Day 80: Watching

While sitting in the cold-plunge again this morning, I noticed a bit more about what makes life extraordinary. This whole process of getting into the cold plunge, with the deep breathing, and the deep moaning, is followed by a stillness as I brace the balls of my feet against one side of the tank, and brace my back against the other side:

I’m looking out across the room and my gaze is very still and focused on the other side of this large geodesic dome. My attention scans over the surface and depth of my body, through my viscera, through my marrow. I deeply penetrate my mind into the core of the sensations, sensations that we call pain, pain shooting up from my chest into my neck, pain apparently throttling me, the balls of my feet screaming with pain, pain in the core of my shins.

But then it’s just sensations, and my body relaxes, and I am interested in what is actually happening right now, right now in this chilly little tub in a room full of steam. There are sensations, and they are wonderful. These sensations are wonderful because they are real. My whole experience is made up of these sensations, and they are exquisite, they are beautiful. The more I settle into them, the more my body relaxes, and the more I am content; I am content with pain; I am content with pleasure.

Everything within experience is arising and passing away, and I am feeling it within my body, and my mind is opening, blossoming to it from moment-to-moment. It’s like a lotus flower; I can feel it. My mind is opening to experience like a lotus flower. How clichéd, I think, and continue to expand into it.

No matter where I am, no matter what I am doing, I take this watcher with me. This watcher that is me. This watcher that is constant yet cannot be found anywhere inside my body. This watcher that watches it all arise and pass away. This thing that I am … not.

And then, for no good reason, I moan, reach out over the edge of the tub, and pull myself to my feet, before staggering across the room to take a swig of spring water, before sliding into the hot pool, before feeling the heat as if it were cold, before sinking into a different experience.

Duncan Riach, Ph.D.

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An engineer-psychologist focused on machine intelligence. I write from my own experience to support others in living more fulfilling lives | duncanriach.com