies.
While sweating (especially using infrared heat) is an iconic way to eliminate toxins, adding a niacin detox takes your ability to rid your body of chemicals and waste to a higher level. Sweating can remove:
- Mercury, manganese, lead, aluminum, cadmium
- Pharmaceutical drugs
- Formaldehyde, chlorines
- Food preservatives
- Pesticides & herbicides
No matter how you get your sweat on, it can be enhanced with the natural vasodilating effects of the vitamin, Niacin. I’ve attached the article below.
Whether you’re working out, indulging in a sauna or ceremonial sweat lodge, it’s important to purge yourself of toxins, including toxic thoughts and toxic news. Everything we see and hear leaves its mark on our psyche. Those who are addicted to finding every truth or conspiracy theory run the risk of emotional or even physical breakdown at some point. Take time to look for the good news and events happening in the world!
Please treat your body, mind, and spirit like a temple. Nurture it with wholesome goodness as often as you can by getting into nature, meditating, singing, dancing, exercising, or having safe sex with someone you love. All these practices release endorphins which are essential to healing and feeling good. Let go of those things which do not serve your highest good.
Feed your body and soul with spiritual sustenance. And…. don’t sweat the small stuff!
Sources for a deeper dive:
Inipi: The Traditional Sweat Lodge Ceremony of Purification
Native American Sweat Lodge Construction and Ceremony: A Personal Account
5 fun and easy ways to release more endorphins and boost your mood
I was listening to this beautiful music while preparing this article: Native American Flutes Relaxing Music – 3HR Long Indigenous American Indian Flute Music
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