November // Cold Water Challenge
View this email in your browser
L U M E N  L E T T E R S 

Stay Calm & Take a Cold Shower

The tale of a 21-day cold water challenge
Back in the October New Moon edition, I publically declared that I would be participating in another 21-day cold water challenge beginning on November 1st. Here we are at the end of the month, and I’m happy to report back that things are definitely easier the second time around…even something as physically, mentally, and emotionally daunting as stirring up the willpower to take a 5 minute shower at the lowest possible temperature your shower permits. The chill factor increases as the temperature decreases, meaning those days when NYC hit the low 30’s, I was really in for a thrill when it came time for my 5 minutes of cold water fun. Nonetheless, I’ve come out on the other side of this challenge ultimately feeling healthier, stronger, and more resilient to the bone-chilling winter days ahead.
Day 1: Time to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Wake up. Hop out of bed. Start a timer for 5 minutes. Jump into the shower with an uneasy attitude about what I was actually getting myself into (this is exactly why I publically announced my intentions, so I couldn’t back out!) Shriek as I begin my “oh shit, this is so cold, I don’t wanna do this, why am I doing this again” dance that probably looks something akin to a small child having to pee and/or throwing a temper tantrum. About a minute in, I begin to calm down with the assistance of deep breathing as my body adjusts to the feeling of cold water. Around minute 3, I embrace the cold fully, feeling enlivened by the practice and thinking, “wow, I feel way better than what I expected to feel on Day 1.” Timer goes off, my body is shivering, my teeth are chattering, but damn, do I feel alive!
Beginner’s luck, I thought.
Day 3: Smooth sails ahead.

Charge into shower. Cover me in cold! Cold water kiddie dance transforms into warrior dance. Somethin’ like Kapalabhati breath makes the water hitting my face feel like an ancient wartime ritual. Rush of endorphins set in and the ice-cold pellets of water stinging my body feel unnaturally exquisite. Timer goes off. Remain in shower for an extra 30 seconds or so, just because it feels so good.
Or perhaps my body has made some noticeable progress in regards to circulation and cold exposure that was maintained from my first cold water challenge in April. Most likely, a combination of both, as I can assure you that as time passed, I didn’t always feel so psyched about my 5-minute experience once the timer went off. This is just as much a physical challenge as it is a psychological one.
Day 9: …I don’t want to talk about it.
I rarely took a warm shower during my cold water challenge timeline. I figured it would be easier if I didn’t know what I was missing out on and kept almost all showers cold showers, as to not tempt my willpower. Besides, having the task of washing my hair every 3rd day while enduring the 5 minutes of cold water exposure did seem to make the time pass by more quickly. I did, however, take more baths than average this past month. A little steamy hot incentive never hurt anyone.
Day 12: Scrub – a – dub – dub, join the cold water club.

Just think, after these 5 minutes, you’ll get to draw a nice, warm, comforting bath. Let’s get all yin/yang up in here. Timer begins. 5 minutes pass. Piece of cake.
Perspective has a powerful impact. So does a reward-based system. Dangerous, but true.
Then there were days when I waited until the end of the day to partake in my 5-minute cold shower, long after the sun had set and the temperatures dropped. Without a doubt, those were the hardest and least enjoyable days…physically, that is.
Day 17: When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Get home from teaching a restorative yoga + reiki class shortly after 10pm. Current mood: zen, relaxed, ready for a restful slumber. Realize I haven’t done my cold shower yet. Updated current mood: (insert expletive here). With the utmost resistance: set timer, turn on cold water, tip-toe into the shower, cue cold water dance, grin and bear it for what feels like the longest 5 minutes of my life. Timer rings, fairies descend from the depths of the forest to join me as I frolic around and sing sweet songs of celebration (I wish!)…more like I quietly rejoice with a stuttering “Y-Y-Y-YESSSSS!” through shivering lips as I step out of the shower and quickly wrap myself in the comforts of my towel. My body feels like a frigid corpse, but my mind and spirit have transcended to a state represented best by a kick-ass warrior goddess, ready to take on anything life throws at me, with strength, ease, and grace.

Yep, 5 minutes of self-induced torture was worth it.
After a full day, still staying strong in my dedication to the practice by forcing myself to take the 5 minutes at the end of my day in an ice-cold shower sure did have enormous benefits on a psychological level. Choosing to conquer the cold at what seems like your weakest state, knowing that it’s the last thing you want to do, is truly empowering and strengthening on a mental/emotional level. Which is why I personally love and highly recommended this practice of cold water exposure – the benefits come back to you three fold, via mind, body, and spirit. Which as you all know from the structure of Lumen Letters and Luminous Architecture’s foundations of philosophy, that trifecta is my jam.
Day 21: This isn’t goodbye, just a see ya later.

This isn’t the end, just the beginning. Set timer. Conquer the cold, one last time (for now). Reflect on the journey. Timer goes off. Bittersweet.
Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Choosing this challenge, seeing yourself through it (with the support of others choosing to endure the same challenge with you – thanks Liebling), and reaping the character building, health-enhancing benefits throughout the process can teach you a lot about how you show up in the face of adversity. While all of this may seem daunting, or even insane to many, if you ever choose to experience this journey for yourself, I think you’ll find that we have a far greater capacity for growth than we usually give ourselves credit for. That is the most profound takeaway from this entire experience, and I believe that me telling you this isn’t enough. You have to experience this kind of adaptability and growth for yourself – whether it’s through a 21-day cold water challenge or something completely unrelated is irrelevant. What matters is the commitment to yourself and to a practice that guarantees you stepping outside of your comfort zone. Within those unknown territories, the greatest discoveries take place.


Luminous love,
Stay calm & subscribe to Lumen Letters.
Click on the button below.
Copyright © 2016 Luminous Architecture, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list