I love smashing personal records. It is beautiful to see objective sign posts confirming the translation of hard work and dedication into growth and enlarged capacity.
A few weeks ago it was doing 1100 sit-ups in under 20 minutes.
Last night at the Banya I was able to generate enough heat through Tibetan inner fire practice or autonomic nervous system control, to reach full equilibrium in the cold plunge (at an advertised 45 F, but it is often a bit warmer on the weekends).
And I doubled up my personal record from 32 minutes in the cold plunge to 65 minutes.
What up, Wim Hof?
Thank you for the inspiration.
The limit to how long I could stay in the cold plunge was no longer about physical discomfort. At this temperature that was mastered. The limit was only how long I could mentally focus. I only left because it was close to 10pm and I was feeling sleep calling from my circadian rhythm.
As with most things in life, it all comes back consciousness.
“The body has limits the mind does not” – Tim Grover, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant’s trainer.
If we want to realize our potential I believe it’s absolutely critical to be constantly pushing our comfort zones and edges, in a multidimensional cross training of body, heart, mind and soul. For if you’re not triggering an adaptation response, you’re likely atrophying, or at least not keeping up with progressive flow of the river of life and your fellow brethren immersed in it.
That being said, rest and recovery are an essential part of the growth process.
Here is more about the beginning levels for cold plunge mastery:
Stay in the cold plunge for 30-90 seconds.
Bring awareness to the immediate fight or flight response that comes from immersion in cold water and let your body know you’re okay and not in danger.
Each time you get in the cold plunge notice the part of yourself that says, “I need to get out of here. I’m in danger or I’m going to die.”
Control the amygdala. A reduction in amygdala activation will serve you well in many aspects of your life.
Stay in the cold plunge for 2-7 minutes.
Now that you’re able to calm the amygdala, you’ll primarily be needing to get out of the cold plunge due to physical pain.
You’ll likely feel sharp pain somewhere in the body, often the fingers and toes.
Push yourself as long as you can and then go to a hot tub to get the blood flowing.
Having stable access to the meditative state of Emptiness is very valuable here. You want to be able to identify with your awareness that rides underneath sensation (yet co-arises with it). You want to notice the stories your mind comes up with for why you should leave the cold plunge. You want to notice the apparent self that is connected to those sensations and stories. Then release those constructions of energy as you relax back into stillness of mind, awareness and all of Reality.
This level takes repetitive practice for your body to adapt to the cold. Eventually the sharp pain will stop and you’ll be confronted with a new set of challenges and fears to over come around the 5-7 minute level.
There are many health benefits to getting good at this stage.
Contrast therapy, cycling from hot to cold is great for the lymphatic system and supporting detoxification in the body. The hot and cold effectively create a pump through expansion and contraction that gets your system flowing in a way the body can’t do well on its own.
Cold stress and heat stress are also known to activate Epigenetic programs in the body that make your more able to cope with stress for up to two weeks. Our ancestors walked across ice sheets for months on end. Modern humans turn on the heat and air conditioning at the first sign of discomfort. Cold stress and heat stress activate this latent super adaptive potential within us.
Cold stress also creates more brown fat in the body. Which is a dense form of fat with larger than normal quantities of mitochondria that are able to burn fat and generate internal heat.
This is actually just a small sampling of the amazing research around the all the health benefits of high intensity cold and heat exposure. I will share more about the science in the future. In the mean time look up the leading voice of Rhonda Patrick, PHD MD.
Skills used in future levels farther down the path to be discussed some other time:
Generating inner fire at the second and third chakras. Known in Tibetan Buddhism as Tummo.
Navy SEAL style positive Incantations from master trainer Mark Divine of the Unbeatable Mind.
Overcoming fear of death, being willing to die (even though you’re not going to) and leaning into it with courage.
Working with the instinctive heat generating energy of shivering.
Archetypal Tantric Warrior invocation from a state Awakened Awareness, also known as Generation Stage Yoga.
Again this is cross-training for Life and the upper limits of any skill comes down to consciousness and mastery of our minds.
And mastering the mind is an eminently transferable skill.
“Success comes down to 80% psychology and 20% skills.” Tony Robbins.
“I want to represent possibilities. I want to represent the idea that you really can make what you want. I believe that I can create whatever I want to create. If I could put my head on it right, study it, learn the patterns… I feel very strongly that we are who we choose to be.” – Will Smith
“The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” – The Buddha