1 December 2017
It was a week before my 50th birthday on the 24th of July that this sweat lodge experience came to me.
I am always joking about my birthdate 24/7… because, this is exactly like I used to work…
March 2016 I became very sick and needed to get to grips with it. (read more about sickness clicking on the link)
So, on my healing quest, I became more aware of how emotional and physical health are linked. This made so much sense after not dealing with challenges for a long time. By not dealing with emotional challenges, it will manifest into sickness!
The fact that I would be 50 and have hormones out of whack, also encouraged the disease of course.
After so much time has passed, I now believe firmly that being sick guided me to get to the root of the challenges…
So… on such a note, speaking of this guidance, brings me to Pachamama retreat.
It was Saturday the 8th of July on my Mother in law’s birthday. My son Juan, his girlfriend Katja and I were celebrating with Mom for her birthday with a breakfast at our world-famous Saturday Market.
A friend of Juan and Katja, Chris, walked by and we were introduced. He proceeded to tell us about the Sweat lodge happening the next day. I have always been intrigued with the idea of doing something like this, but have never before felt such an urge to participate as I did then. I do believe this was the moment I made my mind up to do it…
Katja and Juan also felt like going the next day and it was settled.
As it turned out, it started to rain lightly in the night which was truly a blessing as this was the first rain after the terrible raging fires in Knysna and surrounds.
The next day found me enjoying lying in bed as it was cold and raining.
Everyone cancelled the trip as it was an apparent 35-minute drive into the forest to get to Pachamama. This does not sound too far, but my vehicle to travel there was a tiny Chevy Spark, left to us by my Mother who died a few months prior. Also, I have never been there and did not have the faintest idea of how to get there.
So, I stayed in bed enjoying watching the light misty rainfall and toying with the idea of abandoning the mission to get up and go SWEAT…
Once again, I felt an inexplicable urge to do the sweat and finally made the decision to get up and go.
I had to visit the petrol station before such a drive, as the Chevy these days wanted more oil (5th litre for the week) than petrol. At the petrol station, Petrus, who have been working there since I can remember, was surprised to find me at the wheel. He only found out then that my mother had died.
I do believe that the way in which my Mom died had a huge impact on me and probably this had to do with the urge I felt of going to the sweat lodge.
In her last days, my Mother’s body was in an unceasing spasm. She could not move and had to be turned every two hours. She also had to be changed regularly as she had to wear nappies.
I was blessed to find space with The Living Cornerstone which was situated just around the corner from me. This is a 24-hour care facility. We were super blessed that my mom’s state of being lasted only three weeks before she passed away. If you knew my Mom, you would know that she was very independent. She would not have wanted this state of being one bit. I was thankful for those last three weeks as I am an only child and we did not have the best relationship. It was healing for me and I would like to believe for her as well as I was at her side for most of the time. It was only me and my family who spend time with her. In this time that I had with her, I started with a self-love photo project. I had two photos printed of everyone that shares my life journey with me. One for them and one put into a photo book for me. I wrote a love message on the back of the photo of the receiver and gifted it to them. It made me feel that I am well-loved and would not be so alone when I am on my deathbed!
Here I want to add that just last night, I found the note that came with two handkerchiefs gifted to me, during this time by my Mom’s side. It was gifted by Annemarie and Johan.
These are the parents of our friends, Fanie, Christo and Jo Moller. We can always be sure of parental guidance from these two wise humans as they love reading and researching and thus share a wealth of knowledge. I am filled with gratitude to have them on our life journey!
As I believe that I was in the perfect flow, the message for directions from Chris (whom I met at the market) came through on my phone… at least now I knew kinda where I had to go.
It was an adventurous drive for sure, driving into the forest passing farms with cows grazing in the fields. Just that morning, I saw a video about cows and it felt as if everything happening was connecting dots on my journey. At one point I stopped next to the cows and walked over to the fence, locking eyes with them. It was an awesome feeling of connectivity…
It felt as if I was in a foreign country going to a sweat lodge, but here it was offered to me right in my backyard, so to speak…
… superblessed indeed!
Onwards I drove and got there just on time.
There was no time for me to change as it started raining. I stripped down to my lingerie in a dorm and luckily had my scarf to cover up with until we were inside the darkness of the very low hut. Nothing mattered at all as I felt as if I was absolutely at the right place and at the right time!
We walked past a fire filled with big glaring red stones which were obviously readied for us in preparation for a while.
The hut was small and we had to crawl in through a tiny opening. I counted nine people. We were told to sit in a circle and settled in.
Then the fire glaring red stones were brought and carefully placed in the middle of our circle. As each stone was brought in, a chant was heard … “Welcome, Grandmother”… and this chant continued in unison after every fiery hot stone… “Welcome Grandmother!”
Nixiwaka said that he wanted nine stones, but only seven were able to fit the small fireplace and then… the flap of the hut was closed and we sat in pitch darkness with only the glaring of the fire… water was added and a lot of steam was forming in the small space…
It was the strangest feeling and totally out of my comfort zone as I am claustrophobic.
But alas, it was not my own urgent voice which rang out; it was two of the men that pleaded to leave the hut immediately.
They were told that if they left, they would not be able to join in again. This made my decision clear to suck it up and stick it out!
I have come this far with the adventure… and again I felt an overwhelming sense of being at the right place at the right time. I had to smile nervously, as I sensed a confirmation because of the two people leaving, as now we were seven and seven have always been a profound number for me. Not only is it widely considered to be the perfect number, but my first relationship as a teenager lasted until the seventh year, my first marriage lasted seven years, my first business… yes, seven years when I sold it… my second business exactly the same…
Now I firmly believed that I was in the right place… at the right time!
Nixiwaka started a guided meditation with his melodious voice… chakra number one (red) was confronted, cleansed, cleared of any bad energy, surrounding it in soft healing light and then only moving on to the next chakra.
This felt so amazing and I could feel my body and mind responding well… the next chakra (orange) was addressed and lovingly cleansed and healed… all the while, water was poured on the stones… and steam was enveloping us…
I was sweating profusely by this time and I do not sweat easily, but it did not matter at all… I felt giddy with expectation…
Chakra number three (yellow) was up and here was a different story. This is the chakra that has to do with nurturing…
While writing this article, I figured out that this is probably why I love giving foot treatments… while nurturing others, I am giving out what I most need…
I wrote a book and published it in 2010 – Bury the Past, Unlock the future. I thought that I have dealt with all my issues relating to nurturing.
My Dad was an alcoholic when I was born and because of this, I had a very angry Mom. My Mom had also had a few miscarriages; as well as carrying a baby boy full term who died at birth and this was two years prior to me being born. So as can be expected… a lot of hurt and anger. To add drama to chaos, I was born with asthma and remained a daily asthmatic until my late teenage years when I “outgrew” it. So just imagine how much trouble I was to try and keep alive!
Well, clearly chakra no three was communicating to me that it was still out of whack as I started hyperventilating. I have been battling with panic attacks on a regular basis for the last year and I knew exactly how it felt when it was revealing itself… and it was definitely revealing itself now!
I started feeling pins and needles on the sides of my hands… I tried to take big gulps of air and was relieved that it was so dark that no one could see my distress. The pins and needles started spreading and my hands began to spasm. I gulped some more air and tried to calm my mind, but when the pins and needles reached my face, I knew I had to get out… or I would probably land face down onto the glaring ‘Grandmother’ stones.
I had calming pills prescribed by my doctor in my bag which was in the car and it worked with immediate effect if I could only get to it fast enough…
Everyone was in deep meditation and a young lady was sitting entranced next to me. I felt so awful to bother her, but I had to get out as I was seeing grey and knew that I was about to faint.
I motioned that I wanted to get out, but she reprimanded me to try and stay for a while longer. I think I conveyed to her in some more urgent tones as she gave me a little space to meander around her… then I still had to get past Nixiwaka, our most peaceful guide…
He must have sensed how urgent it was as he opened the flap for me, but as I passed him, he whispered that I would be welcomed back when they open the flap for some more stones, which will happen another three times.
Crawling to get outside, I stood up in a downpour of rain with my bare feet sinking into thick mud.
… my car was about a kilometre away, but my car keys were in the dorm about a kilometre in the opposite direction… and I was contorted in spasm and in no condition to walk anywhere by this time…
This was the point when I knew with certainty that there was nothing I could do and no one to help me… I felt paralysed and simply had to let go…
I saw a bench next to the dam and somehow made my way there…
I stumbled onto it and let my head fall back. The downpour of rain felt very cool and cleansing.
My face and mouth were totally contorted and skew by now (it looks like you are having a stroke) and as I felt that I had no alternative, I began preparing and somehow even embracing the fact that I would die here!
It felt as if I could just drink more and more of the pure life-giving water, the more I let go and let the rainwater run into my mouth. It felt as if the pins and needles and even my sore right kidney were being washed thoroughly and flushed with the downpour of rainwater.
The rain poured over me and I kept drinking, feeling strangely soothed.
I started thinking about my life and a feeling of complete and utter calm began spreading through my body. It dawned on me that we all know that we are going to die one day; in fact, this is the only certainty of our life!
I also thought about the recent raging fires and the people who died horrifically in those fires and all the others who lost everything. This was the first downpour of rain after the raging fires and I felt somehow refreshed and as if all my aches and pains were being exorcised… even my sore neck felt so much better.
Feeling calmer and absolutely superblessed with my peaceful setting, I prayed then, giving gratitude for the perfect serene space and beauty surrounding me for my last breath!
I was extremely grateful that I ended up going alone as I would not have wanted my loved ones to see me like this.
In my prayers, I expressed gratitude for each of my loved ones, my husband, my children and all my amazing friends…
… and for the most awesome experiences, I have had during my lifetime!
Gratitude for having been at the hospital to meet my most beautiful granddaughter, Alexia when she was born… I remember first standing behind the glass window and watching her proud Dad with his newborn. Then he brought her over to us and handed her to me. As I looked at her, she tried her best to focus and look into my eyes and I could not have imagined that it would happen, but it did… our eyes locked for just a brief encounter, but an eternity…
Yes, I have surely lived a blessed and rewarding life!
Feeling absolutely relaxed now with feelings of utmost peace, I heard something and when I turned my head, I saw the flap of the hut opening and more stones being fetched.
I realized then that I was actually able to get up and making my way ever so slowly through the mud once again I felt determined to go back in…
Inside I went to sit on the opposite side where the two men that left earlier had sat so that I could have more breathing space.
Again the glaring red stones were welcomed as grandmothers and this is when it dawned on me that I too, was a grandmother…
I felt honoured by this realization as if I too was meant to feel welcome and then the flap closed again!
Again the water were poured on the glaring stones… again I started hyperventilating…
… but this time I was determined to stay as now I knew for a fact that I would live to tell this tale. (And this is exactly why I decided to share.)
I was here for a reason, to clear the imbalances which had my Mom in a paralysed spasm when she died… and myself… as I was also in a spasm and ready to go just a few moments earlier!
Not only was my Mom caught up in this spasm state, but she kept asking me for her daughter. I tried to comfort her by staying with her and reminding her that I was her only child (as far as I know), but she just answered: ‘not you, my other daughter’…
Yes, my nurturing chakra was definitely out of whack for obvious reasons… and this I probably handed down through my cell memory to my children and even onto my granddaughter.
I was here to do everything possible to stop this downward spiral. To give the gift of forgiveness…
This was my quest… I was here to let go for me and my loved ones!
I would be eternally grateful to know for sure that my children never have to wonder if they were good enough for me… I have the most beautiful children and I would be superblessed to get to a point where I know that they definitely know this… that they would know that I love them unconditionally, they do not need to prove themselves… they have already proved themselves by showing up in my life… by bringing me to this point of knowing… and doing…
There was a bottle of water being sent around with the utmost reverence and gratitude and now, (because of the experience on the bench), I could better sense just how important life-giving water is and how easy it becomes for us to take it for granted. Not only water but how often do we just gulp down our food because we are in a hurry and then we wonder where all our health problems stem from.
When last have you enjoyed the actual taste of a banana or avocado or name it… how can we start to enjoy a taste sensation more consciously?
By using all our senses…
seeing – (wanting it because it looks good),
taking it (touch) and then smelling the flavours first and having our brain help by thinking (enticing) how it should taste. This is conscious/mindful eating and I definitely want to do more of it from now on… which brings us back to gratitude once again!
After these mind-blowing revelations, it became tough for me to breathe again and as it was dark and I had so much space around me, I proceeded to lay down on my tummy.
There was a glimmer of light coming through the bottom of the hut and I put my nose closer for some more oxygen. This actually helped a lot and I could listen once again to the melodious voice of our peaceful guide, Nixiwaka.
He proceeded to tell a story which I am not going to share details of, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. As he told it, I felt my sore kidney being warmed by the fireside. It also felt like little droplets of water was being sprinkled on it. I felt completely at ease with being there prostrate on the ground!
My message for the longest time and also the strongest to come through at the SWEAT, is to be more still and present. I have always been a doer (always working or doing something to feel validated). I had a tough time to relax!
This again, yes, stems from my Mother, as I always had to perform to perfection, to make her happy. I am not saying this as a judgement, but it is just what it is… took me a long time to figure this out as well. We can use abusive behaviour as an excuse or an opportunity!
When the flap was opened again, I sat upright and ready to receive some more profound messages… which I did… and completed the sweat!
Afterwards, I had a shower and we shared a meal together in Nixiwaka’s home. I had a chuckle as his son, Adam, was there and I surprised him by knowing his name before he could say it. (I read up on Pachamama the day before and he was on the website.) Even the cats welcomed me while we ate mindfully. I felt absolutely peaceful and cleansed!
I had to rush home as it was late afternoon and getting dark fast. With the continuous downpour of rain, it was no easy road for the Chevy.
Instead of turning right, I turned left and when I suspected I was on the wrong road, it luckily became too narrow for me to continue driving. I felt that this was an analogy for life. When we know that we are continuing on the wrong road… we can simply decide to make an about-turn and make changes. I immediately turned around and hightailed out of there. It was getting dark super fast and I was still in the forest.
I whizzed past the cows who strangely enough came to the fence when they saw me coming as if they wanted to enhance our earlier experience.
Unfortunately, I was in too much of a hurry to get home at this stage. It was cold, wet and dark by now and onwards I speeded.
Coming around a bend, I saw a huge white horse on the road. I am a card reader by trade and I know that horses mean that huge opportunity is looming ahead…
Upon arriving home safely, drenched as it was raining hard, I made myself not just a cup, but a pot of chamomile and rooibos tea with honey and even took the cinnamon spice bottle with as I went up to my room for some ‘well deserved’ relaxation. Even the way this sentence was written, is new to me as it took me a long time to feel like I ‘deserve’ if I did not put in hard work first… I proceeded to spoil myself even more with a candlelit bubble bath to feel absolutely unconditionally superblessed!
I basked in my newfound insight!
It was truly an amazing experience which I felt I could not fully comprehend, so I decided to immediately record my feelings so as to make sense of it all. (and now I am able to write about it)
I shall embrace everything that life has to offer…
In the week after the sweat, my son gifted me a Dorn therapy session with Lisa in Sedgefield, which confirmed everything that I found out at the sweat and I was gifted with even more release!
Superblessed with gratitude…