Imposed by others, cold showers are rightly perceived as punishment. If your own choice, they can be a righteous experience. A few years ago I trained myself to start the day with them. Aside from saving on the hot water bills & providing spiritual bliss, they kick started my days like nothing else!
I must immediately admit that this exercise ended after six months. At the time I was living in a cold, drafty flat. When winter came along a crisis of conscience overwhelmed me on the bathing front. I quit and returned to hot showers. Perhaps if I were a tea drinker things would be different. It probably is a good idea to have a hot drink in the morning but this is a foreign habit to me.
Recently I’ve decided to restart this sensual practice. If you suffer from heart problems, general ill health or general namby-pambyness this is not the lifestyle for you. If you are made of sterner stuff and are tired of the more costly forms of salvation (as purveyed by Brighton’s many New Age shops) which do not work properly anyway, give this one a try. It’s simple and effective. Take me as an example – have you ever seen a more enlightened Brightonian? It wakes you up like nothing else (except possibly oral sex). It gets straight to the point. I like that kind of directness.
Unlike the various remedies peddled by quacks, you cannot take a cold shower off the shelf. It takes discipline and work. Here’s how to attack the problem. Start with the hot shower that you would normally have and turn it up a bit. I’m assuming that you don’t already have the shower on the hottest setting. When it is blistering hot, turn it straight to cold until you feel like screaming. Scream. For some reason, this really helps. Double glazed windows and cavity walls also help, with the neighbours. Don’t go overboard with your first cold shower screaming session. A couple of seconds is enough to start with. As soon as a couple of seconds have passed, turn the water back to hot. Let it run hot for half a minute. Repeat the procedure and then finish your shower in the normal way.
Every time you shower after that, deepen your experience by extending the amount of time you let the water run cold by a few seconds. Please note, there’s no point kidding yourself. Either it’s on the coldest setting or it isn’t! After a week, you should be surprising yourself. You should be screaming for as long as half a minute. I really let it out.
The following week, quit turning the shower to super hot. Just used ordinary hot. Continue to extend the time that you can cope with cold. Don’t pussy foot around the business. Remember, you are aiming for a whole new way of being. Backsliding affords only temporary relief, followed by the knowledge of failure. Discipline is an act of choice, a mental state. It isn’t something that some people find easier than others. As with any form of hard work, some of us are just more prepared to suffer the inconvenience necessary to obtain the results.
By the start of the third week, you should be stepping into a luke-warm shower which you would have previously considered to cold, managing a good minute or so of coldness and even washing with soap in the cold water. Cynics will say that hot water aids the washing process. Scientifically they are absolutely right. However, I’m not preaching against ever using hot water again. You may still enjoy a hot bath and really getting the dirt out of your mucky pores. If you can, use a sauna for real cleaning. However, a shower doesn’t really allow the hot water to interact with the soap. It just washes it away. The heat only serves your comfort zone. Comfort causes cancer.
By the start of the fourth week, you will be able to cut out the temperature changing business altogether. I dare say some people will be able to quicken the training process. Personally, I don’t like to rush it. I prefer to stick with the goal, to stay ‘on message’. This isn’t something which provides immediately benefit. It has to be learnt. By the end of the first month, you’ll not be screaming at all. Admittedly, your showering process will be far more efficient than ever before. Five minutes will be a long meditation under Nature’s cold stream.
One day, you’ll actually find your mind wandering off, where previously it was begging you to get out. At that moment, you have won through! You are now cold shower fit. Congratulations. Now you bathe anywhere. You’ll be far more perky first thing in the morning. Soon, you’ll be emerging from your slumber and your first thought will not be, ‘hmm, coffee’, but instead, ‘oh yes, let’s get that natural freshness on’. One tip, if you are thinking of returning to bed with a lover, is to wrap yourself in a warm towel or dressing gown immediately afterwards. If you’re not returning to bed directly, eat breakfast. Get some energy into your system. This is good advice regardless of whether you have cold showers or not. On further tip: do this early in the morning, even if you have had a late night. Maintaining a regular pattern is good for you.
Medically speaking, making yourself cold briefly is good for you. It increases the blood flow to the extremities. You grow more capillaries. This improves your circulation and gives your body a better temperature control. Sea bathers in Northern climes take advantage of this. It makes you better able to withstand cold and stay cooler in heat. This is why there are Nordic traditions of rolling in snow and swimming in icy water.