Cold… that feeling we get when in freezing environments that make us shiver. It’s incredibly uncomfortable and we will always prefer sitting in front of a cozy fireplace with our feet in the warm rather than exposing ourself to cold thermogenesis.
As crazy as it might sound cold is actually our friend. There are numerous health benefits we get from lowering our core temperature. Such as a stronger immune system, decreased inflammation, more brown fat, better thermoregulation within the body and becoming an overall self-empowered badass able to endure freezing weather.
In our contemporary society we can always wear more clothes, turn up the central heating or cover ourselves with blankets. Even some people in the north don’t get to experience this sensation of being frozen anymore, not to mention those who live in less harsh climates. It seems we’ve managed to circumvent the issue which had troubled us in the past.
But lets, for a moment, take a step back and look at what we’ve actually accomplished. What we’ve done is create an environment where we don’t have to rely on creating our own heat. Our core temperature is maintained only by external assistance such as the fireplace, clothes and so on. The internal thermostat, which is inside all of us, has been completely neglected. Seemingly there is nothing wrong with that. Who needs that when we can simply turn up central heating. Problem solved. It works, but only until we arrive at a situation in which we’re not surrounded by our technology and garments. Then we’re faced with the fact that we’re still mortal beings and lesser than nature. To prevent that from happening we need to train cold thermogenesis.
However, the sensation of cold isn’t something that’s actually dreadful. It’s just that most people have become too soft and foreign with their bodies. When in a cold scenario we all have the ability to use our inner fire and create heat. This isn’t a superhuman ability but the result of proper conditioning and training. Like any other skill it can be learned and improved upon.
There are two parts to resisting cold. The first is physical, the pure fact of getting used to it. When we’re habitually conditioned in a way that promotes lower temperatures then it will gradually have lesser of an effect on us. This can be accomplished through exposing ourselves to the weather to which I will give examples. Additionally, by learning how to light up a furnace inside of us which would give us warmth.
The other part is mental which derives from our perception of the experience. This is also the result of changing our mindset. By default cold is uncomfortable and associated with pain. It forces us to spend more energy which the brain is trying to preserve. An evolutionary response which, unfortunately, is working against us most of the time. When we’re shivering we’ll inevitably try to run away from the situation by any means necessary. Whether going inside or putting on more clothes. But, in essence, what it means is that we’re trying to escape the present moment aswell. Cold is one of the best ways to become more mindful of our surroundings but also to get in touch with our self. In it we can experience our thoughts, emotions and feel our internal currents of energy. It’s about becoming more conscious as a human being and not falling victim to external forces but becoming independent of them. Training cold thermogenesis is just another strategy we can use to accomplish just that.
At first it will definitely not be enjoyable. Our muscles will tense up, we’ll start to shiver, our thoughts will scream: „Let’s get the hell out of here!“ This is only our habitual response. Instead of following our reaction we should actually experience the cold for what it truly is. Feel the hair of our skin stand up, how the wind cuts through our bones, what breathing in does to our nose etc. By yielding to the situation and becoming the observer we can notice ourselves in the midst of it and take control of our urges. It’s actually an enlightening experience and conditions our willpower in any other area of our life.
Moreover, after going through the process we’ll feel extremely empowered. Not only did we manage to resist the temptation of finding warmth but also taught our body how to use its own mechanisms to create heat. It happens unconsciously but by bringing our attention to it we’ll actually be able to increase our core temperature willingly. It might seem impossible but it’s not.
Through concentrated breathing we can take control of our autonomic nervous system and light up a furnace inside of us. Tibetan monks and Yogis call it Tummo meditation which helps us to gain control over the body’s processes. The trainees would spend cold nights up in the mountains and survive by regulating their inner thermostat. This is done by controlling the respiratory process with various patterns and occasionally stopping it completely. The heart rate slows down and the venous blood returns less impurities into the stream. What accompanies it is creative visualization from the inside out. It’s as if the practitioner becomes the breath itself travelling through the body by envisioning it as a source of light capable of creating heat. To get to such high levels where there is an actual effect requires a lot of training. This is just a meagre explanation of what actually happens as there are definitely a lot of secrets to be found and known to only the most avid of trainees.
How this is achieved isn’t as important as the sheer fact that we’re able to create inner fire by focusing on our breathing. This can be accomplished by anyone and is the result of a lot of conditioning and proper training of cold thermogenesis. By changing our perception through mindful breathing we can alter our experience. It lays the foundation to being able to resist cold and actually make it seem warmer. The secret lies in our decision on how we choose to react.
Once we’ve taken control of our breath we can do so with the urge to escape the situation. It’s the result of becoming conscious in the present moment. The most important thing is to remain calm both body and mind. Rather than tensing up like we normally would we need to let loose and yield to the cold. By cramping up we create a habitual pattern of reaction which will always make the experience uncomfortable. If, however, we begin to interpret it as something enjoyable then the necessary change in mindset will happen.
After the initial response has been overcome we’ll begin to feel quite good, in fact empowered. It’s still cold but it has less of an effect on us. At this point we’ve exitted our comfort and entered the growth zone. We begin to feel good and want to stay there for longer. The first and biggest obstacle has been overcome as we now have the possibility to explore the experience. Take a look at how you actually feel in the situation. Come to terms that it’s not that bad and nothing to fear. The more you spend in this uncharted territory the more you’ll condition yourself and thus grow.
Here is a picture of me doing a headstand while practicing cold thermogenesis. This image alone would grant me access to the ranks of the Tibetan monks to learn Tummo meditation.
While we’re having fun our body is working to produce its own heat. It’s a reminder of how important it is to maintain these pathways. Shivering is the natural by-product of that. However, we want to arrive at a level when we don’t have to be contracting our muscles anymore. When this happens we’ve completely bulletproofed ourselves against the weather. More importantly, tensing up like that causes a stress response which will have a negative impact on our health. I will share how to prevent that from happening in the coming bullet points.
Doing this once will not be of much use. In order for the positive effects to stick we need to be doing it habitually. This becomes less of an issue as the experience turns into something that we enjoy. Rather than seeing it as a chore it becomes fun. Going through the process of facing the fear, overcoming the obstacle and thus thriving is extremely empowering and almost becomes addictive, that of the good kind.
Having practiced this for some time now I’ve come up with a lot of ways on how to expose myself to the cold and train my nervous system. Here is a list of my favourite exercises and ways to bring in more freezing excitement into our everyday lives.
Exercises for cold thermogenesis.
- Cold showers. – The easiest and quickest way to drop our core temperature, train discipline and improve our health. Doing it first thing in the morning will give us more energy and start the day off right. The glacial rainfall shocks the system and is always uncomfortable but it conditions us in a positive way. I’ve been having one for several months and have never fel better. It gives more energy and wakes us up a lot better than any cup of coffee ever could. This is the natural place to start with cold thermogenesis.
- Ice baths. – The next step is to immerse ourselves into a pool of freezing water. It’s a bit different than a shower as it covers our entire body all at once. There’s no way to ease into it other than simply plunging in. Sitting inside it for a longer period of time will also be a lot more effective. It would be convenient to have some sort of a lake or river close by but it isn’t necessary. Making it an excuse to not get wet is just another way to procrastinate and avoid the experience. We need to let our creativity flourish. Here are a few pictures of me having an ice bath inside an ordinary box. They display the empowering effect of cold thermogenesis.
- Wear less clothes. – A bit easier variation would be to simply wear less clothes when outside. During winter I would occasionally go for a walk while wearing nothing but my pants. Being shirtless is a lot more comfortable in the summer but not so much when there’s snow everywhere. It’s cold and enjoyable at the same time.
- Swim in the snow. – Cold thermogenesis during the winter is very easy. We should take this time as an opportunity to be practicing this skill more often than at other seasons. It would be a shame not to take advantage of this open refrigerator outside. Swimming can be done in places other than actual pools or lakes. Heaps of snow can be used for the same activity. It’s more fun than simply enduring cold aswell.
- Temperature alteration between hot and cold. – Heat also has beneficial effects on us. It’s the brother of cold thermogenesis. Both ends of the spectrum – hot and cold – condition us in a positive way. They both cause non-exercise fatigue which taxes the system while, at the same time, empowering it. Swetting detoxifies our body, rejuvenates the mind and stimulates our inner thermostat in the opposite direction – towards cooling. By combining the two we’re taking it to the next level. Rapid change in temperature is very good for blood circulation and trains heat regulation. After some time in the sauna we can go outside, jump into the water or swim in the snow. Then, after returning inside we will experience accelerated blood flow and a sensation of calmness. This doesn’t even require a sauna, as it can be done in the shower aswell. Simply alter between hot and cold water according to your own liking.
- Cold meditation and Tummo breathing. – This is probably the most effective strategy we can use. It accomplishes so much things all at the same time. Most importantly, this is the exercise we can use to train our inner fire abilities or Tummo within. When we’re sitting in a cold environment while still trying to concentrate on our breath we become utterly present. The hair standing up on our skin adds to the benefit of becoming more focused. After entering an altered state of consciousness through excessive breathing we can begin to notice the currents of energy that flow within us. To light up the bonfire we need to bring our attention away from the cold and seek the warmth inside our system. The respiratory process indicates towards just that. By inhaling we expand our belly creating enough space for it to happen. While exhaling as deeply as possible we need to be focusing on the energy it provides.
Cold thermogenesis is an excellent way to display our self-mastery. As self-empowered beings we ought to be able to not only regulate our inner thermostat but to also not be affected by the stimulus such external forces have on us. It makes us more mindful and experience the present moment for what it is. The cold weather becomes the freezing reality we have to accept but can change by altering our perception. This feat is achievable by only the ones with the most control over their inner currents of energy. In return, it enables to create one’s own reality.
If you’re interested in more ways how to become a self-empowered being and what are the principles of it then make sure to follow this blog. Additionally, my book teaches just that. Here’s the link to where you can find it.