It’s not a glamorous look I freely admit BUT for me, to cold water swim is always
THE MOST exhilarating life affirming experience. I’m new to it this year along with several other outdoor life affirming activities that are now an integral part of my life. Prior to the COVID 19 lockdowns and restrictions, all of these life affirming outdoor activities I had only pursued in doors. Like so many people, I was forced to rethink how I was going to thrive when so much of what I once took for granted, was gone.
What I came to realise was how much, of so much of my life, was lived in a contrived, limited and sense deprived environment.
“Living” had become an unconscious habit, taking the line of least resistance in terms of comfort, familiarity and ease. However, humanity did not evolve to be what it is today through comfort, familiarity and ease. The human evolutionary journey involved the constant use of its senses for tracking and hunting, assessing danger which involved experiencing environmental extremes and repeated physical challenges to survive.
I now realise how limiting my indoor health enhancing activities were, in terms of my ability to thrive. The experiences were muffled, duller and restricted in comparison to how I live now. I am not decrying indoor facilities as a tool to invest in your health and fitness. They are a vital and convenient commodity for many and it must also be said that cold water swimming is definitely not for everyone in terms of its appeal, appropriateness or safety.
However, if the function of our senses is interrupted, it can limit our ability to interact with our immediate environment and the world around us. This in turn makes it harder for our body to function normally. Those of you who experience a lack of smell, poor hearing or visual impairment know full well, how this negatively impacts on your health and how you live.
You are of course aware of our five main senses which includes smell, touch, sound, taste and sight. However, the reality is there are more senses that impact upon us including temperature, the position our body and limbs are in, pain and of course our “sixth sense”.
Therefore, it stands to reason and scientific evidence (look up Professor Charles Spence at University of Oxford) that if our senses are DELIBERATELY stimulated and utilised, then this could positively impact our health and the way we live.
So apart from my cold water weekly swims, my Simply Fit! programme and my choir have also relocated to the great outdoors. In addition I now begin each day with a 30 minute walk in the dark, where all my senses are on red alert. With all these life enhancing activities, I have observed how enlightening the stimulating effect has been on my senses. In fact the “experience” of each of these events has been so much more than the sum of its parts.
These activities have become multi sensory environments for my entire body. I have a deeper connection and sense of nourishment with the whole of me, in a way I was unaware was even possible.
I am fully aware that many of you reading this are already nature loving outdoor folk like me, and do spend time in the great outdoors to nourish and replenish yourselves. That said, in this western, device driven sensory reduced world, it’s still LESS THAN THAT OF OUR FORBEARERS or even our younger selves. Like me, you too may not have recognised where you have slipped into a habit of being in side more, unintentionally, but a reality nonetheless.
What I have done for myself is to maximise my sensory opportunities wherever I can. It is encouraged and acknowledged that babies and toddlers need all their senses stimulated as part of their play for them to learn. However as we move further away from this time in our lives, the encouragement and acknowledgement of its relevance fades. The long term effect is that we are insidiously nudged into overly warm, passive and muted environments, leaving us more and more disconnected with our true selves. This deprives us of that most basic of survival traits, which is to flourish and thrive.
Have a mull and maybe you too could rethink your thinking, to make the most of the body you’re in.