The pleasure of sauna

Friday, December 29, 2006 at 0:35 | Posted in Personal | 4 Comments
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I do not remember if I have written about the importance of my weekly sauna before. It does not matter if I have, however, because that is a topic worth writing about more than once. It is one of those small pleasures of life which one takes for granted and understands their true meaning only when left without them.

I used to have a fairly large grease knot under my left shoulder. It did not trouble me for years which is why I did not bother to do anything about it. The knot bursted in early November an got severely infected.

A doctor removed the substance leaving a hole in my back which was about an inch in both width, lenght and depth. In addition to regular visits to the local health care center, the wound prevented my weekly sauna sessions for six weeks. I do not know which of the two was a bigger disaster.

As in most modern apartment houses here, there is a sauna at the basement of the house that I live in. I have opted to have a weekly one hour session which costs me 10 € a month added on top of my monthly rent bill. My hour is at 9 p.m. every Thursday. It is the last hour of the evening so I do not have to watch the clock, nobody is going to be knocking on the door.

Although there is a perfectly normal shower in my bathroom, I never feel completely clean unless I have washed myself in the sauna. Sweating off all the dirt deep in and then taking a shower gives the ultimate feeling of cleanliness. I do not get even close to that with a quick shower in my bathroom, much less so if I have a wound to watch out that is not supposed to be watered.

More importantly, sauna is not only a place to wash my body clean. It is a mental experience, almost spiritual. Although one hour is a short time, it allows me to relax completely and feel as if I were in another World within the World. As I enter the sauna, I leave all the troubles of the big bad World behind. When I return to the bigger World, I have brought with me strength for the week ahead which sometimes makes some of those problems look much smaller than they were before.

Tonight was the first time in six weeks my wound allowed me to go to the sauna. I would never have believed how much I missed this weekly purification ritual. Missing a Thursday on occasion is not a big deal but being banned from the sauna for six weeks is almost worse than doing time in prison. Even prison inmates in Finland are allowed to go to sauna which goes to show how essential part it has in this culture.

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  1. […] Larko hatte es die letzten Wochen zu Hause schlimmer als im Gefängnis, schreibt er. Er konnte nämlich wegen einer Verletzung 6 Wochen nicht in die Sauna gehen. Gefängnisinsassen können in Finnland anscheinend regelmäßig die Sauna besuchen. Even prison inmates in Finland are allowed to go to sauna which goes to show how essential part it has in this culture. […]

  2. Wow. I’m glad you have your freedom and your rights back. lol.

  3. I was introduced to the sauna when I was about 10 years old. My parents had one in the basement. When I left home I went for years without having a sauna.

    Now my neighbor has an outdoor wood burning sauna. If we ever move I will have to insist that we have a sauna. I would not go without one ever again.

  4. It is something that you really learn to appriciate when you do not have access to it. I used to live in Sweden for three and a half years in early 1980’ies. That was when I realized that I was missing something that I had hold of all my earlier life.


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