« Kevin Ngo

Taking Cold Showers and the Zen State

10 Mar 2012

Over the past month, I have developed a new nightly ritual. Around every midnight a couple hours before I sleep, I would take an ice cold shower, brush my teeth, and program to music on my bed in the dark. The coolness of the shower that becomes like an aura on my skin, the freshness of my breath, the calming music, the moonlit sky, possibly the sound of raindrops beating like miniature drums, the inviting warmth of my bed, maybe along with some sleeping pills places me in the ultimate Zen mode for programming.

Cold showers sound painful, and for the first few seconds they are. Back when I was a mere mortal taking regular mind-numbing hot showers, I wouldn’t have thought of taking even a lukewarm shower, let alone a chilling one. But back a month ago when the water heater went out at my apartment, I didn’t really have much of a choice. I grew some balls (which would soon reshrink) and stepped into Hitler’s shower.

It was cold.

Upon entering the shower, I went into “cold shock”. I hyperventilated, shivered uncontrollably, and danced around attempting to produce some heat.

I lasted as long as I could on the first time, about a minute (intended). But the feeling after finishing was like a rebirth (intended). I had grown a field of goosebumps, and a relaxing feel of coolness steamed off of me for the next hour. More importantly, I felt like a badass. I went to try again the next day, although it was not like I had any choice.

The second time, I stayed in the shower longer. After a while, my body started to produce it’s own heat, and the water grew more and more comfortable. I exerted the same coolness afterwards, as if an icy aura was finding its way through my skin.

I continued this habit, calling it “the first battle of the day”. Every time before I enter the icebox, I still become a bit anxious, as if I am standing in line for the park’s headlining rollercoaster (or more relevantly, the Titanic). The duration of the “cold shock” becomes less and less each day. And if you Google the health benefits of cold showers, you’d find just about every health and Yoga benefit in the book (immunity, alertness, detoxification, relaxation, stress reduction, increased blood circulation, increased metabolism, etc).

It may sound painful, and it will be for a bit. But I had been taking hot showers my entire life, and only by coincidence, an event of sheer Fate did I discover the Zen state offered by cold showers. Though you don’t have to wait around for your water heater to bust, turn the knob all the way to the other side and give cold showers a try.