Shaman in the Sauna

Shaman in the Sauna by Katie Jo

I’ve experienced something twice now at the local gym, not sure if it’s a common thing- or “just the way it is.”

I jumped on the bandwagon like most Americans after the holidays and joined the gym. Yes, I am one of those NEWBIES that you “die hard” work out gurus talk about. 

So, I am not entirely CLEAR about the GYM protocol and politeness…

I am doing my best. I don’t butt in on machines and wait my turn, I diligently wipe down any equipment I use, I smile and use eye contact, I don’t stalk any of the really “ripped” girls to see how they are working out so I can copy; like I said- doing my best. 
But one of the “grey areas” I just can’t understand right now is Sauna Protocol.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m clear that you don’t wear bare feet, or sit close to the ONE other person in there if the rooms fairly open and that you don’t go in topless.

But here’s what I’m referring to:

Twice- a similar situation has occurred. 

Sitting in the sauna, letting my body sweat in the dim light- I practice my shaman meditations. I breathe in light. I use the heat to ignite the fire inside my internal cord of light and nourish the seeds of creation within each of our chakras. I visualize the destiny paths before me and see which ones are of light and freedom and which are paths that create chaos… It’s really peaceful and as my body becomes drenched in sweat, I know that toxins in are being released both physically and emotionally. 

I love it. 

I also understand that we are in a world where we are learning to get along with our fellow human beings, so when others join the sauna I don’t think they are doing the sauna room in the “wrong way” or anything when they are on their social media or MP3 players. 

But this past week, I found it interesting that as I sat in my silent meditation with 2 or 3 others, a man came in and sat on my left. His ear buds in- the music so loud that I could hear it. In the confined space, I wondered if the rest of the people there could hear it too. Within 5 min, another man came in and sat on my right, his earbuds blasting as well; this song I recognized: Apple Bottom Jeans. 
He began to “beat box” under his breath and sing along with the lyrics. 
There I was- all 5’5” of my sweaty self- sandwiched in between two giant jocks. 

“What’s this about?” I wondered- knowing that life is only about learning, not struggle. 
So, I recommitted myself to my meditation, seeing myself as the FIRE and challenging myself to be able to focus inward and focus in spite of circumstances around me. 

I remembered yogi masters and gurus who can slip in and out of perfect meditation regardless of where they are or what’s going on around them- even in a New York City Subway station. So, I was up for the challenge. 

A few minutes more passed. Two women entered. I opened one eye to glance over at them briefly. They were in a conversation about work- I assume they are co-workers. I found it interesting that they spoke without lowering their voices, discussing office politics, insurance plans, people they didn’t like, the weekend vacation they were planning, etc. etc. 

Meanwhile, I still sat in between the two jocks (one beat boxing) and began to question the weirdness of the situation. 

I also have to admit- I made it through the jocks- but the women; won. I just couldn’t stay focused on my meditation. I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t frustrated, I was simply overturned. At the least, eavesdropping was entertaining. 

Today, I was at the gym again. 
Sauna, again.

A handful of people in the room, again.

One of the men who sat close was “Facebooking” when his phone rang and he took the call.

He spoke in Spanish to whomever called. He told them not to worry, that no one around him spoke Spanish so he could carry on his conversation. 

I don’t speak Spanish- but I know enough to understand some. They talked about his house and they had left something there to pick up. 

He finished his conversation. Silence again. 
A couple came in. 
They didn’t live in the same house- I know this because they climbed up onto the second level bench beside me and had an open conversation. They worked together too. Their manager is cool even though he is stern faced and bald. “You’d never guess he’s so chill.” :/

As I found myself in the same situation of loud talkers in the sauna- I wondered “Is this just how it goes? Is this a test to strengthen my ability to focus?”

But what I also realized, is that as I witnessed the people around me- how few of them can be alone with themselves. 

How uncomfortable it is for them it is to sit in silence among strangers. To be still in the moment. To be centered on their own energy instead of avoiding it with distractions like phones, and conversations, and music. 

I’m not judging it. I’m not stereotyping that everyone who does this can’t be alone with themselves- but this was an observation from the past two sauna sits I’ve done. 

How hard it is for some people to simply “BE” with the moment. Not trying to PASS the time or make it go faster. Just BEING there. 

And, I felt compassion. 

Compassion, because of the beauty of what it is to surrender to the moment. To sit in the silence of nothingness and realize that we are ONE with the universe. 
That our CREATOR is as close as our own heartbeat and that there is no such thing as being “ALONE” and the word itself says: we are “ALL ONE.” 

The way it feels to sense the way energy flows through your body as your blood moves, to tap into the swirling universe of energy around us and recognize that we are indeed the spiral of the galaxy and anything is possible. And they were missing it.

That in a confined space, you can experience the auras of those around you and sense their energy, their histories, fears, loves, and hopes which are all present in the energetic field surrounding them- (as well as YOU) and by simply being exposed to those energies- we learn from each other; grow from each other and learn compassion for one another- while we honor each person’s individual path.

But, “to each his own” they say.

There is no wrong or right way to sauna. 
I’m seeing that. 
And, regardless of quiet peace or beatboxing Apple Bottom Jeans- we learn and grow and examine life in a way that causes us to change and become more respectful of ourselves and those around us. 

The next time you find yourself in the sauna, or on the bus, or in an elevator- see what you witness. Look around, FEEL around you. See what your own experience is, and share it too. This little planet is ALL of our home and we are ALL in it together. I’m excited to know what you are learning too. 



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