March 19, 2018 8:39 pm

Just then Rose comes into view, her body smooth and balanced as she walks up the steps to my right. A healer trained in the Laika and Q’ero traditions, she is dark skinned and clothed in white. In one hand she holds a large Eagle’s feather, and in the other, a bundle of sage. “Its time,” says Rose. “Please, come with me.” We follow Rose down a staircase towards the Temazcal. The beige, concrete dome sits on a lower patio overlooking an arroyo, and to our west, a large sun casts an orange glow over the Pacific. Once the group is gathered, Rose opens sacred space. She prays in the four directions, then to mother earth, and then to father sky. She blesses us and covers our bodies in smoke from a burning bundle of sage. With the ritual completed, she invites us inside the temazcal. I crawl through the door first, move around the outer edge and take the seat closest to the scalding pile of rocks. The other participant’s file in behind me, and then sit cross-legged, backs against the wall. Our shaman Rose is the last inside. Rose speaks a few words as the group gets settled and then drops a cloth over the exit – a small, angled doorway – and the entire dome goes black. For the first few moments, there is only silence and darkness, but then a familiar crackling, a bubbling noise, the sound of water turning to steam. A wave of heat pours outward and over everything. Warmth hits my face and chest, and air burns the rim of each nostril. Immediately I’m uncomfortable, struggling to adjust to the intense heat as our shaman starts to speak. I fight to calm my breathing, forcing myself to listen carefully to her instructions and words. Rose is telling us about the four gates, and how we will travel through each during the hour-long ceremony ahead. She talks about concepts I genuinely want to understand – shedding misconceptions, relieving the pain of the past, exploring pure love, and learning to alchemize life. Her words help to engage and focus my mind, but the physical discomfort inside the temazcal remains. By now, my body is now dripping with sweat. My core temperature is rising, and even with the comfort of Rose’s voice, there is no denying the urge – I want to get out of this oven. But just then I remember our shaman’s words from earlier in the day, “Sometimes discomfort in part of the process.” Our shaman begins to sing and beat a drum, the noise reverberating through the thick, enclosed dome. Her musical vibrations are bold and loud pushing heat and noise around the space. The song is calm and proud, in a language I don’t understand, and yet the melody mixed with the consistent pounding of percussion, catapults my mind into a heightened, meditative state. In the musical blackness of the room, and the smell of essential oils drifting over me, an abnormal, yet pleasing, out of body experience occurs. The heat is no longer drowning in the same way. The shaman’s chanting has somehow altered my awareness. The here and now is gone, impossible to grasp, and the panic from before subsides. I float forward disembodied, passing through the remaining hour in a state of mental transmutation. A temazcal is a type of sweat lodge originating with the pre-Hispanic indigenous cultures of Mesoamerica. Temazcals have a particularly rich in history in Mexico. Warriors used temazcals after battles, the sick went inside in search of improved health, and sometimes, they were even used in childbirth. Temazcals are a permanent structure, usually built from concrete and volcanic rock in the shape of a dome. To heat a temazcal, volcanic rocks are heated and then placed in a pit in the center of the temazcal, or against a wall. Within the intense heat of a temazcal, the body undergoes fever-like symptoms, allowing participants to shed layers of toxicity, including physical, emotional and spiritual pain. Ex-Pat Chronicle – Lesson’s Learned From The Temescal Ceremony

1. Real change requires a bit of discomfort.
2. Even in darkness we still have vision.
3. To grow, you must leave your comfort zone.
4. Mind, body, and spirit are separate, and yet deeply connected.
5. Take time to look inside – you never know what you’ll find.
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