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Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman, is a Dutch motivational speaker and extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures. He has set Guinness World Records for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and previously held the record for a barefoot half-marathon on ice and snow. He has motivated many to engage the rage of the cold plunge. There are many benefits promoted by advocates of the cold plunge including reducing swelling and pain caused by joint stress and muscle soreness.
In 12-step recovery there is another form of cold plunge. It involves the way you check-in with others during group processing. Most attending a 12-step meeting approach check-ins with caution. Often with fear and trepidation, members disclose their addictive behaviors. Most avoid stark naked truth about acting out and either share with vagueness or reveal half truths. For them it is far too scary and vulnerable to say it straight. So they piecemeal the truth. Many talk about related issues that are less difficult and remain stuck in deception. Even, after untangling their first step with honesty about their addictive behavior, many retreat to sharing vaguely about everyday cravings and struggles.
The cold plunge in recovery circles is about leading with the last thing you want people to know about you being the first thing you share when checking in. Rather than talking around a struggle you do the cold plunge and simply put it on the table for all to see. There is no going around the barn, hinting about what’s on your mind. You simply spill your guts. You lay out exactly what’s going on in your life with no edits. Your first thought might be “I don’t like anyone in this room.” Maybe, “I hate 12-step meetings.” Perhaps, “I want to act out right now or have been binging and the last place I want to be is at a 12-step meeting!” You just put it out there describing exactly what’s inside! This is a cold plunge check-in.
There is a level of dishonesty that pervades a 12-step meeting when people don’t say it like it is. When the level of addiction is not unpacked, you can feel the drain of power in the room. Insincere shares fall flat like a lead balloon. Groups that maintain surface check-ins shrivel and eventually cease to exist.
What are the benefits of a cold plunge share?
1. It sets the stage for emotional safety. Without emotional safety people remain surface in their shares. Breaking the ice and plunging deep with honest truth promotes others to do the same. When there is relational safety in community, anything and everything can be explored, sifted and sorted through. Pain becomes its touchstone and signpost indicating imbalance in life. Community provides a sound studio to listen to its message. Common shared brokenness is its draw, not common likeness or interest. Becoming emotionally naked in terms of sharing deepest feelings, even secrets are commonplace and expected. It’s a space where we can fit, be accepted as we are. It is a sanctuary to hide, to learn how we can wear our own skin well. It’s a space to accept our own acceptance while staring at imperfection. It is a place to grow ourselves into adult maturity and discover inner brilliance.
2. It promotes the practice of telling on yourself. There is no growth in recovery without truth telling. Cold plunge sharing eliminates hedging with the truth and highlights vulnerability. It helps dispel impression management and the fear of being real and authentic.
3. Cold plunge sharing activates a listening spirit. 12-step healing accelerates when you put yourself in the shoes of someone else. It requires that you identify with the share of another. When another addict says it straight, it is like a powerful slap in the face that demands a fair hearing. Truly listening to the broken voice that is sharing truth through a cold plunge manifests what others need to hear for their own healing.
Cold plunge sharing smashes fix-minded inflexible thought that blocks recovery growth. Prejudiced thought about recovery is often rooted in rigid black-and-white thinking. Fixed-minded sharing closes the heart and diminishes the possibility of exploring healing. Recovery requires that you sit with the discomfort and uncertainty created by cold plunge sharing. It invites you to open your heart and trust your own inner brilliance to figure recovery out. It embraces fettered feelings that through sharing become like clouds that can be cleared to the awakening of inner brilliance and wisdom.