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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reiki, Fear, and the Sweat Lodge Ceremony

I had the great honor of participating in my very first sweat lodge yesterday! I have been lucky enough to be introduced to a local Native American traditional women's circle here in Asheville (special thanks to Anne Heck), and through my participation, have found a truly safe haven for my heart and soul as I walk my own spiritual path.

I will admit, I was quite nervous to experience a sweat lodge! I have long dealt with two deep-seated fears that have come up for me at very inconvenient times in my life: a fear of extreme heat (picture me wincing and jumping as I go to take brownies out of the oven) and a fear of being in confined spaces (think me in a crammed car on a long road trip, stretching arms and legs over and on top of my fellow passengers so that I feel I can breathe!).

In truth, these old fears have not reared their heads much in recent years as I have settled down and into myself and my connection to the energy of the world around me. But, I knew that I would be directly challenging these aspects by participating in a sweat lodge.

Even so, I was determined to do it, and the cradle of love and support these women provided was just the safety net I needed to allow myself to take this step.

We did four rounds, one for each direction, starting with the East in honor of the Spring Equinox and the rebirth of the year. The first round was very difficult for me. The hot rocks came in, the flap closed, and the water was ladled onto the stones... and as the steam rose, so did my fear. I laid down and pressed my face to the cool earth, breathing it in and shaking and crying, the prayers of the women around me filling my ears as I pleaded with God to purge me of this fear... tears and sweat washing over my face... finally reaching a place of just saying, "Thank you, God... thank you, God... thank you, God..."

...and when the flap lifted, I crawled out into the light, not knowing if I would return for the second round. The light washed over me...

(c) Haley Steinhardt

A bright yellow butterfly descended from the sky to dance right before my face... and I returned and crawled back into the lodge.

As the flap closed a second time, I crouched low, anticipating the fear. But as the steam rose from the honored stone ones, no fear rose in me. I cautiously allowed myself to sit upright and feel the full strength of the heat. And in that moment, I realized that I was unafraid. !!!!! What an amazing gift!!!!!!! I am tearing up now just writing this!!!!!!!!!!!

I sat in for all four rounds, growing in strength, and in that strength, being able to offer it to others as we all worked through the things we came to lay down in the lodge. There were many moments where I was called to send Reiki to the circle of women, channeling it round and round in an unbroken flow... and also to individual women as they poured out their hearts into that sacred womb turtle lodge.

I can say without hesitation that it was one of the most powerful and transformational experiences I have ever had, and I am eternally grateful to the women who physically and energetically supported me passing through another doorway along my path towards my highest purpose.

A Ho Mitakuye Oyasin!




  1. Wow, such a powerful and amazing story. I can feel the anxiety giving way to powerful healing as the story moves from paragraph to paragraph. Thanks so much for sharing this amazing story. How brave you are, and how proud I am of you.

  2. Thanks for your kind words! It truly was an amazing experience:)

  3. Thank you, Haley. You are so wonderful for sharing that intimate story! So glad you had this uplifting experience! Love, Suzi

  4. Thanks for your note, Suzi! This was one of those experiences that I didn't even realize how much I needed until I went through it. Absolutely uplifting!!! :)

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