The solitude and serenity of the sauna promotes introspection and relaxation, and saunas and sweat rooms have traditionally been used in meditative rituals all over the world. Create your own sweat ritual and take your sauna experience to the next level.
Stephen Colmant, Phd and licensed psychologist, is the author of the book Sweat Therapy - A guide to greater wellbeing. He wrote this book after having studied the rituals of the Navajo Indians, for whom the traditional Sweat Lodges play a central part in religious life. His book revolves around how you can get the most out of your sauna experience, using it as an opportunity to practice not only relaxation, but also mindfulness and meditation.
Colmant makes a strong case for the immense value that meditation and rituals can have in our everyday lives, when it comes to maintaining health and a positive outlook on life. He stresses that ”There is not just one way or even a ’best way’ to do it”, but that it’s rather a matter of creating your own ritual, something that suits your specific needs and habits. Still, he gives a number of helpful advice worth keeping in mind when you start planning your own meditation and sweat ritual.
How to create your own sweat ritual:
- First of all: heat exposure can be very therapeutic, but caution must always be exercised. Make sure to listen to your body’s reactions and stay mindful of what it tells you. Always make sure to stay hydrated.
- Don’t eat too much before your sweat ritual - consider it a form of exercise. You would’t go running on a full stomach, the same goes for spending time in the sauna.
- Don’t enter the sauna until it’s at your preferred temperature, it will ruin the experience and make it more difficult to relax.
- Don’t wear jewelry or uncomfortable clothing. The lesser and the looser the clothing, the better.
- Be careful to drink plenty of water before, during and after your session.
- Stay in the sauna for around 15 minutes at a time, then take a break to cool down and drink some water.
- While in the sauna, sit in an upright position, leaning against the wall with your back. Keep your hands relaxed in your lap. Focus on the experience of the heat; on how it feels against your skin.
- Close your eyes and concentrate on your own breathing. Breath through your mouth and note how it feels each time you exhale and inhale the warm air.
- If your thoughts begin to wander - gently bring them back to focusing on your breathing.
- Once you start sweating - visualize the sweating as a cleansing process, clearing your body from stress and negative emotions.
Since we are all different, you might want to experiment with different meditation techniques. Some find that their meditation is helped by music, others by scents or by lighting. All in all, it’s all about paying attention to your body, your mind, and to take advantage of the time you spend sweating in the sauna to reach an even deeper level of relaxation and cleansing.