Cold Showers (Part 5) – Joy

Find Joy“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”

~ Joseph Campbell

This is the 5th and final post of this cold shower series (at least for now as I continue to discover more remarkable benefits in taking cold showers). Lately, when I have extra time such as on weekends, I have been playing around with temperatures, going back and forth from hot to cold water and from cold to hot water. Going from one extreme to the other is a great way to detoxify your body as blood rushes inwardly toward the organs with cold water (trying to conserve heat and protect our vital organs) and then blood rushes outwardly toward the skin with warm water (revitalizing skin and improving circulation). I also use a luffa to exfoliate dead skin cells and to lightly massage my body which aids in lymphatic drainage. In a previous post, I shared my goal of remaining relaxed while under the extreme pressure of cold water (yes, it is at the coldest setting in case you were wondering). After achieving this goal, I am now trying to take it one step further.

In my book ‘One Habit At A Time’, I promote the habit of high-quality breathing to induce relaxation throughout the day. This helps to lower stress significantly. In the next chapter, I promote the habit of smiling to induce inner joy which will further reduce stress. Therefore, I decided to try and see if I could get joy out of taking a cold shower. I always feel great afterwards but during the shower, it is difficult to actually enjoy it. How can you enjoy something which feels almost torturous at times? :) I knew this would be a difficult challenge, but it offered another opportunity for growth.

After a few weeks, I am truly enjoying my cold showers most of the time. It took a while before I could even enjoy one. But with a little persistence, failure began to turn into success. Day after day I would psyche myself up before each cold water blast. Talking, yelling, singing, dancing and praying…I tried everything to bring inner joy out of my being so that I could conquer this challenge. Eventually, I could draw out my inner joy simply by tuning into it and by mindfully enjoying the experience of the cold water enveloping my body.

How has this challenge benefited me? With this practice I find myself getting more enjoyment out of each day. Things which I used to find ordinary, tedious, obnoxious or dreadful are not too bad anymore. I try to squeeze as much joy out of them as possible. On the flip side, I now find the joyous occasions that much sweeter. It’s as if the inner joy just gushes out and it feels absolutely incredible.

Anyway, I hope you liked this series and I hope it motivates you to take on the cold shower challenge (30 days of cold water showers). There is a tremendous amount of growth waiting for you on the other side. If you do accept the cold shower challenge, I would love you to share your experiences with it here in the comment section below.

Have a joyous day,

Sal Crispo

Cold Showers (Part 4) – Anxiety

Toronto Lake Ice“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

~ William James

This past February in Toronto was a record-breaking month. We not only had the coldest days in years but the most consecutive days below zero degrees Celsius. Family day weekend reached a staggering minus 41 degrees Celsius (includes wind chill). As crazy as this weather was I continued to take cold showers each morning before going to work. Was it easy? Absolutely not.

We all know that feeling of waking up in the morning and being extremely comfortable and cozy under our bed sheets. Often the thought of having to take the sheets off of our warm bodies is bad or tough enough to surrender to. Now imagine thinking about taking a cold shower while lying there in your bed. I cannot express how difficult this feeling is to overcome. Why? What is this feeling?

ANXIETY!

Anxiety is a terrible state of being. You feel worried about something that is going to happen in the future. In order not to feel this inner turmoil, people will often avoid situations which provoke it. And this is another key reason why I continued to take cold showers during this extreme weather. Again, I viewed this as an opportunity to overcome a greatly debilitating emotional state. By putting myself in a position to feel anxiousness often, I began to learn from it…understand it…embrace it…and finally, to conquer it.

I learned that anxiety occurs even when there is no real danger eminent.

I understand now that certain thoughts about a future situation trigger my anxiety.

Knowing that my thoughts have the power to change my inner state of being, I can embrace my anxiousness with loving and compassionate thoughts.

And finally, I know I can conquer anxiety by changing my thoughts about any future situation.

Whether it’s stage fright, an important exam or an interview for your dream job, you must be able to overcome this troublesome state of being if you want to succeed in life. Take control of your thoughts and only envision the best or your ideal outcome. To do otherwise is not only a waste of time but it will stir up feelings of anxiousness and cause you to freeze in moments where you need to shine. What’s ironic is that I used this cold shower experience, along with this freezing weather, to unfreeze me from my anxiety. You can too!

Always envision greatness,

Sal Crispo

Cold Showers (Part 3) – Under Pressure

MeasureOfAMan“The ultimate measure of a man (a person) is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

 
I can vividly remember the first few times I immersed myself in cold water. It immediately puts you into a primal state of being. In other words, your inner animal comes out. Your heart rate races and each beat feels very intense – almost as if your heart is going to pound right out of your chest. A natural tendency to let out some primal sounds (such as screaming, cursing and grunting) and movements (such as shaking, flexing muscles and even beating your chest) are common. By the way, this alone can have tremendous health benefits because you release pent up tension and emotions.

The cold water puts your body and mind under some extreme pressure. It is as if you are being attacked (loss of safety and security). For this reason, you lose control of your regular sense of being (you need to fight back or run away). We have all been in a situation where someone verbally attacks us and we quickly lose our cool. It is an instinctual reaction.

But can we overcome this instinctual reaction? This was my ultimate goal for taking on this 30 day cold shower challenge. Could I eventually be calm while under this extreme (cold) pressure? The answer is yes! I’ll admit, it took me a while (several weeks) before I could achieve absolute calmness but it was an incredibly rewarding experience when I finally did it. Why was this so important to me? Calmness under pressure is what turns athletes into champions, surgeons into life savers and ordinary people into extraordinary heroes.

Meditation is the practice of staying present and mindful from moment to moment. This practice allows you to be less reactive and more in control of how you respond in any given situation. Remaining in a mindful state while under extreme stress or pressure is the ultimate test of your meditative practices. If you are able to stay calm and in control of your responses in extreme circumstances then you are truly the master of your destiny. Therefore, any exercise such as the cold water challenge, offers the perfect opportunity to build this extraordinary trait into your character.

Stay calm,

Sal Crispo

Cold Showers – Comfort Zone

Cold Shower 1“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

~ Neale Donald Walsch

This past summer I took on a challenge which I avoided for a long time – the 30 day cold shower challenge. Yes, I know it sounds crazy but there are many great benefits for overcoming this challenge. For this reason, I feel impelled to share my experience here with you today and in a series of posts in the coming weeks. Before I begin, let me tell you why I avoided it for so long.

FEAR!

I was simply terrified to do it. I began to examine this fear:

Will I drown? No.

Will I get hurt? No.

Then what am I actually afraid of? Being pushed outside of my comfort zone.

Taking a nice warm shower is relaxing and soothing. Anyone can step into a warm shower and easily begin to enjoy it. Why? Because it is naturally very comforting. On the flipside, I’m sure you’ve experienced what happens when someone in your home turns on the hot water elsewhere while you’re showering. The cold water invades your comfortable shower and you instantly turn into a violent creature (fight or flight response). You begin yelling all obscenities at the top of your lungs in order for them to shut the water off. :)

At first, the thought of cold showers brought up these exact feelings. I do not want to be in a state of fight or flight when I am showering. I want to be relaxed and comfortable. However, the price of comfort is often mediocrity and stagnation. Real growth occurs when we courageously travel beyond our believed limitations. To endeavour toward something which is greater than our current state of being is braveness at its best.

The time has come. I step into the shower and I am face to face with my fear. I have my hand on the shower handle. A storm of thoughts rush through my mind like a hurricane: What the hell are you doing? This is ridiculous. Don’t do this. Just take a nice warm shower and forget this challenge. So on and so on. These are the thoughts which prevent us from breaking through our comfort zones. Whether it’s in the areas of our relationships, business, work, health, social events and/or ambitions, etc., these limiting thoughts are our barriers to expansion.

I could not believe how loud these limiting thoughts were getting. The inner dialogue of my mind (the fear-based part), which is often subtle in its influence, had reached all new heights.

And here lies our greatest opportunity!

The opportunity to silence the critics in our mind – our greatest enemy.

So for the first time in my life, I turned the shower handle to cold water and…I screeched, shouted and cursed…I jumped, shook and squirmed…but I DID IT. I felt things I had never felt before but most of all, I felt ALIVE!

Next week I will share more about my 30 day cold shower experience and how it has help me live more fully.

Keep pushing your limits,

Sal Crispo

The Golden Intangibles

GoldenLovePeaceJoy“The real things of life, such as peace, harmony, integrity, security, and happiness are intangible. They come from the Deep Self of man. Meditating on these qualities builds these treasures of heaven in our subconscious. ‘It is where moth and rust do not consume, and where thieves do not break through and steal.’ MATT. 6:20.”

~ Dr. Joseph Murphy (excerpt from The Power of Your Subconscious Mind)

The above excerpt is a reminder that every real thing we desire lies within us. No one can give us these intangible things and at the same time, no one can take them away. This truth is very empowering for those who are willing to accept self-responsibility and self-governance. The self-directed person does not blame others for their lack of peace or for their unhappiness, etc., instead they look within for answers. How can I stop sabotaging my own happiness and peace of mind and bring more of these intangibles into my life?

This truth may be difficult to accept for some people as taking self-responsibility is not easy. It is a lot easier to blame the circumstances (people, places and things) in our external world than to face the darkness we carry within and admit that here lies the cause of most of our troubles. As I teach in my book, there is a Light shining brightly within each of us (a Light which we all share). If our ego is unhealthy, the Light gets blocked and our outer world is darkened. For this reason, the health of the ego is paramount to creating a life full of peace, joy and love.

To create a life full of Light, you must first examine your ego. Do your current, dominant thoughts, beliefs and perspectives bring you lasting peace, joy and love, etc.? If they don’t then no matter what happens around you, you will not live with these things for long. From time to time you may experience peace, love and joy to a certain degree, but none will endure if your ego prevents the Light from shining through. After examining your ego, replace all unhealthy ego traits with healthy ones. I understand it will take a lot of time to inspect and then change all of your unhealthy dominating thoughts, beliefs, and perspectives but the rewards for doing this are immeasurable. This work is where your greatest treasure lies – the golden intangibles.

Please meditate and journal on the excerpt given as well as the questions I proposed in this blog post. Thank you.

Let your Light shine through,

Sal Crispo

Unpopular Decisions

ToughDecisionsAhead“Sometimes, in order to follow our moral compass and/or our hearts, we have to make unpopular decisions or stand up for what we believe in.”

~ Tabatha Coffey

 
I hope you are all still striving toward achieving your resolutions. Remember, as I mentioned in my previous post, this is a long endeavour so do not focus on immediate results but on the quality of the seeds you plant each day. The seeds we plant are the decisions we make. The better our daily decisions are, the greater the return will be in the future. This is not a theory but a Universal law.

Resolutions demand different and better decisions. For example; if your resolution is to be a healthier version of your current self then your decisions from now on must be different and better than the choices you have made up until this point. I am not going to sugar coat the prior statement and tell you that it is going to be easy. These new and improved decisions require a great deal of will-power and effort, especially in the beginning stages. Why? Well one of the main reasons is that the best decisions are frequently not the most popular.

If you want to rise above the status quo then you will have to make a lot of unpopular decisions. It means making different choices than most of the people around you will make. They know and are comfortable with the old you so your new decisions can make them feel uncomfortable. They will question and challenge your resolve. You may be laughed at and ridiculed. They may try to discourage you in varies ways. Be prepared for this response. Do not let them influence you negatively. Stand strong in your resolve and carry on with your new decisions. Whether others accept this new you is their decision not yours. The people who truly love you will stand with you in your evolution. They will support you in your endeavours any way they can.

Can you completely stand behind your good decisions and stand up to your mother…your father…your spouse…your friends or anyone else who tries to influence you otherwise?

In order to succeed, you must!

Keep moving forward,

Sal Crispo

Time for Change and Growth in 2015!

New Year 2015“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

The beginning of the year is a great time for inspiration and for change. Deep down we all have the desire to shine brighter, to express ourselves more fully and to make the most of ourselves. For this reason, most of us decide to challenge ourselves with resolutions. Resolutions offer the opportunity for growth. They help us to expand our comfort zones and our so called “limits”.

Each year I set a resolution. Yes only one and that’s because, to me, a resolution is different than a goal. I see goals as something smaller. A goal can be reached in a day, a week or a month but a resolution will often take much longer as more effort and time for growth are required. For the past several years, I set a resolution which was more challenging than the previous year and I successfully accomplished every single one of them. However, 2014 was different. How? Well, I decided to take my challenge to an outrageous level. And guess what?

I didn’t accomplish my 2014 resolution yet.

Does this mean I failed? Should I give up? Of course not. I have planted all the right seeds to make my 2014 resolution materialize. Yes the harvest has yet to appear but as long as I continue to plant and nurture the seeds of growth, I will inevitably reap the rewards. Furthermore, the amount of inner growth I have gained in 2014, the intangible harvest so to speak, is worth just as much (if not more than) the tangible rewards I look forward to receiving. Please keep this in mind with your own personal resolutions.

Resolutions are not just about achieving something great. They help us grow and become a greater version of ourselves. In other words, don’t just think about the weight you want to lose or the money you wish to earn, think about the person you will become as you strive for and achieve your resolution. How will you feel? How will you act? How will you treat yourself and others? How bright will your inner light shine? How passionately will you live your life?

Maybe you can start living this way now? :)

Wishing you all a joyous, peaceful, healthy and successful 2015!

Sal Crispo

Self-responsibility

CarlJungQuoteLast night I had an interesting dream. I was walking through some sort of party and I came across a guy who looked at me strangely, almost as if he knew me. So I smiled at him and said “hello”. He smiled back and reached out to shake my hand. I shook his hand and noticed that he could hardly stay up on his feet. He was extremely drunk. I asked him if he needed some help and he said, “yes, can you wait for me until my friend gets back?” He was afraid of passing out. “Of course I will”, I replied. Continue reading

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Murray WimbledonI woke up this morning and eagerly anticipated watching the Wimbledon Men’s final. It is always a tremendous achievement to get to the final but to win it is an entirely different feat. Last year, Andy Murray was left in tears as Roger Federer snatched the trophy from him in the final. This year however, Murray showed what true grit and perseverance can bring – ecstasy and success. He defeated the number 1 player in the world, Novak Djokovic, and became the first British player to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. If at first you do not succeed, try and try again. Congratulations Andy! Continue reading