Blog : My Journey

Cold Showers  – Brain Training

Cold Showers – Brain Training

Over the past several years I have been reading more about about the benefits of cold water therapy or cryotherapy. It has been used for decades with athletes to reduce swelling and treat sore and inflamed muscle tissue. While definitely not a favorite amongst most athletes, the beneficial results obtained from cold plunges are proven – making the therapy standard practice at all collegiate and pro levels and even some high schools.

Kohler Moxie Shower HeadThis is my favorite shower head for cold showers – The Kohler Moxie.
Click the link below to learn more:
KOHLER K-9245-CP 2.5 GPM Moxie Showerhead and Wireless Speaker, Polished Chrome

Tony Robbins, one of (if not the best) motivational speakers/coaches in the world makes cold plunges and now cryotherapy a regular part of his normal routine. Whole Body Cryotherapy is a hyper-cooling process that lowers a person’s skin temperature to approximately 30˚ F for a period of up to three minutes. This is achieved by enveloping the body with extremely cold air at temperatures ranging from -133˚ F to -320˚ F.

There are several benefits to cryotherapy or cold plunges including pain management, reduced swelling in joints and muscles and quicker recovery times for athletes. All of these are scientifically proven. However, you are probably wondering what this has to do with porn addiction?

Perhaps more than you imagine. Mark Queppet’s post on cold showers and the difference they can make on a porn reboot really got me motivated to implement this in my life.  You can read Mark’s post HERE.

Porn addiction is a battle for the mind. You must decide you are not going to watch porn any more and you must stick with it. This is easier said than done for any addict. You might be able to hold out for a few days with no temptations or cravings, but then the urges come at you fast and furious. You go through withdrawals just like a recovering alcoholic or drug addict. Your body craves the dopamine and the pleasure your reward system has become accustomed to. You just have to watch porn! Or that is what your brain tells you.

The battle over porn addiction is won in the mind!

So what can we do to train our mind to be resiliant and to corral our urges when they come at us? We must train it and begin to reshape our mindset. One way to do this is through cold water therapy or cold showers.

There is no disputing it, cold showers are a brutal experience in the initial moments of the first time. Most of this is just mental though. The thought of taking a freezing cold shower makes us shake or cringe at just the thought of it. Then when we turn on the cold water we reluctantly place our foot or hand in the water stream to test the temperature. Guess what, “It’s freezing!!!”

When you first start taking cold showers it takes every bit of will power you can muster to get under the freezing cold water and even then it is for brief moments. It takes everyhing you have to get under the water stream and stay there!

Goose bumps appear everywhere, your whole body tenses up, your breathing escalates and you want to scream like a little school girl (or boy). Everything in you says this is not good for you.

When you are addicted to something – porn, drugs, alcohol – you feel much the same way when you try to leave the addiction behind. Your body has become conditioned that it is good to have porn. Your mind and body crave the visual stimuli and the chemical “high” you get from it. When you go cold turkey, your mind tells you that you are making a mistake and that you should go back and watch some porn. The desire to watch porn for the addict can be just as strong as the desire to get out of the cold water!

When you force your body to endure challenges like cold showers, it trains your mind. You gain confidence that you can overcome these obstacles and your mind begins to accept the new normal. As cold showers become a standard part of your routine they begin to feel less cold each time. Just like when you first get into a cold shower it is freezing,but if you stay in it begins to feel normal after a while.

Cold water showers train your mind that you can do things you did not think possible. It is truly a mind over matter experience. If you can condition your mind to endure cold water you can teach it to resist the urges of porn.

Cold water swims are an integral part of SEAL training – especially hell week. The main reason for this is the mental conditioning that takes places. If you can endure extremely uncomfortable situations you will be that much more prepared mentally for the next challenge – in this case the desire to watch porn.

Conditioning your mind is hard work. We want to stay in our comfort zone and stick with what we know. Our mind tells us change and being uncomfortable is bad so we keep doing what we always have done or what our natural response is. Unfortunately this is not what is always best for us.

At the fire station we do tons of drills with SCBA. Most of it is training to be comfortable with the gear and doing work in zero visibility. However, there is tons of training where you drain your tank to low levels so you don’t freak out when the mask starts to shake and vibrate. They also make you run out of air so you know what it feels like when the last red light blinks, you inhale your last breath and the mask slams tight against your face.

Even in training, not being able to get more air is a very scary event and your first instinct is to rip off your mask and take a deep breathe. The problem is if it were a real life situation and you took your mask off you would be dead. Breathing in super heated smoke full of toxic chemicals can fry your lungs and kill you instantly. The training teaches you to relax, you know what to expect, you have practiced and you are prepared for real-life situations. The goal is that should this happen in real life you will remain calm enough to dive out a window or buddy breathe before instinctively rip your mask off.

The conditioning prepares you for the worst case scenario. Mentally you have been there and you know what to do.

Cold water showers are a great form of mental conditioning. You can train your mind to overcome the signals it is sending to the opposite of which you desire. This conditioning can help your mind overcome the urge to watch porn. If you can train your mind to resist the urge to flee cold water you can train your mind to resist the urge to watch porn.

I encourage you to try cold shower therapy. If you are consistent you will begin to shape a mindset that will allow you to resist urges when they come. If it works for SEALs, why can’t it work for you?

I do cold showers and afterwards I feel great. I find that I think clearer, feel fitter and I always have a boost in confidence when I step out. “Heck yeah, I did it!” And when ever a challenge or urge comes my way I know that if my mind can endure freezing water it can overcome the temptation!!

I encourage you to give it a try!

Here are a few tips:
-Try not to think about it. The thoughts of coldness leading up to the shower are worse than the shower itself.
-Focus on your breathing. At the fire station we focus on skip breathing which is slow deep breathes – skipping every other breathe. During a cold shower I try to focus on steady medium paced breathes through the nose at a consistent pace.
-Stay relaxed. When you tense up the water tends to be twice as cold. This is of course a trick your mind plays on you.
-Watch your hands. If they are in a fist you are to tense.
-Get under the stream immediately. Putting a foot or hand in to test the water just gives you more time to chicken out. Plus you already know it is going to be cold so get under the water and focus on your breathing and staying relaxed.
-Think warm thoughts. This never really helped me as much as just focusing on my breathing, but you are what you think, so if you think you are cold, guess what? You will be! Think hot!
-Set the water to the coldest setting. This is an exercise in teaching your mind that it can resist the urge to cave in. If you do not set the temp to the coldest setting, even if you do endure the shower, you may subconsciously tell yourself you only did it because the water really was not cold. Don’t leave any opportunities for doubt. Set the water to the coldest setting and prove to your mind that you are in control!
-Start today. Again don’t think about it or you will just come up with an excuse – the worst one being, “I will start tomorrow.” Never put off for tomorrow what can be done today. Take the first step to controlling your mindset right now!!!

This is definitely going to be a podcast episode.

Warning:
Please consult your doctor if you have any doubts. Especially if you have any medical conditions. Also make sure your shower is not slippery. When that cold water first hits you if you have never done this it can and will make you tense up which could make you slip. Trust me no firemen want to come rescue a naked guy that slipped in the shower – only if they absolutely have to. So please do not do this exercise if you have any medical doubts or concerns with out consulting a doctor first.

Celebrate Victory

“Lord, thank you so much for letting me go one more day without stumbling. Thank you for even giving me the strength to coral my thoughts and push out anything that might lead me down the wrong path.

Lord I pray for my wife too as she is on just as tough a journey as I am. I pray that you will give me the courage to be honest and open with her about my progress.

Thank you for your guidance and for the strength to persevere.”

So what made today go well; allowing me to maintain my sexual purity? Here is what helped me today.

1) first thing in the morning I focused on my beautiful wife. This made her and I feel great and it kept my mind on her all day.

2) I grabbed my bible first thing in the morning and read scriptures about being willing to turn my struggles over to God’s power. To put aside my pride and not only say I cannot conquer this on my own but, ….

3) act on it. I prayed earnestly to God that he would help me keep my thoughts at pay and control my temptations. That he would be there when I needed his strength.

4) I sat in silence for 5 minutes focusing on my breathing visualizing what the day would look like with no stumbles.

5) as triggers came up I looked away or ask God to change my thoughts.

There is no question about it, we are surrounded by sexual temptations from provocative billboards to seductively dressed moms at the donut store. We cannot control our external surroundings (well we can to a degree), but we can control how we can respond to them.

We can choose to not gaze at the billboard or take a second look at the female jogger. Even though society tells us we should look, envy, and drool; we can choose to turn the other way. We cannot change society; however, if we each focus on changing us, collectively we can make an impact.

Think about it, if no guys looked at the billboard, would they advertise there? If we did not gawk at the scantily clad women, would they still wear that outfit? Probably not, society says sex sells….. in business and in relationships. I know I bought into this notion in the past!?!?

We must focus on ourselves though. We must strive to rise above the “norms” of our society. Only then can we begin to collectively make a difference.

“Lord give us the strength to win this battle. With You all things are possible. We ask that You humbly remind us that we are not living for ourselves, but that we are living for your glory so that others might see your good works through us.

Lord help our candle to burn brightly as sexually pure men that are above reproach. “

Willpower

If you are like me, sometimes it seems like the battle is futile. No matter how hard you fight to be pure the thoughts come flying out of left feild to blindside you. Nowhere you go is safe from sexual temptations. There are bill boards, ads, TV commercials, magazines at checkout stands, radio ads, and scantily clad women on every corner. America has truly bought into the notion that sex sells and not only that it sells, but that it is good and we should all engage in sexual promiscuity because it is good to get what you want!

How do we defeat lust?  How do we defeat an enemy that is everywhere? Even my wife commented the other night that, “You guys do not have a chance!”

I think this statement is the very problem. Yes, sexual tempting situations are indeed found everywhere, but this does not mean that we should just give in and adhere to the old adage, “If you cannot beat them join them.” I think this is what I did for the longest time. I took the stance of so many others – everyone is doing it, so it cannot be bad.  It it were bad, surely not everyone would be partaking?!?

I relied on my own willpower to succeed and rarely did I. My mind would start racing and I would fall into the trap letting my mind go down the rabbit hole filled with lust and sexual temptations. I would fail and beat myself up since I clearly did not have the willpower to succeed once again.

Howver, I was reading some bible versus and I think that trying to rely on my willpower is the exact problem that I need to change. We need to change the definition of willpower that we have all come to know.

Instead I propose we champion this definition: “Willpower is the willingness to accept God’s power.”

Nothing is to big for our God, but we have to be willing to turn our struggles over to him. This seems easy but it is in all actuallity extremely difficult due to pride and our desire to control everything. First off, sexual purity is a very private part of our life; secondly, truly turning over our struggles to God mean relenquishing all control. I know that we do not have absolute control of my life, but in America we are so conditioned to “take control” and be responsible for our own destiny. Our pride and desire to contol every aspect of our lives makes it soooo hard to truly let go of our sturggles and turn them over to another party – even God.

However, “there is no room for God if we are full of ourselves.” Such as simple concept, but yet so hard to apply in real life!!!

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
Psalm 143:9-10

Lord help me to surrender to my unpure thoughts and ways. I have relied on my own willpower for far too long. I pray that you wil work in my mind and heart to search and eradicate any and all unpure thoughts. Help me to turn over all aspects of my life to you so that you might mold me and shape me into the man of God you want me to be. While I might be happy currently to slightly miss the mark, work to show me just how much greater it is to hit the mark you have in store for me and help me to seek 100% your will for my life!

God I need you. I need you to guide my thoughts, I need you to curtail my desires, I need you to keep satan’s temptations at bay. I need you to coral bad thoughts and keep them at bay. I need you to strengthen my walk with you. I need you in every facet of my life, I need you to show me areas of my life that I am keeping locked up deep down that need to be turned over to you.  I need you to help me let go and give my life fully back to you so that you might be able to fullfill fully the plans you have in store for me.

I am committed to seeking and following Your will.  I need your help and encouragement each step of the way! I want my life to glorify you!