A woman wearing only a black one-piece swimsuit and purple, fluffy socks drew her head back to soak up what sun she could. It was 29 degrees Fahrenheit as she sat on a blanket that afternoon at Washington Park in Newton.
“It’s been around five minutes, so you are all one-third of the way through,” David Magone, who led the Fro-Zen meditation program, said during the final challenge. “If you made it this far, you can make it all the way.”
Magone, who founded the Good Stress Method and is an instructor at Down Under Yoga including the Newton location, led the “Fro-Zen” meditation program, a series of four cold-exposure training sessions from Dec. 12 through Feb. 20, exposing people to cold and heat stressors in an effort to improve physical and mental health.
Max Yakubovich, participant and former NCAA swimmer, reflected on how meditation practices compare to athletic competition and training.
“I think the part that resonates a lot is that you can’t always take a positive outlook… finding a way to deal with the negative sides of our mind is a very valuable thing,” he said.
Magone, 45, began meditating at age 18 and taught yoga during his time at Portland State University. From Oregon, he continued his meditation journey to Boston in 2003, which led him to study at the Harvard University Buddhist Chaplaincy with Tibetan meditation master, Khenpo Migmar Tseten Rinpoche. Magone studied for years with the meditation master, becoming one of the first non-Tibetan teachers to teach Mangalam Yantra Yoga.
Chloe Jordan, participant and neuroscientist, said she has taken classes at Down Under Yoga for about a year and enjoys Magone’s method because it has helped her feel more comfortable in cold environments.
“The Good Stress Method really resonated with me because it does kind of build up your resilience mentally and neurologically as well as a lot of release of good chemicals that kind of help me in my daily life,” she said.
His motivation for founding The Good Stress Method also stemmed from his own experience with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. He said he lost a friend when he was 12 years old to a cold-weather accident and would have flashbacks that made being in cold environments very difficult.
“In essence, I basically wound up doing cold therapy by going into an environment that reminded me of my friend’s death,” Magone said. “I was just shocked and amazed to find out that actually entering that environment healed me.”
As a part of the four-class “Fro-Zen” program, 16 participants practiced deep breath-work, muscle contraction exercises, mental training, cold showers, and an ice plunge at Crystal Lake in Newton, leading up to Sunday’s final outdoor meditation challenge.
Magone said he has dedicated his life to helping other people relieve suffering and feel better about themselves, focusing this challenge on individual growth.
He told the group before heading to the park they could dress as “scantily clad” as they wanted and decide their own level of difficulty for the challenge.
“The only reward you get is your own personal development.”
Charlotte Howard and Taylor Coester can be reached at email@example.com.