I had been very apprehensive about doing a sweat lodge at the Resurgence Summer Camp last weekend. I thought it might be a bit too "spiritual" in ways I would be uncomfortable with. In then end, having talked to a guy about his experience with one on previous years, I went for it and I really appreciated how well lead it was and how comfortable with the experience I was. It felt very neutral and that it was up to me to approach it how I wanted to. Being in a small tent, with some red hot stones, about ten people, a large jug of water and complete darkness was fun. With just our thoughts, singing, freedom to express ourselves and a good deal of humour we had a great time. Oh, and outside it there just happened to be a hole dug in the ground full of mud and water for us to fall into and gaze up at the star-lit sky!
In the blog "On my Dartmoor Stone", April 2007, I had been struggling to cope with the sense of immense darkness and loneliness I felt within and beneath a stone I often visit on Dartmoor. In the sweat lodge I returned to those thoughs but here I felt another experience that sort of healed those uncertainties - the absolute, yet safe darkness from which I come and will return to (physical or just the darkness of the unknown past/future); the immense heat of creation that formed the rocks now glowing in front of me and which dwells at the centre of the earth; the refreshing water and hot steam that cools and gives us life; the intimacy of other beings in a completely unshameful way; the music of our communal song and an intense moment of escaping to a different place.
Sometimes you just have to do things that take you out of your comfort zone.