WHAT I DID – AN ICE BATH?!
Wim Hof or “The Iceman” is an extraordinary Dutch that I have been following for over a year now. He holds over 20 Guinness World Records, having done some ‘superhuman’ feats… I recently went to his event in London, a workshop that involved my first ever experience of an ice bath!
WHY DID I WANT TO DO AN ICE BATH?
Wim Hof’s method promises more energy, reduced stress levels, augmented immune response, and improved sleep quality. All these health benefits, combined with my fascination about breathing, mindset, and (recently) cold exposure, made the opportunity of spending 8 hours at Wim Hof’s workshop an irresistible one!
Besides that, it always is my intention to keep on challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone. And this ice bath seemed like a perfect opportunity!
Breathing is something we unconsciously do all the time, and yet most of us are mostly unaware of its tremendous potential. In the event we did a practice involving controlling our breathing, deep belly breathing, focusing on full deep inhalation, followed by a quick passive exhalation.
We repeated this breathing exercise for another 10 or 15 minutes… and then I went into a deep meditative state. I felt so calm and blissful, that I cried with gratitude. I could sense the energy around my palms and through my lungs, and it was an immensely calm and beautiful experience.
And with being around 800 people as we were, you can start to imagine how intense it feels for everyone. My friend Chris, who was with me that day, started hugging the guy in front of him, a big guy who was crying and having an intense release of some kind. It was a collective meditative experience – a sublime one.
On the lunch break afterwards, I was feeling peaceful, happy, and feeling love for all the people around me. Radiating a big smile!
THE ICE BATH
Cold therapy is one of the 3 pillars of the Wim Hof method, and provides important health benefits, such as activating the brown fat, releasing ‘happy hormones’ and boosting the immune system.
Before the actual thing, we were given all the information on how to deal with the cold – the horse-stand movement, embracing the cold, slowing down the breath, and so on. For me it felt like it was really a matter of letting go, trusting, having faith that the “cold is going to be our warm friend”, as Wim was saying.
We prepared, warmed up, and then we all went outside in our swimming suits (oh, and did I mention that the event was in February in London? 😉 I wasn’t feeling any cold, I was excited waiting for our turn to step into the ice bath!
I remember very clearly the sensation when I stepped into the freezing bath – after 5-10 seconds, my mind started shouting! The instructor that was next to me saw my reaction and told me to slow down my breathing. And that’s all it took – after I controlled my breath, I just let go, trusting the physical sensations of my body being inside freezing water.
Letting go, slowing down my breath, and reframing in my mind the physical sensation from “painful” to “invigorating” was for me what helped me to stay submerged in ice water for 2 minutes.
My feeling when coming out of it, and gradually warming up again, was phenomenal – I felt alive, in a strange to describe way.
I can tell you with certainty that I’m looking forward to the next time!
“But, there is still every reason for healthy people to take cold showers, or swim outside in cold water. It gives you the feeling that you are alive.”Wim Hof
Realisations and Lessons learned
For me the event was in many ways, a spiritual experience. There was amazing knowledge – how breath is the bridge between our bodies and minds. I learned that we can go into a deep meditating state by controlling our breathing; and I experienced this for myself. Being able to be blissful and happy by doing such a simple breathing exercise, is something I believe everyone should try.
My friend Chris wrote about the event very eloquently, that his biggest learning was “being reminded that the thing that has the most positive and powerful impact on our epigenome is our EMOTIONS.” And I agree with that; it is becoming more and more evident by modern science that everything that manifests in our physical body, has another, not necessarily obvious, emotional aetiology.
Wim Hof, just before the end, he asked us “Change the world!” And it is all up to us – and to you, dear reader – to change the world. Little by little. By improving ourselves and letting the ripple effect spread the growth.
It was an outstanding, mind-blowing experience. I am grateful to have lived it! There were about 800 people attending the event – it made me think that there is abundant potential and hope to grow, not only individually, but also collectively. Critical mass is due.
“Fear does not go away by itself. You have to confront your fear, mould it, then learn to control it in its own irrational reality. Every human being has the power to do just that. To go deep within and confront your inner being is a powerful act. Going deep and developing the will power is the only way.”Wim Hof