• Curt Mercadante

Embrace the Chaos

Cold showers have become a part of my days during the past few years.

There are a variety of physical, mental, and spiritual reasons why I love cold showers…

But one interesting part of a cold shower is that when you go into it by tensing your body, with the intent to “fight” the cold, the shower is more unbearable.


Your heart rate goes up, your muscles become rigid, and you just can’t wait to get out of the cold.


When you go into the shower “loosely”, letting the water wash over you and embracing it while taking slow nasal breaths, a funny thing happens…


The cold water begins to feel warm. It does so rather quickly.


Loose vs. tense.


Flexible vs. rigid.


Embracing vs. fighting.


Now, let’s think of that cold water as “chaos.”


When chaos, or uncertainty, enters our life, how do we respond?

Do we become tense and fight? Rigid?


Do we grasp for systems of order to “dam” the flow of the chaos?


Much of self-help and even psychotherapy is focused on creating systems of order to help individuals deal with chaos.

It’s all well-meaning and many times can have the effect of stopping the “mental bleeding” by applying a psychological bandage of order.

But does it actually cure the wound?


Or, like damming a river, does it sometimes cause a backup of water that destroys the surrounding towns…


Or, simply create a wall behind which the energy of the water gathers and grows, threatening to break the dam at any time — and thus creating a need for us to keep building more dams, apply more bandages, creating more anxiety in the process?


What if, as with the cold shower, instead of learning to fight with systems of order, we learned to embrace the chaos?


What if, instead of building a series of dams, we learned to ride with the flow of the water?


To be sure, it’s scary as hell — either right before you step into the cold chaos, and it’s a shock at the moment you step in…


But when you remain loose, flexible, and yielding, the water becomes warm.


The initial anxiety dissipates.


Your heart rate drops.


Your breath slows.


You love the water, instead of fearing the water.


What if, instead of striving for order…


We learned to embrace the chaos…


To ride it like a surfer riding a wave in the ocean?


****


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