A Lesson From Cold Showers
January 26, 2021
About a decade back, my mentor introduced me to a great ritual- of taking cold showers. Taking cold showers has great health benefits like better mental alertness, improved blood circulation, and enhanced feeling of well being.
For me, coming from India, this was a challenge. I was used to taking steaming hot water showers.
I decided to switch to cold showers for the obvious health benefits and also for another reason. To take up a new habit that would make me uncomfortable.
Initially, getting under the cold shower was a dreadful ordeal. I would start imagining the discomfort much before I got into the shower. I would have mental strategies going in my head- I’ll let the shower on and ease my way under the shower, or I’ll go with my feet first, then my head, and then my full body.
Looking back, it was hilarious.
Eventually, I realized that the best strategy was simple- Get under the shower, turn it on full blast and not give myself any time to think or hesitate. Just jump right in.
I learned something important. More than the actual discomfort of the cold shower, the bigger suffering was in my head. The suffering was in the tip-toeing into the shower and in the avoidance. Once I got under the cold shower, it was a done deal. Both my mind and body got busy experiencing the cold rush of water. There was only Cold. There was no suffering.
My body saying it was cold was different from my mind saying it was cold. When my body experienced the cold water, it was real. When my mind was imagining the feeling of the cold water, it was not real.
The lesson was in the acceptance that I will feel cold without having to suffer over it mentally. A cold shower for 2 minutes would not kill me.
We can replace the cold shower with anything else in our life that could be mildly or painfully uncomfortable. We need to bring acceptance and jump right in. Do what needs to be done without thinking too much.
It is the same approach that helped me move into my new role, help me start a daily blog and start learning a musical instrument.