My variation on Dousing. The main idea is to slow down the action in order to better perceive and learn.
This method of dousing is somehow easy and natural for me. Fear and tension become easier to analyse and adapt to. Relaxation in both posture and breathing becomes simple.
TODO (2004-11-08) - This should be revisited from the perspective of a pure-cold shower from beginning to end. Too bad I didn't really take any notes when I was doing that. Bleh.
Beginning slow dousing ∞
I performed this slow dousing in place of a regular daily shower.
I began with a comfortable lukewarm shower and as I progressed through the shower, I turned the temperature down, envisioning that I was too warm.
As a variation, I would step away from the stream of water and stand in the open air for a while.. while soaping up or what have you.
When the water was warm, I found myself clinging to it, and so stepping away from the water was an interesting test for dealing with the cold.
When the water was cold, stepping away and then back in was an interesting test of fear. Being in the stream of water became better than hopping out and then back in.
Approaching 2/3rds the way to completely cold water, my body had an almost uncomfortable fever. I figure this is for two reasons.. one is that the shock of the cold created a fever response in my body, and two is that I would envision that I was uncomfortably warm and would lower the water temperature. This envisioning is a part of temperature biofeedback.
At this point I could leave the water at a nice cool temperature and enjoy it for a good while, or choose to persue a more difficult path.
Continuing slow dousing ∞
I've done this with the window open, and have had great success with moving back into the cold water to escape the frigid winter air.
Just as I'm rinsing my hair at the end of my shower, I could turn the water to a "cold" temperature. I try to keep the water as cold as possible without making myself too uncomfortable. The idea is to be able to have the stream of water directed in the region of my face, neck and upper chest without withdrawing immediately. I could stand the water until I was uncomfortable, then calmly withdraw.
It was at this point that I took the opportunity to get used to the shock of cold. I could splash myself or walk back into that stream of water without becoming tense. I would know the water would be cold since I've felt that it's cold. The lure towards tension is strong at this point. Changes in breathing are automatic, but one can relax nonetheless. Noticing that posture and breathing relaxation allow one to shrug off the shock and cold, one is gently reinforcing a calmness. Furthermore, relaxation is a key element in physically becoming warmer and not just psychologically working through the cold.
I could let the water run down my body, and could hold my hand across my body at various points, noticing how much warmer the water feels in my hand than at the point of contact or points where the water runs down me. The water is actually noticeably warm.
After dousing, I would run my hands over myself to flick the excess water off. I could notice there was a temperature difference between my body and the thin layer of water being removed.
Once I was done, I would lounge around for a little while before towelling off. I would often towel myself off to dampness then let my body heat dry the rest of me off.
Awareness in Slow-Dousing ∞
Notice your stance, posture and inner-tension. Do not hunch your shoulders forward or your elbows in. Stand tall and with your chin and head relaxed, mobile and confident. Do not wince or flinch. Make all motions, even motions to escape the cold, relaxed and fluid.
Notice your breathing. Do not allow your breathing to be altered at any point. There should be no sharpness of breath and no restriction of your airways. Relax your body and allow your breathing to become normal. Breathe through your entire chest, not to or through any particular point. Notice the difference in breathing when you do or do not tense your chest. Don't tense your abdomen or chest and notice how you feel about the water. You may either put your mind elsewhere to shirk the responsibilities of feeling cold, or focus on easing the tension of certain muscle groups.
Notice the difference between the temperature as you are splashed by the water, versus the temperature as it runs down you. Feel how hot the water is as it runs off of you. Think in terms of being fevered and both wanting and needing to cool yourself off.
Slow-Dousing and Posture ∞
I find that being able to stand up straight greatly aids my breathing and relaxation, especially in a colder environment. When showering, one has to be constantly aware of the tension which is created when one leans this way or that.
Those of us who are taller than the level of our shower head may want to invest in one which has elbows so it can be raised high enough that we don't have to slouch to get under it.
Benefits of Slow-Dousing ∞
Slow dousing cultivates a greater understanding of ones self. Posture and breathing become more natural and relaxed, and a calmness in the face of irritation is developed. Ability in an aspect of temperature biofeedback is also an interesting benefit. Surprise affects breathing less fiercely.
There is a much more significant initial "shock" in dousing versus slow-dousing. Even cranking one's shower up and diving into a cold stream has differences in receptivity.
Others have spoken on a kind of pooling of energy when water is let to sit in a bucket. This idea has inspired some random musings. There seems to me to be a psychological change in one's perception of an object if said object is "prepared" before its use. (see also Animism) Filling a bucket full of water and dousing with it seems to me to be an investment -- a depositing -- of energy and then later a consumption of that energy. There is something almost parasitic about this consumption which unsettles me.
Why I no longer slow douse ∞
I would end up progressing into having a completely cold shower from beginning to end. I'm not sure at what point I was able to do this, but it became normal and not in the least bit uncomfortable.
What began to unsettle me is the thought that the fever which I had previously experienced would become less frequent or intense.
I worried that just as slow sparring is meant to relieve a person from fear and stress, as unlikely as it may be it is still conceivable that slow dousing could undermine the potential benefit which dousing has. The "shock" of dousing may be undermined.
I went back to taking a warm shower.. little by little at first, I would rinse off with a warm shower and I began to take warm showers from beginning to end.
I've found a fair balance for me I think. I begin with a cold shower because I've noticed that I feel much more uncomfortable starting with a warm shower. It sounds weird, but showering warm really makes you notice the temperature difference between the water and the air.
I, however, make sure I rinse off with warm water. It may seem weird, but I've learned to really appreciate the luxury of the warm water. That and I've noticed how much cleaner the rinse is. =)
As I understand, others insist on at least having a cold rinse, but for me I've found the effects of ending with a warm shower doesn't detract from the fever which I still usually get from the initial cold.. and I still get it.. I went back to straight cold and I still react nicely most of the time, so I'm not worried.