Me. On my 35th birthday. After my first 10-minute cold shower. 5 weeks in.
Aside from the fairly typical description above, one of the primary sensations that has come up for me during breath retention in the first 5 weeks is a nervous or hot feeling at the front wall of my pelvic floor. I have my curiosities as to whether this may be related to the surgical intervention that left a tight c-section style scar on my abdomen. I consider also that my body may have shut off feeling in some parts of this region to accommodate swelling, inflammation, and tissue trauma. Perhaps this is the return. The sensations come at the bottom of my breath retention when I near the end of my natural capacity to hold, and when my mind is training my body to be calm and survive on the oxygen it has in its bloodstream. It’s bizarre, fascinating, and continually changing. I also notice unevenness in the movement of my torso as I inhale. Whether it’s due to old rib injuries or some combination of physical and psychological misalignment that has patterned me, I recognize this as something I can work with through conscious intention and by engaging other aspects of my physical training. There is a general disconnect mid-body between the bottom of my rib cage and my lower belly and abs, which are far more supple. I bring focus to upper back mobility in extension as well as more core/pelvic floor integration. I add sprint sets to my workouts to round out my practice and keep my cardiovascular system challenged.
Cold showers have felt largely amazing, although I have had to slow the process of the online program because my body needs more time to adapt. On my second 10-minute cold shower, I was hit with exhaustion, phlegm, respiratory restriction, and a generally cranky pants attitude the day after. I had a moment like this somewhere in the 2nd week as well, and I will call these “integration days”... where my body says, “hey girl, you sit with what you’ve got before moving forward”. I recognize a similar, yet different kind of limit I’ve experienced in levels of athletic training. I chill. I repeat the previous step. I continue when my energy is on an upswing. I have now taken my 3rd 10-minute cold shower. Music helps.
Integration days have peaked my interest enough that I downloaded an app to monitor my HRV (heart rate variability). HRV provides information about the body’s ability to toggle between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems by measuring differences in beats when you first wake up. There’s a more in depth post about WHM and HRV here if you want to read it. Suffice to say that I have many reasons to think that tracking my own might help me better understand recovery needs and care for my immune system as I progress through the method. I will write a follow-up once I’ve completed the coursework and share any observations I have then.
As a general overview, I am already optimistic about the results of the program. In the weeks since I started daily practice, I have watched myself gain energy regularly. I’ve had a huge decrease in anxiety and belly symptoms. On occasion I have tears, trembling, or grief processing following cold exposure, but this is how stored trauma leaves the body. The frozen tiger must be woke in order for it to leave. In general, I have a feeling as if my body is creating a natural shield. Stress stays outside it, or perhaps just on the surface, allowing me to deal with it objectively in the material world.
Footage of a polar bear's trembling response to discharge trauma.
Down to find out.
a.k.a. Lion or Fox