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Lessons from the Sweat Lodge Deaths in Arizona

Kathy and I, like many others, are feeling haunted and deeply affected by the sweat lodge deaths at the James Arthur Ray Spiritual Warrior event that took place in Sedona, Arizona. When I first learned of the incident, I didn’t even know that it was at one of James Ray’s events; Kathy had to tell me that. But I can tell you what I felt when I saw the pictures of the structure: like I was suffocating, too.

My heart and prayers go out to all those involved and their families. I cannot imagine the heartbreak that they are all experiencing from this loss and trauma.

I think one of the reasons we are so affected is that we realize: had we been there, we might have died, too.

Had I paid $10,000 to attend a seminar of this sort, had I been encouraged to push my limits, I would have likely pushed my physical limits beyond my comfort zone.

More importantly, I would have trusted that those I had paid money to would look out for me while I was pushing those limits. I would have trusted that they ensured that I would have been supported in every way while doing so.

I’ve been to many seminars, some of which charged large amounts of money, some of which made me push my limits.

I even experienced one seminar leader pulling a .308 rifle and put it to my head. (This is a story I will tell in the book.)

Yes, had I been at the James Ray Spiritual Warrior event, I might have died. I might have become seriously ill.

I’ve been thinking about this all week. It dovetails with some other recent events in my life, including certain aspects of my visit to Russia where I had to trust other people with my safety and well-being. I had to trust that those people who invited me on this trip had my well-being in mind during all aspects of the trip. (As many of you know, this didn’t exactly happen. More later on this.)

The most important lessons in life aren’t going come from a book, or a speaker, or a blog post. The most important lessons are things we have to go through viscerally.

I am working on learning from all of this.

All of this feeds into a book that Kathy and I are currently writing about personal boundaries, manifestation, and relationships. We’re furiously writing that book now and the information is pouring out of both of us. My experience in Russia crossed more of my boundaries than any experience I’ve ever had in my life… and those crossings were all pointing to me learning this lesson.

The biggest lesson, and it’s a lesson that I hope everyone gets from this shared manifestation, you must always trust yourself and your inner guidance. You might listen to a speaker, or even me, that says that you must trust yourself first, but also say some things that do not resonate for you.

When your inner guidance tells you to stop listening to that speaker, or stop reading a blog post, or stop anything that is happening outside of you that doesn’t feel right, your inner guidance must usurp any and all other information.

How many people stayed in that sweat lodge thinking, “Well, I feel so sick and horrible, but I don’t want to give up.” Or, “I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s experience.” Or, “I spent so much money, I am going to push as far as I can go.” Or, “I don’t want other people to be disappointed in me.”

(How many of us say these things during our day-to-day lives?)

You, me, all of us, we have ALL been given an internal compass. If our trust in the external world or in other people goes against our own internal compass, then we MUST stop what is happening and trust that inner guidance.

Pushing Your Limits
There are MANY ways of pushing your limits that do not require large sums of money, physical stress, fasting, or even a sweat lodge. And pushing your limits in your day to day life is going to have much more important and far reaching effects in your life. Here are some ideas:

Push your limits of forgiveness. Who do you hold resentments with today? Push your limits of what – and who – you think you can forgive.

Push your limits of love. Is there something you can do to go deeper into love with your spouse or partner? How about your PARENTS. There’s a good one. Can you show more love to your parents?

Push your limits of what you think you can do. Write a book. Write a blog post, record an song, play the piano, paint a painting, design a garden, stand up in front of an audience and speak, sing a song publicly. Take one thing you think you suck at completely and do it. Know beforehand you’re not good at it and then do it anyway. You’ll be afraid, you’ll doubt yourself, and then try it. This will be uncomfortable… hey, showing more love to your parents is going to be uncomfortable for most of us, too… but it will not be life threatening and it may even show you that you are not so bad at it… and maybe you even enjoy it when you thought you never could.

Not losing hope
Don’t lose hope on the self-help world. There are a lot of good teachers out there, a lot of skilled people who have plenty to give… and aren’t as expensive as you think.

Attending seminars can be a wonderful thing where you can connect with other like-minded individuals. Connecting with teachers who have more experience than you in certain areas of psychology can help you understand yourself in ways you can’t otherwise.

Look for those who give you one-on-one attention… attention that you can afford. Look for cost-efficient ways to get the most bang for your buck. Look for in-depth information on topics that interest you.

And more than anything else, trust that still small voice within. Stay connected to it, stay connected to Spirit AT ALL COSTS. Even if you’ve invested a lot of money (energy) with a teacher or person, if what they say doesn’t resonate with the Spirit within you, you must let go of the external investment and go within.

After all, the Divine has invested a lot of Spiritual Currency in YOU. And if a teacher (or a friend) on the outside insists that you go against the currency that has been invested in you, that is your first sign — and the only sign you need — that you need to stop and reconnect to the Spirit within yourself.

The entire goal of any experience should be to strengthen that connection, not break it or test it.

I could go into all kinds of discussion on how James Ray manifested this, or how the people involved manifested it, blah blah blah. All I know is how I manifested my experience of it, and what lessons I need to take from it.

The lessons I write here are for me as much as they are for you… take them for what they’re worth. If they resonate with you, take my lessons as a gift to you. If not, then look within yourself for the lessons.

That’s one thing you can always trust… that you have all that you need within yourself.

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  1. Mark,
    I completely agree.

    I like you am constantly working on myself and As you know I have several mentors and teachers I respect and trust. You are amongst them..

    I always keep in mind though that I must do what is right for me, and what resonates with me.. ALWAYS..

    I have observed people that feel so lost, or want to move forward so desperatley that they forsake their own internal compass, and trust what someone else says is best for them..

    Ultimatley, we each have a manual, as I say and it is programmed into us..All we have to do is listen to our inner voice and life becomes blissful.

    Thanks for sharing on something that is so scary for me as well…

    Love and Blessings to you, Kathy and the kids..

  2. This is a great article Mark. I love when you said follow your inner compass.That is the best advice anyone can receive.What works for one person or many may not resonate with me.The inner compass will direct me to the right path.
    Thanks for sharing.

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