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RE: cold water path'ing
cold water path'ing
1/6/12 9:50 AM
So, if you only have four minutes a day to physically change things up, consider very cold water immersion/showers. It has a major effect on mood (uplift), energy, and apparently, immune system. Here is the re-cap of VCU School of Medicine's study.

If you're feeling equanimous and yet have some attention bouncing/residue, then standing in a cold shower for 4+ minutes is useful for putting the mental faculty to actual and sensate activities.

Even if you're feeling post-stream entry and wondering, "what to do with my time now?" this is fun and an invigorating way to see physical aversion transform into liveliness into a bodily treat of opening channels, mental willingness, felicity, plain old fun experience.

If anyone tries this for a few days, I would be keen to hear how it effects your day. I have found that the cardiovascular effects seem most pronounced and are greater than a jog (however, I am then quite energized for a jog later in the day). I experience quite a few lasting benefits for just 4-6 minutes in a cold shower or in a near-freezing (36.86'F) natural body of nearby water.

Here is a blog entry about it and the comments are interesting (e.g., abatement of Raynauds, CFS). The blog entry links to the NIH database wherein one can see studies on cold water exposure and non-lymphoid cancers, chronic heart failure, etc.

Good luck

edits for errors spelling, syntax

[EDIT: N A and C C C raise excellent concerns about the shock of cold water. Wim Hof recommends in his book Becoming the Iceman (location 4149 ebook) to start showers with warmer water and to gradually increase the cold water (decrease the hot water), to try not to shiver and to try not to gasp but to breath deeply through the nostrils (not inhaling water).

So everyone must be careful and responsible for themselves; a few days ago I read about how such cold immersion/showers may effect dyskinesia in Parkinson's Disease (PD). Though such a response may not be inherent (I know someone with PD who turns up the cold water and has not reported an increase in dyskinesia), an increase in dyskinesia may happen, particularly if the willing, colder shower is perceived as "painful".

My approach, mirroring Wim Hof's guidance, is to feel welcoming and relaxed during the experience. I am, after all choosing it, and it is not forced on me. I am simply using it to work with the mental faculty and affective assumptions. It is a luxury to be able to do this, IMO.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/4/12 4:47 PM as a reply to katy steger.
And I'll recommend again Wim Hof's book Becoming the Iceman; his enthusiasm and accomplishments are a pleasure. And it is interesting to me that he began his cold water dips during a period of emotional struggles. Here again is the link to a video of Wim Hof interviewing after setting an ice-immersion record and here again is the link to his immune-response (very diminished) to an endotoxin and a short article on the same endotoxic test.

Just some support in case it helps you take a test plunge with friendliness.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/5/12 9:17 PM as a reply to katy steger.
I started the year like this:

(the water's not too warm here in Canada,)

and inspired by this thread, took cold showers (less than 30 seconds of cold water) the past two days. Seems pretty fun so far. I'm worried about the effect on the cardiovascular system, though. This is not like aerobic exercise where the workload on the heart slowly increases until some sane rate. Instead, the heart is violently shocked into overdrive. I can't imagine this being healthy. Or am I just doing it wrong, suddenly switching to cold water instead of gradually lowering the temperature over a couple minutes? Can't do that with jumping into the ocean, though.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/6/12 4:22 AM as a reply to katy steger.
I see he recommends going into it gradually but I'd also be concerned about the cardiovascular effects of the heart going from 0 to 100 through shock. Isn't that how heart attacks happen? He reckons N.A. production is stimulated - well of course! So will it be if someone jumps out from behind cover and scares the life out of you. That's why some people like scary movies or playing C.O.D. in a dark room. Gives 'em a buzz, eh. You could drink 3 short blacks in quick succession or pop some N.A.R.I.-s - that's the common method. Or cocaine, for the ultimate buzz.

Overall I like the idea of cooling the body though, especially the head. Heat (inflammation) is behind a lot of disease processes. Overactivity of the 3rd chakra, don't ya know. The old 'fire in the belly' has become a wild fire. Too much 'will'. Letting go cools the body and mind. You know kids talk about people such as Snoop being a cool dude...Watch his videos. He let's go and he flows and that's why he's cool. Kids, be like Snoop, ok? emoticonemoticon You'll get closer to peace and enlightenment by grokking on a Snoop video (or your own choice of cool) than getting nerdy with the Pali Canons.

Summer in Australia right now and I like nothing better than to immerse myself in the cool surf off the south coast. So good.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/6/12 9:56 AM as a reply to C C C.
Thanks C C C and NA: I've added an edit. Yes: people should inform themselves of what may happen during cold immersion and including possible risks. I've also wondered about sudden cold's ability to mobilize a clot, for example, and cause stroke. So far, in my quick google survey of "polar bear club/dip fatalities" I see a non-participant death (intoxication and hypothermia hours after the event), a neck injury from diving into shallow surf, and another fatality that looks caused by hypothermia-from-prolonged exposure (not brief exposure) -- each event occurring well after (or unrelated to) the first "shock" of cold water entry.

So, I am doing this for myself (after having looked into it for myself) and am only curious to have feedback from other people who are choosing to do this (after having informed themselves of cold water therapy/activities on their own).

@bruno: I agree
RE: cold water path'ing
1/6/12 10:14 AM as a reply to katy steger.
I did this for a month or so two years ago. It did indeed feel like it was making my immune system stronger, by making it more adaptable to quick changes in temperature. It also greatly reduced aversion to changes in temperature. I noticed when getting into swimming pools that I wouldn't mind the entry nearly so much as I might have. My skin also felt great right after I did it. Note that I went from extreme cold to extreme heat and back, which I've since heard was a bad idea (the heat part). Thanks for this thread.. I might start doing that again.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/6/12 10:19 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
I did these sudden hot-cold shifts when I lived in sub-arctic areas. It was part of the cultures. It was fine (meaning I never saw fatal results), but I was relatively healthy, not concerned by death in doing this, and everyone else was acclimated to it perhaps because those arctic and sub-arctic cultures welcomed it.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/6/12 11:49 AM as a reply to katy steger.
I have loved cold water for a long time, starting at college when we chopped holes in the ice and dunked after saunas. It was pure glee and exhilaration. My brother and I start taking plunges in Long Island sound in march when the water is upper 30's. We both agree that never have we regretted going in. The few moments of extreme clarity right afterwards are worth it alone. Once I realized I wouldn't die from it I never feared it, though I didn't have the nerve to go in when the sound was slushy (below freezing). I am just amazed by the people who swim in 32 degree water, like this for example.

This past year I was inspired by this article, and started taking cold showers every morning before sitting. It got to the point that I couldn't do without it it is so energizing, and it made a difference in that I was able to take significantly longer swims in colder water, which are extremely exhilarating. This spring I made this dam so I would have cold water to plunge into everyday. I stopped jumping in last week because I would get too cold sitting outside after, as this is also my year round, all weather meditation place.



on a separate note, I've lately been taking Emergen C, (despite the fructose) before sitting in early morning, and have found the sits noticeably more pleasant.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/11/12 10:02 AM as a reply to John White.
I used to do ice-baths for sports and they were good, if a bit different.

any reason why a cold shower would be different than a cold bath? Obviously its harder to get the temperature right, as it is a cumulative effect, but Its a little easier for me to get in tepid water and then set the faucet to cold. I don't like my shower head much...
RE: cold water path'ing
1/11/12 10:38 AM as a reply to m m a.
Hi m m a -

I find ice baths very different. They are 1) an exercise in safety (one can get delusionally blissed out and perceiving being warmed up whilst being actually hypothermic and at risk for further problems, 2) great for habituation, meditation and breathing.

Ice can be added to bring the temperature close to freezing.

Hypothermia is a real risk. Hypothermia can be fatal.

So, sitting in an ice bath briefly, one can get out after a minute or so, warm up a little and re-enter. I find the adaption phase (ability to stay in longer and longer) happens quickly. Wim Hof's book goes into this practice well, as well as cautions. Tingling (as in beginning of numbness) is a great time to stop and get out. Feeling warm and blissful, even hallucinating is a late, dangerous stage of hypothermia.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/12/12 1:34 PM as a reply to katy steger.
katy steger:
Hi m m a -

I find ice baths very different. They are 1) an exercise in safety (one can get delusionally blissed out and perceiving being warmed up whilst being actually hypothermic and at risk for further problems, 2) great for habituation, meditation and breathing.

Ice can be added to bring the temperature close to freezing.

Hypothermia is a real risk. Hypothermia can be fatal.

So, sitting in an ice bath briefly, one can get out after a minute or so, warm up a little and re-enter. I find the adaption phase (ability to stay in longer and longer) happens quickly. Wim Hof's book goes into this practice well, as well as cautions. Tingling (as in beginning of numbness) is a great time to stop and get out. Feeling warm and blissful, even hallucinating is a late, dangerous stage of hypothermia.



Okay, so i took some but not all of your advice.

Tell me how this sounds with respect to safety/efficacy


i'm in the tub the whole time

~10 minutes warmish water (very relaxing ^^ )
drain tub to 20% full
refill with cold tap
chill for ~3-5 minutes

I figure i can control the temperature by leaving more or less warm water in it before i switch on the cold water.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/12/12 1:52 PM as a reply to m m a.
1) Beware of clumsiness/dyskinesia/dizzyness when you get out. Bathrooms are usually small spaces with slippery floors and hard surfaces and edges to hit in the fall. The colder bath might go well, and the exit could go very badly.

2) don't worry about the time (though I think your time of 3 minutes sounds reasonable to me). Pay attention to your body. If your limbs start to tingle or grow numb, that is not good or useful to circulation - that can cause frost bite. Truly, if I were to immerse my feet in ice in my own home and to pay no attention to my body, not get to know its vascular signals, then I could give myself frostbite (which is ugly, stinky and can cause loss of limb/digits) inside a 60-degree home...

3) so be patient and pay attention.

4) known that habituation seems to happen very quickly. My sixth shower in all-cold was very comfortable; my ice foot and hand immersion went from 6 minutes to 11 minutes on the first try during a 40-minute span.

5) try adding pranayama. I used kapalabhati breathing and am now trying agni breathing (which is like sekika breathing, but rapid - something I did not realize until I tried this!). I also use breath retention now (per Wim Hof's book). And like cold exposure, breathe retention (and retention of emptied lungs) improves pretty quickly over a few days.


My limited, not researched understanding: what seems to happen in healthy people is that the vessels shut down when first exposed to cold and then those vessels gradually re-open (vasodilation) and feed the muscle tissue their needed blood supplies. Vasodilation can take a few minutes (or it may not happen - so, get out if circulation doesn't seem to be returning or you don't know/understand). In people who are cold habituated, the vasodilation process happens very quickly. Wim Hof cites in his book that polar fishermen's hands usually vasodilate in one minute because their hands are habituated to cold water. Wim Hof indicates that his vasodilation occurs immediately now (after much practice and exposure). Habituation is what allows those vessels to stay open for longer and longer periods and allow the core to stay heated (and sending warmer blood to the extremities).

So, I am testing this like you. I have no expertise. You can checkout Wim Hof's book if you like.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/12/12 1:56 PM as a reply to m m a.
Oh, yeah: I hope you have a great time! I enjoy it and have no reason to stop going further with this. It has wonderful benefits so far, in my experience.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/12/12 2:02 PM as a reply to m m a.
...and I hope you report back on it.

I, too, will add more information if anything new comes up or there are further questions/proposals.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/12/12 3:13 PM as a reply to katy steger.
That all sounds great, and my first few trials haven't been unpleasant at all.

I too am reading wim hof's book, fascinating so far. I love the bit about when he's doing the 50m under ice swim, and its hard or easy depending on his focus.

I'll report back for sure after a bit more practice.
RE: cold water path'ing
3/9/12 2:09 AM as a reply to katy steger.
Giving it a go too, liking it. There is an alertness yes, but there is a fear factor being confronted too.

Today found I had far more enthusiasm for work and actually got up earlier especially to enjoy the benefit of being really awake and sitting. (Most of my sits lately have been at night, mornings I'm usually too tired)

Great thread. Thanks Katy.
RE: cold water path'ing
1/11/12 10:41 AM as a reply to m m a.
cold showers are easier to begin cold-habituation and more time-efficient, yet give similar great benefits (like immune boost and energy)
RE: cold water path'ing
1/12/12 11:53 AM as a reply to katy steger.
In the summertime I love to start the day with a freezing cold shower. These days that becomes a bath, as our current shower is dreadful. I used to tell Mrs Bagpuss "It makes you feel alive!" --and it does. It's wonderful.

Right now Im trying to follow many of the recommendations ayurveda makes with regard to vata body types. A major one is "dont get cold!". Im wandering around in 4-5 layers most of the day. (and im having a lot of success with this regards energy levels and general well-being, combined with change in diet)

Im reluctant to try cold baths in the winter because of this. What do you think?
RE: cold water path'ing
1/12/12 1:37 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Yes, it is invigorating and wonderful! It is also such a simple, relatively cheap thing to do, too.

Cold showers work well for me when I have felt cold (and it is at present winter here), very cold or the beginning of sickness (a friend's kid has what she calls "highly contagious strep", something I have been vulnerable to for years, and she mentioned this after a nice close hug recently); I developed a slightly scratchy throat and that's all. A swedish expat friend says it is having a similar effect on her (she is vata-looking as well); she also suggested that the cold stimulates the body to produce more internal heat. She recalled a grandparent who did this always and never missed a day of work to her knowledge. Maybe many of our great/grandparents took cold showers by virtue of heating expense and time to heat water...so maybe recent generations lost a simple health/mood stabilizer catapulter*just through improved civil engineering standards?

I used to tell Mrs Bagpuss "It makes you feel alive!" --and it does. It's wonderful.

"Mr. Katy" is not keen to try the wonderful effects of the cold shower...at this time. ; )


[edit: * I can't call it a "stabilizer" as it seems to cause an opposite of so-called dark night symptoms - an exuberance of well-being. My cardio exercise did not do this at this abundant level. I've had to temper thoughtfully the high energy on several occasions.)
RE: cold water path'ing
1/6/12 3:24 AM as a reply to katy steger.
Yeah, why not? :-)

Being relaxed and in a better mood makes meditation soooo much more productive.
RE: cold water path'ing
3/7/12 1:46 PM as a reply to katy steger.
I´ve started taking cold showers shortly after the appearance of this thread. The habituation is occurring but slowly. For the past couple of days all my showers were done with cold water only (at the lowest temperature). I find that my back is adapting the quickest, and when cold water hits my back, it almost feels warm. I wonder how Wim feels when he does his ice-diving, does he actually feel that same warmth I feel on my back? Wow..

Results/effects sofar:

At times, the showers made me feel incredibly fit; still I have to be careful not to stretch my limits. I recently moved to another place and enjoyed all the movement involved in getting items from a to b, and enjoyed being in the posession of what appeared to be a healthy functioning body. After a couple of hours of that, it seemed all my body wanted to do was sit, and zone out. I had lotsof plans for the next day, but, that next day, my body only d to sit and zone out (and sleep). The cold shower I took that morning, didn't help with that.

I had a chronic pain in lower left leg/left knee. It still pops up when I sit crosslegged, but other than that, it's rarely ever present. I'm not sure whether this pain is gone because of my change of jobs (I now sit much more often), the intu-flow practice I'm doing, the cold showering, or perhaps because of resolved psychological issues, (Wim Hof mentioned cold habituation would help with knee problems)

It's also been good for my skin. The color of my skin has evened out and I assume that's a good thing. I looks better anyway.

Today I experienced a significant afterdrop: I couldn't stop shaking and feeling cold. Focussing on breathing or trying to get into a meditative state didn't help. The whole thing lasted for around an hour.

My plan is to continue taking cold showers. What I hope to see happen is that other parts of my body (apart from my back) will respond to the cold water like my back does (with a warm pleasurable feeling).
RE: cold water path'ing
3/10/12 9:35 AM as a reply to Bart Castelijns.
m m a, Bart and Andrew - Cool trials and experiments : ) I was recently staying in a dorm room with the last shared bath on the building's plumbing circuit. To be the first one up in the morning guaranteed a cold shower. I was really glad I had some awareness of the goodness of this. Also, a few of us on the retreat did walking meditation on the snow, snow melt and cold walk ways barefooted. It was a really refreshing way to keep the mind in meditation (in the world, in the senses, in the sensations, watching arising and passing thoughts...).

Bart:
I had a chronic pain in lower left leg/left knee. It still pops up when I sit crosslegged, but other than that, it's rarely ever present. I'm not sure whether this pain is gone because of my change of jobs (I now sit much more often), the intu-flow practice I'm doing, the cold showering, or perhaps because of resolved psychological issues, (Wim Hof mentioned cold habituation would help with knee problems)

Is the pain in your lower left knee sharp/zingy (like nerve pain) or achey like muscular pain?
Regardless, there is no good reason to keep such a pain.
You can add some pillowing under that knee and see if that reduces the pain (it may translate to an ache somewhere else (like hips or lumbar spine, but the pillowing should not create nerve pain somewhere else).

Nerve pain (sharp and/or zingy) should especially be acknowledged and relieved...one can do permanent damage by keeping a nerve pinched for too long. Those nerves are our bodies' allies: they are there and 'speak loudly' for good reason!

Sitting in a chair is perfect, too. The chair will allow a person to do breathing meditation straight away (and it still offers back and bum aches). Sitting cross-legged is not required. It's way more important to start the practice and do it regularly than to develop resistance to practice because of sustaining unnecessary pains/damage.

A lot of achy pains do resolve as the mind settles, but that can take hours and even days even if a person is very willing and into meditation. Again, having a gentle consistent practice supports and reinforces the practice, versus developing aversion to it.