Sauna Meditation and Mindfulness
Stephen Colmant, Ph.D. gives his advice on how to get the most out of sauna meditation and the benefits that come from creating a sweat ritual. Create your own sweat ritual and take your sauna experience to the next level. The solitude, the serenity, and the heat - these are all components that have traditionally been used in meditative rituals, all over the world and in a multitude of cultural contexts.
Since ancient times, people have felt healed and nurtured by the heat, as the whole sauna experience promotes introspection and relaxation. Stephen Colmant, Ph.D. and licensed psychologist, is the author of the book Sweat Therapy - A guide to greater wellbeing. He wrote this book after having studied the rituals of the Navajo Indians, for whom the traditional Sweat Lodges play a central part in religious life. His book revolves around how you can get the most out of your sauna experience, using it as an opportunity to practice not only relaxation but also mindfulness and meditation.
Colmant makes a strong case for the immense value that meditation and rituals can have in our everyday lives, when it comes to maintaining health and a positive outlook on life. He stresses that ”There is not just one way or even a ’best way’ to do it”, but that it’s rather a matter of creating your own ritual, something that suits your specific needs and habits. Still, he gives a number of helpful advice worth keeping in mind when you start planning your own meditation and sweat ritual.
How to create your own sweat ritual
First of all: heat exposure can be very therapeutic, but caution must always be exercised. Make sure to listen to your body’s reactions and stay mindful of what it tells you. Always make sure to stay hydrated.
Don’t eat too much before your sweat ritual - consider it a form of exercise. You wouldn’t go running on a full stomach, the same goes for spending time in the sauna.
Be sure to wear comfortable clothing. With sauna, the looser, the better. While in the sauna sit in an upright position with your back leaning against the wall. Try to limit your time in the sauna to 15 minutes, then take a break to cool down and hydrate. It’s important to concentrate on your breathing, inhaling and exhaling using your mouth.
In recent years several apps such as Headspace and Calm have become very popular tools and guides for people exploring meditation. Some of these apps offer push notifications which could make building your routine easier. Finnleo saunas also have options such as ambient lighting, in a variety of colors, to set the mood you’re looking for and speakers to use for meditative music or to stream the audio from your mobile device. As technology makes it easier for you to build the experience that’s just right for you, remember that this process is all about paying attention to your body and mind.
Why saunas help with mindfulness
Saunas are a great way to control your environment so you can get the level of focus you’re looking for. The high temperatures activate our cardiovascular system and increase the rate at which blood is supplied to the brain and relaxes our muscles. These among other physiological responses the body has to a good sauna bath make for a great setting for meditation and mindful focus.
Everyone is different so what works for you may not work for others. Some find their meditation and mindfulness is heightened by music or lighting, others prefer sensory deprivation. Whatever allows you to reconnect with yourself and relax is worth the investment as our lives have become increasingly demanding. The heat of a sauna is a great way to not only break a sweat but focus the mind and tap into a rare state of relaxation.
Those who sauna regularly not only experience the health benefits but also report that their mental clarity has also improved. That’s one of the major benefits of a mindful practice. When you clear your head of distractions and focus intently you enter a state of mind that we spend so little time within. New ideas, new questions, the occasional burst of inspiration and definitely relaxation are all opportunities that may present themselves when you engage with a sauna bath.
Let us know on social about how you’ve incorporated sauna to become more mindful or in your meditation routine. We’d love to hear from you!
If you’re still not sure about the powerful health benefits of sauna, speak with a sauna expert today!