One of the most powerful experiences offered at The Ranch mental health treatment center is the sweat lodge ceremony. Sweat lodge ceremonies have been performed throughout human history for physical detoxification, emotional purification and spiritual connection. The ceremony involves building an open fire, heating stones in the fire and pouring water on the heated stones in a small, dark structure made of willows and blankets, filling the space with steam.
During the ceremony, singing, praying and sharing take place. The door is opened four times to bring in fresh rocks and water, each time shifting the focus of the ceremony to a different perspective of recovery. The first “round” focuses on self-judgment and uncomfortable emotion. The second round focuses on forgiveness and resolution of family of origin issues. The third round invites participants to see their lives and their addictions from a new perspective, and the fourth round asks them to claim the changes they are making in their lives, and make commitments to specific actions that will support those changes.
The sweat lodge process provides several invaluable therapeutic opportunities including:
- Recognizing and overcoming habitual responses to fear, discomfort and self-judgment
- Mobilizing new coping responses to these common relapse triggers
- Increasing awareness of physical and emotional responses and their impact
- Recognizing personal defense mechanisms
- Moving from intellectualized and rationalized self-expression to more authentic, feeling-based expression
- Asking for what they need
Sweat lodge ceremonies are performed by therapeutic staff with extensive training in the Lakota Sweat Lodge Tradition.
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