Meditation In A Sauna
I‘ve recently started going to a sauna and steam-room again, I had not been in years but I love the intense heat. I used to practise Bikram Yoga on and off over the years and remember whenever I’d restart I’d naturally struggle with the heat, sometimes having to just lie on the mat to stay in the room. The instructors always suggested to at least stay in the room, even though you’re body is panicking, try to sit on the mat or lie and just stay with it. Drinking water too is discouraged at it only cools the body, fighting the adaptation to the heat. So now I’ve have been experiencing the benefits of meditation in a sauna.
So I’ve meditated for about 23 years, I’ve meditated on planes, trains, park benches and many more places, to read my more detailed article on my meditation experiences click here. But this short post is simply about something I’ve started recently, and what I’ve learned so far from it.
Restarting the sauna and steam rooms I noticed similar panic to early Bikram. A couple of times I had to quickly escape, bottle of water in hand, cold shower and sit and cool, perhaps before returning again for a few more minutes.
But then I started meditating in the rooms and immediately noticed a difference. By remaining totally in my senses, totally present (a few seconds at a time), I could observe when the mind would try to panic, when I returned to the present, the panic disappeared. The monkey mind only has power over us when we give it attention. So I realised the panic and need to get out of the room, fear I would collapse, heat exhaustion, maybe low blood sugar, all sorts of unfounded fears, these were all manufactured by the mind, the ego, losing control, pushed out of its comfort zone. The challenge is not to remain in the heat of the room, the challenge is to tame the ego, to quieten the mind. As the mind is kept quiet there is no irrational thoughts or fears driving the urge to flee. I could enjoy the moment, enjoy the heat, observe my muscles relaxing and opening out, and then I would know when I was really ready to leave.
How do I meditate in the sauna?
- Straight back
- Fold hands on legs
- Simply become present
- Observe the sounds around you, any air-conditioning outside, people talking outside, feel the heat, eyes closed, observe the body.
- Don’t try to stop thinking, that’s impossible, simply give the mind another job to do, to observe the moment, the senses.
- This may last a few seconds at a time and thoughts will enter, but with practise longer periods of stillness can be achieved.
When I stopped observing the present what happened? I opened my eyes, they quickly began to burn, my nostrils felt burning, I constantly moved my hands up to brush drips of sweat from my face or parts of my body, I struggled to sit still, my mind began to race, I wondered about the time how long I’d been there if I could leave now could I last a few more minutes.
The ego, the monkey mind creates the drama, by remaining present we don’t have to partake or ride that thought to more and more inner dialogue.
This is an exercise worth trying! The difference is noticeable within seconds.
There is a Free Four Week Meditation Course (click here for details) available through this site. Short guided meditations, suitable for beginners or experienced, the foundation of what I do every day, and have meditated for 23 years. Enter your email below an click to be added to the list.