Hot and Cold
It is the end of July and here in the Midwest, it's hot.
I spend a lot of time caring for the animals and working in the garden.
Both of these activities are therapeutic for me.
Both rewarding and often, physically challenging.
I grew all my seeds indoors in a greenhouse this past winter. Six months later, I am reaping the rewards of all my work. It's a great feeling and for certain, a lesson in patience.
Growing isn't just something I do on the garden. I am always on a learning quest, in all aspects of life. Little did I know at the time how a simple text from a good friend would greatly improve my life.
The text "Random question of the day...how long can you hold your breath on the exhale?" This started a text exchange that she ended up telling me about the Wim Hof Method. This woman knows her stuff and I trust the info she sends my way. So I looked it up, watched YouTube videos and downloaded the app. Wim Hof is "The Iceman." I bought "The Iceman Speaks" on audible (highly recommend.)
The Wim Hof Method is made of three pillars. Breath. Cold. Commitment.
BREATHING. I had some experience in breath work, but never did anything consistently, only practiced on an as needed basis. Wim Hof breathing exercises are precise and easy to do. And so I began. "Fully breathing in and letting go" thirty times holding on the exhale of the last one for a minute. or as long as possible, then inhale and hold fifteen seconds. Repeat two more times, each time extending on the last exhalation. This I could do. And did, and still do. Every day.
COLD THERAPY. The second pillar is the cold. YIKES! I can't (couldn't) stand when my warm shower water turns cold for a brief second, so imagining purposefully doing this to myself, was not a pleasant thought. I continued the breathing exercises and put off the other two, very important, pillars. Then one day about a month ago, I took the plunge. Well, not really. I just turned my water to cold at the very end of my shower, maybe 10 seconds, Hated it.
The next day, I did what Wim recommends. At the end of the shower, turn to cold and put a hand in, moving up to my forearm, shoulder.. then a foot, shin and upward. Did this for thirty seconds. Each day (for 10 days) I added more time to this cold part. It took about a week before I started noticing some substantial benefits as the cold therapy time increased; mainly sustained energy.
Now, guess what? I ONLY take cold showers, for the entire time! Just as Wim said would happen, happened: I CRAVE THE COLD! Who knew? Certainly and most definitely, not me!
COMMITMENT. The third pillar and the most important one in my opinion, is the commitment. After all, if you don't actually do the breathing and cold, there are no benefits. The breathing exercises and cold therapy are now part of my every morning routine.
It has been fascinating to challenge myself daily in this way. The short time unpleasantness is building long term results:
SUSTAINED ENEGY (no 4pm "crash)
IMPROVED ABILITY TO HANDLE STRESSFUL SITUATIONS BETTER
OVERALL FEELING OF WELL BEING
MY SKIN! IT SEEMS TO BE REALLY BENEFITTING FROM THE COLD
The Wim Hof Method is a practice of hormetic stress. Read more here.
Here are a few more quotes from this incredibly soul-filled man, the man, Wim Hof:
" If we always choose comfort, we never learn the deepest capabilities of our mind and body"
" The limit is not the sky. The limit is the mind."
"The cold is my teacher. It is merciless and righteous."
In case you think this is all too "woo woo" for you, let me assure you, there a many studies that back up the benefits of the Wim Hof Method. Here is one from the NIH
Here's the important part, but I do encourage readers to read the entire study.
From the study: In conclusion, the present proof-of-principle study demonstrates that the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can be voluntarily influenced through practicing techniques that are relatively easy to learn within a short time frame. It therefore could have important implications for the treatment of a variety of conditions associated with excessive or persistent inflammation, especially auto-immune diseases.
You know what's super cool about all this? I mean beside the proven benefits and the ease of learning? It's free. You can learn all of this without purchasing a thing! There are tons of videos online to learn the techniques, which are so simple. I do however, strongly suggest at the very least buying his audio book "The Iceman Speaks" there is something so inspiring about listening to Wim share his passion for life.
TRY IT. I would be thrilled to hear from anyone that implements this method into their lives as I have.
I will leave with one of my favorite quotes (he has a lot that I love though!)
"HAPPY... HEALTHY...STRONG. The rest is bullshit" Wim Hof