Cold therapy and meditation
Cold shower to me means a sudden shock to the system: the mind stops, the body wakes up and I am left energised, strong, in the present moment. A moment when the mind is taken aback and goes in confusion, it is a trick to get out of it, even if for just few seconds.
One of the (few) things I really miss about my previous life in Rome, is the ease to drop everything and reach the natural thermal bath at virtually any time. I could just jump on my car and within an hour immerse myself in thermal water, full of mineral and therapeutic properties. Contrary to all of my friends, the real satisfaction for me laid on the cold pond, next to the main hot spring. I always felt extremely alive, revitalised and energised by dipping into the cold water, that was my real goal!
I had the same feeling in India, whilst living in Rishikesh, in a sweet Osho commune by the river Ganga. The water is pretty cold there and it was an absolute delight to swim in the midst of one of the holiest spot on planet earth, whilst reaping the benefits of cold exposure.
I was surprise to hear that Osho loved taking long baths and used to spend lots of time in the toilet. He mentioned that he himself used to alternate hot and cold water, praising the beneficial effect of this practice.
Within the biohackers movement, cold exposure is a common habit. And of course it is substantiated by a number of scientific studies which explain why is so good for your health and what exactly happens to the body when it is exposed to the cold. This is technically called thermogenesis, which simply means heat generation (from the Greek Thermos = heat and Genesis = creation).
If you are intrigued by this, check out Wim Hof – known as the “Ice Man”. He defied the academic world and demonstrated that he can voluntary influence the Autonomic Nervous System. He can trek in seriously freezing conditions wearing just a pair of short and even more impressive, he trains people to do the same, fascinating staff!
But what are the benefits of thermogenesis? Why would you need to torture yourself with cold water? Here are just some
Burn more fat
Burn more calories
Lower blood sugar
Increase hormone levels
Recover quickly after exercise
Grow more muscle
Improving sexual performance and fertility
Enhance immune functions
Extend your lifespan
Improve deep sleep quality
Since this August, every morning I take cold showers. And I am not going to lie to you: every day I feel like “I am not doing this”! But then my right hand takes a firm grip over the shower handle, and in a rapid turn of events it goes full force towards the cold end and before I realise it, cold water is all over me.
Personally, this morning routine is not just about the benefits for my body, which are numerous and well worth the initial discomfort. The main benefit is developing power over my mind; doing something my mind does not want to do and growing stronger than my mind. This is really empowering and goes beyond all the other scientific reasons why you should take cold showers.
And if your morning routines includes meditation, well I cannot even explain how much easier your meditation will be after a cold shower. I am now basically addicted to the feeling of being awake, energised, fresh and alive at the very start of every day before I even enter my meditation room. My advice is: wake up, take a cold shower, meditate and then of course have a fabulous coffee, your life will never be the same!