Time to say goodbye!

Funny how a pair of old boots can steal a place in your heart. I bought these boots all the way back in 2003 whilst at University, it’s strange to think they are older than my nephews who are starting senior school this year, it’s strange to think of just how many places I had never visited before I put those boots on my feet and started walking, it is also strange to think just how many pairs of boots, trainers and other types of foot ware they have out lived and yet now it is time for them to rest.

To put it into perspective these boots are 14 years old, they have almost touched soil in every continent, they have been a reliable companion on many a journey and never complained about the distance or the terrain they simply kept going. They have scaled mountains both in dry conditions and the snow, they have walked through rain forests and desserts, they have walked back and forth tirelessly almost everyday for 14 years. There’s that saying, ‘if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it’, well they’ve come to the end of their journey, the outside of the boot started to wear many years ago and yet they were fine to walk and hike in, however the inside of the boot has finally succumbed to the wearing passing of time and now the boot digs into the heel when it never use to.

Part of me thinks let’s fix them and give them more journeys to experience underfoot and the other part says ‘when your times up, your time is up’ and although I wish it not to be the latter as these old boots simply know my walk and my ways I almost feel it’s not fair to ask more of them after they have given so much.

A lyric runs through my head ‘the hardest part is letting go not taking part’, I hear it truly and of course these are not the first things in my life that I have had to part with, but they have reminded me of what happens over the course of a decade and more, of how much life changes, of how things that were have moved on and things I could not have known about are now here, for example I have two wonderful children now. 

The changing fortunes of time and a new pair of boots is on the horizon, this I guess is my way of showing gratitude to an old pair of boots, that were truly made for walking.

To the adventure.

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Cold Training – Personal Growth & Transformation

Simply Rolling Stones – a sneak look at the potential fun side of cold training.

When we hear the word ‘COLD’ almost instantly a shiver runs down our spine and through our whole body, the knees go weak and the mind quickly comes to the conclusion, hot chocolate and a warm fire to sit by will solve this problem.

I am a fan of both of those ventures – hot chocolate and warm cozy fires that is, however I have also become a fan of Cold Training.

What is cold training? and why am I and a number of people becoming interested in what sounds like a purposeful journey into hell? Only this hell is not an inferno in fact its the complete opposite, but still a place most do not want to be and with good reason cold training is COLD brrrrrrr.

It is the journey into the unknown which scares us most and yet provides us with the greatest potential for personal growth.

Cold training can be practiced down at the sea, taking a cold shower, dipping into any body of ‘cold’ water and Ice baths. Yes people do take ice baths…

Now might be a good time for that hot chocolate…

For those who practice cold training in the sea, an opportunity to be fully immersed from head to toe in cold water (depending on which sea you go into, some are warmer than others) presents itself, for many this offers a spiritual cleansing, which can also be called a re-birthing experience and emotional healing. Why?

On most occasions you are faced with fear when entering the cold seas, fear of drowning, fear of hypothermia, fear of being dragged out into the abyss all present themselves, most of the fears like the ones mentioned are irrational and each time you confront these irrational fears you develop a new sense of self, you begin a journey of self discovery, which improves your connection with you, with others and with nature.

Through this discovery of self you also begin a journey of self-healing, which occurs largely on the emotional and spiritual self.

The more times you enter the sea the greater you begin to understand its mood, it may sound crazy, but it communicates with you, you no longer swim frantically trying to stay afloat instead you begin to glide through and with the water effortlessly and let me tell you when the sea is angry there is no forcing your way through she will win every time; instead you have to surrender, let go and trust; have faith that everything will be ok.

It is through the release of control and the surrendering of self that one truly begins to heal the wounds within…

It can be hard to motivate oneself at first to consciously go on a cold sea adventure; it is not usually the top of the to do list and we generally want really good reasons for putting ourselves into an uncomfortable and painful situation, interestingly though the first battle is not with the cold but instead a battle with the pillow, a battle with comfort, a battle with stagnation and a battle with yourself.

Here again is an opportunity for personal growth and self-healing, by overcoming our limitations and developing a strong sense of self we can achieve great personal growth in all areas of life, when you get up early – 5am early on a Winters morning and go for a swim in the cold sea then there is very little in life that you can not achieve.

The days get shorter, the temperatures get colder, on occasion I am sure I competed with the banshee; for the cold brought out a roar from deep within, but I always felt great and still do during and after every dip in the sea.

Brighton sea temperatures peak in the range 16 to 19°C (61 to 66°F) on around the 17th of August and are at their lowest on about the 1st of March, in the range 7 to 8°C (45 to 46°F) [http://www.surf-forecast.com/breaks/Brighton\_1/seatemp]

One of the surprising challenges lay in getting out of the sea, Brighton is a pebbled beach, let me tell you those stones take no prisoners during the winter months.

The benefits of the pebbles is worth mentioning. At the beginning they literally killed my feet and they too had a re-birthing experience in-store for me, my feet were asleep they were use to being protected and had gotten comfortable and lazy, however the more I woke them up the more they showed me just how asleep they and I was.

I begun noticing that our feet act as a direct connection to the earth, this is more than just foot touching earth its more like roots moving from the sole of your foot into the earth and giving you a bounce in your step and movement throughout the whole foot and body that was not there before.

I was Grounding, which alone can boost your immune system, it has many benefits including reducing inflammation, the book Earthing by Clint Ober is worth a read, on another level allowing your skin to come into contact with your environment again improves your connection with the real world, which increases your sensitivity or you could say communication with the subtle energetic world we live in.

You will literally feel this connection for water conducts heat at 25 times the rate of air, which simply means you loose more heat quicker in the water than you do to the air. The key becomes to not fight this connection by trying to hold onto the heat, instead by surrendering to the flow of heat and maintaining a sense of calm through deep breathing and conscious awareness of self the heat that leaves is regenerated and continues the cycle of in and out.

Interestingly the body is such an impressive inferno that the fear of hypothermia whilst it is a potential danger is not as great a danger as one may have previously thought! It takes roughly longer than 30 minutes of submersion in cold water (no matter how cold the water) before the effects of hypothermia begin to manifest.

Potential hazards that one does face when approaching cold training and should be aware of are:

‘The Grasp Reflex’ or ‘the cold shock response,’upon entering the cold water a very natural reflex is to open ones mouth and take a lung full of air into the body, if that person then goes under the water and begins to grasp for more air they are in trouble, so try not to jump in to soon, give yourself a chance to get use to cold temperatures before diving in head first.

Cardiac arrest or more commonly a heart attack is also a potential risk factor, along with the cold sapping your strength to the point where your muscular force can be as much as 25% less in the cold, the opportunity for a bad ending to a good story begins to rise.

The cold water has the ability to turn a great swimmer into a good swimmer, a good swimmer into an average swimmer and an average swimmer into! You probably should not be going in to deep if your swimming ability is anything less than good. Remind yourself though that as you progress with cold water training that vice versa will occur – an average swimmer will grow steadily to become a great swimmer.

### The Good News!

In recent times we have seen many pioneers of cold water training step forward and despite the risks share forth their success!

Anthony Robbins starts every morning with a dip into a 57℉ pool. Tony Robbins is such a fan that he has claimed the following:

Cold water training when practiced regularly can have long-lasting positive effects on the lymphatic, circulatory, immune and digestive systems.

When jumping into cold water it is commonly agreed that the muscles contract, that shivering that you experience when cold is your muscles contracting in an attempt to produce heat.

This contraction of the muscles also triggers a contraction of the lymphatic system, which encourages the immune system to gear up and deal with whatever has been released from the lymphatic system.

It has also been claimed that one reason athletes jump into ice pools after strenuous workouts is because the cold water lowers the damaged tissue temperature and constricts the blood vessels resulting in less swelling and inflammation and for an extra bonus due to its numbing of the nerve endings it acts as a painkiller.

Another benefit that has been proposed is that it has the potential to relieve symptoms of depression. It has been found that cold training prompts the release of happy, feel good neurotransmitters, leaving you feeling happier, healthier and more vital.

Wim Hoff in particular has done much to move along our understanding of the potential benefits of cold training.

Wim holds numerous Guinness World Records in the field of cold training such as a barefoot marathon in Lapland wearing nothing more than shorts. Yes you read that right; Wim completes a variety of Cold Training disciplines in sub-zero conditions wearing nothing but a pair of modest shorts.

He recently trained 12 volunteers in his methods alongside a control group, at the end of his training all 24 participants were exposed to a common flu bug, all 12 participating in Wim’s training methods showed excellent immune response and none fell ill, however all 12 of the control group fell ill for up to 3 days.

Wim believes firstly that the cold has the power to show us our true human potential, he believes that its his ability to maintain core temperature through breathing exercises that anyone can master, which helps him train in the cold and enjoy benefits such as increased immune strength.

His breathing exercises are akin to the ones practiced by Tibetan Monks, a practice which they call Tummo, where the focus is placed upon the retention of the breath, which then encourages an ‘internal fire’.

Scientists believe through study that what Wim and the Tibetan Monks alike have managed to accomplish is to take control of a system within the body that was considered to be involuntary.

Scientists have observed that through the meditations and breathing exercises practiced by Wim and the Tibetan Monks significant blood flow and electrical activity to the frontal cortex and hypothalamus is achieved; these regions regulate peripheral nerves and veins involved in the regulation of body temperature.

It is this connection that was originally considered to be governed by the autonomic nervous system, however this is now considered to be potentially manually controlled through a variety of training methods.

For those who do not have access to the sea then a cold shower is a great place to start and some have reported that in as little as a couple of weeks of taking 3 minute cold showers every day you will begin to notice health benefits.

I would take this into consideration, Cold Training like any training method requires a period of adaptation and will first put the mind and body under stress, this stress response will overwhelm the immune system at first, with this in mind if your immune system is already dealing with a variety of stresses and you’re not sure this will help then first take it slow and get some extra advice, if however you persevere with this type of training your immune strength will improve dramatically.

How then does cold training improve our immune system? the answers are in the experience my friends, by overcoming each subtle battle internally and committing yourself to a daily practice your mind and body naturally strengthen, which in turn leads to the strengthening of all internal systems including the immune system.

You may find and more than likely will find a thousand reasons why you should stay comfortable and not do it, but if your curious and patient then time and practice will deliver remarkable results.

I highly recommend cold training for everyone, you can start slow, maybe a cold bowl of water to immerse your hands is enough, or simply stepping your feet into the sea will prove powerful enough for you to feel a connection, or maybe you need to go all out and throw yourself in.

Remember you can always have that cup of Hot Chocolate in reserve for after your Cold Training experience.

Enjoy.

Exploring Human Potential

My beautiful daughter Ostara Rose was born on 21st April 2015, when a baby comes into the world strange things happen to you words can not describe, however one thing that can be expressed is the curiosity one has about the infinite potential and possibility that lies before this new life; that old song runs through my mind ‘when I was just a little girl I asked my mother what would I be?’ you know the song and go on have a sing to yourself 🙂

What will she be? what will my baby boy and daughter grow up to be? and maybe my parents asked the same questions? The answers as we all know will only be answered via the magical unfolding of time and through the course of my life I have been curious as to the unfolding of my own life.

I have never been shy to delve deep into the inner workings of life, I have explored most philosophical frameworks from east to west, I have dived into the sciences and even peaked into religious doctrination, each time I surfaced with a new nugget of information, another piece of my puzzle and each time I would return and know that collectively we have a lot of room for growth collectively because most people were and are not practicing living, they were specialising in various professions, but were missing the user manual for their own being!

It is a curious thing that we generally believe that we are evolving as a species, that we have progressed from the form of being of our ancestors, however we face many challenges that are the making of man and it turns out that evolution has three states! Progressive, stagnant and regressive and all three states can be present in the same species at the same moment of time.

This simply means we are progressing in some areas, regressing in others and staying the same in other areas of life, when I consider human potential I am interested in progression and within that progression I am interested in progressing our evolution in terms of connecting with ourselves, each other and nature, in becoming masters of our minds, bodies and souls, in self healing and collective healing through practices that require a deep conscious awareness of ones existence and existent nature as a whole. For me at least popping a pill is not progressive, but regressive it bypasses our innate ability to heal ourselves and misses the lessons and teachings we need to learn through the state of disease we may find ourselves in, pain is necessary for growth it is a form of internal communication and if you ignore its message you will only increase your suffering because it will come back.

I also feel we need to progress in our understanding of emotional well being and overall mental, physical, spiritual and physiological well being, through creating a plethora of stresses for the body and mind to endure we have regressed in almost all those areas of being and they fundamentally underline the quality and quantity of life that a person will live in this life time.

To explore human potential is to wipe your slate clean of what you think you know and begin to collect the information from within yourself, the answers truly are there, at first you do not trust yourself and that old friend doubt and his buddy fear will accompany you, but as you grow your understanding of you, you will find new friends such as love and compassion, it is only through love, compassion and passion that we can truly dive into the uncluttered depths of our potential, before we get to that state of being we are simply surviving or struggling, suffering our suffering.

It is simple to love; the moment I looked at Ostara and when I gaze upon Ulysses or swim in the sea, when I walk with Adele or climb a tree I find love, but its not easy to cultivate that love into an energy that unleashes your creative power on the world and the life you are currently living.

I struggle with this myself and have found myself experiencing one moment unreliable power and creativity and lightness of mind and body, but then next I come crashing down into the cauldrons of depression and negativity, however I have now cultivated tools that mean I bounce back quicker that I accept both as a necessary experience of my life and continue to truly recognise my passion, love and creative output in this life, with each obstacle and each blessing I know I am getting closer, but I do not want to wait to share what I practice for after I cross my metaphorical finish line I want to share it now whilst I am in the midst of my own obstacles and my own faith being tested, why?

Finally my weakness I must finally show is the simple answer. When you teach yoga and have been in the health and fitness industry for over a decade sometimes the pre-conception can be that you have it all figured out! Well the truth is you don’t and in reality you end up over complicating things and can be further away from health and well-being than the very people you are helping, however this is part of the journey, yes a hard and at times scary part of the journey, but integral none the less because as you remove the layers of the ego you get closer to love, true no holds bar love, a completely un-conditional love that gives you the strength to go further than you ever thought you could.

Is this easy? In my experience NO, there is a flow that is for sure and when you are aligned with your flow you will naturally discover your potential and purpose with what appears to be relative ease, I have had these moments, however life can sometimes knock you off your path, spin you around and hang you upside down, which can leave you feeling completely lost, it is at this point when you need to re-discover yourself and re-build who you are, then that word ‘easy’ does not feature, but love, unbelievable moments of joy and beauty await those who wade through the mirky waters.

Bon Voyage

Big Love to you all.

Matt