Unsorted Thoughts – Afraid of the Dark
For about four months now, I’ve been practicing a sort of pranayama yoga. I say –sort of– because apart from a bit of research on the internet and a few books, I’m practicing on my own ‘sans teacher.’
A few notable results:
- My breathing is now deeper. Fairly certain that actively practicing breathing has helped my body manage oxygen better, or something. I grew up with asthma and overall feel much better since practicing.
- 65-pushups – while holding my breath – without difficulty or muscle strain. I’d previously only been able to do 40-50, with the last 5 feeling incredibly difficult, and needing to take breaks.
- Cold isn’t so cold anymore. This includes cold showers, ice baths, sitting (read: meditating) outside in the snow, going for 2-hour hikes in freezing temperatures with only short sleeves etc. Not sure at all how this works, but it’s an interesting side effect. For me, probably also the most notable, since I like being warm. It’s been interesting going outside in the 30-degree weather and feeling warm when the people I’m with complain about how cold it is with their coats on.
If I were to use an analogy for how I feel about cold now (with cold being temperatures reaching single-digit Fahrenheit), I’d say it’s kind of like the dark; being afraid of the dark, that is.
I think Elon Musk had an entertaining solution to being afraid of the dark. He said that once he realized that dark simply meant ‘the absence of photons,’ he had nothing to be afraid of. You see, there’s usually nothing in this thing we call ‘the dark’ that can harm us. Especially in our own home. Our minds just assume there could be something harmful, generate stress hormones, and we get scared.
With the cold, it’s a bit different. Your body feels cold. It gets chilly, and you begin to shiver. It’s not quite the same as the dark because that cold temperature is there. What I’ve found through this practice of breathing and meditating is that when my mind is focused, and then I’m exposed to cold, my body doesn’t have that jerk reaction to retract. The cold makes contact, but then I’m fine. More than that, I don’t actually feel cold. That might also be just because my body isn’t freaking out despite being submerged in freezing water.
In the past, whenever it would get cold, my mind would freak out, then my body would freak out, people would stare, it gets awkward. And then I’d rush to get warm. I didn’t like being cold, I don’t think anyone really does.
Now my mind is calm, my body doesn’t freak out, and I don’t feel cold. Maybe it’s just a case of my mind not overreacting and just lessening the reaction. I’m not 100% certain, but the results I’ve seen thus far seem to point to the mind having some influence over the body’s reactive response, and also affecting what the body is truly capable of.
The next experiment for me is to see how I do outside in the snow. I made a short video of me meditating outside in a bit of snow in Ohio, but let’s be real- it’s spring in February here. That snow lasted a whopping 4 hours tops. Instead, I’ll try hiking up to the top of a few mountains in the Smokey Mountain Range. A warm front is supposed to be passing through the area, so I might just be making an excuse to go hiking for awesome views.
As far as a solid reason for why I’m still doing this…I want to say it’s for the health benefits (though there are other factors contributing to that). I haven’t gotten sick this year despite everyone around me having had the flu for at least a week at one point or another. I enjoy being able to breathe fully for what may be the first time in my life, and who doesn’t want to be able to do more pushups (+1 for gains)? In all seriousnes, this blog is called The Powerful Mind. I’d been very interested in things that could be accomplished with the human body, if we release the limitations imposed by our brains. Now is a better time than never to start exploring right?