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 (Part 2) – Energy

Endorphins“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.”

~ Aristotle

After overcoming the fears and the critics in my mind, I immediately stepped out of the cold shower and felt empowered and invigorated. I did not give in to the allurement of comfort. I did not succumb to the discouraging voices in my head. Each time I conquer the cold shower challenge it is a moral victory which leaves me mentally pumped. I find this to be the perfect way to start my day.

People want to start their days with good energy so they can be more productive and live more fully. For this reason, the coffee and energy drink industries make billions of dollars a year selling their products. The main problem with these products is that most are loaded with processed sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and a list of other harmful substances which have many negative side effects and are highly addictive. Not to mention, the boost in energy is artificial and mostly comes at the expense of your adrenal glands. This is a major reason why adrenal fatigue is so prevalent nowadays.

Conversely, cold showers release natural hormones (endorphins, testosterone, etc.) which have strong health benefits. Also, I find the energy boost I get from cold showers lasts several hours. During the work week, I wake up at 5:00 am so I will take all the energy I can get. I am in the industry of motivating people to live at their best therefore, the last thing I need is to be tired. However, I have dedicated my life to real health thus I consciously choose not to support the artificial energy industries. I want to be a model of health so that I can inspire others to do the same. If I am consuming 5 coffees or Red bulls a day for my energy then I am not promoting real health (I am not living at my best). After all, actions speak louder than words. I understand some people may have a hard time without their artificial stimulants and this is why I am offering an alternative here with cold showers. This is something you may want to consider. It may save you from some unwanted health issues and save you some money too – cold showers are free!

Wishing you real health and energy,

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

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

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

5 Simple Habits To Boost the Quality of Your Sleep

Bear Insomnia Cartoon1. Avoid Stimulants Before Bedtime

The autonomic nervous system is divided into 2 main parts – sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). These 2 systems have an antagonistic relationship. For instance, you cannot be in a heated argument and completely relaxed at the same time. Stimulants activate the sympathetic nervous system (S.N.S) and will disrupt the quality of your sleep which is a parasympathetic nervous system (P.N.S) activity. Some common stimulants to avoid before bedtime are caffeinated drinks, bright lights and extreme emotional highs (such as heated arguments). Before bedtime, it is best to make the habit of creating an environment of relaxation. Continue reading

Shower Power!

Lao Tzu QuoteThe mind, just like the body and soul, should not be neglected. When you wake up in the morning, do you wash your body? Do you brush your teeth? What happens if you don’t? Obviously you will stink. Now imagine going to work in this condition. How could you work with others or meet with clients? Do you think you would make a great impression if you were out on a date with a special person? As you can easily see, not cleansing your body can have an endless amount of negative repercussions. In the same way, not cleansing your mind on a daily basis can be disastrous. Continue reading

A Dog and His Master – Who’s Walking Who?

As you can see in the drawing to the left, there is a person (let’s call him Steve for easy reference), walking along side his dog. Steve’s thought-bubble is cluttered with thoughts and images while the dog’s thought-bubble is clear. As they both walk through the park, the dog sees the sun and the trees up ahead but Steve sees nothing but the clutter. The dog is fully enjoying the moment while Steve is completely lost in his own mind (world). Steve is a common example of how most people live a great majority of their lives. The dog is a perfect example of mindfulness – a real zen master! This is ironic because I’ll bet you somewhere in all that clutter, Steve thinks he is the dog’s master. Continue reading

Learn It Then Earn It

“The world does not pay men (people) for that which they “know”. It pays them for what they do, or induce others to do.”
~Napoleon Hill

Knowledge is power when it is applied. You would be surprised at how often this truth is overlooked or forgotten. There is nothing more important to success than taking action and applying what you know. For instance, almost everyone knows that exercise or drinking an ample supply of water are very important for their health, yet many people fail to do both of these actions on a daily basis. Just knowing exercise can get you fit, will not get you fit. You must exercise in order to benefit from this knowledge.

Continue reading