4 – Saunas

One of the questions that arose (for me) after the first reading of The Tales, was: Is Gurdjieff serious about the beneficial effects of steam baths?

This is not a deep existential question. Nevertheless, in The Tales he clearly describes steam baths (hammams) as a beneficial custom. In various anecdotal descriptions of Gurdjieff, it is also clear that he went to the hammam roughly every week or so. It seemed to me at the time that the easiest way to investigate this, was to do it. There were no steam baths where I lived at the time, in Southend. But there was a public sauna. So instead, I took a sauna every Sunday morning.

My immediate impression, since I had never previously done that in my life, was that I felt cleaner from this process than I did from taking a normal bath or shower. This proved very little.

However I did notice an effect that surprised me – and was not, in my view, a positive outcome. I noticed that, a few hours after a steam bath, I was much quicker to anger than I normally was. My children (now long grown) usually bore the brunt of that. This was very early in my experience with The Work, before I had taken it upon myself to try to avoid the expression of negative emotions.

I thought about this phenomenon, because it troubled me, and having noticed it, I realized it was reliably recurrent. In time, I reasoned as follows:

The energy of the immune system is Fa 96. The body employs this to fix health problems that arise. It is created as a natural outcome of digestion. Mi 192 evolves to Fa 96, some of which is retained by the body and some of which evolves to Sol 48 and then La 24, and finally Si 12. It seemed possible (this was simply a theory, that made sense to me at the time) that the effect of the sauna was to reduce the need for Fa 96 that my body had. The consequent effect was an improvement in the supply of higher energies.

So, perhaps there was a more abundant supply of higher energies. And so, my mechanisms simply wasted this surplus energy through its bad emotional habits and inclinations.

This explanation may, of course, be wide of the mark. Nevertheless I had gained something from The Tales, because it had caused me to experiment and I had found something out in my own way – and it established a reason for continuing with this being-habit.




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