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Sauna simplicity for a complicated culture

light steam graphic

Polarizing politics, complicated culture yet our saunas exude simplicity.

Visual simplicity

Be it a centuries old smoke sauna or a newly purchased kit sauna, as we look around the hot room, we are welcomed by visual simplicity. For example, note the uncluttered clean lines of wall cladding, benches built simply, and rocks piled atop our sauna stoves. Adults and children are comfortable in sauna hot rooms as feng shui-ed is dialed up to an 11. Am I the only one that seizes up at shopping malls? Our sauna hot rooms are the antithesis of overstimulation. Visual simplicity.

Everett House large sauna
Everett House large sauna

Few rules

Outside of “close the door” there are very few rules in sauna. When we are hot we leave. When we are cold, we come back. Is there anything more simple, or as rewarding? The outside world may be becoming more complicated with rules, standards, and legal ways of being, yet a contributor to sauna simplicity is the need for few rules.

Kaupinojan Sauna rules

Simple, kind conversations

We are yearning for simple, kind conversations. We’ve all been chased by tigers in our previous lives. And we have a genetic calling to gather around the campfire, hold wooden clubs, and grunt monosyllabic answers to squelch elaborate modern day chatter. “How was your day?” is best met with an answer such as “good.” And possibly elaborated to: “Fine thanks, I enjoyed a 10 mile bike ride along the Greenway trail.” This is simple conversation. And it’s miles more calming than an answer such as “Crazy. Traffic sucked. Did you hear what Trump said toady?”

On the sauna bench, because we are centering our minds, bodies, and spirits with the good heat, steam, and ventilation there is little room for noisy, extraneous chatter. We are smart enough to not steer conversation to politics, or bad traffic. Instead, we are brought to the present moment. The environment of sauna fosters and environment for simple, kind conversations. Often, conversation of common ground and connectivity.

Sauna contest
Not much conversation happening at 230°f. “sauna good.”

Simple structures

For many of us, sauna is a simple place we go to disconnect. Not just mentally, but the physical space of sauna is a consciously simple structure. And like a good camp site in the Boundary Waters or a tree fort of our youth, there is comfort in retreating a few steps our our backdoors and spending some simple time within our simple structures.

authentic wood burning sauna
A simple sauna structure

Emma O’Kelly and the fine folks at Community Sauna Baths talk about “sauna brain.” (follow up article forthecoming). Sauna Brain, for me, is that floaty, spongy, lovely feeling we get during and post sauna. Do you know the reason why public sauna lost and found bins overflow – water bottles, Troxers, sandals, manuscripts? You got it: Sauna Brain. Sauna Brain is nurtured by simplicity. For some, sauna brain can be frustrating, as our synapsis, on the surface, may not be firing. Yet, like jumping through a hole in the ice, welcoming simplicity into our lives, when we surrender, we win.

Female silhouette

I love sauna brain. I love simplicity.

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