This Christmas holiday I got to try something I had been dreaming of for a long time: To have a dip in the Oslo Fjord in the middle of winter. I am so happy it happened! This was something new and out of comfort zone. The air was minus nine degrees Celcius, there was snow on the ground and ice on the fjord. As I took the last few steps barefoot on the snow before climbing down the ladder into the water, I was more worried about how my feet were going to feel coming out than the cold itself. It all worked out super well and it was the best experience. I wish I had stayed longer! It was my (protective) mind that was telling me it was cold and enough and that I had to get out.
We tend to hear of a certain cold temperature in the air or water and we “panic”. Instead of being curious and noticing how something cold feels we think we know in advance?
Before this holiday in Norway I have been going into the sea in the South of France every day since mid-November. It is not the same challenge but I have to admit I have felt pretty brave about it. The sea is at fifteen degrees at the moment and that is cold in my book. Pre holiday I was only doing mini swims. After my Norwegian ice bath I knew I could do more, I would be fine! My perception of the cold had changed because I had experienced something new. How lucky. As I started swimming for longer in the Mediterranean Sea (hey, we are only talking a couple of minutes…) I had another new experience: After that the initial feeling of cold had settled in my body I could feel heat being generated just underneath my skin. The water stopped feeling cold. It was so existing, I could not believe it. I felt thankful to myself for having dared go a bit further.
Sometimes it is very helpful to lean into discomfort if we want to experience something new. Can an experience like this help with other situations? Yes, definitely. If we bring this back to for example yoga, meditation, or a stressful situation in life, of course we can stay longer in a posture, of course we can sit longer in meditation than what we normally do, of course we can take a few more deep breaths. What will happen? Maybe something good? We won’t know before we try.
I wish you a great start to the New Year. Take care everyone! Annette X