Håll huvudet kallt i sommar!

Håll huvudet kallt i sommar!

5 sätt att balansera sommarelden (Pitta)

När värmen ökar ute och sommaren är här går vi enligt den Ayurvediska tiden in i en Pitta- (eld/vatten) säsong. Det innebär att elementet eld är den starkaste energin i vår omgivning just nu och det är därmed lätt att bli överhettad. Särskilt om...

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Journeying the sweat lodge

The sweat lodge or temazcal/temaskalli is a ceremony or ritual that is part of many Native American as well as Latin American traditions. In the north, the indigenous Samii people had/have similar healing and self care rituals, using steams/saunas together with herbal medicines. Traditional medicine men and women have past on this tradition about being in contact with nature, the plants, and the four elements through this purifying ceremony. The healing work aims at working therapeutically on the physical body, spiritually purify, and to meet/heal/cleanse fears and negative aspects of the mind.

 

Some of the therapeutic uses of the sweat lodge/temascal are:

to eliminate toxins through the sweat of the skin

to improve the texture and color of the skin

to de-intoxicate body and mind

to increase vitality

weight loss

improve fertility

treatment with plants’ healing properties (herbal medicine) and the water steam

thermotherapy; viruses and bacteria don’t survive in the heat, the heat also stimulates the endocrine glands and remove impurities in the circulation.

 

(Read more in La Pipa de obsidian Danza de Luna, Anita Carmona Itzpapalotl.)

Sweat lodges can be built in various ways depending on the surrounding environment and tradition. It is, however, always the same with water poured on hot stones to create the healing water steam. According to the Mexica tradition, and others I have been fortunate to come into contact with, it is also important that the participants are co-creators when building and preparing the sweat lodge ceremony, under the lead of a temascalera/abuela/shaman.

Local medicinal plants are used in the ceremony. Usually there would be some aromatics, some calmatives, or maybe some with properties to heal infections and inflammations. The plants may for instance be hung in the roof of the sweat, used as herbal tea drunk before and/or after ceremony, or leaves can be spread out on the floor where they come into contact with the open and receptive skin and, thus, work healing. Herbs are also put directly on the hot stones, which allows for their healing properties to come inside the body through respiration.

Sage

Sage

The temascal has its navel in the middle and this is where we put the rocks or hot stones.  These rocks are our ancestors, coming to share their wisdom to us through the ceremony of the sweat. The stone people have been on earth since creation and carry deep knowledge. It is with great respect that we welcome and listen to them. Inside the temascal, we greet the ancestors with herbs such as copal, cedar or sage and prayers. The sweat lodge is covered in leaves and blankets and when everyone (including the stones) are inside the door is closed. Inside is humid and dark, representing the womb of the Mother as well as the darkness of ignorance we ought to overcome to heal. We enter the womb of Mother Earth to remember where we once came from, to remove the ignorance and, thus, to remember who we truly are. It is a ceremony that is profound, healing and nourishing. 

We share the ceremony in darkness and individual introspection, guided by the temascalera/shaman/medicine person. We conduct and create the ceremony together but as in all spiritual work/ceremonies it is crucial to understand the responsibility of the individual. You are in your journey as much as we are in one journey together- just as life itself and in both you are responsible for your own wellbeing. The temascal gets dark and hot and usually cramped. To honor and listen to the body is key to a good experience. 

Vestido de temascal 15 mil colones o 30 dolares

Vestido de temascal 15 mil colones o 30 dolares

To be able to sit somewhat comfortably, avoid heat on the skin and to wear clothes appropriate for the ceremony, in the Mexica tradition we use long dresses. Preferably, the ceremonial dresses are made of pure cotton and in a beautiful color that doesn’t get transparent when wet. On the pictures you see Abuela Lorena and Abuela Jane in dresses perfect for the temascal (or other ceremonies!). Personally, I prefer having the dress long so that I can curl up inside it if it gets too hot on the legs or feet. An aspect you don’t take into consideration in rituals I’ve encountered in Sweden is the surface underneath the bum. It’s one thing sitting on soft sand, grass or muddy dirt but in Costa Rica the temascal might be in the mountains on hard rocky surface. I like having some fabric between my butt and these sharp rocks! Yet a side of the coin is to create the feeling of ceremony by “dressing up” for the spirits. I know that when I put on my ceremonial dress (may it be for a sweat lodge or other), I am already focusing on doing my spiritual work and I am connected. Some traditions don’t have this policy but (my interpretation is that) focus on the fact that one ought to be comfortable in their nakedness as you are being reborn inside the womb. In the Mexica tradition, we wear clothes and if you’d like to get yourself one of these lovely dresses let me know at Service By Magie or magdalena@bymagie.com! They are 15mil colones or 30 dollars and the money goes to preserving an ancient and very important tradition: Danza de la Luna/the Moon Dance. 

Sweat Lodge dress 30 dollars

Sweat Lodge dress 30 dollars

The temascal helps you with what you need as long as you enter it with faith, humility, respect and determination to do your work. Personally, I always enter ceremony with the intention and prayer that my heart will expand and be open enough for me to be able to fully receive and listen to the messages brought to me by Great Spirit. 

Inside the temascal/sweat lodge we pray through silence, shared words, storytelling, songs and music. The temascalera or medicine person guiding the ceremony intuitively receives messages about the work we need to do and guide us through it as a group as well as individual beings. Remember that you are on your own personal journey inwards towards cleansing and healing the body and mind to find clarity and love.

Please, share your own stories and any questions below!

In love and in harmony 

Ometeotl,

Sofia-Magdalena Chandrakaí

Heal the Hearts

In my beloved jungle town Puerto Viejo, in Costa Rica, I’ve met many magical sisters that all inspire me through their heart’s wisdom. This story is about Flora. Flora is one of the most balanced and grounded young women I know. She is also crazy, wild and free and has a laughter that warms every inch of my body. Her gift comes from a strong heart and through the ancient wisdoms of Ayurveda she shares it with the world in her healing food at Puerto Pirata, Puerto Viejo.

Flora was born in Togo, Africa, but moved to Italy as a young child when her mom unexpectedly went missing. She grew up in Italy with her dad and sister without ever knowing what happened to her birth mother. Flora sought ways to heal her heart through ancient wisdoms such as yoga and Ayurveda but there is always that last piece of the puzzle…..

Suddenly, one day last year on the year of love – relatives from Africa reached out through Facebook, knowing where her mother is. 2015 is the year when we go out in the world to do our work, to build on our tribe, and to mend the hearts. Flora and her sister are determined to travel to Africa to meet their mom, to get answers and most of all to embrace their family so that hearts can heal.

The trip Costa Rica to Nigeria is a costly one and, so, Flora and her sister are praying to our hearts for donations so that they can make this important journey happen. Read their full story and donate here.   

Heal and Balance in Liverpool

As I require a special diet of vegan and gluten, sugar, yeast and onion free food, I occasionally have to make exceptions. Especially when travelling and I can't cook for myself. I am aware of this and, therefore, whenever I can I bring my own food, snack and essential herbs to help me digest what ever it is that I don’t normally eat. In the UK, gluten is hard to avoid even though nowadays many cafés have the option of gluten free bread. However, the main issues with bread are the yeast and the refined flour- gluten free or not. And they like their sandwiches, the Brits! Besides gluten and yeast, sugar and onions are vicious and difficult to avoid. We even found sugar in the oatmeal! So, during the week most of my exceptions concerned onions, sugar and yeast. My body required me to do a nice purge when I got back home!

In regards of non-animal food tho, most restaurants and cafés have at least one option of vegetarian food and my general experience is that most of these dishes are possible to make vegan or at least lactose free. Still, sometimes it’s nice to be prepared and know where to be able to eat FROM the menu! Check out my healthy travel tips for Liverpool below.

Look up vegan and vegetarian restaurants and eateries on Scouseveg There are several options around Liverpool center that are vegan friendly. For instance, we tried the vegan menu at Lunya, a Spanish tapas restaurant, and were very pleased! There is also a vegan café on Bold Street - a genuine and cozy bohemian feeling street which we found when walking from the Cathedral and down towards the dock. This street is where you’ll find alternative bookstores, independent businesses, world food stores, fair trade, organic and the like. Needless to say, I enjoyed the visit!

Always carry snacks such as unsalted nuts, seeds and fruit in your daypack in case of sudden hunger and absence of healing nutrition. Bring a thermos of hot water! Refill whenever possible. For instance, ask in cafes or at 7/11, I’ve always gotten positive outcomes! Why do you want a thermos you wonder? 1- to stay warm throughout the day if weather is rough 2- to aid the digestive fire (especially if you’re making food exceptions).

Put your hiking boots on! I love to walk around bigger cities because it offers a genuine way to get to know the city, its neighbourhoods and people. Liverpool is a good-sized city to walk around for the weekend tourist. A huge plus are the signs all over town, encouraging visitors to walk between attractions. Dancing is of course also a terrific way of moving your body and get the prana flowing! As we were alone in The Cavern, in The Beatles Museum, I saw my chance to move the booty and twisted around the dance floor in front of the stage for a good two rounds of the famous Twist and Shout!

The Beatles played remarkably 292 concerts in The Cavern before the place closed down 1973. The museum does a great job in reenacting the settings and atmosphere and when I closed my eyes to let my body move to the dancing rhythms, I traveled back to a time when The Beatles were rocking the stages.

Not only is dancing and walking around museums great for the physical body but also for the overall wellbeing, such as the mental, emotional, and spiritual health. More and more research on Health and Art & Cultural activities show that the two areas are much related. For instance, music and dance have long had social and ritual functions in traditions all over the globe and research has shown that these therapies have positive affects on the mood. In addition, there is science describing how cultural activities can increase the quality of life! My health routines include absorbing art, history, architecture, music, and nature to mention a few. Thus, I make sure to involve my routines wherever I am in the world! In Liverpool, we started our trip with a visit to the world’s largest Anglican Cathedral and ended it with a long stay in The Beatles Story- both deeply spiritual and healing experiences.

The Beatles Story was an emotional roller coaster but we came out with the message of healing the world and bring world peace, so that we can all live together as ONE. 

 

Ps. Before New Years 2014, you can lend your voice to the largest sing-a-long ever! Read more and listen to John Lennon's Imagine here