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Intentional Climate Change (Mayan Sweat Lodge Ceremony) - Kelly N Patterson

Posted 7/22/2011 12:00:00 AM By Kelly Patterson
Kelly Patterson
Intentional Climate Change (Mayan Sweat Lodge Ceremony) By Kelly N Patterson

Nosara, Costa Rica, is a little oasis—what I imagine Goa, Antigua, Yang-Shao, Copan, and other international “hippie” towns were like before they got ATMs and annoyingly drunk (or stoned) backpackers.   Just last night, here at the Nosara Retreat Center, my Dutch friend, Susy (PinkFish), and I participated in a Mayan Sweat Lodge Ceremony with a charming and very funny Mexican Shaman and 20 people—a mixture of local Ticos and long-term Ex-Pats from Argentina, Canada, Turkey, America, and even Madagascar! 

Among us were a yoga instructor from the Nosara Yoga Institute, a Tica acupuncturist, Tico owners of a surfing school and camp, a DJ (who hates reggae-ton, thank God!), the local art gallery owner, my colleagues at Nosara Retreat Center, the guy who rents out ATVs (another yahoo!), and the local pharmacist.  Remind meet to Bernie (or Bennie?), “The Kayak Man.”

Sweat Lodge snapshots, as told through my thoughts during the ceremony: 

During the “cleansing ceremony” (before you enter the teepee):  I feel like I am being frisked by US airport security, armed with burning sage.

 Just before entering:  How the @#$%! are we all going to fit in that dwarf  teepee?!!!

 During the ceremony (which was totally in Spanish): 

I cannot believe we could all fit in here! Now I know how 150 Chinese people feel when they immigrate to the US in a boat container.

Am I sitting on a wasp nest? Did anyone check for wasp nests before they set up this dwarf teepee?!!!

Wow!  This is really surreal.  Cool.  I will probably lose like 10 pounds within the hour.

This is NOT a natural way to sit.  If I could just sit lotus-style, I would be fine…

No. I cannot sit lotus-style. God, this is a new kind of hot.  Can I breathe?

 Brief Meditative Phase, where I channel divine clarity and know all the secrets of the universe, followed by announcing our intentions and prayers (which makes me cry for no reason and I do not even understand half of what people are saying in Spanish), and then more ritual stuff with branches.  Herb-tainted water is splashed on us—lots of ooh’s , aah’s, and gracias! (note: this turns out to make it even MORE hot afterwards!)

An hour later:

I could die here.  Actually, we could all die in here.  Has anyone ever died in a sweat lodge ceremony?

I cannot breathe.  Breathe.  Yoga breathing.

I am ONE with the universe.  All is good.

I am not losing weight; I am losing my mind.  Breathe.

Oh shit!  Now I am seeing shit.  Am I going to pass out next?  Breathe.

 An hour and a half-later:

How long is this going to go on?

Breathe.  I am going to pass out.  Breathe.

Too many of these ceremonies will turn you into one of those hippie-nutty-buddies who breed in Berkeley and bathe with tree-bark …I am burning my brain cells.

I am having visions!  I am one with the universe.  All is good.

The universe is trying to communicate with me.

The universe is telling me to get the #$%! out of here!

 Susy, the bravest of us all, is the first to breakdown and ask to leave.  In my head, I say “Thank you, Susy!”  Everyone tries to console her (those of us who can still speak—my saliva is hot) and reminds her to breathe.  The Shaman says, “Five more minutes.”

 I ask aloud, in Spanish, in the darkness: “Wait!  Is that a Tico five minutes, or a Gringo five minutes?”  Everyone busts out laughing.

Half an hour later:

Got to get out of here!!!!!!  Help! Help!

Shaman opens the “flap” door…light, air,… freedom.

Four of us, who have not had feeling in our legs for the past hour, jump up and exit with a soul-felt Thank you.  One of the Shaman’s helpers hoses us down with a garden hose and I feel like I just won the lottery.  I am totally energized.  I want to do a triathlon.   Susy has melted slightly.

As we say in Africa, I slept like a security guard last night.


Kelly N Patterson, over and out




Shachar Erez
Shachar Erez
That's probably the funniest and most honest report of a sweat lodge ceremony I ever heard
7/23/2011 12:15:05 AM
Adamma Ison
Adamma Ison
Appreciated the honesty. Too funny and true. I participated in a sweat lodge once in a backyard in Albany.
7/25/2011 9:31:48 PM
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