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

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

How Big Are Our Problems?

Planet SizesAs you know, it easy to become overly focused and consumed with our personal problems. We are emotional beings and problems often stir up many emotions, especially negative ones. For this reason, personal problems can leave us feeling very stressed out and drained of our vitality. Continue reading

5 Quick Tips to Lower Stress

Helpful Tips

Tip #1: Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Sounds simple, but the reality is that many people don’t get enough quality sleep. Sleep is where every aspect of our physical bodies (muscles, energy systems and organs, etc.) recharge. As a result, we cannot run our bodies efficiently (as stress-free as possible) if we fail to re-energize with quality sleep. What do most people do when they are having trouble functioning  during the day? Continue reading