Sweat lodge deaths won’t stop programs, Ray says

Self-help author James Arthur Ray has hired investigators to investigate three deaths at an Arizona sweat lodge.
The self-help expert who ran a program at an Arizona resort where three people died this month says it has been a “difficult” period but that he will continue his schedule of events despite the deaths.

James Arthur Ray, who ran the “Spiritual Warrior” program at the Angel Valley Retreat Center near Sedona, also addressed the families of those who died. “I feel your pain. I accept your anger. And I pray for you all to have some measure of peace and comfort,” Ray wrote Tuesday on his blog. “I want you to know that I too want to know what happened that caused this horrible tragedy. My team and I are working with the appropriate authorities and have even hired our own investigators to find out the truth.” There were as many as 65 visitors, ages 30 to 60, attending the program at the resort. They spent as long as two hours inside a dome-like structure called a sweat lodge, which was covered with tarps and blankets and had hot rocks and water inside to create steam. Three people died after spending time in the sweat lodge October 8 and nearly 20 others were injured. Two were pronounced dead shortly after they arrived at a local hospital, and a third died October 17 after being hospitalized since the incident.

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Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh told reporters October 15 the sweat lodge was meant to be a “spiritual awakening” exercise for participants in the “Spiritual Warrior” program. Watch what woman saw in sweat lodge Native Americans used sweat lodges in spiritual and physical purification ceremonies. “These have been the most difficult 10 days of our lives,” Ray wrote. “People are throwing out accusations and disparaging me and our mission. Yet despite that, and despite considerable criticism, I have chosen to continue with my work. It’s too important not to.”

Ray is widely known for programs that claim to teach people how to create wealth from all aspects of their lives — financially, mentally, physically, and spiritually. He has appeared on various national programs in the United States, including CNN’s “Larry King Live.” A homicide investigation into the incident is under way, authorities have said.