Four Thought Cold Shower

Four Thought Cold Shower

I have been practicing the Four Thoughts for about 18 months. I have mostly followed some of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche's excellent teachings. I find this practice powerful and will write more about them another time. But one thing I also did was apply the Four Thoughts to taking cold showers.

Here are my instructions for how to do so. It's worth a try.


Set a timer to 3 minutes. Turn the water fully cold. At least one body part must be exposed to the water throughout.

  1. I appreciate my fortunate circumstances. I can breathe. I am safe. I am able to wash myself. I have a roof over my head. I have money. I have food. I have the ability to observe my own mind.
    I appreciate any other positive qualities of human life.
  2. I notice how sensations are constantly changing. I feel pain or discomfort or resistance. But when I try to observe it closely, it is constantly changing. I can see when I have aversion to something, it isn't the sensation, but my idea of it. When I actually pay attention to the sensation, the idea fades and there is no aversion.
    I may examine other aspects of impermanence.
  3. I notice cause and effect. I may notice: When I pay close attention to my sensation, the pain disappears. I often notice that I am tense and holding my breath. I may notice that when I relax and breathe deeply, the resistance to the cold goes away further.
    I may examine other aspects of cause and effect.
  4. At this point, I am fairly relaxed. I can appreciate how my initial discomfort with the cold was purely my own construction. Something I added on top of the pure sensory experience. And I can appreciate how it is possible to let go off aversion and how suffering disappears.

I always am grateful and energized after taking a cold shower. I have no doubt that there are many health benefits to taking cold showers. But they are also an amazing vehicle to develop your mind and understand the nature of reality.


Brian Crain

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