Cold Water Therapy
Self Tempering in Nature
Like the tradition of Hermitage, the tradition of Cold Water Therapy has been practiced by martial arts masters and spiritual practitioners from around the world as a way of rejuvenating the body, mind, and spirit, and a way of becoming more in harmony with nature. In the Western Martial Arts, this practice was done by some orders of knights, and other religious traditions.
Many people who do the martial arts talk about nature. They talk about animals, and seasons. But how many people really take the time to appreciate these things in the depth they deserve? Most people spend all summer driving in an air conditioned car to and from an air conditioned home to an air conditioned mall or office. In winter, they crank up the thermostat, get electric blankets and sox, and use space heaters big enough to melt Pike's Peak from afar.
They hide from the damn real world! What's worse is, then they talk about it like they know. You hear this at work all the time - people just discussing the weather, but do they really know? It's just bitching mostly, "It rained" "It snowed". Like the weather cares how you feel? How 'bout if you were a squirrel, then how bad would today be? Count your blessings. Maybe try to be grateful about the weather - you're here to see it.
This isolation from nature is not a good thing for people, physically or mentally, and is the root of many problems and miseries. They fill their bodies with chemically loaded, nutritionally deficient microwaved fast-foods, take lots of over the counter medicines and pills, and do nothing to exercise their bodies or stretch their minds, preferring tv and commercial culture to real life. So many people could tell you all about the love life of some celebrity, or the plots of every tv show, but what the hell does that matter? It is vacuous mental bubble-fill, substituting for real knowledge. You mind wants to lean, you must let it - start with the basics, history, philosophy, religion, and so on. Don't substitute "what is presented to you" as "what it is you should know"...anymore these are very different things.
Physically, the cold water experience is a great rush, and leaves one with a sense of well being. The best comparison I can make from my own experience is to the feeling like I have after having gone running in the morning, the same energy buzz that keeps me going all day afterwards. We laugh as we remember how people advised a "cold shower" for the drunk, but there is some merit there - it will infuse him with energy, even in that state. To the sober man, this cold water can create a high energy, positive state - perfect way to start a day! The cold water also helps to stimulate your bodies immune system, meaning you will be less susceptible to the colds and flus that go around every year.
Mentally, the water does many things. It is a definite pattern interrupt (as in Neuro Linguistic Programing) and a real paradigm shift once you start into it. The high energy, positive feeling mentioned can only be good for your mind. Seeing the differences in how you will view weather and nature from those around you is interesting, as well. Your views directly affect the quality of your world, and to paraphrase Jim Keating "Don't let your world be ruled by someone else's shitty standards!"
This isolation people have from nature also manifests in many un-positive responses they have when the weather is bad. Some People can really flip out! This can lead to road rage and all kinds behavior from just general grumbling to violence. Being in touch with the weather can help you avoid being like that, and can also give you a sense of humor which can be critical in dealing with people who are.
When I was stuck in a blizzard years ago, there were many times people around me would snap, and why not - their routine was interrupted, they were cold, they were upset, wah, wah, like children. I know being calm, decisive, and funny were helpful that night, as we spent nearly 10 hours working our way back slowly to a friend's house after our car died suddenly, leaving us stranded in a white-out, having no clue exactly where in Buffalo we were. Being able to take this in stride was only possible from being very acclimatized to Buffalo winters - lucky since I was only wearing an old leather jacket with no lining over a t-shirt, and had no gloves. Sounds dumb today, but hey, I was young and headed out to a concert, and wasn't going to let the forecast of a little snow stop me from seeing a little known band back in 1985 called Metallica. The storm was so bad, with so much show falling, that they declared it an emergency and closed the city to vehicular traffic for 3 days. The next day when we went out to look at it, we had to leave my friend's apartment through the window because there was 3-4 feet of snow blown up against the front door.
1. Bare feet on the bare ground is best. In snow, I like to
clear a small space so I can stand on the ground. I still walk
in and out barefoot in the snow but for standing a cleared spot is
better, I feel.
2. DO NOT shower with warm water afterwards. It dampens the positive effects.
3. Spend some time outside, a minute or so, before and hang out a bit outside afterwards if possible. No need to rush back in the house. Throwing a little cold water on your face, arms and legs is a good way to start. Also, spending time outside "underdressed" when the opportunity arises is a good practice too. Relaxation makes it possible.
4. A bucket with a lipped spout makes it much easier to direct the water where you want it.
5. Water from the outside tap is much colder (better) than water from inside. Filling the tap outside also gives you more time outside. In the winter when this is not possible, fill several buckets before hand. This saves the trips back in and allows you to focus more on the experience.
6. Read the life story of the modern day Master of this practice Porphiri Ivanov, a true Man of Nature!
7. Do it! It's fun and it feels great and it is indeed a (positive) addiction.
8. The colder the water, the better it feels.
9. Keep the breath steady while dousing. When you finish a bucket, inhale and arch backwards, hold your breath, focus, then exhale while arching forward.
10. Pour evenly and calmly
11. In winter, rubbing the skin with snow after dousing (a "snow bath") is a great follow up. Rub the snow over all parts of your skin; the arms, face, chest, back, and legs, working from the top of your body down to the ground.
12. Briskly towel off once you come back inside, again rubbing down the body in the same way as the snow bath.
13. Co-ed naked dousing! (Cold, wet shorts are no fun)
Forum for Cold Water Therapy and Russain Martial
Phil Nicols "Phil-Osophy" on Cold Water Therapy and Health
Porphiri Ivanov - Man of Nature
Unsolicited Testimony of Cold Water Benefits!
Pete, great article on cold water therapy and all the benefits one can achieve from winter weather! I've been dousing for about a week now and it's great! My wife thinks I'm nuts but my energy level has never been higher. I even noticed ending a hot shower with an ice cold one leaves me feeling better, not the sluggish worn out feeling I usually get. Its incredible more people do not know the benefits of cold water applications. Thanks.
Well Pete, last night I took a nicewarm bath then followed it up by going outside and dumping a bucket of cold water over my head. I set the bucket out about two hours earlier so it was nice and cold. To tell the truth I feel completely different....very energized. I woke up this morning without the "oh god what the hell am I doing up at this hour feeling" I have every morning. Of course my wife thinks I am crazy but then again she always did think that so whats the difference?
I met this Russian guy about 3 months ago. Showed me a tape, in russian. of Ivanov. He jumps in cold water, like Donner lake in winter. He got me to jump in the apartment swimming pool, unheated, and about 40 degrees. I shook like a spastic the first time, now I do about six laps. Invigorating and some of my arthritis pain has gone. I'm 55. Everyone thinks we're crazy. What the hell do they know? Thanks for your site. I was trying to learn more about Ivanov.