'I'm not afraid of death,
I'm afraid not to have lived fully.' quoted by the next influential person I’m going to be writing about today, Wim Hof. Although I will continue to take a non biased approach to the majority of my blogs, I am extremely passionate about this one, because I have found his methods continue to work effectively in my own life. I am an avid long distance runner, and in the past prided myself on having pretty solid breath control. My brother in law and I were talking one day and he introduced me to Wim Hof, and the instant I started researching him and practicing his methods I found more than just breath control. I also found techniques in controlling my mind, challenging my body, and the benefits of cold therapy. I strive for peace in my life, and the calm that comes over me after one of his exercises is remarkable.
Wim Hof is a Dutch athlete with the nickname of “Iceman”. Some of his best known achievements are as follows:
• Running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle, barefoot only wearing shorts
• Swimming underneath ice for 66 meters
• Hanging on one finger at an altitude of 2,000 meters
• Climbing the highest mountains in the world while wearing only shorts
• Running a full marathon in the Namib Desert without drinking
• Standing in a container while covered in ice cubes for extended periods of time
All of these are extraordinary achievements that seem unfathomable, yet he states, “What I am capable of, everyone can learn.” He believes in your ability, even if you don’t, how beautiful and motivating is that!? He believes everyone has greater potential and passionately instructs you on how to grow into a better version of yourself.
“The Wim Hof Method '' has repeatedly been examined by scientists. In 2012 a case study was performed by researchers in the Netherlands where they concluded, “The concentration/meditation technique used by this particular individual seems to evoke a controlled stress response. This response is characterized by sympathetic nervous system activation and subsequent catecholamine/cortisol release, which seems to attenuate the innate immune response."
Full transparency, although it is not scientifically proven, Hof also claims that his methods can help those with various ailments such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. This is not so far-fetched if you really think about it. Have you ever swam in a spring? If you have and suffer from arthritis then you must have noticed after a few minutes in the cold spring water your joint pain eases. Hof also says, “Arthritis, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, depression - all of those diseases are a result of our neglected biochemistry. We need to be stimulated to help fight disease. Cold is a great stimulator”
In 2018 another study was done named “Brain over Body”, it was based on the intentional regulation of autonomic function during cold exposure. They used a combination PET/CT imaging and found, “Forceful respiration results in increased sympathetic innervation and glucose consumption in intercostal muscle, generating heat that dissipates to lung tissue and warms circulating blood in the pulmonary capillaries. Our results provide compelling evidence for the primacy of the brain (CNS) rather than the body (peripheral mechanisms) in mediating the Iceman's [Wim Hof's] responses to cold exposure." In layman’s terms, the mind over matter theory is legit.
We are a world full of people wanting easy fixes. I get it. I wish everything was easy as well. I struggle with my own issues, but I do my best to zero in on them and utilize methods to minimize the impact they have on my life and on my happiness. Life in general is not easy, so if you desire wellness of mind, body, and spirit then you need to do the work consistently. I deeply encourage you to do yourself a favor and try the Win Hof method. I will post a link below that can be found on YouTube and if you look in your App Store there is a Wim Hof app as well. I hope you find the same therapeutic value in his methods as I do.