Inipi – Sweat Lodge

I am going into an inipi today.  There is a need in my community.

I’ll be honest, today is my first free day in quite a few days and tomorrow begins another long string of days filled with activity. Relaxing by the lake edge in my hammock with nothing to do is so completely appealing to me.  Oh, the urge to luxuriate is strong.  But there are needs in my community – there is homelessness, illness and death amongst my people, two ceremonies are coming in a few short weeks – the energy needs to be clear to hold good space for those who will cry for their vision and for those will dance for joy.   What is more important I ask myself – resting or attending to another?

These ways I choose to live are not necessarily easy ways.  I am often asked to step up.  This got me to thinking about the value of being selfless.  Selfless service a teaching of Swami Radha and a subject I think I know well.  What can I learn about this now?

My thoughts expand to those who offer themselves in selfless ways. To those who tend to the Elders and the dying.  And those that teach others how to read, or clean the house of the disabled,  to those who add coins into a homeless person’s cup.  And those who build urban gardens so others don’t go hungry while learning to eat healthy and give back themselves.  To the countless organizations in distant lands willing to serve in danger zones.  To the minister who would offer last rites to a soldier on the battlefield, to the soldier.  I cannot even list all of the goodness done by others for the benefit of another.  I give thanks for those that have generous minds and hearts that step in to give of themselves.

Am I selfless I wonder?  I do not consider going into the sweat lodge to pray to be a wholly selfless act.  As others receive what they need, so too, do I.  As others become whole, I am made whole.  We are all related.   I am willing to forgo my plan for the day as there are needs in my community.  I do look forward to the opportunity to pray and purify, to listen to the lodge drum and the singers of sacred songs.  In the inipi I am connected to the whole of the Universe.  We are all connected in this way.  The hammock will to wait.

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin

Inipi is a Lakota word meaning sweat lodge.  It can be read about and understood as a sacred ceremony in the book The Sacred Pipe.  This book is Black Elk’s accounts of Seven Sacred Rites of the Oglala Sioux.   A medicine man who shared is vision and journey, Black Elk is oft quoted for his wisdom.







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