Before I started taking cold showers in the morning, I thought people who took them were a little hardcore, if not a bit crazy. Were they trying to punish themselves? If you could have a hot shower, why would you do this to yourself? I didn’t even like warm showers before. I liked them to be as hot as they could possibly be so that when I got out, my back was as red as a baboon’s behind.
When I lived in Mexico in my early 20’s, the apartment where I lived didn’t have warm water, so I showered in cold water, but the air temperature was warm and I had no choice. I did it as fast as I could and yearned for the hot shower when I’d return. Funny thing was, I didn’t get sick once in that year. But I didn’t make the connection. I also wrote constantly in Spanish in my journal. I learned to cook delicious Mexican meals. It was a time of great creativity.
I returned home and took hot showers again. They were a little shorter for a while because I was freaked out about how much good quality water we let slide down the drain when the water in Mexico and Central America wasn’t even drinkable. But I forgot about that soon enough and was back to my long hot showers.
When I was teaching English as a Second Language, I had a German student who took cold showers and swore by them. He tried to convince me to take them and I thought he was nuts. No way was I going to do it, not even once to try it. So, believe me, I get it. I’m very unlikely to convince anyone else to do it. You may think I’m nuts. My husband thought I was nuts until he started to see the effect on me for himself.
Ever since he’s known me, I’ve gotten sick a few times a year, often with ear infections or bronchitis. Then, magically, I started taking cold showers and month after month, I didn’t get sick. After a year of seeing me do it, he started doing it and a chronic dizziness problem he had went away. He’s addicted now too.
The reason I started taking cold showers was that my yoga mentor, Gurmukh Kalsa said I should. I was taking the kundalini yoga level one teacher training course for my own self-development. I wanted to grow as a person, gain a greater sense of grounding and get control over anger and fear. Gurmukh is one of the most enlightened people I’ve ever met, so I thought I’d at least try everything she suggested. Besides the health benefits, I noticed another surprising thing.
I felt more creative. Cold showers wake me up in the morning and make me want to write. I don’t feel sluggish. I don’t need five cups of coffee. In fact, if I drink caffeinated tea, it’s later, and I’d probably be better served by taking another cold shower. Sometimes when the writing is hellish, I take a cold shower or go for a run. I’ve found that the body and creativity are very linked. A block usually takes place in the body before it takes place in the mind. That’s what yoga is all about, to clear those energy blocks and create flow.
How do I do it? Sometimes I wash with soap and warm water first, then I turn it on cold. I dance. Move my arms around. Get my armpits – that’s important because it stimulates the glandular system. I let the cold water hit the front of my body until it hurts and then I turn around and get my back. I stay as long as I can, around 5 minutes. I turn off the water and then I get out. As a plus, it’s never cold when I get out of the shower. Also, I feel like I’ve accomplished something and I always feel happier. Like, yeah, baby!
Interestingly, I recently got a cold for the first time in a year and a half of taking cold showers. Why? I was skipping the cold showers and skipping sleep and not meditating or doing yoga. My novel had come out and I was busy every waking minute doing interviews, guest blog posts and writing my next book. First thing in the morning, instead of a cold shower and yoga, I’d tweet and answer emails, and I’d stay up late doing the same thing. After a month of this, I couldn’t believe it, but I had my first cold in ages.
A lot of writers talk about how they get sick on their book tours or after the book comes out and I now get it. The whole marketing and promotion part of post-publication is very consuming and it can take as much time out of your life as you let it. So, now, I’m back to my cold showers and yoga. I’m writing my next book. It’s all balance.
A few good links:
Kundalini yoga and cold showers
Funny piece about cold showers and being a badass
21 medical benefits of cold showers