This winter I found myself rolling around in the snow in nothing but a bathing suit.
Never in a million years would I have even entertained the thought of doing something like that. Yet, there I was, basking in the strange glory of a feeling that I never knew was possible.
The cold. I hated it.
Ever since I was I kid, I would cry about having to go outside if it was even mildly chilly. How I ever survived growing up in rainy Vancouver is beyond me.
Which is why when the Wim Hof Method was introduced to me, I laughed and thought those people must be crazy. Like, REALLY crazy.
Wim Hof is the “iceman.” He holds 26 world records for things like climbing to a 6.7 kilometres altitude on Mount Everest, wearing nothing but shorts and shoes.
When I was young my mom reinforced my fears, telling me that I would “catch a cold” if I didn’t stay warm all the time. Strangely enough, no matter how many jackets I piled on, I was sick a lot as a kid. My immune system was terrible, and I suffered from an autoimmune disease that left my skin itchy and full of sores all the time.
A couple years ago, I moved to the Sunshine Coast where I lived in a cabin by the ocean. It wasn’t as idyllic as it sounds. It was winter, and I was unemployed. A number of entrepreneurial projects had fallen through, and I was depressed and desperate. The ocean raged non-stop storms that kept me up at night. In my desperation I suddenly had the strange impulse to jump into the freezing cold ocean. Maybe it was just dark sadistic thinking. Maybe I needed to find a way to come to terms with the non-stop raging waves. Maybe I was just going crazy from isolation. I had recently been introduced to some Wim Hof-inspired meditative breathing methods, so maybe something about the breath actually motivated me to face some of my deepest fears. Whatever the reasoning was, with no where else to turn, I filled up with oxygen, calmed my mind, and jumped in.
It was exhilarating. My body felt more alive than I had felt in years. All my anxieties washed away, even if for a few moments. I felt like a superhero.
So, I did it again the next day. And the following day. And then 1-3 times a week for 8 months.
Something amazing started to happen. I stopped being terrified. Breaking through this fear allowed me to see through the illusion of my other fears. My body felt like it was getting a huge tune-up; re-calibrating to a more natural, high-functioning state. In addition to practicing the Wim Hof breath, movement, and cold exposure techniques, I also started eating healthier. And for the first time in my life, my skin condition completely vanished.
Slowly, over time, I somehow become one of those crazy people that I used to laugh about.
As I started hearing more stories from these people, I realized that maybe it’s the rest of the world that’s crazy. We artificially control temperatures to such extremes that we’ve greatly reduced the natural ability for our bodies to self-regulate. We are actually capable of so much more than we think.
And if nothing else, facing our fears and reminding ourselves that we are capable of more is a powerful act.
The confidence and clarity of mind I gained through these practices allowed me to see what I really wanted to do with the next stage of my life, and shortly after, I found myself working a dream job at Hollyhock.
I’m not the only crazy one. Check out this inspiring story with 60-year old Roula who lives with Lyme disease:
So are you crazy enough to dive in? Consider joining expert trainer Daniel Cortez at Hollyhock on May 9-13 for Wim Hof Method: Breath, Cold, Movement
Daniel is one of the first Wim Hof Method Master Instructors in North America. Beyond the method, he will also be sharing other breathing techniques and foundational human movement to support better health.
Here is some of Daniel’s story:
Join Cortez on Cortes! Wim Hof Method: Breath, Cold, Movement – I look forward to seeing you there!