I lived in Michigan for a little while before quickly returning to my natural habitat in the south. At the time, I thought my explorations into experiencing the cold had concluded. But as I have progressed on my journey, I'm starting to realize that both hot and cold have an incredible power that can be carefully harnessed by those who choose to do so.
I started thinking about the cold again recently when my brother posted the following video on social media. I had heard of Wim Hof before, but I hadn't really taken him seriously until I saw this video. Even if you aren't interested in the cold aspect of his work, I think it's a really inspirational piece regarding how far someone can push themselves in the pursuit of excellence. It is also interesting that all of this insight is the direct result of some very serious misfortune in his life, which is something that we explore in the Story of Luck parable. Anyway, here is Wim Hof, the master of cold, and a film crew who has documented some of his achievements. I think the guy at the beginning is kind of annoying, but I think he did a great job putting the video together overall.
I had watched this video and it kept popping back up in my mind over the subsequent days. I try to pay attention when that happens. I thought to myself that I would just post the video, kind of as a reminder to myself to explore the cold later (much later).
Before continuing, I should say that my default is to not like the cold at all. I'm much better in burning hot temperatures than freezing cold ones, since I was raised in the hot Dallas climate.
Anyway, the Wim Hof students always say the first step is just to take a normal shower and then to have a cold finish. I had tried that a couple of times previously but not gotten a lot of results from it. I would say that I had my first successful session last night after my evening workout / yoga.
I got in the shower with warm water running. As I stood under the water, I started thinking about the Wim Hof video and how Wim emphasizes welcoming the cold. This reminded me of the part in yoga where you learn to accept discomfort without fighting it. I started moving the shower colder, adjusting the knob in tiny increments since this was my first time and I didn't know how much I could realistically take of it.
As the shower started to cool down further, a mantra appeared to me in my mind:
"I welcome the cold, because I am made of ice."
(I'm now realizing that mantras sound silly when you tell them to someone else, but it's important that you speak very directly to your subconscious so you get the best results.)
So I repeated the mantra over and over again as I began my meditational breathing (which I will discuss in an upcoming article). Between the deep breathing and the mantra, I was able to go way colder with the water than I had originally anticipated.
When I got out of the shower, I felt great! There was a clear energizing effect, which was also coupled with very pleasant feelings of well-being. Interesting. I resolved to make it a priority to explore the cold further in the near future.
Note of Warning: I've listened to a number of interviews regarding the Wim Hof method and his specific breathing technique can cause someone to pass out. Needless to say, this is dangerous if you try it in standing water (like an ice bath), where drowning is possible. I felt like I needed to put this warning here in the interests of everyone's safety. For now, I'm simply sticking to my normal meditational breathing technique which I use in my yoga and tai chi.