Recounts of the Healing Benefits of Sweat Lodge Ceremonies

Spiritual Experiences and Benefits Beyond Detoxing

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Desy, Phylameana lila. "Recounts of the Healing Benefits of Sweat Lodge Ceremonies." ThoughtCo, Sep. 13, 2017, thoughtco.com/sweat-lodge-benefits-1732186. Desy, Phylameana lila. (2017, September 13). Recounts of the Healing Benefits of Sweat Lodge Ceremonies. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/sweat-lodge-benefits-1732186 Desy, Phylameana lila. "Recounts of the Healing Benefits of Sweat Lodge Ceremonies." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/sweat-lodge-benefits-1732186 (accessed October 18, 2017).
Sweat Lodge Frame
Marilyn Angel Wynn / Getty Images

The sweat lodge is a Native American tradition where individuals enter a dome-shaped dwelling to experience a sauna-like environment. The lodge itself is typically a wooden-framed structure made from tree branches. Hot rocks are placed inside an earthen-dug pit located in the center of this man-made enclosure. Water is periodically poured over the heated rocks to create a hot and steamy room.

Healing Benefits of Sweat Lodge Ceremonies

The sweat ceremony is intended as a spiritual reunion with the creator and a respectful connection to the earth itself as much as it is meant for purging toxins out of the physical body.

  • Mental Healing - it frees the mind of distractions, offering clarity.
  • Spiritual Healing - it allows for introspection and connection to the planet and the spirit world.
  • Physical Healing - it can potentially provide antibacterial and wound-healing benefits.

Sweat Lodge Stories 

Many people from all walks of life have chosen to participate in traditional Native American sweat lodge ceremonies. The following are some real world accounts of what you can expect and what some of the benefits are. 

Rules Must Be Followed - I think the key is that in order for a sweatlodge to work, rules must be followed. Charging large amounts of money for people to be in a sweatlodge is not tradition and brings negative vibrations. It is about spiritual cleansing and growth. I have had the honor of being in a sweatlodge ceremony, one done correctly according to native law. It validated everything about who I am and was the single most life changing event I have ever experienced.

Sweat for Crohn's - I attended and participated in a Crohn's sweat lodge in Lakeland FL a few years ago. It was an interesting experience. We prayed and went into the sweat lodge constructed on a friend's property (he is a Native American). It was very dry so he insisted on having 2 hoses from the house nearby and was extremely careful about both safety and following the American Indian rituals.

It was in the summer so it was very hot and while I am not sure I would do it again, it was a worthwhile experience. We made and released "prayer bundles" into the fire after the sweat lodge ceremony. All in all the ceremony lasted about 4 hours but only about an hour inside the lodge. He also made sure we knew that we could lift the bottom edge of the "tent like" structure if we needed to breathe.

Sweat Lodges are Sacred Ceremonies - I've participated in sweat lodge ceremonies. These are sacred to the Native American community. I am part Native American and part white. I did not have the privilege of knowing native cultures when growing up and my father's parents wanted their children to "fit in" as many parents learned to do as a way to survive. In my opinion, if a ceremony is not conducted in collaboration with an experienced Native American guide according to the sacred and cultural guidelines, the participants are not fully prepared for a positive experience. I've read and heard about how the Native American groups do not like having a white person conduct these ceremonies. I can understand, it's one more thing being robbed from them. I believe that when a 'guru' starts offering sweat lodges without significant native culture liaison the process loses something.

Cleansing Mind and Heart - I went to a very hot sweat, led by a Midewin elder who was very calming and trustworthy. I really needed to get bad feelings out of my mind and soul. It was so hot I thought I would have to get out. I was dripping! I couldn't believe how much I needed this type of healing. I cried and prayed for my mind and heart to be cleansed. As I prayed, I heard, then felt the flapping of wings over my head; I had to duck to keep away from it. I thought everyone could hear it. After, one person said he heard growling; I didn't.

Grateful Water Pourer - I am grateful for the grandmother stones, who are at the center of this ceremony. They have been around for millions of years. They have seen, known, and felt it all. They are in sacred union with the fire created by the standing ones (trees), who give themselves to this sacred ceremony.

It is a blessed union between the elements and trees and stones. The heart of the ceremony is the calling and workings of the grandmothers and the spirits that come to do the doctoring. This happens through the songs and the open hearts of the people. As my elder says as a water pourer we are simply a janitor with keys opening the door to the spirits through our heartfelt intention, through creating the sacred geometry/configuration of the ceremonial space (fire altar lodge). We call and pray to the spirits and they do the work. when we pour water on the stones, the grandmothers speak to us and imbue us with their wisdom. The steam cleanses us and we take in their wisdom into our lungs as we breathe the steam.

Inside Lodge - As a water pourer it is our sacred responsibility to track the energy of each person in lodge throughout the ceremony. It is our sacred duty to invite & channel the power and wisdom of the spirits that we humbly invite into the ceremony, to promote purification and healing of the people. No other agenda should ever exist for the pourer. Every ounce of attention and intention is invested in creating an maintaining a sacred, safe container that will support a healing experience for each person. the songs, the altar, the fire-tenders, the spirits of the land, the spirits of each person who comes in all contribute to the ceremony. I have witnessed long-lasting miracles in & as a result of the lodge.

Respect the Traditions and Yourself - I've been to one sweat, many years ago in Scotland. It was conducted very carefully, with a full discussion of health problems, what to expect, the connect attitude, etc. It was built by the group, held the correct rocks, and conducted in respect for the sacred traditions of all the world's nations. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. If you attend a sweat, make sure the leaders know what they are doing and provide for all eventualities. Most of all, go within and ask if it is right for you.

Lakota Sweats - I am a mixed blood American (Native, German, Scot) and I have attended two Lakota sweats in the past few years.

Both were poured by a Native American (different man each time) who had earned that right/privilege. In both cases, there were four "doors." Each door grew hotter and more spiritual for sure. My first experience was in the one at my home with just 5 of us. We had all prepared as instructed, wore the proper outfits and knew what was expected of us. The experience was unbelievable. I was amazed at what happened to me as an individual. Both events were remarkable and very fulfilling. These are not meant to be fun saunas, They are spiritual events.

Learn more about Native American healing traditions