At the exact moment my upper lip begins glistening with a fine layer of sweat, my temperature reaches breaking point. There’s a moment of panic and I gasp in a lungful of dewy air, heavy with the flavor of sacred herbs. A jolt, and I feel as though my heart will burst as I wake up into a dream. My eyes fly open, desperately grasping at the dark edges of the void I find, projecting the blazing images of my disoriented mind, which tilts frantically in the wholly foreign environment. I press my face into the earth, immediately finding some relief in the cool mud, which cakes my cheek. Breathe, I command my body, but I quickly realize that any attempts to exert control, either over myself or my environment (which have become one), will be met with resistance from every atom:
Logic does not exist in the lodge.
…It’s suspended in the outside world, which I assume is still moving; I’m really not sure that time exists at this point either. Deprived of sight and intoxicated by the unfamiliar and kaleidoscopic play on the other four common senses, it’s impossible to retain a normal state of mind. Plunging back into the nihility, I identify the sounds of humming, drumming, moaning, and sobbing. Warm droplets cascade down my nose and shoulder. I feel fairly confident it’s sweat, and not mine, but it would be impossible to say to whom it might belong; I feel at least four other warm bodies pressing against various parts of mine in the darkness. I also feel pretty certain I’m on the brink of a having a mindblowing panic attack, but I’m not going anywhere. Physically. The water pourer had made that crystal clear. Even if I could escape, blindly crawling through the carpet of mud and limbs, while maneuvering around the pile of scorching hot stones toward the sealed door, would be a daunting task indeed. Instead, I flatten to the ground as much as possible, and decide to withhold my ego and try simply to observe; that’s the only way I’ll make it.
Pressed into the mud like a worm, I let myself become hypnotized by the lyrics of a dozen healing hymns. I don’t recognize any of the native words, and it doesn’t matter. When the flap finally opens two hours later, I feel new.