In sauna

“I noticed that she used this phrase again and again: in sauna rather than in the sauna. She’s not talking about a building, a little pine shed with burning coals in the corner; she’s talking about a state of being.”

โ€”Katherine May, speaking of a Finnish friend in Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

Yesterday I took a day. A whole day.

I went for a short walk, but other than that I did nothing but lie on my couch, read a book, and watch the Toronto Blue Jays and Tim Hortons Brier curling.

I don’t have a pine shed with burning coals or a cedar-lined sanctuary, but I spent the day in sauna, in the way of Katherine May’s friend.

That is something I almost never do. I’m always doing something.

It was glorious.

Today I feel restored, and that is the power of rest and retreat.

Photo by Max Rahubovskiy on

17 thoughts on “In sauna

  1. marianbeaman

    After months of crazy “doing” with my next book, I am looking forward to pockets of time to just “be.” I’ve come close to that last week with a deep-tissue massage — an hour of a caring masseuse working out the kinks and knots.

    You inspire me, Arlene. I’ve been neglecting self-care. There is power in rest and retreat. ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. LuAnne Holder

    It must have been cosmic in sauna time yesterday. ๐Ÿ™‚ I, too, spent the day puttering around, chatting with an old friend, just moving at my own pace. It was a lovely respite. Love your post and love the term, in sauna.

  3. Endless Weekend

    What a wonderful way to be good to oneself, I love it! I once read of a company that as terms of employment required their employees to take a minimum of 2 weeks of continuous vacation a year. Their reasoning was that most of the time people take a day or two off to run errands, and not to be “in sauna” (I bet they would have used that term had they known about it!). And they want their employees to be empowered, like you said.


    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      I’m very good at being “on vacation” while I’m on vacation. At my cottage in the summer I walk, do yoga, swim and read and do little else. But I’m not so good at taking time during regular times. Between jobs and volunteer joys, I have a long to-do list and could always be doing something. I don’t take enough down time. It’s a goal to start taking more.

      1. Joni

        I like that phrase – I became one with my couch! I was ordering new releases from the library tonight and noticed that Katherine May – author of Wintering, has a new book out called Enchantment. So I put it on reserve.

  4. Ally Bean

    I think you are a wise woman to take a day for yourself. I know I could use one, but can’t tell you exactly why I don’t do that. I’ve never heard the phrase in sauna rather than in the sauna. It’s a wonderful way to envision yourself.


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