Inipi – Native American Sweat Lodge

by Courtney on April 10, 2009

A reader’s question:

“The inipi sounds pretty intense. I would like to learn more about them.”

I am in no way an expert on inipis. That being said, I can share what I know of them, and my experiences with them. From the TOL website:

“The Inipi’s we perform at the Tree of Life are in the tradition of the Lakota Sioux. It is facilitated by Gabriel Cousens, M.D., or his second, Keith Lyons. Gabriel has been adopted into the Lakota Sioux Tribe and initiated as a sweat leader. The sweat requires that we each come with respect for the ceremony, ourselves, and everyone involved.

The Inipi bears the meaning of rebirth. To enter the Inipi is to come into the womb. We go within to sacred space and all are asked to be present with the consciousness of the advent of new life.

During the Inipi, there are four rounds of prayer. Participating in the Inipi is a commitment to journey through each of the four rounds. The Inipi is a special time of heightened awareness and connection through prayer.”

I’ve participated in about 10 inipis. Some have been more difficult for me than others.

Why do I participate? Personal and spiritual growth. It is very powerful for me to put myself in situations that are uncomfortable and challenging – some of my most transformational insights have come in inipis and other settings of similar intensity.

Every inipi experience has been different. Some I’ve been very still and meditative, some I feel quite jolly and happy, and some I’ve sobbed the entire time. Sometimes I enter inipis with the intention of letting go of something particular, and most of the time I just enter and see what comes up for me. I trust that whatever needs to come up for me will, and it does.

Inipis, for me, are a powerful setting for whatever I need next for my own personal and spiritual growth – letting go of thought and behavioral patterns that no longer serve me, letting go of attachments, setting new intentions, praying, for feeling gratitude, to honor people and/or the earth, for expressing emotions, for connecting with myself – anything and everything.

“Tell me, and I will listen.
Show me, and I will understand.
Involve me, and I will learn.”

-Lakota Proverb

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