As L. Ron Hubbard points out in his book, Clear Body Clear Mind, when a body is freed
of harmful chemicals and radiation, the mind becomes clearer and a human being then
becomes able to function and be at his/her highest productivity levels. No endorsement
of Dianetics or Scientology is intended here, but I happen to agree with Mr. Hubbard’s
thoughts and assessments on the importance of ‘sweating out’ what can get stuck in the
body, can cause ill health and less-than-optimum thought and control of our own lives.
Hubbard was not the first to realize this notion. Several cultures throughout the
world have been doing sweats for many thousands of years. The Native American peoples,
the peoples of Europe, Russia and Germany, the Chinese and Japanese have all been using
sweats for cleansing and purification of the body, mind and spirit for centuries.
Here is how it works:
In contemporary times the simplest way to do a sweat is in a sauna. Keep plenty of fresh,
pure water on hand to replace water that will be lost in the sweat and to flush away the
materials you are working to lose.
Stay in the sauna for as long a period (hours) as you can stand it, 30 minutes at a time,
cool and repeat the process for several days in a row, until your feel complete. The body
will be cleansed of all harmful substances – it is almost guaranteed – but it takes
commitment and determination to follow through in order for this method of cleansing
to be effective.
The Sweat Cleansing
A human being has plenty of opportunity to contaminate one’s body during a lifetime. The
pollutants available seem endless, so I’ll only mention a handful here. Even with a
well-guarded regime of food, juice and supplement intake, it is almost impossible to
avoid ingesting or absorbing some materials, including radiation and other less then
harmonious things to our bodies: materials other then the highest value.
We may seek only high-quality, pure water and organic produce, but the reality of Planet
Earth’s contaminants could affect us all at one point or another.
I’m talking about products such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, hormones added to
beef, contaminated milk, eggs and cheese. Shall I go on? OK! Herbicides, fungicides,
pesticides, gas fumes and, of course, impure water, drugs and alcohol.
Sweat it out
The Native Americans have used sweats for health purposes for thousands of years and
these techniques have been proven effective by science and religious orders. One religious
order I know of works to sweat out the Master Serpent!
Sweating, particularly a program of regular sweating requires courage, determination, and
a stick-to-it attitude. There are practitioners who are able to guide a person through
this process and a person considering such a cleanse must be prepared for a multitude of
possibilities that might come up – serious and significant emotional changes and shifts
The process could involve several days of sweating and ingesting specific herbs and
vitamins, along with lots of water. Among the herbs and vitamins that have been reported
to be of value during sweats are:
The temperature of the “sweat lodge” can be set at the highest degree acceptable to the
individual doing the sweat, but watch it – the heat can be debilitating, usually 150 to
200 degrees will work well. The hotter, the more sweat…and the more sweat, the quicker
the release process.
How long does it take to complete a sweat? According to Hubbard, that is entirely up to
the individual. The practitioner or health provider can help determine this as well. When
it feels complete, it is.
You should be prepared to stay in the “sweat lodge” for at least several hours and sometimes
several consecutive days. It is highly recommended that you consume large quantities of
pure water while doing this process. It is also important to get on a regime of cleansing
herbs and supportive vitamins; the body is going to be pushing a lot of materials out and
the replacement of vital life force components (both foods and vitamins) just might be a
It is also advisable for you to work up a good, fast heart rate before entering the lodge
to sweat; this could help push undesirable materials out even quicker.
For more specific herbs and vitamins to ingest during a sweat, consult your health
professional or local health food store.
One tribe I am very familiar with from Northwest Montana (from Open Spaces, My Life
With Leonard J. Mountain Chief
, a book I wrote about a Blackfeet elder with whom I
spent nearly ten years) ingests the herbs in several ways during an “initiation”. They
drink a tea made from the herbs, have an enema with the same herbs, bathe in them, add
them to a pot of boiling water during the sweat and even spank the tribal member with the
leaves and branches of the plants they use – sort of like beating the devil out, or at
least that is the contemplation.
Whichever method you choose for clearing the body of unwanted materials, I do encourage you
to read one of the many books written specifically on the subject of sweats and water
purification. Take it slow; do the programs at a pace that is comfortable to you and, as
suggested earlier, be sure to consult a health care professional before starting. For some
people, this is not an easy process to experience or complete.
When the sweat is complete, you will see a marked improvement in your appearance, attitude
and out-flow of positive communication.
It is also advisable that a practitioner does the sweats with their client or you find
someone who is willing to do it as a team. It is always better for two or more to do this
process at the same time. The Northwest Tribe referred to earlier usually has four or more
in their ceremonies.
You should receive massage and energy healing during the sweat cleanse or, at the very
least, light healing touch. There is more information about sweating and cleansing in my
new book How Safe Is Your Food? Miracle In The Kitchen
, available on my
Washtae- all is well.
The Sacred Sweat Lodge--From Jay’s Book Open Spaces
There are secrets and mysteries to the sweat lodge that I am not allowed to reveal, based
on my sacred promises never to talk about them. Each one of us has our own experience of
miracles preformed in the sweat lodge, and I’m certain your accounts will be sacred to you
one day and will not be shared with anyone lightly.
Without revealing any secrets, here is just one of many such accounts of my time in the
sacred sweat lodge with Leonard and friends. This is an excerpt from my book Open
; you can find a copy of it at www.SpiritHealing.net
Experiences such as these do not come nearly enough in our lives. You will see and know
when you need one, and it is your responsibility to arrange it and seek an accidental
miracle. Life will not usually deal you everything you need. It is way too easy to make
excuses like, “I don’t have time,” “It is too hard,” or “Where would I find something
like that?” But if you are truly seeking the path to fulfillment, freedom from the past,
knowledge of yourself, and the answers to life, you will find the time and the meeting
place will come. You will make the time, and you will discover that it is time well spent,
as I did with Leonard on so many occasions.
“I have a terrible headache, Leonard,” I was whining. “This heat is getting to me and I
had a massive headache going.” It was the hottest August I could remember! In these parts
of Montana, some years we have winter…and we have August. This was one of those years.
Leonard said, “Time for a sweat.” In Native life, almost any time is a good time for a
sweat, a smoke, a dance or a chant song.
The sweat lodge is one of the traditional ways of healing mind, body, and soul, and is
always taken quite seriously. As a matter of fact, a person who does not approach it in
reverence would not be welcome, nor would a shaman avail himself for treatment and ask
one to cross the line to come into the sweat lodge. Crossing the line is a time of
reverence for ceremony and one only does this at the right time. A woman must never cross
the line during her moon cycle; this is considered very bad luck.
The sweat lodge is similar to the experience of quiet time, only it involves physical
purging in addition to mere reflection. It is a more active pursuit, but produces an
after-effect of having been reborn and refreshed. As with the tribal commune, it combines
the experience of coming together for self-examination and cleansing of what we have built
up in our bodies, hearts, minds, and spirits as we walk through a convoluted world and a
time to let go of the world for a short period of time.
And at that moment in Montana, it was time to let go of the world. “Let’s go into the
sweat lodge,” Leonard said. “Your head problems will be left there.”
The sweat lodge of the Blackfeet Nation is a small half-dome; one has to kneel to go in.
The body of the lodge is made from bent willow and is covered in either canvas or deer
hides. Occasionally old rugs are used, but that is not tradition in the Blackfeet Nation.
The lodge usually holds up to six or eight people, but it can be only two if it is a
ceremony; sacrifice, or ritual one is setting out to do. River rock is heated to a very
high temperature outside the lodge, and in the traditional way the rocks are passed in by
a female virgin of the tribe using tree branches, as the rocks must be pure. The hot rocks
are placed in the center of the lodge and a mixture of water and herbs is poured over them.
The opening to the sweat lodge or the door must always face east; there is no other
acceptable direction, there is no other way! East represents new beginnings, the sunrise,
mother’s warmth, and healing.
There is always a leader or a shaman in the lodge, and he directs how the sweat will be
run and its designated time. In other words, he decides how long we are to stay in the
very dark, very hot lodge. Participants are encouraged to stay in the lodge for the entire
duration of the sweat, and not to break the circle. The circle is of supreme importance to
the Nation People, and we believe that if the circle had not been broken, we would not
have lost our land and sacred buffalo.
The lodge is normally built near cold running water so when it is time to come out, we
can dive into a lake or stream. Occasionally the sweat will go on for several days. We
enter the lodge as a group and depart together, we take long walks in silence, we rest,
we fast, save for water, and we sweat in a harmonious group.
Treatment is often performed to assist in overcoming an ailment, disease, discomfort, or
nagging headache, such as the one I had when I went in.
Physical complaints are not the only reason for a sweat -- on the contrary. We sweat to
aid in our discovery, we sweat to help elevate ourselves to a place of desired strength
and to achieve abilities. We sweat out the devil, we sweat in remembrance and we sweat to
clean impurities, both physical and mental, out of our bodies.
Herbs are always used in our sweats, and the ones utilized vary, based on our particular
desire and circumstance. Red Clover, Yellow Dock, Mugwort, Willow bark, and Chaparral are
just a few examples. Herbs are used in many ways and are applied as part of the ceremony.
They are breathed in as steam over hot rocks; they are eaten; they are boiled and drunk as
tea; they are bathed in; they are taken in through the anus; they are spanked or beaten
into the skin with branches and leaves.
Some herbs make one feel terrible for a short period of time. This is expected. One will
experience deep heaves, hot and cold sweats, deep pain and diarrhea. But it all passes
and one is encouraged to keep up his courage and allow this process to take place. If you
can’t, you shouldn’t be there in the first place. That is law.
* * *
Leonard had gotten word of a ritual sweat about to take place down in the flats at the
east end of the Res.
“Come; let us go into the sweat lodge. There is an elder running the lodge today and he
will be very happy to see you,” Leonard said.
We approached the lower flatlands of Two Medicine River, which twists and turns its way
down through desert land off the reservation. Great for fly-fishing, but that was not our
purpose this time. When we arrived, I could see four or five naked old men wandering
around a makeshift camp and gathering covers to go over the sweat lodge. The fire was
already burning very hot and the rocks were turning white from the coals. The camp was
quiet, with the exception of warm greetings when we arrived, and it remained that way.
The oldest member of the group – Earl, a small but hugely respected shaman – came over
to greet me and said, “Good day for a sweat.” He laughed, turned and walked towards the
lodge, and signaled for the rest of us to follow. We did, and before I knew it, I was in
a very small space with six worldly old gentlemen. I recognized most of the members of
the sweat from family gatherings and Pow-Wows.
Each had a reason for being there, and Earl asked us to state our purpose for being at
the lodge that day. He asked each of us not to be concerned with the other members’
purposes for their sweat. He said that was his job, and we all laughed out loud. Each man
told his story, and each man was allowed to speak completely until done. It was informal,
yet guided. We were allowed to pour out whatever we wanted to say and Earl listened and
acknowledged us completely. When we had all spoken, Earl started the singing and chanting
that we would all follow and in which we would all participate.
Leonard noticed I was tense and asked me to just relax into it and allow whatever was to
happen in the sweat lodge to happen, or not. “Try not to expect too much,” Leonard said.
Earl had herbs for each of us to ingest. He brought plenty of water for drinking and
pouring over the hot rocks. He said he wouldn’t let us suffer too much and we could go
out for a pee and “what-not” if we wanted to. We were all comfortable, near as I could
tell, from the glow of the rocks; faces looked cheerful.
Earl then began to move quietly and slowly around the lodge and touch each man. Some
replied with a laugh, some with a cry and one with a scream. Earl’s movements and touching
and caressing went on for what seemed liked several hours. The young lady outside of the
lodge continued to send in hot rocks the entire time.
It was extremely hot. Each man washed his face several times with water that was brought
in for us. The chanting, praying, and singing went on for several more hours. We were all
exhausted and could barely stay awake, which is required. I was starting to fear I would
not be able to stand it much longer and thought about a fast move to the door. Every now
and then, I could feel Leonard’s reassuring hand patting me on the knee as if to say,
“It’s okay, kid; you’ll make it.”
Suddenly Earl said, “It is done!” We were finished with the sweat and we were allowed to
go outside to cool off.
“Gee, my headache is gone and I feel great,” I said. Each man had something to say about
the experience that had taken just over forty-eight hours.
What I witnessed in the lodge is very private, but I can tell you this: I saw things
you’d think you would never see without the use of hallucinogenics. While the things I
saw are secret, they are also very real.
All Leonard had to say was, “Nice sweat, eh? Let’s go eat.”
One day you will experience a sweat lodge, and my prayer and hope for you is that it is
traditional and authentic and that you have someone by your side to pat you on the knee
as if to say, “It’s okay; you’ll make it.”
—Released for free publication Jay North, One Globe Press 17/Jan/07
PO BOX 1211, Ojai CA 93024