Updated: Feb 24, 2020
"Why do we call it 'being cool' and what is it about emotional regulation that is a much sought after quality in warriors and leaders?"
Morozko Forge Cold Coach Adrienne Jezick shares knowledge of whole body, cold water immersion in her podcast series describing the Morozko Method. In this excerpt, she interviews Kuba -- a guest who is relatively new to the practice of deliberate cold exposure. The following is a condensed transcript of their conversation.
Kuba: Well first, I just want to say thank you for inviting me on. I hope our conversation is useful for others who have questions or who can identify or maybe open the door for them to have a new experience. My experiences with the cold have been profound.
Adrienne: No two experiences are alike. Even though I'm a regular cold water immersion enthusiast, I still don't have any two experiences that are completely alike. I think part of that is because the cold has a way of seeking out the areas that need to heal. I also think we're working on different parts of our practice through that cold water immersion.
How would you describe your first cold water immersion coaching experience with me? What do you remember about that?
Kuba: I was at my first Burning Man (at Black Rock City) in 2019, and that was an event that was a milestone for me in terms of personal exploration and having a self-defined objective that was deeply meaningful for me and not tied to my contracts with anyone else.
I really wanted to do that for a very long time. Organically, an opportunity presented itself to go with some of my good friends from Arcosanti, and be a part of their village.
Unbeknownst to me, one of the folks from the village have already spoken with you guys and you were set up in the back of the Burners Without Borders camp.
He just said,
"Kuba, I have a mission for you. I need you to be at this place at 3:30 or 4:30,"
or whatever it was. And so, I didn't know what I was doing or what I was getting into until I was outside this steel storage container where you guys had set up the Forge.
I was being sent on a mission by the village Mayor to go be somewhere to do a thing. And so, there was this aura of a meaningful... there was a sense that I was going to go do something special, but with that whole there's going to be a surprise involved in this.
Maybe it's going to be arduous. Maybe it's something that's just for me.
I had no idea what I was walking into.
I should note that I don't partake in mind-altering substances and so it wasn't that I was in some other place biochemically or neurochemically or something, but I was having a peak experience nonetheless.
I showed up and there you are looking very much like a shaman, a shamanic figure. The space is dark. There's no light in there except this open cargo container door. Even there, it's a very different experience from what would traditionally I think happen in your immersive workshops.
Obviously, I stripped down and you were extraordinarily grounded.
Most first worlders in 2019 are lost and it's information overload, personal high jinx, overloaded RAM. Past, present and future competing for our attention. We spend most of our time just ... I'll speak for myself.
I spend most of my time lost in thought, which is why mindfulness practice is essential for me and is part of my self-care ritual going back a couple of years, which is one of the reasons why I choose to be sober.
It all is this quest to maintain some anchor in a world that is changing faster than it knows how to cope, or maybe my world is changing faster than I naturally know how to cope with.
Immediately, there was a stillness there. There is a stillness to you. There's stillness to the water. There's a stillness to the space. I was already in that like, this is a serious surprise. I approached it as one with initiation ritual in some mystery school.
Adrienne: It was like ceremony-esque.
Kuba: Yeah. There's definitely an element of ceremony to it. I love some good... some ceremony. I appreciate it, especially if it's not rooted in exploitive dogma or all of the rituals that some of which are just not that great, that we find ourselves trying to break free from.
Yeah. So you said it, here you are.
Start being aware of your breath. Be present.
When you're ready, step into the water. Right?
Adrienne: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kuba: With conviction.
Sit down. Sit your ass down.
That's kind of what I... in my mind, I was like, okay.
Adrienne: I mean business.
Kuba: Here's the weird part. The second time I was aware of what I would experience, but the first time I wasn't.
I'm actually a person who by nature hates being cold. I get cold easily. I don't like being cold. I was coached by my mom to never get too cold because you'll catch a cold.
That's sort of a European fiction that if you're exposed to cold, you'll somehow compromise your immune system.
Adrienne: Don't go outside with a wet head, you'll catch your death. Yes.
Kuba: Yes, very much an ongoing thing. Grandfather died from pneumonia, but really he died from a life of hard drinking.
It was always something that was something to be feared.
I think that that was one of the things I shared with you that may have sparked our sort of ongoing conversation around this.
Adrienne: Once you develop that practice or once you've done it once, you've done it twice, you can look at it and go, I am so powerful.
I can sit and breathe for two minutes in 35-degree water.
Kuba: The first experience was as profound for me as it was, if I had to go and find a reason for it, besides all of the medical reasons why it changes your mind, was that it was this conscious decision to face a fear and then endure a fear.
And then you have the physiological experience of I described it to other friends as, your brain tells you you're going to die if you don't do something radical about this and then you make a conscious choice to accept that message from your brain and then carry on doing what you're doing.
Kuba: Then the brain kind of stops. It's hey, you are now in a life-threatening condition so I'm going to respond in all of the ways that I would to keep you from dying. Then you have this, at least for me and it's the way I chose to contextualize that first experience and encounter with impending doom.
All of the signals of fear and anxiety and discomfort all came washing in.
I was able, of course as somebody who has mindfulness practice, realize that if I returned to the breath as you coach me and I'm conscious of the breath and I hang on to that, and all of these are just things that I could be attached to or not attached to.
Kuba: I'm reminded and I'm certainly not comparing myself to this or the process to this, but I'm reminded of the Rage Against the Machine cover of the immolating monk and the people who choose to do that.
As a teenager, I was fascinated by what is the strength of character or what is the mindset of someone who can sit calmly and burn to death.
What kind of excruciating pain are they in and then what is the level of mental fortitude or whatever do you want to call it, or disassociation, I mean it depends on how you want to label it, right? How are they able to endure that experience?
For me as someone who has a healthy fear of being gassed and gasoline, has no suicidal tendencies, I still live life mitigating risk, avoiding being burned alive, avoiding being cold, avoiding being stressed, avoiding discomfort.
Facing that fear and being able to overcome it was a real milestone for me personally. It showed me that I have come a really long way in my practice, that yes, I'm capable of facing my body and mind and nervous system telling me that it's the end. We have to do something.
In saying no, I accept this, and then of course, you receive the reward.
Adrienne: The calm and the benefits.
When your brain goes, okay, well I guess you're ready to die.
No problem. Here's dessert.
Adrienne: Here's dessert!
That might be one of the greatest ways I've heard to describe.
The reason that the that makes a lot of sense to me is because there's such a parallel to that moment. Scott Carney in his book, "What Doesn't Kill Us Make Us Stronger" calls it "The Wedge".
It's that space between what is happening and your emotional response to it.
When you breathe through that traumatic hyperventilative sitting in the freezing cold response, what you're doing is driving a wedge between your fight or flight response and your emotional response to it.
So yes, you become stronger than your body's existential death. You become stronger than even your own will to live because supposedly with your will to live and your fight or flight, you're going to leap right out of that water.
I've seen people do it, leap right out of that water and then look at me and go, "Wait, wait. I don't know what just happened. I was in the water. I'm out of the water. I don't understand."
That's what the body is designed to do. When you don't listen to the body, you don't listen to that physical response of adrenaline, of cortisol, of all of those chemicals rushing through your body saying, “Get out! Do this, you will die!”
You find a way not only to sit in that space in between, but I believe you find a way to make peace with pain.
Kuba: But it's such a tangible like we as westerners, we want to be able to do something.
You got to go, well, what can I do? That's not it.
This is in fact I think and one of the reasons why I keep coming back to it and I'm so fascinated by what you're doing and I think it has such huge potential for people who are seeking that.
I want to go on the quest. Where can I go? What can I do?
You mentioned it at the introduction where there's this confrontation with fear and adversity building character, or adversity as the touchstone.
Adrienne: Growth through discomfort.
Kuba: Growth through discomfort. There it is.
I was intensely uncomfortable for about three minutes.
I think if it wasn't for your presence and again, the grounded stillness that you've brought to the moment, and your commitment to being there with a person who's having the experience, it would have been too difficult for me, I think.
I really appreciated that as there's like a soul moment there where you're shepherding or stewarding or whatever. I'm sure you use the appropriate technical term for it that's more accurate. But guiding me and helping me get through that.
Then it's like, oh wow. I can do that.
In the same way that kids get scared. You're not climbing the thing for them. You're not in the bath for me. But you're helping me get through the experience. And so, if you were distracted and on your phone while I was sitting there for the first time, I probably would have also just... I can't do it.
It meant a lot to be to be able to do it. Then the feeling of accomplishment afterwards was cool.
I mean, not to avert your signal or humble brag, it was a big deal for me.
Adrienne: It was a big deal.
Kuba: Again, it's funny. Like everybody seeks different thrills but you could say the same thing if someone who climbed a mountain.
I don't get it. You like to just cling to a rock and then just continue to climb it. Why? Don't you just come back down right afterwards? Well yeah. Don't your fingers bleed and isn't it dangerous? Yeah.
Well here with something that an IT person like me, without rigorous physical training or preparation or nothing but just the commitment to being uncomfortable.
The thing about the sensation of it was that it wasn't even... I mean, it's a unique physical sensation.
I didn't feel cold so much as just... because you know you told me one of your mantras is this is what cold feels like.
I get it, that it's cold. But I wouldn't put it in the same category.
I've never been that cold.
The second time I was thinking like, oh wait, what does that feel like? Right?
Adrienne: Oh. You couldn't even a wrap your head around the physical sensation the first time.
Kuba: Yeah, I wasn't cold.
I mean, it was more of like a color thing or something like that. I don't categorize it in the same way as like I'm cold right now.
In fact, since doing it, when I get cold, I'm like, that's not cold. I'm not actually that cold.
That's the other thing that I think is profound about the experience and what you're offering is that we live very safe, very comfortable lives here in Arizona in 2019 as with our identity, politics, and our socioeconomic position and so on.
I mean, compared to what the other eight billion people in the world are exposed to, we live very comfortable lives. And yet, I think that everyone I've ever met still has the worst thing that's happened to them and the best thing that's happened to them.
We will have the whole range of human experience and you can see this in the mall where someone is calling to their maker,
"Oh my god. I can't believe this thing happened."
It is a trivial, easily solvable, thing that is now become the center of their life and they will share that person cutting them off in the freeway or not getting this object that they wish to purchase, that will become the focal point of their story and they will share that as their story. This was the big thing that happened to me today and it's not a thing.
It's embarrassing because sometimes when you meet somebody who has actually had some real adversity and I'm presenting my problem of the day, which was my internet connection was spotty and so I had trouble getting the conference calls at work, and they're like, yeah, and they don't say it, but like you find out later like their kid died on a car accident. So what do you know about anything?
Not to rumble and I hope that this makes sense to people listening at home in the future, I'm not an experienced podcast guest. It's all relative.
My sense of joy, my sense of fear, my sense of pain is relative to what I've experienced. This is so far out of that spectrum for me that by comparison, it's turned down the volume on all of the other stuff that happens.
Kuba: I don't know if anybody has made a reference to Fight Club. Have you seen Fight Club?
Adrienne: Of course I've seen and read the book Fight Club.
Kuba: I like the book also. I guess my question to you is do you see a parallel between the perceived benefits of Fight Club, and we're not going to talk about it, but like maybe we will.
You're not supposed to talk about it, but the perceived benefits of Fight Club where the guy is talking about how he's got this almost montage after he did it, and he's like, after you do Fight Club, everything is turned down.
The people are all just doing their little shit. You know you're a badass or something to that effect. Ed Norton is carrying on about the benefits of having that fight or flight confrontation with peers and having that be a bonding experience for him.
When we can put ourselves in dangerous, high dangerous situations designed to enact that with inside of us, designed to enact fight or flight, specifically, fight, flight, or freeze response, and then we breathe through it or we overcome it or we survive it, it makes us feel larger-than-life.
It makes us feel an invincible type of way that we don't always get to face. A lot of the times we're faced with our mortality. A lot of times we're faced with our fragility. A lot of times we're faced with the things that are difficult for us to overcome.
Adrienne: When you can look at something as absolutely as insane as choosing to get in a fist fight or choosing to sit in 32-degree water or choosing to go mountain climbing with nothing but some carabiners and some rope, you are choosing fear.
You're choosing to face fear and you're choosing to overcome fear. When you've overcome real fear, that real active response, and so when you say how I'm grounded and I'm guiding you, I'm holding space for your trauma.
I'm holding space for a controlled environment of trauma for you so that you can get as absolutely uncomfortable as possible and then overcome that discomfort to then feel that catharsis.
Kuba: Because we're actually a squishy battery of consciousness and the brain doesn't necessarily distinguish between all of those things, that experience then cascades back into my trauma that I didn't choose.
Trauma that I can't go back and re-experience in a safe place.
It has the healing effect. It's what you said, that's why I said it's profound and that's why you said it's profound.
Adrienne: Scientifically, it does smooth over hardwired pathways of trauma in the brain. Then you're building thousands of new bonds from a place of meditative calm.
Even though you've done it, even if you're a person who's only ever done it once, you will be a different person. You are a changed person for having done it. When you're someone who does it as a regular practice or you're someone who does it frequently, you are training your brain to do that in life.
I said before you when I met you at Burning Man a grounded person, that that was a culmination of a year of work, of really honestly 38 years of work. I've been living my first 36 years in a state of trauma and I did not know that. I was living my first 36 years in a constant heightened state of warrior mode, fighter mode, constant fight or flight, constant defensiveness and no wonder I got sick.
No wonder I got sick because I was pumping. My brain was pumping my body, full of adrenaline and cortisol and I was wiped.
When I discovered cold water immersion and I started practicing this regularly, emotional regulation started to happen for me. This was something that I thought was beyond me. I thought this was completely beyond my grasp, emotional regulation.
I'm not saying I don't have slip-ups. I'm not saying that I'm 100% emotionally regulated today. The person I was a year ago to the person I'm sitting before you today, they are two different people. There are two different sides of a coin.
I am grounded in front of you today because of my experience in the cold and because of the catharsis the cold has brought me and then shows me about what is actually important in life, what is worth putting my energy into response for.
Adrienne: There had been times, and this is probably about a year ago now, quite specifically there was this one time, I was in a complete state of emotional dysregulation, tears streaming down.
I've been crying for over an hour at least, probably more. I couldn't form a thought. I couldn't form a sentence.
I didn't even know what I'm upset about.
I'm just really upset. I was sitting on my back patio and thank god I have this device ready at all times. I stripped down. I walked over. I sat in the cold. I didn't move for about three or four minutes.
When I got out, I couldn't remember what it was I was upset about. I didn't care. I was no longer upset. I got that boost of dopamine. I got that boost of norepinephrine. I realized, what is important?
Is it important to figure out where the problem started? Or is it just important to give yourself compassion and give yourself love and kindness, and understanding and hold that space so that the next time you go through an emotional trauma or emotional process or any type of emotional dysregulation, you can start with compassion.
Kuba: That's a little above my pay grade because the experience you're describing is one that I find amazing.
I mean, that's very inspiring. From what little you've told me of your story and having overcome physical adversity and a whole bunch of other background issues and for you to be where you are today obviously, you see that as a success or you wouldn't be on your mission and speaking to whoever listens.
Adrienne: Anyone who will listen.
Kuba: About it. I want to pivot a little bit and take you to a lighter place if you're cool with that.
Adrienne: Please do.
Kuba: And ask, when kids reach those teen years, I want to ask: "Why do we call it being cool? And what is it about emotional regulation that is sought after in warriors and leaders?"
When you think about or when I think about and I've reflected on what it means to be cool, there's the feigned coolness of emotional indifference, when someone is indifferent or not moved.
We've got this test tomorrow. I don't care.
You think about the transgressive behavior of adolescence. That urge to define yourself in opposition or even in indifference to society's norms or whatever, because that's how you find yourself.
That's almost like this and we miss that I think, in US culture. You either get into drugs or sports or music or whatever it is, but we don't have a coming of age ritual where you go and go the fabled, again, referenced in movies like 300 or the canonical tale of kill the buffalo.
Adrienne: That right of passage.
Kuba: Correct. That's an ancient metastory echoed in the hero's journey or whatever. That you will discover yourself when you go and face adversity alone and return.
Kuba: That that is how you will know that you have separated yourself from the child to the ...
Kuba: From the boy to the man, from the girl to the woman. And so, I think it's funny that when you talk about, where you talk about being cool and we talk about having that ...
It's just like, so you want to get cooler?
Take the plunge. I just think there's something to that, that it's intuitively connected. This is of course we're talking about an extreme and seriously taken and if we take it seriously like this has real medical benefits to people and so on.
If you're wondering whether you're a badass or not, like how I think about my journey and my journey involve being a bike career in New York and that was how I prove to myself that I was a badass.
Or hit by a bus and then decided I was not that bad ass. But there was a level of adversity to the work. Get up. Get on a bike. Bike 45 miles a day.
You don't make a lot of money. You're in traffic. It's dangerous. That I was able to say, okay, I know where I stack up.
But still, driven by a thousand forms of fear and being very much a person who is living waiting for the shoe to drop, result to genetic legacy and childhood trauma, we could talk about the stuff if you want to go there. I don't know how open I want to be on a first and last name basis with the internet, but generally speaking, we all inherit some stuff and then some stuff happens to us. Then I wrestle with doubt.
I wrestle about my capabilities.
One of the ways that I was able to get over it in a way was just to stop thinking about my own value and constantly self-evaluating myself, something I talk to my daughter about a lot. In my peer group, I often reference that on any given day, you're going to be better than Hitler and worse than Gandhi.
You can move the goalpost and be better than someone else or you can move the goalpost and be worse than somebody else. Neither case, you're making a crappy comparison. Probably compare yourself to yourself.
Nonetheless, even though on an intellectual level I understand that, physically I'm still going to come to the situation with my experience and my baggage and whatever I have. I can't think my way into right thinking.
That's used in recovery circles in certain way. It's not like when you tell somebody who's depressed to cheer up, if they could, they would.
Adrienne: They would, yeah.
Kuba: Most of the profound change comes through some action. Now, it takes some thinking to go find the right action and then go do the action and then check the results and see whether it worked or not.
Again, if we're talking about taking the plunge or doing these activities, again, that'll make you cooler.
Adrienne: We believe, with Morozko Forge, we believe that the reason the cold water fixes everything is because the first thing it fixes is your mind.
The first thing that the cold water changes and works on is your thinking. It's that they're going to reset, but by empowering you through those minutes, by empowering you through that breath, of breathing through fight or flight it's a full mental reset.
If you feel stronger mentally, physically you're going to catch up with that.
The first thing you have to change is your mind.
Adrienne: You have to start and end with the mind. I think that's the goal for me now of the cold water immersion practice.
It's about the mind. Physically I know I can do it. I can also easily talk myself out of it. Well, Adrienne, you don't shiver when you get in anyways so you're good at it. You're fine. But no, I still need that practice.
I still have to mentally put myself into cold. Today, it was cold in Arizona. Wow. I mean, not too cold. I wore sweater and slippies because I could, not because I needed to.
Kuba: We look forward to those sweaters.
Adrienne: Yes, we really do. And so when I got into the cold today, I thought, well, the air is kind of chilly.
No big deal.
Then I got into the water and I thought too, I thought, well, it's cold outside and I do all kinds of cold plunge and I don't really have to go today. Well, that's the same mental conversation I can have with myself about a workout.
That's the same mental conversation I can have with myself about am I going to chase my dreams today.
That's the same mental conversation I can have with myself about am I going to get out of bed, take a shower, talk to people and be good and be happy, or be whatever.
So I got into the cold. I sat there for three and a half minutes. Then I was really grateful when I got out because I was like, well I did it.
Yeah, I'm good at it. Yeah, I know I can do it, but I still did it.
Kuba: I didn't think that ... So how many times do you think? Have you lost count? Do you know how many times?
Adrienne: Oh gosh, I lost count because it's been two years and over the last year for sure, I practiced four to seven times a week, and sometimes several times a day.
If I'm working in our shop in Phoenix summer, I'll go in 10 times a day. If I'm working in the yard in the Phoenix summer, I'll go in 10 times a day.
Kuba: So at least 400, 500 times?
Adrienne: I mean, you know, yeah, a few hundred I would say for sure, for sure.
Kuba: Have you noticed if you were to graph the magnitude of the experience, do you think it's diminished at all?
Adrienne: No, but it has changed. My very first ice bath, Kuba, was nine seconds.
I hovered over the tub. I put my hands on each side and I put my feet on each side and I dropped my body in. I held under the water and held my breath for nine seconds and I lept out.
I still felt a profound change.
I still felt empowered in a way that I hadn't ever probably in my life. And so I still want to do it again, not that day, but I did want to do it again.
At that time we were only doing it about once a week because we're still hauling 200 pounds of ice once a week to do it. The ice even in October would last about an hour with four people plunging.
It took months for me to develop my practice, to keeping myself in the water past two minutes. That practice then prepared me for what I'm doing now, prepared me for now four, five, six, sometimes seven days a week and sometimes multiple times a day knowing that that is good for me, knowing that that is still an act of choice, knowing that I still have to tell myself and make myself do it because it is still cold.
I don't have the same physical reaction, but I'm still going through deep mental process of sitting there and breathing through.
Now it's different too because I don't have shivers and hyperventilation to say, all right, it's time to get out. Got to get out or do this or don't do that. I'm just aware of a clock. I'm aware of some minutes ticking by. I'm aware of the birds. I'm aware of a bell. I'm aware of the breeze. I'm aware of my breath.
I have to decide when it's time to get out. Obviously, if I stay in there too long, I will get uncontrolled shivers. Between three and five minutes seems to be a pretty good sweet spot for me.
Kuba: The reason I asked was in almost all mind-altering experiences or substances that we talk about, we're confronted by the hedonic treadmill, this diminishing returns on experience.
When we think of something being a teacher, there's a new lesson each time.
In the traditional sense, the first piece of chocolate you eat is great. If you eat the rest of the bar, it's not going to be that much better.
Like today, when I eat chocolate, having been lucky enough to have chocolate since I was a child, it's not that big a deal.
Adrienne: Yeah. Speak for yourself there, Kuba. Speak for yourself.
Kuba: Right. I'm trying to be conscious of my chocolate privilege.
Adrienne: It's chocolate. Yeah. I think a little bit you've learned to chasing the dragon.
Adrienne: Where you're forever ... I think this applies like in base jumping.
Kuba: Right. I was going to mention base jumping, skydiving, mountain biking, climbing, all of the adrenaline junkie stuff.
I wondered whether the research indicates that it's different and certainly as someone who's done it as much as you have, you would know this by now, well now, I got to, the water is got to be cold. Well, it can't get colder.
Kuba: I got to stay in longer. Well, you can't stay in longer.
That's what I'm curious about because I think that people will say, "Oh well, that's great. I can do that once."
But I bet you by the third time it gets boring. I can say, I'll support you on this. It hasn't gone boring.
My sample set is three or two and a half.
Adrienne: Even if you did compress it, even if you were doing a regular practice, if you're doing something like I'm doing, here's why that return does not diminish.
Because every time you get a boost of norepinephrine and dopamine, every time.
Every time your body still jumps in action for fight or flight whether you hyperventilate or not. Your body still jumps in action thinking, okay, we have to prepare the organs.
We have to go to there. We got to do this. We got to do this so that you stay alive.
Even though the physical has changed, the returns actually become greater. Because there are times I can stay in longer than five minutes. My business partner does stay in sometimes for 15 minutes.
He stays in and just watches Southwest flights land in Tempe, Arizona from his balcony and he can sometimes watch five or six and they only land once every five to seven minutes or something like that. You can push that practice.
Kuba: Don't do that at a home.
Adrienne: Yeah. Kids, don't try this at home.
You can build your practice but no matter what, every time you practice, your body will produce physical results.
The reason that doesn't work when we are using strictly adrenaline, so like if I were base jumping, you run out of that.
Kuba: Different system.
Adrienne: Different system. Whereas in the eyes, you're producing it. You're producing everything in cohesion and everything in balance.
Kuba: I think that's really important point to address because I have had many novel experiences that I can speak of.
I've had many visceral physical experiences like sweat lodge and stuff like that. This was markedly different. Now, the second time was at convergence, just a couple weeks ago I think. You are set up on a roof. It was colder.
There was a cold breeze. Sun was going down. It wasn't the middle of the heat of the day in the North Nevada desert with no air-conditioning on day four. That was cool.
That was a different experience because there was something to look at. I had more of a tangible sensory experience.
What stuck with me in the aftermath of it, besides just noticing, I mean having a conscious noticing that I am just not the same person. Like you said, I'm an animated person, but I'm not freaking out about anything. I've maintained my sense of expressiveness and my excitement about things.
I'm less concerned with the potentially disastrous outcomes. I'm one of those people that pathologically reads climate change in news and sort of my, I get down on that. The disaster porn people. Shout out to our collapse.
I think my preoccupation with it is more about, okay, but I'm here and I'm known. One thing that's happened is my background level of stress and fear has gone down. That's amazing. I can't say that I've gotten off any medications or had been on any medications. I can say that the other thing that's happened is that I've started to abstract sensations and notice them more often.
Because it was such an extreme sensation like I said earlier, like I noticed that I was cold and I was able to say, "Oh yeah, it's not that cold." Finding a ... I don't know how to explain it. I've noticed this because you can't ignore it. It's such a powerful sensation, that like it forces you to be with the sensation unless you want to disassociate.
I don't know. I didn't disassociate.
The second time I was just keenly aware of the sensation and afterwards, I was so attuned to that sense of what am I feeling that I've started to instead of having the usual train of thought that I'm in, I'm noticing just sensations more often, which is kind of cool.
Adrienne: Do you have any specific examples where it kind of hit you and you're like, wow. I just noticed that. I hadn't noticed that.
Kuba: Well, the temperature has changed over the last week, and so I've been more conscious of that. It's hard to explain. They are really micro moments. They are micro moments. The best way I could describe it is it's being lost in thought but the thought is a physical sensation.
You'll be lost in thought and just like are you just thinking about something random like I'm going to cook some brownies later or something, whatever, whatever it is that we get lost in thought about. I won't come up with too many more examples because none of you all is business. I get lost in thought.
But I was lost in thought about what it felt like to be wearing socks right now or something like that. Feeling the shoes on my feet whereas normally, I'm an IT person, it's my career. I'm also an artist, visual artist. I live in my head.
As a result of experiences in my childhood and all of that, I'm kind of one of those people that if you would ask me to draw myself, it's a cockpit with a little person inside my head and then the rest of this is just this ungainly meat suit that I'm working with.
A lot of growth for me in my life has occurred when I've moved from being centered in my head to being centered in my heart. There's a lot of good meditative practice that you can do that helps you actually be conscious of how just how conscious your heart is if that makes sense and becoming less of a head-centered person and more of a heart-centered person.
My heart speaks a different language. It's interested in different things. I don't mean carnal pressures. I don't mean love in the romantic sense. I mean-
Adrienne: Heart chakra.
Kuba: Yeah. Right. And so, as a result, as a consequence of having that much, hey, this is your body, I've started to just be more body conscious I guess. It's probably the wrong term because that's used for like-
Adrienne: You have physical awareness of your body in a way that you did not before.
Kuba: Thanks. That's what I should have said, yeah.
What's neat about that is that it allows you to have more fulfilling present. These are all the buzzwords that were looking for. It's 2019.
What are people looking for? They're looking for connection. They're looking for connection with themselves. They're looking for connection. They're looking for healing. They're looking to be grounded. I mean I'll just pick for myself. I don't know what everybody else are.
We're also looking for justice in a sustainable future and equality and real change and all of those other things.
If we talk about how change begins from within and we talk about how. I mean I recognize this as a white male that all of my campaigning for justice out in the world and my opinions are enough, and that I should probably focus on my own practice at the grassroots level and individual level, and clean up my room before I talk to people about what they should be doing with their lives.
Adrienne: Well, don't should yourself to death. We think should is a dirty word around here.
Kuba: Right. And so what I've been doing is engaging in the active practice of working on me instead of telling you what-
Adrienne: You should do.
Kuba: Right and offering more unsolicited advice. The experience for me has been profound. I will continue to do it. I'm about to go do that again.
Adrienne: We're about to take a plunge too, yeah.
Kuba: I'm just so grateful that I have that opportunity because there are so few people who just happened to fall into this.
I hope that if this message reaches you and you're on the fence about it, the worst thing that happens is you get in and you get real cold and you get out. That's still a good thing.
The potential for me was profound. I'm not special. I wish that I could share this with. There are so many people in my life ... Actually, can we ... To close, the thing that strikes me is how many people I've shared my experience with and they just focus on the, well, I would never want to do that.
In their minds, they're imagining what it would be like to do it. I guess maybe because of the way I was introduced to it, it didn't even occur to me-
Adrienne: That you wouldn't try it.
Kuba: ... that this isn't something that I would do. I'm so down to go and be uncomfortable if the payoff is X, Y, or Z. Everybody seemed kind of focused on like not why would you want to, in other words convince me why I should. They just got caught up in the like, well I don't like cold so I'm not going to get in cold water
Adrienne: It's a lot different if you can't picture it. Right?
Kuba: You think?
Adrienne: Yeah. When you talk about taking an ice bath like me in my head even now knowing what I know, I think of a whole bunch of ice in a bath. I think well, that doesn't sound fun.
Kuba: No. It sounds terrible.
Adrienne: That sounds uncomfortable. That sounds cold. I don't like cold. I hate cold. Well cool, well we know what that feels like.
You didn't have to think about it.
You just showed up. You showed up to an experience.
You showed up to an environment.
You showed up to a cocoon in a safe space, led by someone you trust, put in front of someone who is calm and grounded.
Adrienne: When we share this experience with others and this is sometimes my greatest challenge sharing my sensory events, well, I'd love to tell you what it's like but I can't because even though I provide the same elements every time, the experience is vastly different.
People's takeaway is vastly different. The group dynamic is vastly different and it changes the entire experience.
Kuba: Sure. It's like describing to somebody what it would be like to be at a concert. You tell them what you did and they're like, "Oh, you mean like if I got in my own fridge and shut the door?" It's like, "No, not at all."
Adrienne: No. I mean, any number of things is like trying to describe what a brownie tastes like to someone who can't have chocolate. I don't know.
I don't know how it's going to be for you because you have to do it. All I know is that I had to get really fed up with myself before I was ready to give something like that a try.
Kuba: I think I was in a place ... I mean I set an intention to go to Burning Man. Again, like I said it was a milestone for me in terms of a long-term goal that I had achieved without really external contracts, so something I deeply believed in and wanting to do and the opportunity presented itself organically.
My intention for the burn because it was suggested that I set an intention and I think about what it is that I'm looking for, I wanted to shed layers of fear. And so for me to have walked away from that experience and having like I left so much behind in that tub. I think that's amazing.
I didn't forget it. I didn't disassociate from it.
Adrienne: You let it go?
Kuba: Yeah. Right. That's what I want to invite folks.
I'm not being paid to do this or anything like that. It's just like, hey. If you got some shit that you want to let go or if you're wrestling with your mind all the time and you need a reset and you're not allowed to do certain things to reset your mind or other things you've done may be harmful or illegal or ill-advised.
Adrienne: Maybe you don't want the Band-Aids of modern medicine that only come with other side effects and symptoms.
Kuba: Well it's a Band-Aid, right?
Kuba: It's a subscription model. It's an unsustainable subscription model, in my opinion. But I'm unqualified.
Then this was a profound experience that what do you have to lose? You will be warm again. I will say that within 10 minutes of being out, it was fine. In fact, I felt super warm ever since.
Adrienne: That is part of the beauty of the practice.
Visit dublux.com to find Kuba’s visual art, or search for @DubiousLuxury on Instagram and Facebook.