Before this New Year 2020, I decided for a following resolution: Transformation
Hmmm, that’s quite broad, you may think. Yes, it is. I guess I do put high expectations on myself. But really, I was ready to let go of the unhappy me, the angst and such, and get ready to rise my vibration.
For a couple months before the New Year, I was hearing that friends of mine, Sara McKinnon and Jessica McGovern, started swimming in the cold ocean in November. Boy, I was judgmental. Not in a bad way, probably more fascinated then judgmental. But I was definitely triggered.
I knew why Sara started this ‘cold therapy’. She has been suffering from the auto-immune Crohn’s disease for some time and was finally ready to heal it. As a mother of a two-year-old, she was not willing to go to the seasonal hospital again, as she would follow the same pattern of getting sick every winter. Sara rather took a radical healing approach. She learned about the famous Wim Hoff method and his ice therapy and decided to apply this technique on herself. And why not? We have the cold ocean right here.
Maybe you are already familiar with the Ice Man, Wim Hoff. If not, I highly recommend to watch some videos, for instance this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaMjhwFE1Zw
You can watch it just for the curiosity. Highly inspiring.
At the following New Year’s Eve, I attended a gathering at a friend’s house; a kirtan celebration. I heard Sara chatting with other people about her cold water swim and I was triggered for real. Sara explained the physical and mental benefits: boosts of the immune system, reduction of inflammation (which is a cause of most of the health problems and illnesses), reduced depression and anxiety, increased mental clarity and focus, natural joy, enhanced willpower, helped to get rid of addictions and more. That moment, I realized that if I am going for a transformation, I must have a powerful physical practice that will support me.
I was sold. Four days later, on January 4th, I signed up for a Cold Power class lead by Sara at Cape Ann Power Yoga in Gloucester. Sara told us about Wim Hof and the technique. Then we practiced a guided Wim Hof breathwork, we changed into bathing suits and drove to Good Harbor Beach for our first dip. I think there was five of us. I was a little bit afraid of the cold because I don’t like cold. I love naturally warm weather and summer. I always thought that winters are not for me.
Here I was, running into the cold ocean with other people who had the same feelings and sensations as I did. We dipped together and stayed in for about 2 minutes. The first moment, we all experienced a shortness of breath, but kept calm and breathing. Yet, the sensation from the cold felt like thousands of small electric shocks electrocuting my whole body with all the organs.
And what happened after? I felt so happy and proud of myself for at least 2 days and couldn’t wait to go again. The joy from the extreme cold is real, natural. With this cold-water challenge, the body releases serotonin and it greatly improves mood. So, in the beginning of January I started my cold-water journey, joining Sara and going twice a week, creating a new healthy habit.
Soon, other friends started to join us. Sara organized a beautiful event on March 8th, which was an International Women’s Day sunrise cold swim. This event was happening globally. Women all over the world participated in their cold swims. Good Harbor Beach saw 19 women that morning, who bravely went together into the cold ocean, accompanied by an epic sunrise and a baby seal on the beach.
That time, I was practicing my wild cold-water swim three times a week, and an ice bath at home once or twice a week. The ice tub is alright and effective as well, but the nature and swimming with friends has no comparison.
The other week in March, we went to meet with another cold-water swim group in Beverly. There were about 15 of them, meeting regularly on every Sunday. They all knew why they practiced it. Basically, for the same benefits. That time, small groups of people were meeting either in the morning, at noon or right at sunrise, choosing their preferable beach, alternating with different people, in Gloucester and Beverly.
Another change for me happened with the Coronavirus shutdown. On that day, I committed myself to an every-day sunrise swim (sometimes I go twice a day) in any weather. We are now a solid group of four women, welcoming the sun or clouds every morning. New people join us here and there.
We are praying, meditating, singing, jumping in the waves and focusing on lifting up any heavy vibes. It became a spiritual cleanse and recharge. The water is very grounding, empowering, bringing clarity and fun and joy. I feel at least 15 years younger. It’s always so much fun and we get to be silly and playful. We stay in the water now for 10 – 15 minutes, also going under the water to activate the Vagus nerve (the longest and one of the most important nerves in the body).
The other group we met in Beverly is now swimming in Gloucester, because the beaches here are still open. They recently made it to the Gloucester Daily Times newspaper, and the next day they were featured in the Salem news. The message about the Ice Man Wim Hof and regular people swimming is definitely spreading out around the Northshore. And it should.
We have the healing Atlantic ocean here. We should just all be happy and healthy, right? And not liking the winter season flips the whole belief around. Our long winter then becomes a fantastic experience. My winter was probably the best winter of all winters. Last week while swimming, we spotted a few whales on the horizon. Truly magical.
If you are not sure if you can go into the cold ocean swimming, you can start with cold showers. Go from the warm shower, gradually adding cold and stay under for 1 minute. Your blood will circulate better, and you will feel better afterwards. You can also join us, or the other swimming groups. It is open and free.
The benefits I have been personally feeling are mental, emotional and spiritual. Physically I have been healthy, and I stayed healthy through the winter/spring/Corona season. I feel a strong mental clarity, like never before. I am joyful because I have fun. Believe it or not, the swim is challenging every time. It helps me to exercise my willpower and focus. Daily challenges as a practice are very beneficial to the human spirit. (I still like saunas, and that’s also a great practice. It’s a part of my holistic hygiene.)
Of course, it’s not all about the cold. Just any water itself (especially salt water) is very powerful and charging tool for manifestation. Our bodies are made up to 70% of water. Positive affirmations and visualization transform the water you focus at. Most of you are probably familiar with the Masaru Emoto’s water/feeling experiment. It has been proven that praying and positive emotions over water creates beautiful microscopic crystalic formations (with the negative thoughts it has an opposite effect).
The transformation and prayer are happening spontaneously within us and around us.
The secret to joy:
You already know about my daily cold water swims. My practice of praying and meditating continues at home, whenever I can. Outdoor movement is helpful every time the weather allows, and a healthy diet is an essential part of feeling good. Staying socially active is pretty much number one, if you want to hear this or not; it’s up to you (you can still be social and 6 ft apart, okay). Community is your immunity. Yes, I just said it.
Looking at mental afflictions, recently witnessing fears, letting them transmute and go, a big game!
I can also recommend a detox diet, to get rid of toxins which actually keep the mood low. My current detox is a 10 day of juices and raw food only, free of social media (except posting via Instagram so you still see me there, without me scrolling down), free of news and other unhealthy sources. My sources are videos, podcast and articles which are inspiring for personal growth and well-being. Staying positive as much as I can.
If you want to feel more inspired, watch some Wim Hof videos or get in touch if you have any questions.
Photo credit: Jessica McGovern