What my cold therapy practice looks like
I take a shower as normal.
Before I get out, I turn the tap to cold for two minutes.
I had to work up to the two minutes. It’s not something you can jump right into.
Minutes feel like decades when you first start but after a while you quite enjoy them.
Why I immerse myself in cold water every day
The only reason I expose myself to cold water is:
To train my mental fortitude and calmness under pressure.
When things are going wrong and I find myself up a certain creek without a paddle, I want to be able to maintain unwavering calmness in my mind, body and spirit.
Cold water exposure simulates such situations, without any danger.
It also allows me to practice many vital techniques for physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing, most notably: meditation, breathing and releasing tension.
Don’t cover the cracks!
We are programmed from a young age to constantly seek pleasure, strive for happiness and always focus on ourselves.
We cover over the cracks of our sufferings with mind-numbing media, relationships, food and other cravings that don’t serve us. In fact, they just paralyse us from the reality of life, so when we are faced with hardships, we have no backbone, no substance and no inner peace.
With constant covering, these cracks become chasms and these chasms become your identity.
We are so used to avoiding problems that when we are forced to face them we don’t have the tools we need – the ability to breathe, stay calm, control our mind and release our tensions.
This is why meditation, breathing, tension release and fortitude training are so important.
Practicing a combination of these skills helps deal with hardships that many of us just aren’t competent enough to handle.
Examples of covering the cracks
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown – People breaking down because they are forced to live on their own for a while. TV and video games aren’t enough to escape their own mind.
- No losing allowed – Every kid in a race, from first to last, gets a trophy, so when they leave education, they can’t understand why a job isn’t handed to them and can’t cope with any sort of loss or failure.
- The disease of more – People breaking 10-year relationships because “they need more.” Why would they struggle rebuilding a relationship when they can trade in their partner for a new Tinder model?
It’s all so easy to succumb to pleasure and ease but there’s value in struggle, effort, vulnerability, work, pain and selflessness, you just don’t realise it until you’ve been through it.
I have uncovered another psychological lesson since taking cold showers.
When you rid yourself of expectations, difficulties become easier to deal with.
When I build myself up to turn that cold tap, the cold seems more extreme than when I’m nonchalant about it.
My expectation of the cold makes me overreact.
I feel that this is a lesson for life.
Eliminating expectations, beliefs and judgements reduces anxiety, fear and tension. This helps me to deal with situations, including cold exposure, more adequately.
It’s good training for letting go of premature prophecies that our minds love to create.
Other forms of mental fortitude training
Cold showers and short intense workouts are just two forms of mental training that I am partaking in currently, but there are others that I have practiced and will certainly practice again in the future.
- Martial arts sparring – There is no harder place to remain calm than under someone who is much heavier than you and applying substantial pressure across your face and chest. My vice is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you can choose yours.
- Celibacy – Are you in control of your mind or is your mind in control of you? Periods of celibacy allow you to recognise and deal with mental chatter and feelings of lust, a skill which spills over into other areas of your life like controlling anger, greed and envy.
- Doing something new – Anything that forces you to step outside your comfort zone and face a fear will aid your self-development. Public speaking, approaching women and purposely making a fool of yourself are all methods you can use to callus your mind for tougher times.
You don’t have to be a monk!
I don’t take cold showers religiously. Sometimes I forget.
I don’t always avoid mind numbing media, relationships and food. Sometimes I indulge.
I don’t always eliminate my expectations. Sometimes I get nervous.
We are all human. We all have our vices. But we can all try to be a little bit better.
Coach Ken Carter once said “if you improve 1% a day, then in 100 days, guess what? You’re 100% better.”
I’m not sure coach understood the concept of compound interest when he said this, but according to my calculations, improving on every previous day by 1% makes you 170% better than when you started.
That’s the magic of compound interest my friends. It works in life as well as finance.
You see, a diet is not eliminating all food – it’s making more conscious choices and maybe eating a little less.
The same applies to everything in life.
Too much is, by definition, too much, and too little is too little.
A balanced life is a happy life, just balance it the right way up.
If you think cold showers or any of the other mental fortitude methods may suit you, try them (after consulting your physician).
If not, I hope my perspective gave you something to think about.
As Gaz says – keep calm and let the chopper fly away.