Hey guys and girls,
After reading Wim Hoff's book, (Wim Hoff is the guy known as the ICEMAN who climbs ice clad mountains in his bathing suit). I was curious to to start playing with cold water immersion myself. At first, I found that climbing into cold water was totally horrible. So I began using the Vipassana method of consciously, scanning my body, very slowly, with my eyes closed. While remaining totally equanimous, (zero judgement even over pain or pleasure).
It is claimed that we can reduce our resting heart rate by 20 bpm,(beats per minute) by using regular cold water immersion. This is attributed in part to strengthening the smooth muscle fibres that surround our arteries. By causing them to contract and dilate to move blood from the surface, to the vital organs and back again. It is assumed that stronger muscles in the arterial walls aid the heart with circulating the blood.
I liked the sound of having stronger arteries and a lower resting heart rate, so I have been visiting local sauna's that have cold water plunge pools. I spend about 6-8 minutes in the cold water, then to warm back up, I go into the sauna, hot pool or steam room, where I do developmental stretches. I usually repeat the cycle 3-5 times finishing on the cold water, which keeps me pleasantly cool for hours afterwards. Perfect for Thailand.
What I have noticed is that my resting heart rate reaches its lowest values in the cold water, even lower than deep sleep. I measure this using an Apple Watch. What surprised me was how much my emotional state effects my resting heart rate.
If I have been debating something with someone or trying to solve something in my mind, this affects my ability to achieve a state of deep acceptance or peace. I can see this reflected in my heart rate.
How recently I have eaten also seems to influence how low I can get my resting heart rate, on an empty stomach, I find I can go lower faster.
When I am very anxious about something, my heart rate only goes down to the low 80's. ( like when I was actively trading crypto).
Around a month ago, after a few sessions of meditation in cold water, I had been able to touch 48 bpm, and could stay around 50bpm easily.
Then about 2 weeks ago, I cut my foot and it became infected, so I tried to keep it dry. I stopped using my chill out therapy or doing any other meditation.
This last fortnight, I began allowing myself to become annoyed by other peoples behaviour and to let my own opinions dominate conversations again. This has the usual bad outcomes, particularly at home.
This week I have returned to my meditation and stretch routine, I have been to the sauna three times so far and I have seen my resting heart rate begin to come back down from the high 70's, mid 60's and today back into the high 50's.
I will probably not have time to go again until next week, but I hope to bring my heart rate back down below 50 again and begin making progress from there. My biggest lesson in all this is the cost that inflexible opinions have on, not only my peace of mind, but on how hard my body has to work. Even while it is not doing anything overtly stressful.
This observation has once again led me to realise that much of pain is actually dread and resistance to a sensation that is quite bearable once fully accepted. Even a really strong sensation can remain, just that, so long as I do not apply any meaning or preference to it.
I use this "mindset" when taking my stretching to deeper levels also, though I am still listening carefully to my body for where the days real physical limits are. I do not wish to strain ligaments and tendons by being good at ignoring real pain signals.
For sure the less ideas I have about how things ought to be, the less I find myself in conflict or trying to otherwise change how the world actually is right here and now.
This leaves me wondering though, am I to do nothing, have no motivations, no dreams and no calls to action, or am I to stay more present to my actions and enjoy what arises with a looser a grip on my own desired outcomes?
For sure it is fun to be surprised and the more I do lighten up and enjoy people with different views, the more often life surprises to the upside. Often in ways much better than I might have imagined or strove for.
Anyway, no need to dwell on it, just a passing observation on the way back to sub 50bpm :)