I wanted to share about a workshop I took over the weekend that taught me more about the Wim Hof Breathing Method. I was introduced to this method by a dear friend a couple years ago and after watching the documentary, Inside the Superhuman World of the Iceman, I'm always interested to learn as much as I can about the mind/body connection as I believe that it's a key component to overall health.
To sum it up, the workshop was a mix of two segments of breath work, education around what the benefits of the method are and cold training submersion. Meaning, you submerge in a ice bath for two minutes and are challenged to use your breath to regulate your body and sustain the discomfort of the freezing cold water. Bam!
Instead of going into the method and how it's been proven by science to be so beneficial for the human body among other amazing insights, I'm going to speak to my own experience in the ice bath, as it took me a bit by surprise.
(*There's a ton of information on this method and all the proven findings. I will have some links below if you're interested in learning more.)
Our instructor mentioned how our reaction to the cold often acts as a mirror for us. This intrigued me immediately. Meaning that how your body reacts to the physically shocking environment of the ice bath can mimic how you show up in life in stressful situations. Basically, with dedication and practice to this method, you can condition your body to use your breath and mind to train your body to have a different reaction to stress. I'm fascinated by this.
I was eager to jump in the ice bath, as I like to charge into knew physical situations. A couple people had gone in before me. They all seemed to play it super cool, eyes closed, breathing through "the pain" as it's a shocking sensation. They all looked really zen to me. I thought, "I got this."
As I jumped in and quickly submerged, the pain literally took my breath away. I couldn't catch my breath and immediately, all I heard was my inner voice talking mad sh*t, "Oh my God, I gotta get outta here. WTF, how did these other people seem so cool?" I literally couldn't catch my breath and felt myself in a bit of a panic, which made me become really judgmental of myself. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe my instructor said, "If you need to get out, you can." This totally increased the volume of my critical inner voice, "Seriously Kim, everyone else can do it...what's up with you?"
Side note: Getting out of my head (mind) and into my body via my breath in order to calm myself down has been a recent struggle for me. This experience made it glaringly obvious that some work needs to be done in this area of self judgement. Lately, I've noticed that my mind has been going super fast and into the dark freaking woods more so than normal. I know on a logical level that I need to slow down and BE more present, yet I've been struggling to BE more in the present, rather than the past or future.
It was really powerful for me to have such a loud and panicked physical reaction to the cold. The first words from my instructor was "slow down," as I was breathing super quick and shallow. I struggled to catch my breath and slow my breath and calm down.
With that said, on a personal level, the biggest chunk of insight I took away from this rad workshop was that, generally speaking, I need to SLOW MY ROLL. My inability to catch my breath and find my calm really does mirror my recent very busy mind that I've been struggling to quiet.
I love experimenting with my physical body to help show me the way. I strongly believe that our bodies are always talking to us. It's so important to pay attention.
What's your body saying to you?
Resources for more information about the Wim Hof Method provided by @reispaluso
Find Wim's online course here: http://wimhofmethod.com/
Find more scientific papers and such at this website: http://www.icemanwimhof.com/science @iceman_hof
Check out Scott Carney’s book, What Doesn’t Kill Us, for some great insights into the Wim Hof Method.