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The Fire Within

June 2, 2009

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Hey Guys,

So I hope you had a great weekend! I know that it is already Tuesday, but I am STILL processing a very interesting experience I had over my weekend that I wanted to share with you!

I spent the weekend up in upstate New York, where I was invited to take part in a sweat lodge.  I remember vaguely hearing about it but I really didn’t know what it was. It did sound amazing though, so of course I was up for it! Well a sweat lodge is a traditional Native American ceremony to purify yourself and offer up prayers and intentions for the world and what you want to manifest. Sounds cool right? Well I had NO idea how intense this ceremony would be…

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A shaman/tribal leader from out West, a descendent of a long line of medicine men of the Apache tribe, was flown in, and assisted by 4 of his “sons and daughters.” (I was told members of the tribe consider themselves all family- which is so beautiful! By the way.) Everything was done very respectfully, blessing the earth and planting tobacco where we were building, blessing the trees and keeping their edges in the water to keep them “alive”, then volcanic rocks were brought in. A fire pit was build, then an altar, then the actual lodge itself, which was no higher than 4 feet tall, and had a fire pit in the middle. 44 volcanic rocks were heated over the fire for 2 hours, until them became literally red-hot.

There were so many sacred ceremonies that took place- to bless the earth, the water, everything. I can’t talk about all of it- but I want to tell you the gist! Basically there were 4 rounds of prayer, where the shaman decided how many rocks would be brought into the pit for each round. He called for good energy, good spirits to come in, and it did create a sacred, spiritual space. Us women had to cover our shoulders and wear long skirts.

imagesOur first round started with 7 rocks, plus the 5 “blessing rocks” underneath. The sweat lodge is covered in heavy sweat blankets, so when the door closes, you can not see a single spot of light. It is the darkest dark you can imagine, and extremely claustrophobic, since you have to just sit there and there is really nowhere to go. You really can’t get up in the middle of a round, as it is totally dark and so small you don’t want to accidentally burn yourself on the volcanic rocks! So you have to surrender to the panic and the discomfort. They pour water over the rocks, producing a sauna-like effect- except like a bizillion times hotter! They pour herbs over the rocks, so there is also smoke. What was the hardest about the first round is that you have no idea how long it is going to be! Later I found out that the rounds were over an hour! The sweat just poured and poured, and through the intense heat I did my yogic breathing through my nose, as slow as I could. Right when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, I HAD to get out and breathe, get away from the fire heat, the shaman ordered the door to be opened.

After the first round, many left, so there was me, the family that invited me, another friend, and the Indian tribesmen left. In the second round, 12 more fire rocks were added. When I didn’t think that it could get hotter- it became an inferno. My skin was throbbing and felt like it was on fire. All the while there are Native American chants going on, and the shaman was praying outloud. It was so unbearably uncomfortable that I couldn’t just breathe slow- I had to put my mind somewhere else. So I began to chant OM, over and over again, the sacred yogic sound, and some others joined in with me. It required a lot of energy, given the tiny amount of air in that smoky inferno- but it put my attention on something much higher than me, and I forced myself to detach from the situation I was in.

fire pit

We weren't allowed to take pictures! So this is sort of what the fire pit looked outside where the rocks were being heated. Inside the lodge it was the blackest black- completely dark, and no fire light.

Round 3: Some of the few that stayed lay on the earth, as the air was a bit cooler down there. 12 more rocks were added. Round 3 was the round that broke me. I chanted OM much of the time, as well as some Sanskrit chants I know. At that point I was sitting next to one of the tribesman and I could hear their rattles and Indian chants so clearly- someone else was chanting Tibetan Buddhist chants. At the end of Round 3 there was a pause and I put my head down for a minute. I can’t explain how my body and mind felt- so wiped out, sweated out, uplifted in a weird way, and very much on fire.

In Round 4 I completely surrendered. The last 8 rocks were put in the fire pit. As the door closed again, I sat completely still in meditation. I could no longer chant or say anything. I just let the fire and smoke take over…and gave in. In the other rounds I was praying for peace, the earth, my family, Envision Beauty, everything. But in Round 4 I was just still- very still. Finally the shaman called the end of the ceremony, and the door opened for the last time. I was totally out of time and space, and I crawled out of the lodge I saw the most beautiful starry sky. Spent and exhausted- I wandered out of the woods and finally saw the time- the whole ceremony was 6 and a half hours long!!!

I am still processing what happened in that lodge, but I can say that it was an extremely powerful experience. Like an analogy to life, when things are uncomfortable and not easy, you must use your will power to get through- not focus on the pain or discomfort of the present time, but really learn to focus your mind and detach, and then you can get through. Fighting it never helps- you have to surrender that the conditions are what they are, then figure out to move forward. For me, it really was a 6 ½ hour meditation, an extremely intense one. But yoga teaches that we must learn to retain our equanimity, evenness of mind, under ALL conditions. And conquer any challenge. You are stronger than you realize.

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On Sunday I returned to the city, and since then I have felt more clear, and more calm. There are challenges I am facing right now that I must rise up to with getting everything done with the business, etc. and now I feel even stronger to deal with them. So I am very grateful for having experienced this amazing ceremony, and thanks for reading this, I wanted to share it with you.

Have a wonderful day! And hope to see you back here soon!

All my love,
Kimberly

18 comments

  1. hello kimberly :]
    i just recently did a sweat with the blackfeet indians out west, and it was one of the most incredible experiences, i loved it. it was an informal one however, in a permanent lodge. i want to do one so badly again, but i fear they dont have them out on the east coast [besides the one you went to]? i hope i can attend another one soon. if not, i guess i will just have to go back out to montana!

    p.s. i adore your blog, i read it quite a bit. ive had so many issues with both eating and lack of eating, and you have inspired me a lot to try and balance out my diet, in an attempt to become healthier and all around happier. so thank you!


    • Hey Brooke!
      Great, I’m so happy to hear from you and I’m so happy that you are balancing your diet and making good, healthy changes. 🙂

      The family i did the sweatlodge with flew the shaman in from the West Coast, so I’m not really sure about the frequency of these occurring on the East Coast! I’m sure there is some kind of network if you dig around a bit, somewhere around Woodstock and the Catskills.

      Please come visit again and take care of yourself! Oh, and please pass the blog onto your friend that you think might also benefit!
      Lots of love, Kimberly


  2. Dear Kimberly, It was an inspirational account of your journey. Thank you for sharing that with all of us. I wanted to let you know that the Solution has saved my skin. I have very sensitive skin that is prone to such dryness it actually bleeds. I could never use anything except what the Dermatologist prescribes. And all that is, is steroids. I was tired of using them, and I know from being a Nurse what steroids can do to the skin. I am so grateful to have found you….,you have saved my skin. It is radiant…., no dryness. I can not wait to use your new cleanser…, if it is anything like the Solution, it will be a savior too. Much peace and health, Sara


  3. Hi, Kim. How do you enter the contest?


    • Hey Dorothy- Click on word “contest” there is a link!
      xx Kimberly
      PS- did you see my email on the freckles??


      • Thank you. Need to put my reading glasses on, huh? 🙂

        I did get your email, Kim. I am trying my best to avoid the evil white stuff!


  4. I feel like I have to congratulate you for staying for the full 4 rounds! (but congratulate doesn’t seem like the right word). I’ve also been to a couple of sweat lodges but they were not 6 1/2 hours!

    Inspirational!

    Ekosi,
    JoJo
    p.s. Ekosi means ‘thank-you’ in the Cree language.


    • Hi JoJo,
      Wow, thank you so much for connecting with me.
      And teaching me a word in the Cree language. Amazing!
      All my very best, Kimberly


  5. ahhh, im not eligible for the contest? Kimmmmy, i think you should add one cleanser for me to try together with my orders.(which i still have no news about the shipping! lol) i’ll promise ill promote and write a review of it in my blog and in forums 😀

    i dont do yoga,but i am in this indian praying group called “atmic yoga” where we do lots of “ommm shakti” chants and songs, and we sing praises to all gods in the world like Buddha, Jesus, Guan Yin, Allah, Haruman, Rama, etc

    -Jonathan


    • Hi Jonathan,
      That sounds cool! Yes, I always pray for the saints and sages of all religions or the world, and the higher intelligence of the universe. Sometimes people think yoga is a religion or connected specifically with Hinduism but it is not!
      The shipping person said he has been emailing with you so I’ll be sure to ask him what’s up.
      xx Kimberly


  6. haha i meant thinking of me not him …i’m thinking of a him, particularly the one right here next to me haha


    • Hi Charlene!
      I’m so glad you liked hearing about my experience. And I know what you meant. Ha!! I prayed for everyone in general and everyone that has come across my path also, so you were definitely included in that. 🙂
      I think the moral was so apparent at the end. I didn’t really know why I was doing the Sweat Lodge or what it all meant, but at the end it was starkly clear.

      All my love, Kimberly


  7. Hi Kimmy! I sincerely hope you prayed for me!! (haha, imagine thinking of him during your most uncomfortable of times) far fetched no?
    It sounds liked you were spiritually revived though, i love the little moral you left us at the end that you bolded,I’m so glad it came to you and that you shared it!


  8. Wow! This sounded like a very intense and spiritual experience! That is awesome! It goes to show that we really are a lot stronger that we think!


    • Yes Melanie, we all are stronger than we realize. Especially us women. 🙂


  9. Oh never mind-I found the link.

    Only US residents can enter. Too bad.


    • Hey Maureen-
      We are still working on fixing the USPS Canada issue and I should have some good news very soon! We are close to resolution.
      xx Kimberly


  10. Thanks for the contest…where do we enter? I didn’t see anything on the Envision Beauty website.

    I would love to win this fabulous prize!



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