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The Sauna Meditation

There's something to be said for sitting in a dark hot room in order to get yourself back in place, so to speak. I'm talking about having a sauna. At the very least it's a moment or more away from any smart device (hooray!) and at most it can be a bit of an inner journey, a naked meditation all by your lonesome or a few words with the closest of family members or interesting conversations with total strangers if you happen to be in company. In any case, I try to make every sauna I have into a little bit more than just a bath. It's an escape from daily chores, endless whatsapp messages and the hardship of choosing what to wear. It can be an experience even for us to whom it is as natural as making your morning cup of coffee.

I have tried meditation many times in the past, but my mind (and hands!) are too restless to just sit still, legs crossed letting every thought that comes to mind just go... no, that's not for me. And so I've discovered that having a sauna serves the same purpose for me. Even in the sauna my mind wanders more than I'd like, but luckily we have a wood heated stove here at home (we used to have en electric one too indoors but we never used it so we made it into a baby diaper changing room) and so the undressing of all excess thoughts starts already when getting fire wood and lighting up the fire. And ours doesn't light without your extra attention while doing so, so no opportunity for fiddling with your smart phone here either if you want the sauna to be warm today!

What I do when well into the bath is focus and empty my mind is I listen to the sounds our sauna makes and only focus on those sounds! And I have to point out here that the word bathing actually isn't very appropriate regarding the sauna. In Finnish sauna is also a verb. So I am saunaing :)

As I clear my mind of all but what is in this room along with its sounds I sink into a truly relaxing soundscape of water dripping, the metal stove clonking, the humming sound from wood burning accompanied by the loud snap that spruce makes when burning. And of course the hiss of hot water being thrown on the stove. Ahh!!

There's a reference that can be made between the sauna and being back in your mothers' womb cocooned in a place of warmth, comfort and familiarity. I, like many other Finns I suspect, like to bathe without electric light which is especially nice when the room is lit up by a live fire burning. It is a fading light which dances on the wooden walls...

Everyone has their own sauna routines and habits, hubby dearest is very specific about each hot round between cooling off outside is of a different nature, thus making it a kind of step by step journey into truly cleansing his body and soul.

My favorite routine which I never do when only quickly showering is starting the first "hot round" by scrubbing myself from top to toe with a slightly raspy brush, opening up the skin to breath for the following rounds of throwing water on the rocks. It's like getting a new pair of lungs, your skin, to exhale with.

Each sauna has its own personality, it is like a friend that you get to know over time. Like friends, also saunas have their quirks and personality traits that you get to know and learn to live with. Our sauna floor happens to be freezing regardless of what season it is. I am always in a terrible hurry to get away from the shower head to the sauna seats with my chilly toes! But this short sensation of cold in a hot room adds to the experience. Right now there are also heaps of soft, fluffy snow in the yard to safely crash into without getting scratches; we've had steady sub zero temps since the snow came at the beginning of November.

Afterwards I am left with a feeling of utter relaxation while the soft smell of smoke lingers in the air.. Oh how I love my Sauna.


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