Cold Water / Full Immersion

A Totally Woo-woo Experience

I have been following Wim Hof for over two years now, listening to interviews and reading up on his ‘method.’ I have practiced his breathing regimen off and on during this time as well. I typically do the breathing exercises 2-3 times a week, and the cold shower routine about 4-5 days out of any given week. There isn’t a schedule, or rhyme, or reason. But it has been, in the long run, fairly consistent.

I received his latest series of instructional videos at a very low price (comparatively) so I dove in and am slowly working through them at the aforementioned pace. While I honestly feel like the full price is a little steep, they are well worth checking out if you have the cash. He goes much more explicitly into different methods of breathing he practices, and talks a lot more about mindset, which ends up being crucial.

This was made clear to me last week when I decided to take a cold shower before work. I hadn’t been feeling well, but couldn’t afford to take that particular day off of work. I woke up early (a sure sign something is wrong with me!) and decided to do the breathing cycle recommended on his module on ‘inflammation.’ I figured that came closest to ‘just make my head and neck stop feeling this way.’ The breathing went well, I felt energized, did a short kettle-bell routine to work the kinks out, and headed for the shower. I felt better, but was leery of jumping into a cold shower when I knew my sinuses were hiding in the shadows, ready to jump out and pound on my favorite skull. So I prepped myself, having a very serious conversation with my circulatory system (hence the woo-wooness of the experience). It went something like this.

“Heh. Self. I know you aren’t totally 100%, but you are about to get in the cold water, so now would be the smart time to start shutting down those capillaries near the surface. That’s right, go ahead and start closing up now. I really don’t want our core temperature to drop. Seriously. So go ahead and start squeezing shut now. You have about 30 seconds. Get one it. Please. Now would be great. Okay, here we go, hope you were paying attention!”

And the absolutely incredible part was that it worked like a charm, like a magic pill, “like a placebo” as Micki said. And she is absolutely correct. If the placebo effect is the mind believing in a particular outcome, and the body striving to achieve that outcome, then that is what it was. The frequent cold exposure has definitely made my circulatory more robust and much faster to respond to the cold. The breathing exercises certainly provide a heightened level of energy and focus. But the pep-talk absolutely helped focus a specific, *autonomic* part of my body on preparing itself for the future sudden drop in temperature. When I stepped into the shower it wasn’t balmy, but there wasn’t a single instant of ‘Holy Crap!’ that seems to always happen for the first 20-40 seconds after exposure. My back, a particularly temperature sensitive area, actually felt hot by the time I got out of the shower.

So yeah, I am a fan. If you ask me about my experiences training the WH Method I will try unsuccessfully to not gush about it, but it is one of the few times I have had such a dramatic physical reaction as the result of what is mostly a dynamic sort of meditation. Give it a shot, go freeze your ass off, and as Wim like to say ‘Breathe, motherfuckr!”

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