What I Learned From Participating In A Traditional Sweat Lodge Ceremony
I recently had the unique opportunity and honor to be invited to a traditional sweat lodge ceremony on the West Coast of Canada. The ceremony took place on a tranquil island tucked in the middle of the Salish Sea. This was my first time visiting beautiful Hornby Island, and certainly won’t be my last.
Sweating rituals and traditions have existed throughout history in different parts of the world. Some places use this method for purification and warmth. Traditionally the sweat lodge ceremony is used as a means of healing, and spiritual renewal of the mind, body and soul. Click here for more information on sweat lodge traditions.
I wasn’t exactly sure what would transpire during the ceremony, but I approached the experience with an open heart and willingness to participate in what would become a rich and unforgettable time. After arriving at the location, I had some initial trepidation around the unknown and a bit of fear of the intense heat and potentially claustrophobic producing setting. Just think of a very small dome that is shoulder height, very dark, and at times smoky. You get on your hands and knees to enter.
After speaking with the master Shaman, I recognized what an honor it is to take part in such a journey and I decided to relax into what would come next.
This experience was so much more than a test of physical endurance. It was a spiritual journey that helped me move through some intense fear while connecting deeper to my inner being and truth. It opened my heart and eyes to how connected we all are. It helped me to see the possibility of life being even more incredible and magical than I had already imagined it was. By the end of the ceremony, I felt light in my worries and full in my heart.
I was gifted a sacred eagle feather by the Shaman, and I will treasure it always. Getting to have this experience with amazing people who were strangers to begin with, helped me see just how similar and connected we all are. I feel certain the gifts I received from this experience will continue to bring new light to different areas in my life.
As I process the experience, these three key highlights of learning are standing out as important and worthy of sharing out to others. Perhaps they may resonate with where you are on your journey.
1) Your Light Can be Found Inside Darkness
Instead of being paralyzed by fear, see what happens when you step into the darkness and face what is holding you back from your truth and joy. Don’t be afraid to live and never fear the brilliance of your light. You are amazing, embrace that and share it out with others around you. Let go of stories that keep you from joy, that hold you in pain, or that keep you stuck. Step into the dark, and you may be surprised to find that there you will be in all of your magnificence and beautiful light. Who you are in all of your essence, has the power to remove shadows of doubt and extinguish fears holding you back from living your truth.
2) Honor Your Inner Voice
Trust your intuition, you are wise beyond measure. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of believing others know better, or that our voice doesn’t matter. This simply isn’t true. Each of us holds our truth and we can guide our lives from this place within us. When we trust our inner voice and act on the wisdom that lives within us, we end our own self-inflicted suffering.
3) Life Is a Gift
Life is beautiful and we are never alone. The beauty that surrounds us is everywhere, at all times. We can draw on this beauty as a way of remembering our inner truths and to stay on a path that feels right. If we wake up each morning to breathe in air, we are blessed. Give thanks as often as possible for the journey you are on, embrace where you are. There is nothing you need to change about yourself — you are brilliant.
Emily Madill is the author of 11 books in the area of self-development and empowerment, both for children and adults. Her newest title ‘Fall in Love with Your Life, One Week at a Time’ is now being offered as an E-Course.
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Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on May 3, 2016.