The ways of the Iceman.

A number of my friends are extoling the benefits from following the practices outlined by “Dutch Iceman”  Wim Hof – these include breathing exercises to increase the effectiveness of our breathing and building up a tolerance of exposure to cold water or freezing environments.

Hof explains that through breathing exercises and repeated exposure to the cold, his method will lead to real health benefits: more energy, lowered stress levels and an improved immune system. He says this enables him to undertake seemingly superhuman feats of endurance.  Hof says that if we breathe properly, then the oxygen levels in our tissues increase and adrenaline floods the body, granting strength that we didn’t know we had.

“If you oxygenize the body the way we do it, the oxygen gets into the tissue. Regular breathing doesn’t do that. What happens in the brain stem, the brain says, ‘There is no oxygen anymore’ and then it triggers adrenaline to shoot out throughout the body. Adrenaline is for survival, but this time it is completely controlled … the adrenaline shoots throughout the body and resets it to the best functionality.”

You can find out more about Wim Hof’s method at his website here.

Now to be clear, it seems that not only is Wim Hoff improving the effectiveness of the breathing, he is controlling oxygen within the body to trigger the release of adrenalin.  This is combined with exposures to cold environments or to cold water baths that will build up a tolerance.   NB: There is a lot of research that shows that exposure to such cold situations can have therapeutic effects, including boosting the immune system – and that these effects are long lasting.

It seems to me that the practice of the Wim Hof’s methods may also increase one’s mindfulness – and so deliver the associated benefits:  breath focus is a practice that quietens the mind… developing an ability to focus and to avoid distractions (external or internal); while authority over one’s emotional reaction to cold shock is about the mind recognising the reactions yet being able to quench the automatic impulses (fight or flight); is developing an authority over ones emotional responses.  Of course, Wim Off is seeking to develop other skills and attributes – yet I believe that these mindfulness skills will help to improve concentration – and even attain “flow states” – as well making one less impulsive and able to develop better executive function.

Wim Hof’s method is much more than mindfulness … but followers will reap the benefits of becoming more mindful

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