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A sauna “turns a frown upside down”

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You look up the from your desk

It’s getting darker and darker outside.  It’s 3:20 pm.  A smart person would get out of there right now, beating the rain and the snarling traffic sure to come.  But no, as a dutiful corporate foot soldier, you soldier on.  What a hero you are to finish those last two TPS reports.  But next thing you know it’s 5:15 and pouring rain.  You get up from your desk “enough!”  You trudge out to your car, merge onto a plugged highway and frown your way – stop and roll, a grueling commute home.

You look out the airplane window

Still at the gate, two maintenance guys are standing by the wing.  One is scratching his head looking into the engine, the other one is on his walky talkee.  The plane hasn’t moved in an hour but you had a frantic time returning the rental car, and even more anxiety snaking your way through the snail pace at the TSA security theater.  “Sir, your water bottle!”  With a big thud you’ve plopped down into seat 34C, and just when you thought everything was in its upright and locked position, you’re being interrupted by the pilot’s announcements every few minutes, giving vague maintenance issue updates that are sounding worse and worse.  Airplane juice is building.

I don’t have to give you a third scenario of how your day can turn into a big frown.  Big frowns for many are formed by being herded like sheep in a stifling environment with a loss of control.  Environments where big frowns form are often when one is surrounded by lots of people in confined spaces.  Traffic.  Airports.  Shopping malls.  And to get weird about it, an over scheduled person with a clogged inbox is another form of a confined space, albeit metaphorically.

You finally arrive home

As you walk in the front door, freedom rings in your ear like a MLK victory march.  You fire up your backyard sauna and recognize that for the first time in your day, you’re done giving and you’re finally in control, ready to receive.  Sauna time is your time.  With your own backyard sauna, you can choose whether you want a solo sauna, or decompress with a sauna party.  Either way, as the sauna hot room rises to temp., you leave your phone behind, shed your clothes and with that any baggage or reminder of your day behind too.  Many appreciate a quick cold shower before entering the hot room for the first time.  Wet hair.  More shedding (metaphorically and actual).

You settle into your first sauna round

The familiar heat lays onto your body like a warm blanket.   Ahhhhh.  No rush.  Take it in.  The past, the recent shitty past, is well on its way into the rear view mirror.  No need to look in that direction any more.  Sauna lovers know what it means to live in the present.  Now is all there is.  And we know this because we have reduced our being to simple elements: fire, water, earth, air.  We can start treading on metaphysical grounds, or get all esoteric and stoic or whatever philosophy rises our boat.  Not only do we not need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, but we don’t have to be a philosopher to know that sauna brings out some deep, deep, physical AND mental wellbeing.

A dose of water on the sauna rocks

It’s that time.  The waif of humid air hits us.  Again, a familiar but different warm blanket.  Ahhhhh.  No other word can better describe the feeling.  Ahhhhhh.  You’ve arrived.  You’ve become yourself again.  You’ve hit the reset button.  Sauna offers the unique and wonderful experience of both physical AND mental restorative therapy.  And while we are at it, we can throw in the spiritual element too.  Many aren’t in tune with their spiritual sides, but guaranteed those that are into sauna are 86% more in tune to their spirit than the average bear.  Reason?  Sauna is a place for connection.  And there is a spirit inside every one of us, waiting, wanting to be recognized and understood.  For some, maybe it’s church or a yoga retreat.  For others, sauna is the place for connecting with their spirit.

After a shitty day, or a stressful experience, the benefits to sauna become heightened.   More acute.  Physical, mental, spiritual.  That’s health and wellness.

You’ve turned your frown upside down.

The Hanka Homestead sauna with a "drunk fence"
Lee Sarkela, originator and poster child of the term “turn your frown upside down”.


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