Training and Sweat Lodgin' with the Oldies...

Sweat Lodge

On Saturday, I participated in my first sweat lodge.  It is a cleansing by sweating and dealing with your issues in  unique ways. It is native American , in essence, but has been done for thousands and thousands of years across many cultures in their own ways.  I was a bit nervous beforehand mostly because I have social anxieties that keep me out of a lot of things in life and it is mostly meeting new people and me making  up a bunch of things in my head that aren't real but they happen anyhow(the anxiety). I have come a very long way with it but it still causes me to pull my head back into my turtle shell.  There are some things I just know I have to do in life and this sweat lodge was one of them. There are so many things we don't know so why not see if it helps or leads you to a better place you can learn from.

I have always been drawn to eastern religions like buddism, hinduism and often no religion at all but with a firm understanding that there is a divine place and being we all go to at the end of this life and also that this life  is not near as real as we think it is .  All religions pretty much have these fundamental concepts but , for me, I pick ones with less people influence, judgements and just plain distortions from what it was suppose to be in the beginning.  When you first learn a way of doing something or handling a situation, that process is cemented in your head and can seem almost sacrilegious to break. Another example of this is the first real strength system  I learned and followed was Westside. Is it the best, no not at all, but you do compare and evaluate it to all the other forms you encounter against the same  reference points you learned. In other words, you can be a bit biased and set in your ways about learning new approaches or perspectives. In Old Man Mike's words, "I like what I like!"  This is sort of what happened with the Sweat Lodge and the native american approach with me. Apprehensive, but willing to listen, learn and incorporate what works for me. I think you can get something you can use from everything whether you agree or not with their philosophy. But sometimes, your old ways you learned can prejudice the outcomes so I try to be conscientious of this.

Mostly ,I do these things like sweat lodges to get myself a bit closer to that divineness and in the process getting out of my own head and enjoy this life as much as possible.  That includes alot of funnies. They are as important as the rest of that shit you ma y learn or pick up along the way.

First off, I am pretty sure I was the youngest at 50. One guy  may have been 55ish but not a hundo % on that.  Some of the members have been at this since '87 as I found out later.  So youngest and newest child to the group I was.  The master of the ceremony lives way out in the woods as you would think. Part of the process is your bring natural tobacco as a offering to the ceremony as the  pure nicotine is well liked by the spirits. Not being a tobacco dude, this took some  traipsing but I found plenty.  After the ceremony, there is a feast so you bring a covered dish.  I sorta fretted over this as to whether it was something you actually made or could bring whatever.  I settle on a fruit tray and a vegetable tray  form Lowe's after much back and forth by my wanting to do the right thing brain. Total waste of energy in the end, but that is later.

As mentioned, we are in da woods not close to anything. Put it this way, ain't no street lights in the whole area.   I know Blake from a long time ago when him and Barbera worked on me doing the Rolfing Ten series. Back then I was a bit more fatty muscley so Barbera enlisted Blake to help with the ten series.  This is how I found out about the Sweat Lodges, his trips to Peru and his dealings with the Shaman in Peru.  I was always interested but it never produced itself until I decided it was time and obviously I reached my mental inpasses in life.

Everything has its significance and purpose. So the process is very important and everyone participates.  They all have it down to a science and whittle away at the set up.   The basic frame of the lodge is set.  It is round and made of branches tied together and is about rib cage height on me.   There is a arrangement of stones  almost right in front of the entrance. I am told this is to resemble the turtle with its head pokin' out.   I later used it to remind myself you have to go around the lodge once it is set a certain way so you don't disrespect the spirits or the process.   The fire pit is a few feet in front of that and is where the stones will he heated for the ceremony.

The wood bed is built for the stones and after the lodge is covered with blankets several times and then tarps to keep the heat in and make it completely dark in the lodge meaning zero light getting in. I find out this is necessary to make it like the mother's womb. I get it.   It reminds me of the Linville Taverns when they cut the lights out-pitch black and you can not adjust to the light.  This turns out to be a good thing later.

We then bless the stones. In this case there are 24 stones and 8 people so 3 each to bless and place on the bed of wood in the fire  pit.  You have a certain mandatory number for the Creator, Mother Earth and so on.  You then name the others to what ever blessing/prayer you have intention for. It can  be for love, hope, compassion and so on with this as well.  Still being the newby here, you don't want to mess it up and in general my brain goes empty under pressure of my turn. I blather whatever I can muster here and it seems okay. But as it moves around to the next person and they say something cool, you want to bonk yourself in the head and go ,"ah I shoulda said that"  In the scope it does not matter.

Upon completion, you cover the stones with more wood and kindling.  The fire is lit and we move on the pipe ceremony.  You sit in a circle again on blankets. The dogs are wandering around. One of the ladies there has a black small poodle that is older like Amber and has trouble walking but it does not slow her down-people often look like their animals and I haven't seen permed hair in a few years. The pipes are mostly the traditional ones you see in movies-about a foot and half. One guy has a shorty Lord the Rings looking pipe. We all sit or kneel except Lord of the Rings pipey person  and another lady with back issues. They sit in chairs.  The pipes are packed with layers of tobacco and knick-knack which turns out to be various herbs.

Pipes  are a blazing but this ain't a inhale sesh. That is a no-no as it pisses off the spirits you are asking to come to your party. You puff and pray at the same time letting the smoke out after the puff. It is a quite time with no talking.   I share Blake's pipe and passing it is done a certain way as well. Now you can keep the pipe as long as you want.  He passes to me and I take a hit like a doobie not even thinking. Luckily it was a roachey hit and i only inhaled a bit as I caught myself and think , OH SHIT!" It takes me a couple minutes not to cough it out and ruin things. I apologize to the spirits and pass the pipe back.  We do this a few more times as Blake packs it tighter and relights it a few times.  This is probablly a half hour to 45minutes .  I puff and try to pray at the same time and it is harder then it looks.  I watch everyone the entire time to get pointers on da puff.  Most everyone finishes except Blake's wife and Lord of the Pipey.  She puffs with her head slightly down and eyes closed and he just puffs away.  It is non stop on both of them. I am amazed that  I never see them relight. It seems like a half hour goes by and they are in a puff off. Well that is my thoughts.  As the  pipe ceremony goes on, every once and while the fire is checked and more wood is added as necessary by a couple of the participants.

Upon completion, it is time as the arrangement in the lodge is sorted out.  Everybody dips behind cars and sheds to change into swim trunks and sweaty apparel. I am a nervous pee-er and it is on my mind. It is a hike back to the house so that is out. We are in the woods so that is there too. All about opportunity as I get one off behind the shed changing. Before we go in I worry a bit but then I see one of the old dudes by the wood's edge knocking one out so I say aight and find my own old man pee dribble spot and am relieved in alot of ways... It is hard to concentrate when you pee ocd!

Once in the lodge, one person is left to bring 6 stones in for the first round. There are four rounds planned.  Each stone is brought in on a pitch fork and the designated person inside lifts the rock with blessed deer antlers and placed in the pit inside. The rocks are red hot in most of the time from the fire.  We all sit on sheets and as each stone comes in, it is named , blessed and/or used for a prayer for loved ones, ancestors etc.   After all the stones are placed, the bucket of water is brought in , door is shut and sealed up.  Water is placed on the rocks and the steam party gets going.   Again , it is pitch black in there and there isn't much eye adjustment. You feel  and hear the person next to you but you can not see them.

Songs, drums and rattles happen next. I noticed the pattern each go of two songs and two prayers and/or sort through your own personal mess sessions.  Remember there are four rounds of this. Your reason for being there is  the intention you come in with. I was asked to have a clear intention of what I was asking the spirits-animal and teachers  in human form for help with.  The drums,rattle and songs are there to guide you to a place of no ego so you can ask for help from the power animal spirits and teachers in human form.  Water is dropped on the rocks and the steam and cleansing begin.

The first round goes well. They sing the songs and newby here mumbles the words and joins in on the chorus. It reminds me a bit of when I have actually gone to church services and the old lady opens the book and places it between us and I mumble sing along.  Only a small bit though, being in the pitch black darkness makes it easier to try and hang on plus, I wanted to be there.  The songs are very powerful and with less distractions. you can visualize the images more.  Some are about the Buffalo. Some about the eagle. Some about the coyote, fox. Some are about them all.  You get whisped away to a simple time on the Earth where you just lived.  There is a unity forming.  Sweat rolls off me.

The first round is over and the door opens. The hot air rushes out and the lodge begins to cool. You have the choice to stay in or leave until the next round. Like most of the other dudes, I elect to hop out. All the women stay in there. I think, damn they are tough! And they are but also there are little secrets to surviving anything. One is most of the older people lay down. It is a cooler near the ground as the heats rise to the top of the lodge ceiling. There is also the towel over the head if you are sitting up as I would find out in rounds two and three.  For the first though I sit up the entire time and take the heat and stream coming off the rocks.

In the past I have sat in a sauna only for the purpose of making weight for a competition.  I have not liked it much at all-ever.  Normally, I freak out after a certain period of time and staying in there was grueling hell if I had a bunch of weight to get off before weigh-ins.  My anxiety gets the best of me and my brains says-get out...get out now.. Well, after round one I was cool and even into round two I was good. Round three and four I survived but the get out now rose up.

So each round gets the hot rocks ceremony as six rocks enter and no rocks leave.  We sing and each person works through what they came to work on. This goes on. Round four comes. With the towel and laying down occasionally, it is more tolerable but squirming begins to make me antsy. In retrospect, I should have just maintained my intial position from round one.   About half way through round four, one of  the ladies begins to cramp badly. She screams that she has to get out now. The doorman opens the door but she is still cramping too badly and she is on the other side of the lodge. One of the other men pops a hole in the side of the lodge by her and I swear she dove through like a Three Stooges skit.  The door is still open so a lot of the heat is gone trying to help her and of course check on her.. She is okay  which is the good part but we try to resume but the vibe has sorta left( for me) and we work through the last part.   I keep staring at the open door and struggle with the wanting to dive out the hole myself. Luckily it is not OCD pee but just the thoughts of cool air outside.

Showers and food are next. Well the ride back to the house turned out the be the longest ever . It is hard to maneuvor Blake's truck  so he takes the long way back which, by the way, rarely gets used and has not been cut back in awhile. To top it off, Blake has a cataract developing on his good eye so we go very very slow and continue to hollar at Jack to watch out for swatty branches as he rides in the back of the pickup.  Blake has a jacked Jack Russell terrier named Toby. he likes to hang out he window and bite at branches close by.  Taking this route he is bitting the shit out of some branches. Jack manages not to get slapped  in the face by branches.  Quite a amusing ride back really. I sorta thought I would be ready to get out quick, but I throughly enjoyed the ride that I could not have made up if I wanted to

My fruit and veggie trays get ransacked at feast time,  so my make it with love shit was not necessary. We enjoyed a lot of food and I drank unsweetened tea even though I am not a fan of it at all.  But when you are thirsty and hungry, you must do as Romans do. She made a half gallon and it was hard not to chug it all. That would be a tad bit rude for newby.   As we ate,they told lots of stories of lodges catching on fire, people standing straight up and poking through the lodge roof, nuns with machetes(yes, actually happened!),  lodges lasting forever and lots of  other very funny stories.

I throughly enjoyed the process.  Did I resolve all my personal issues? No, but they were stirred up  and came to the surface. To me, that is a win as I know they can get there with time and more effort.  I felt better, more relaxed and willing to help people way more with almost no internal conflict from my flee buttons.  This lasted for several days and still continues although not at strong.  It has also opened another rabbit hole to go down and learn from which of course I have. Possibly, I will think on how to add some activations in while doing the Lodge.   They asked me if I would do another one, I , of course,said yes.








Activations with Tim Tam

Ab wheel 4 sets. Turf surfers walking plankies down the 50ft stretch and back.

Reverse Hypes 3 pre, 2 post

Pulled same set up as last week on a short reverse band. 495x3 both sumo, 585x1 both ways, 635x1 conventional.  Couple of sumo and conventional drop sets to work on a form tweek I had not tried before.  It seemed to help so will work on that some more. The 635 sucked but finished it. Thought maybe this week would be a bit better but not really. Blamed too much sled draggin' as the culprit.

Finished with a lap of lunging


Slightly heavier sled drag for two laps and one walkie talkie lap



Tim Tam  and boom stick activations

Chest supported rows 19 sets

Oblique using fat single handle on push down rack. Little different version 6 sets a side

Went back to chest supported row and attached bands around bottom of chest pad and made a push down style and did many sets for a good pump. Messed around with some pulls to the chest by sitting on the floor for 5 sets

Pec deck doing 20s from about a 1/3 of the stack down to the bottom of the stack. Only got about 10 on the last set.  15 sets all said and done.

Dragged the sled for 2 full laps and a walk after a break.


Two light(45lb) laps including the business up by the street as no one is there. Adds about another 2/3 of a regular lap.  Gets my 20 mins in anyhow


Was still a bit beat up from Thur so alot of activations

Reverse Hypers 6x12

Ab falloouts 3x8

Belt squat with squat buddy prototype. Close stance with bottom pause and stretch.  6x8

Average  band zerchers 5x8

15 mins stepmill after a small break



Plank and bird dogs 3 sets each

Reverse hypers 6x10

Reverse band deads. Conventional with figure 8 straps up to 585x2, Sumo x2

Leg press close stance for 6x15





Band activations(mostly hangin to loosen erectors, upper back and rib cage)

Ab stuff-Dumbell obliques 6 sets and 4 rounds of planks at 30 seconds each. (I have been neglecting them for quite some time so added them back in)

Three laps sled

Still trying to get some volume built up so just did some interesting band work that I haven't quite done before. Went outside  and hooked a couple of light bands on the power rack and did some kneeling training.  Knees on pad upright. Band were set up higher then my body but not machine cable height.  Here is what I did.


Flyes 20 reps with decline press 10 reps/failure for 8 rounds

Underhand rows for reps then static holds.   6 rounds


Had every intention to do some cardio sled work but when I got  here, I thought I really don't want to go back to the grinding it out like before. I really wanted the sweat lodge to sink in and continue to use that cleansing.


Just pumping since the sinus surgery. Not quite a 100% yet so didn't want to blow it out.

Tons of activations and BT work

High rep standing rope pulls 10x20 reps

Hammer press 20,25,30,35,40,45,50

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