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sauna meditation

  • Sauna Meditation

    Sauna Meditation Stillness and clear mind, by Alice Popkorn
    "Meditation" and "mindfulness" are terms we hear a lot nowadays. Once the purview of more exotic Eastern cultures, they are now firmly entrenched in Western societies and are considered important elements of a healthy lifestyle. Combine meditation with sauna use and you have a recipe for achieving harmony in your mental and physical health.

    What Can Sauna Meditation Do For Me?

    Meditation has physical benefits as well as mental health benefits. Here is a list of 100 things meditation does for you. A few of my favorites are:
    • It increases exercise tolerance.
    • It reduces anxiety.
    • It boosts the immune system.
    • It lowers cholesterol levels.
    • It increases serotonin levels, leading to improved moods.
    • It increases concentration and focus.
    • It reduces instances of insomnia.

    How Do I Meditate in the Sauna?

    It is very easy to slip into a meditative state in a sauna: the increased temperature causes physical relaxation, which promotes introspection and a sense of calmness. This leads to an altered state of consciousness. You become hyper-aware of your body and of every drop of sweat on your skin, of sensations you might typically ignore. This hyper-awareness is the doorway to the meditative state.
    If you're new to meditation, here's how to start:
    1. Sit upright, but not stiffly, with your back against the sauna wall. Place your hands softly in your lap.
    2. As your body adjusts to the temperature, allow your eyes to fall closed. Breathe through your mouth. Pay attention to the sensation of breath moving in and out of your body.
    3. Relax your body. Think about stress leaving your body with every drop of sweat. If you feel any part of your body becoming tense, focus on softening the muscles in that area, letting them relax.
    4. Relax your mind. Let thoughts and worries leave your body with the sweat. If you feel thoughts surfacing, let them fall away. Try to make your brain feel "soft". If you have trouble with this, try to focus your thoughts on the way the air feels around you, or on your breathing.

    Eventually you want to get to a state of perfect relaxation, with your body breathing softly and your brain unthinking. Let sensations and thoughts pass through you. Allow none of them to stop and settle in your muscles or your mind.

    Meditation Aids

    Some people find it helpful or pleasurable to use meditation aids to facilitate a state of relaxation. Aids include:

    Music--Soft classical or instrumental music can relax without distracting. There are many CD compilations and mp3 playlists specifically for meditating. Buddhist chanting is also popular. Many saunas have built-in CD players or mp3 outlets, which are preferable to wearing headphones or earbuds: sauna temperatures could ruin electronics not designed for sauna use and having the devices on your person could distract from meditation.

    Aromas--Certain aromas can contribute to relaxation and aid in meditation. Other aromas can be quite stimulating, so choose aromas with care. Popular choices includes herbs such as sage and cedar. Korean saunas like to incorporate mugwort. You can sprinkle herbs onto the sauna rocks, warm them in a metal pan set on the heater, or hang them from the ceiling. Take care they don't burn, as the smoke will be unpleasant and could damage the sauna. Another option is essential oils, which can be mixed with the sauna water and poured over the rocks. Lavender and chamomile are popular essential oils and are conducive to relaxation. Oils can also burn, so use them carefully. Mix the oil into the water outside of the sauna, as bottles should never be taken into the sauna.

    Color--Though your eyes will be closed, the color of your surroundings will have a subtle effect on your ability to relax and meditate. Certain colors are known to stimulate or subdue. Many sauna models come with color therapy lighting options. Choose blues or purples for the most relaxing effect. Never take lights or light gels into the sauna that are not designed for sauna use.


    • Meditation take practice. If you find you are having trouble relaxing and emptying your mind, keep trying. Practice daily for a few minutes at a time and build up to longer periods of meditation.
    • Do not meditate alone or, if you do not have a meditation partner, set an alarm for yourself. You do not want to inadvertently fall asleep in the sauna, as that can be very dangerous.


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