Sweat ceremony: Religious coping styles, psychological wellbeing and spirituality
Fiona Mawson, a Ceremonial Leader and Sweatlodge Facilitator of SOTEMS, has completed her research into the psychology, spiritual and emotional impacts of sweating cermonies for her Master of Psychology (Counselling) at Monash University in November 2011.
SOTEMS is proud to present her work here.
The research for this thesis received the approval of the Monash University Standing Committee for Ethical Research on Humans on 4th November 2010 (Group approval reference: CF10/2697 - 2010001516)
Click here for a copy of the research Sweat ceremony: Religious coping styles, psychological wellbeing and spirituality.
Abstract / Summary
There is evidence that sweat practice has psychological, physical, social and spiritual benefit. The literature review outlines sweat practice from a historical and contemporary view and explains current research findings, including its applicability to psychotherapy.
A mixed design research method investigated difference in religious coping, psychological wellbeing and spirituality between sweat and non-sweat participants.
Sixty-nine sweaters and 25 non-sweaters completed measures of religious coping, psychological wellbeing and spirituality and six interviews explored the phenomenological experience of sweat ceremony. Sweat participants reported more Personal Growth (continuing development, sees self as growing and expanding) than non-sweat participants.
Sweat participants reported more Spiritual Connection (experiencing a sense of connectedness with forces that transcend), Religious Direction/Conversion (looking to religion for finding a new direction for living or a radical change in life) and Punishing God Reappraisal (redefining the stressor as a punishment from God for the individual‘s sins) and less Spiritual Discontent (expressing confusion and dissatisfaction with God‘s relationship to the individual in the stressful situation) than non-sweaters.
Sweat participants reported more External/Ritual Spirituality (spiritual activities/rituals), Internal Fluid Spirituality (evolving beliefs) and Existential/Meditative Spirituality (awareness of the interconnectedness in daily life) than non-sweaters. Within the sweat group, psychological wellbeing measures (personal growth, self acceptance, positive relationships with others and autonomy) related to participation in sweat ritual and the expression and exploration of a spiritual dimension.
Ten themes emerged: altered state of consciousness, connection, focus, cleansing, coping, healing, self development, ordeal, transformation and emotional affect. Adverse outcomes (physical, competition and bravado, poor focusing) and missing elements to sweat ceremony (lack of cultural expression and altered state of consciousness) are discussed along with limitations and implications for future research.
Sweat ceremony can be understood within a transpersonal therapeutic framework and bio-psycho-social-spiritual model of health.
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