The way of cold water
The internal journey one feels whilst in cold water can be described as very dramatic. And yet the idea is to be completely calm with yourself and the surroundings. In this state of heightened emotional and sensory awareness, from internal and external stimuluses. Each having a profound impact on your state of being. This in itself is a unique position to start any journey.
The colder the water, the more intense the multitude of perceptions, and sensations become. Swirling and spiralling, ebbing and flowing like the very viscous fluid we submerge ourselves in. Ever changing.
What makes you start, cold-water swimming, dipping, or just cold exposure?
Why do you continue?
“And suddenly it’s time to start something new, and trust the magic of beginnings”. Anon
Let’s face it, cold water is not pleasant, to start with. Cold showers are not the number 1 choice of the masses. For a good reason. Its uncomfortable. Listen to that for a second, uncomfortable.
Somehow in our experience in the conditioned path from our forefathers, the selected virtues of comfort echo. We try to make a child comfortable, a patient comfortable, member of the community, anybody really, and for good reason. We respond well when feeling comfortable.
The paradox enters with the mysteries of unknown origins. Finding comfort in discomfort.
Thinking truly about the passage of life, rarely is it all comfortable. When it is so comfortable, we lose our edge, become complacent. Possibly slightly detached.
Comfort is by no means the enemy, neither is discomfort. The idea; Why limit your challenges in this life, you might want to challenge your limits , this makes me feel uncomfortable already.
“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy” F. Nietzsche
With a huge growing body of research looking at the effects of cold-water exposure, one wonders why it has taken so long to learn these ancient practices. It is not like a secret, only a few thousand years old.
Lowering the body temperature has been a restorative medical practise for some time. Cryogenics is a process of preserving living tissue for long periods of time and cryotherapy is a treatment aimed at inflammation and tissue repairs.
The ultra-cold temperatures in whole-body cryotherapy can cause physiological hormonal responses. This includes the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and endorphins. This can have a positive effect on those experiencing mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
With the recent news article on cold water-swimming…
Cold water swimming may protect the brain from degenerative diseases like dementia, researchers from Cambridge University have discovered.
In a world first, a "cold-shock" protein has been found in the blood of regular winter swimmers. The protein has been shown to slow the onset of dementia and even repair some of the damage it causes in mice.
BBC News 2020 October.
This makes the winters swimmers feel so much better knowing that science has some good news to offer, of course we knew this all along… this is why we continue to expose our minds and bodies to the cold waters.
On an anecdotal level we all say , we feel better for it!! Simple. Since I have been in a group of encouraging humans from vast diverse backgrounds, with the intention of helping each other overcome the cold water and our fears, we all feel different, better. More able to cope with stuff. Leave it all on the banks, and be in the cold water, just as long as you wish, but no longer.
“To succeed in something , first you have to deal with the resistance and difficulty.” C J Jung
Having witnessed transformations in other winter swimmers, and feeling the transformative power to change oneself is deeply moving. To overcome some of your fears and help others move through theirs.
“There is no illusion greater than fear” Lao Tzu
The reason I started cold water winter swimming was to face the unknowable. Both in myself and in the physiology of the body. Mind and body. The reason I continue cold water winter swimming is to face the mind and body, every time. It never ceases to amaze me the restorative benefits of being comfortable in discomfort, also knowing your dear swim pod is going through the same, supporting you or being supported by you. This deeply humbling experience has fortified my compassion, knowing how fragile we all are, but how resilient the true nature of our souls can be.