Cold water bathing has been used as a way to stimulate health, cleanse us spiritually, and invigorate the senses.
Physically the effect of cold water causes the constriction of blood vessels in the extremities of the body. This forces blood to move toward the center and internally. With it lactic acid and metabolic waste in the tissues are moved. After the initial sensations of cold water the body will warm itself up by pushing blood to the extremities and there is often a sense of feeling warm, flushed, awake, and clear headed.
Cold water plunges and bathing also have a history of homeopathic, traditional and religious benefits attributed to it. Some of these are:
*Increased circulation of blood and qi
*Sharpen the senses and mind
*Improving overall constitution and hardiness
*Increasing spiritual sensitivity and awareness
*Feeling light in the heart, washing away of accumulated negative emotions or feelings.
*As a purification of one’s past, present, future mental states
*Developing concentration, especially when done with a meditative approach
*Feelings of new beginning and creativity
*Increased immunity & cardiovascular health
*A way to develop endurance for difficult situations and build courage
The primary element in the human body is water- and nearly every culture has association of water with the intuition, birth, life, and cleansing. Cold water bathing when done with intent can be a way to connect with this collective idea and elevate the mundane cleaning to a symbolic one. Water then becomes Sacred Water and the means of purifying our body of illness, pollution and negative energy as well as our hearts of anxiety, depression, anger and other other emotions. Honoring our body and it’s reliance on a universal element can bring a luminous feeling to us. With these feelings we can improve our family life, social life and world by creating a personal ritual to let go of negative patterns we see in ourselves and to recognize the divinity that surrounds us.
Incorporate personal ritual
A few minute cold rinse with intention and ceremony at the end of your regular shower is a simple way to begin adding water purification to your daily life. If only for the feeling of being totally awake and invigorated.
Everyday, at the end of your shower, reduce the water to a level colder than you are used to until eventually you can be under your coldest setting available. Experiment with temperature and time until you find something that works for you.
If you’d like to make it more of a cleansing in the emotional-spiritual way you can stand under the shower, close your eyes, place your body in a gesture of gratitude and repeat to yourself:
‘My body is purified and bright, my heart is purified and bright. All of my senses have been cleansed and are awake to the divine in all things.’ or another uplifting phrase/prayer that reminds you of letting go and perceiving clearly.
Visualization can be used as well, thus integrating body speech and mind. Imagine the water running off of your body as carrying away sludge or polluted energy until and the water running onto you as clear, bright, and sparkling. Do this until you feel like your body and heart are more clear. Imagine the Earth, in it’s infinite ability to provide and transform, has absorbed all the sickness and feelings of greed, anger or ignorance and neutralized them.
A loose translation of a traditional prayer from Japan~
"Although the impure & polluted appears before my eyes, I will not let it blur my vision. Although it strikes my ears, I will not let it deafen me. Although my nose sense it, I will not let it distort my spirit. Although it enters my mouth, I will not let it destroy my taste for life. Although it touches my body, I will not let it cling to me. Although I may even desire it, I will not let that desire dwell within me."
Sacred Water in Nature
When available cold water bathing can be done in natural settings like the ocean, waterfalls and rivers. It is ideal to have water that is moving some so as to emphasize the ‘washing away’ and to reflect on the movement of fluid internally. Do this with a friend, bring extra warm clothes and be sure not to stay too long so that you can avoid accidental hypothermia. This is good to do occasionally as a break from man-made environments and to emphasis the connection to nature.
After your cold water purification get dressed and stay warm. If possible do some light massage of your stomach working in a circular movement right , top, left and bottom of your abdomen following the natural pattern of digestion. This is to further stimulate circulation in your organs and assist in elimination. Yoga, qi gong or other forms of mindful movement are appropriate.