I first heard about the Iceman, aka Wim Hof the Dutch extreme adventurer, about a year ago through an online article about his achievements.
From seeing him in action running through icy mountains in his underpants I felt compelled to learn more about him and the methods he employs in order to over come the cold as well as to fight off viruses !
It seemed he had discovered the secret to being superhuman – something most of us would find intriguing, I felt.
Though I was not a big fan of the cold, I felt drawn to see if it is really possible to control our autoimmune system as Wim and his researchers claimed.
After reading a book “Becoming The Iceman” by Justin Rosales, a young American student who visited Wim in Poland, I felt drawn to accept an offer from one of my colleagues to visit Holland where she lived to take a short training with one of Wim’s certified instructors, Tim Van Der Vliet.
I was very excited about what I might learn and imagined what it might feel like achieving swimming in a large body of freezing cold water, but we actually used a bath full of ice cubes.
Naturally I was fearful of being so cold and I was pleased to hear that the ice bath was strictly voluntary for those who felt up to the challenge.
Our Instructor Tim Van Der Vliet slowly and safely took us through introductions and health and safety checks. And then into three rounds of deep breathing all the way from the belly to the head, followed by holding our breathe on an out breath for a minute.
Subsequently I’ve discovered that this is to build up C02 levels after hyperventilating, which in this training is to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood.
This raises the PH of our blood to alkaline and we also grow more brown fat cells which help to fight off disease, I learned.
I was surprised how easy it was to hold my breath even with no air in my lungs after breathing deeply for a few minutes. Each round we finished with a breath hold on the in breath as well.
I was surprised that I fairly easily worked up to holding my breath for close to 3 minutes at one stage whilst still feeling very relaxed lying down. And most people exceeded their expectations as well.
I felt a light euphoric calmness after several rounds of this, so the ice-bath challenge no longer phased me. I felt confident I could calm myself and relax into whatever it felt like, especially as it was only for a maximum time of 2 minutes.
I was fourth to get in the bath and watching the others go before me made we want to try it even more. I found myself slipping fairly easily into the crunchy cubes of ice, and I was surprised how I didn’t flinch even when the hard ice touched my waist and then shoulders. There was a brief moment of mild panic as I struggled to let go of control and resistance. But strangely when I let go of control another type of control became available to me it seemed. The ability to control how I felt about the cold as well as how I responded to it.
When the two minutes was up I was surprised it wasn’t just one minute, and got out feeling a large sense of achievement. Empowered and potent full of potential and excitement.
The next week I felt stronger and more confident than ever before, but not in an arrogant way, there was a soft inner calm confidence like nothing I’d quite experienced before.
I tried to work out what was causing this, where was my typical self. At first I put it down to the powerful breathing exercises, perhaps my body had really been starved of oxygen all this time. My bones, muscles and joints seemed to be working and feeling better than ever before as well.
Then it came to me quite suddenly and clearly; when we ACCEPT and SURRENDER to whatever is happening to us in any given moment, like we did in the ice-bath, going through that fear and abandoning any of the usual residual responses, we COMMIT to this. From the commitment there comes our RESPONSIBILITY then we can TRUST as best we can, RESPECT as much as we can, even FORGIVE as best we can, then maybe; we can GIVE as much of ourselves as we choose.
This all seemed so obviously simple and clear to me. I wondered about the potential for this in terms of our ability to perform tasks we might consider too difficult. I felt like I could do anything I put my mind to, but not as if I would succeed in everything, but that I would not fear failure in any way, or the judgement of others. Again I still see enormous potential for these practices in terms of self development. We have become so reliant and used to the illusion of safety and comfort in our sedentary western corporate lifestyles. Who would ever consider that perhaps one of the keys to personal growth could be adapting to discomfort from the cold or any other elements of nature?
Wim Hof believes this is how we will evolve to another level of human consciousness, free from our limited ego. He also says that this is how our ancestors learned to survive the harsh winters and high altitudes.
I can’t disagree, and there is a lot of scientific data to verify that this practice can help to reset ! our minds and bodies. I also believed this was true before trying Wim Hof and I’ve previously written about the theaory in my blog article “Getting out of our comfort zone”. If you found this article inspiring I strongly recommend you find a certified Wim Hof instructor like Tim Van Der Vliet, if you wish to try out these techniques and practices for yourself.