Surviving a Sweat Lodge

The other day, I went in a sweat lodge for the first time. It was an amazing experience I will never forget. About 13 sweaty college-student bodies all huddled into this small igloo-shaped hut not knowing what to expect. When we first went in, it was already hot due purely to the body heat of everyone squished together. After we were all settled in is when the real intensity began. We started out on the first level, which is where the instructor put two to three hot rocks in the middle to raise the temperature of the room. He then poured a few cups of water on the rocks to make it steam. The first step was an introduction of sorts. We all went around, introduced ourselves, and made ourselves comfortable with each other. We felt the steam and attempted to adapt our breathing.

The second step was what the instructor called the hardest one. He threw in a few more rocks and kept throwing in water to produce more and more steam. It smelled like an oven in there and I now know what it feels like to be a brownie. To get us through this difficult step, our instructor suggested we started singing. He first led us in some chants which were definitely not in English but were fun to say. We then got to pick our own songs, and we, being sentimental Notre Dame students, chose the Alma Mater and the Notre Dame Fight Song. This cheesy yet great bonding moment was definitely a highlight.

The third level was our final one and was probably the most difficult for me. The instructor first just poured in a bunch of water and put a ton of steam throughout the room. As a result, the air got thicker and it became difficult to breathe. Then, the instructor made us all hold hands so we could connect  our breathing and energy together. While at this point I was almost crying and was in an extremely uncomfortable position sitting on the floor, it was actually a really cute moment. We were all struggling together and knew we could push through.

At the end, after we all survived, I was so sweaty I had essentially just taken a shower. We all went and took actual showers and drank some water and juice to get some fluids back in us. I had never felt more clean in my entire life. It was amazing!


So, while you don’t need to go as extreme as a sweat lodge to have a bonding experience, I think having those moments with people is important. As the initial first excitement of the school year comes to an end, I think it is vital to find a community around you with whom you can share your experiences. I enjoy spending every moment I can with the people around me, even if it is bonding through suffering. The bond of the Notre Dame community is truly something special.  

Go Irish, beat sweat lodge!  

Images 1, 2, 3, 4

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