I am always exploring and testing methods that have profound results in changing the physiology of the body and the mindset from feelings of sluggishness, apathy, heaviness, fogginess, and other states which one might relate to as depressive or ‘down’ states.
I’d like to share with you what for me (so this is purely anecdotal and not based on evidence) has been a major gamechanger. The Wim Hof Method. I seemed to see Wim’s face appear quite often on my Facebook feed, probably to do with the algorithms that show I am interested in breathwork and meditation? So I finally decided to explore.
Wim’s story is a very sad but fascinating one, where he tried many techniques to overcome his grief and depression only to find that extreme cold immersion was what worked for him. Scientists became fascinated by his feats that earned him the title of “The Ice Man”.
I decided by testing out his free mobile App and was amazed by the effects of his breathing technique.
As a meditator and a practitioner of self-hypnosis, I really enjoyed the effect of the retention of breath. It was pure connection with the body in the present, in the nowhere, where time stops, where the mind stops, and observing the physiological changes occurring in the body.
I was surprised that I could retain my breath with this technique longer than I have ever done in my life. After the third round of the breathing technique I was able to retain my breath for over 3 minutes. When I completed the breathing techniques I began to reflect that I felt a feeling of complete peace, a quiet mind, combined with a surge of blissfulness (that was the dopamine rushing through the body), and complete absorption in the process. Curiously during the retention I had a moment where I thought if I died here and now then I would die contented! My head felt like it had a spring-clean and was fresh and ready to start the day. My body felt good. A complete change from the first paragraph.
I have invested into the programme and now carry out the stretching exercises using Wim’s breathing techniques…
This lends itself so well with my running and practicing self-hypnosis.
There is also a 4 minute meditation which is just such a wonderful way to experience a powerful and quick meditation technique.
Of course the three pillars to Wim’s Method are Breathing, Commitment and Cold Therapy.
I started the cold showers when I was living in Lanzarote and it was summer. “Cold” therefore is quite a relative term according to the place you live and the time of year. So for me, it was relatively easy to do. The cold shower triggers off the fight-flight response, or the stress response when facing adverse situations. After a number of cold showers the stress response lessens and helps develop resiliency and endurance.
(Hats off to my friend, Sarah Eriksson who is getting up at really early in Sweden and immersing herself in a lake!)
Now I’m living in the foothills of the mountains where the climate is quite different and I’m really getting to experience what a cold shower really is like! At first it was like enduring something painful, the body tenses up, and at first I hated it. Then surprisingly after about a week I began to welcome it, finding that after 20 seconds my body adjusted to the cold and the tension went. The stress response was lowered and I am able to endure longer cold showers (but still have to give a lake a go!). After the shower the body feels like it is ready to take on the world, and that’s a great way to start the day! 🙂
Not only are we talking about extreme physiological changes, a quiter mind and more focus, but the cold shower seems to have the effect of strengthening the immune system. In fact it’s here that there is scientific evidence to back it up. My body feels strong, I support colder temperatures better (and I’m one of those thin-blooded people!), I’ve not had a cold since I’ve started the techniques.
As I’m really enthused by Wim’s techniques, my interest leads me to wanting to explore it in greater depth so no doubt I’m going to sign up for a ‘Wim Hof Experience‘ and experience it with a trained person, and get into that ice bath!
If you are looking for a technique that’s not time consuming to help with depression, anxiety, rumination, chronic pain, enhanced immunity function, then The Wim Hof Method has my recommendation.
Alive & Kicking!