Breathing – the first and last autonomous physical act we make as human beings; without conscious consideration or effort. We rely on our bodies to breathe when it needs to, and rarely contemplate such an automatic bodily function. It’s simple; what is there to think about?
But such a simple process has been rendered complicated, especially by those seeking to monetise its effective methodology. Meditation can be as straightforward as breathing in…and breathing out, whilst being completely aware what is happening. We do not need to invest in CDs, apps, books, DVDs, spiritual retreats; we do not need to be sat upon a beach, under a waterfall, or surrounded by the sounds of whales, chimes, nor others’ ohms and arrrs. Such resources can be fabulous and if they genuinely help in the practise of meditation, they are to be applauded. But, they’re really not necessary. You need nothing more than awareness of your breath to effectively meditate, as I learned when I interviewed the enigmatic and biology-defying Wim Hof this week.
Wim Hof is the Dutch pioneer, affectionately known as the ‘Iceman’ for his ability to endure extreme cold for prolonged periods of time. The bearer of 26 Guinness World Records for stunts including: withstanding the coldest ice bath for 1 hour 52 minutes; climbing 24,000ft of Everest without oxygen and just wearing his shorts; and running a marathon in the Arctic circle in shorts!
Mocked for 35 years for believing such feats can be achieved by anyone if they simply learn to breathe correctly, Wim now has science on his side to validate his claims. He is not a genetic anomaly, nor a superhuman; and firmly believes that we can not only accomplish the same endeavours, but that we all have the potential within us to influence our body’s immune system. Specifically, through correct breathing and cold exposure (as simple as a cold shower), we can cure illnesses such as depression, arthritis, auto-immune disease, allergies and even cancer. Game-changing is an understatement!
The Wim Hof podcast interview will be broadcast at 8pm, Sunday 24th July 2016, via the website: www.offtheropes.com, iTunes, Tune-in and Stitcher, and whether he is able to convince you that you are capable of wilfully controlling your immune system, or not, the positive effects of deep-breathing and the restorative benefits of cold water exposure are worth exploring – reduction in stress; increase in energy and creativity; greater life expectancy; improved concentration; enhanced resilience; and more recently, and most revolutionary, the ability to reset the body’s autonomic immune and nervous system, as demonstrated by Hof.
I want to believe everything that he claims; that illness and disease can be prevented and cured by mind-power and a daily dousing of cold water. And why not? It sounds incredibly simple, and life should have been. We have made ourselves sick; we have polluted the air we breathe; poisoned the food we eat and damaged the ground we walk upon. Our lifestyles are sedentary and any consequential illness is fixed by medication, rendering us entirely redundant in our own recovery. But can that be reversed? Can the Wim Hof Method provide a protective shield to envelop us?
To test the theories and satisfy my curiosity, I’ll be signing-up to the Wim Hof Method 10-week course and will keep you informed of the progress. I’m sold on the breathing element. Deep breaths won’t be hard to summon. But taking a cold shower each day most certainly will be. Or will it? Will my mind cope with the discomfort of cold water if I learn how to breathe correctly and conquer the discomfort? There’s nothing to lose, but a transformed life to gain.
To hear more about Wim’s life; his world records and scientific research, plus how to perfect your breathing, listen-in to Sunday’s Off the Ropes podcast at 8pm via www.offtheropes.com.
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Breathe in and……breathe out. x