It's easy and natural to contract in fear and cold when entering a cold lake.
Muscles contract to preserve heat in the inner core of the body and the very
action of contraction sends a fear signal coursing through the body. Consequently
it can very quickly lead to fear overload. I feel cold and contract, I feel
the contraction and feel fearful, I feel fearful and contract.
The colder and more contracted I feel the more I focus on cold and contraction, thus my consciousness in that moment resides more and more in cold, contraction and fear. In the lake feeling cold I remember how contracted muscles restrict lungs which in turn causes the body to sink. Consequently my fear is increased via fear of drowning.and so on it goes each new energy of fear whether physical, emotional or mental creating a fertile breeding ground for even more fear, growing exponentially out of control and thus confirming all those old fears about not stepping into a cold lake!
If in these moments of feeling cold, fear and/or contraction I can consciously remind myself of what is really happening via practiced self observation outside the cycle of fear (i.e. meditation) I can step back a little from the contracting cycle and remind myself to focus on the bigger picture. In this case I am in a cold lake and my outer body feels the cold water but my inner body will maintain its core temperature and will continue to warm me if I allow it, that is if I don't contract all my muscles and shut down the flow of blood to my outer body.
This step in my mind prevents the accelerating and diminishing spiral into fear and contraction if the expanded focus of self observation is maintained. Some days it just isn't and I spiral. Personally I stay expanded by staying out of my mind (perfectly true when folk say you have to be out of your mind to dip in an ice hole!) because I recognise my mind is filled with terrible images, thoughts and feelings associated with cold, fear and contraction. I won't bother listing mine here because we all have our own personal arsenal of haunting images to paralyze ourselves with.
Those haunting images are used to warn us away from "dangerous" situations but it is only through observation of situations we can explore and recognise which ones are actually "dangerous" to us. At first my contraction in cold water was so overwhelming on the purely physical level that it took me years to dip into my lake. Even though I recognised I was probably and reasonably afraid because I did "drown" in this lake when I was 3 years old it took me a long time to find and become aware of the conscious connection between the overwhelming cold and the fear from the drowning incident.
Subconsciously my body was protecting me from ever feeling the awful terror of "drowning" (I was found floating face down like a rag doll) but without consciously reminding me of those feelings I never wanted to feel again. Consequently the purely physical manifestation of fear via cold and contraction became my defence.
Exploring this concept using the very obviously physical medium of dipping
in a cold lake I gained useful experiences, insights and tools for other situations
arising in my life wherein fear grips me and sends me spiralling into contraction
when I lose my focus.
Whatever the situation, when feeling any signs of fear, I step back, breathe deeply and shift consciousness to take in the bigger picture. Through practising calm observation of the bigger picture we begin to understand long forgotten reasons for our behaviour and create new opportunities to change our mind.
I relived my "drowning" incident a few years ago with the aid of the UK School of Energy Healing and in that new found calm observation I also recognised other things happening to me at the time.
I felt a soft and protective energy around my mouth and nose preventing me
from taking in water. I recognised the presence protecting me then, since, now
and always. Little wonder I felt drawn back to this place after my cancer when
this was the place I had met such a safe and lovingly protective presence. Now
after years of
self observation I recognise the loving presence continually holding me in unconditional love is me. Recognition came by consciously choosing to recognise it.