Recently I’ve learnt two lessons and they both had to do with the same element – water. The first one was as a lesson of letting go, acceptance and recognizing a powerful potential of your mind. And it involved a deliberate exposure to cold water.
1. Athletes only?
Benefits of cold water therapy on physical health and sport performance have been well documented. Athletes take icy water baths to recover after intense exercise, we know that it boosts immune system, improves metabolism, heart rate and circulation, as well as reduces inflammation.
What’s less well known, however, is how beneficial these practices are for our mental health.
2. Your body listens and follows
This month I’ve challenged myself and took my first two ice baths. What I’ve experienced was a pure boost of happy hormones, focus, mental clarity, and a solid dose of energy that set me up for a day. And I realized it can wonderfully increase levels of psychological resilience too.
How? By testing yourself and reaching beyond what’s comfortable, by disconnecting from your head for a moment and coming to your senses, by being here and now, present and dealing with this ‘stress’ in a safe, calm and collected way you are proving yourself you have phenomenal coping skills and can handle challenging (even extreme) situations. And you realize you have total control over your body – with the right mindset, with the right thoughts you’re directing and instructing your body to respond in a very specific way. Your body listens and follows your commands.
3. Intelligence of every cell
In therapy I’ve been applying and benefiting from this scientifically proven fact that every cell in your body has an intelligence of its own and that the mind affects your body and emotional state. I’ve seen it work incredibly well on various physical issues, and now me and my companions witnessed its applications also in an ice bath. Mental instructions we gave to our bodies throughout the process, during visualization, guided meditations, movement and breathwork exercises carefully prepared our bodies for this icy shock and, in many cases, made us enjoy this coldest bath of all.
Great thing about this experience of reaching beyond your comfort zone and proving to yourself you’re capable of more than you could previously think of, is that you can take up these benefits with you and apply them in other areas of your life.
4. Limitless potential
If you sat in that icy bath for several minutes and dealt with discomfort, probably even liked it, proving yourself how powerful you are and how:
- you control your thoughts,
- and how your thoughts control your body,
just imagine how much you could achieve feeling that empowered outside of the icy bath. My teacher likes to say: “Your potential expands as you move towards it” – every new challenge stretches your potential further and further, and so you may never know what your capabilities may actually be, how far you can go, how much you can accomplish. It only grows with experience.
5. What’s in your control
Ice bath reminded me that there are more responses to stress than only fight or flight. The situation itself may be out of your control, but the way you respond to it stays within your control. And so, you can face your fear in a courageous, peaceful way, and welcome the challenging circumstances. At the end of the day, what you resist, persists.
So, if you ever have a chance to step into an icy water, or even under a very cold shower – do it. Not only your body will be grateful you did it, but also your mind. Enjoy!