Sadghuru once said, “Only when you explore the ecstasy of simply being, where even to breathe is a distraction, can you call yourself complete.” And the Dalai Lama said, “Everything we require is already there, within our mind.”
Did you know that your breath is one of the most valuable assets you have?
When you take time to focus on your breathing and saturate your body with oxygen, you can accomplish incredible things — like take an ice bath, run a marathon in the snow, or reduce your own anxiety!
It may seem hard to believe, but it’s true. My guest today has created his own breathing method that allows you to gain control of your nervous system and withstand extreme conditions — such as the freezing, bitter cold.
Today, I’m bringing back one of my all-time favorite guests — the one and only Iceman, Wim Hof! We’re diving deep into the scientific and biological effects of intentional breathing and enduring extreme cold have on boosting your immune system and elevating your feelings of joy and happiness.
Whether you’ve been dragging yourself through each day or are waking up each morning with an inspiring vision, this message will give you the tools to experience happiness and pass it on to others!
As a kid in the Netherlands, Wim’s first jump into freezing-cold water was for fun. Years later, after his wife tragically died, leaving him with four young children, he submerged himself in cold water as a way to connect with himself and process grief. Since then, he has subjected himself to extreme feats of cold and earned himself the name “Iceman.”
He set a world record time (two hours, 16 minutes) for a barefoot half-marathon in freezing conditions. He claimed another world record by spending nearly two hours in full-body contact with a solid slab of ice. He also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts.
Through all of these feats, he has learned firsthand that our brains have the power to guarantee us happiness, strength, and health. He says that we can actually regulate our minds and autonomous nervous systems by breathing and being present. To help people do just that, he developed the Wim Hof Method: a natural path to an optimal state of body and mind.
Today, Wim teaches people worldwide, from celebrities and professional athletes to people of all ages, to control their bodies and minds and achieve extraordinary things. I’ve had him on The School of Greatness before, first on Episode #398 and then on Episode #799! I also had the incredible opportunity to go on a retreat with several other entrepreneurs with Wim Hof in Poland — it was an amazing experience, and you can read all about it here.
If you’re ready to learn about simple daily rituals that can improve your health and happiness, you’re going to love this message!
Your brain is extremely powerful. One of the ways we tap into its power is through breathwork. Through breathing, we are able to link the mental and physical parts of our existence. Not only is this the beginning of confidence, but it is the beginning of us being able to overcome disease without medication.
Wim said that losing connection with ourselves is when we open ourselves up to fear and disease. Returning to our sense of center allows that confidence to be restored and empowers our body to restore health in our bodies. To recover this connection with yourself, Wim recommended this breathwork practice:
Sit down, fully present, and take a deep breath. This is what Wim calls the “life force.” Take it in, letting it fill your chest and belly, then let it go. Do it again, each time, allowing yourself to go into your mind deeper and deeper with each breath. Repeat this 30 times.
According to Wim, this breathwork practice actually reactivates and deploys your white blood cells to do their job. That’s why you begin to feel better, and illnesses can even regress or be reversed:
“[With each exhale,] you are blowing off carbon dioxide, which is acidic. … Depression and inflammation mean that acidity is too long present and has deregulated our systems. … [Through breathing] you are changing [your] biochemistry right now. … [Your] heart rate is going down. The inflammation is going down. … [Eventually] it goes as deep as the lymphatic system, and once it is cleansed through this deep breathing, the white [blood] cells — the lymphocytes — come alive because the garbage is gone. Life comes back. … [And] the immune system takes down the intruder.” – Wim Hof
In 30 deep breaths, all that happens. You’re able to battle anxiety, reduce inflammation, and regulate your mood. But the final and maybe most powerful step to this practice is to stop breathing after your last exhale. Here’s how Wim explained it:
“You take one last breath in, you blow it off, and you halt — you stop breathing after the exhalation. … And if you’re able to stay three minutes without air in the lungs, that means you are going deeply within — you are changing, [and] the brain STEM comes alive, survival comes alive. Then the adrenal axis — boom — reset of the body. Amazing! This is why the professors say, ‘This can battle out immune diseases. This is a transformational technique that will change mental healthcare.’” – Wim Hof
30 breaths, guys! With 30 intentional breaths a day, you can guide your physical and mental state towards greatness. If you want to equip your body to better fight COVID-19 or are just feeling a little under the weather with all the holiday activities, stop long enough to take 30 intentional breaths. Your body will thank you!
Happiness is super important to me. I actually don’t think you can achieve greatness without it. If you have all the success in the world — money, cars, successful companies, health, fancy houses — but you aren’t happy, you’ve missed the point. The beautiful thing about this is, you can start cultivating happiness right where you are. You don’t need millions of dollars to be happy!
If you’re ready to incorporate a happiness practice into your life, try taking a cold shower. Wim said that cold showers can increase your happiness because they teach you how to deal with uncomfortable circumstances and help you access your inner power mentally:
“Every time when you go into a cold shower, you go into discomfort. You learn to deal with the stress mechanisms inside the brain. … You don’t see anything, but from the inside, suddenly you become very strong because you are regulating the hormones and the adrenal axis, [which puts] you in an altered consciousness and [increases your] physical power.” – Wim Hof
This altered state and trained ability to mentally deal with discomfort is key to happiness. Why? Because life is going to be painful at times. The way we deal with and respond to hard things determines our ability to connect with the good in life. We can’t always control what happens in our life, but we can control how we handle it.
If you’re thinking, “A cold shower still sounds like a bad idea to me. … I don’t like to be uncomfortable or cold,” remember that putting yourself in a place of controlled discomfort isn’t about being in pain. Instead, that place of controlled discomfort is about connecting with your inner power and accessing joy that leads to happiness even when life is hard.
Accessing this joy is a powerful skill because, as Wim explained, happy people spread happiness. And when someone spreads happiness, they feel good about themselves.
“Breathe, take a cold shower, and make sure you are in command over your happiness. … If you got that and you connect with that, then you are able to pass it on to everybody. A happy man is not longing for anything. He doesn’t go to war. He doesn’t create chaos. He creates a radiance of love and energy for everybody. And it’s almost autistic because you get to feel so good. If you heal others, it feels good.” – Wim Hof
How amazing is that?! If you’re ready to feel better about yourself, I want to challenge you to take a cold shower every day for the next ten days. Breathe deeply, take that cold shower, and get control of your thoughts. Remind yourself of how truly strong and powerful you are and allow that positive confidence to flow out of you to everyone you’re with.
I feel like self-love is something we should all be doing every day — the more we love ourselves, the more confidence and love we can give to other people. From that place of love, we can also heal more people. I think self-love is two-fold. It’s about learning to be in control of yourself while at the same time letting go of control to enjoy all that life has for you. Here’s how Wim explained it:
“I want to be in control over my physiology by my mind. I want to love myself and the rest of the world because if I’m not in control, then who and what is in control? … Actually, we are in control by letting go. … The mind is learning how to let go because the body is one with the mind and brain. The body knows how to solve the extreme impacts of stress anytime. But you have to learn to let go.” – Wim Hof
In other words, when you learn to control your mental state and allow your body to experience life the way it is, you are stepping into some of the deepest self-love there is. Wim said this practice of controlling and letting go helps you bypass your ego, heal others, and experience true love.
“We have to go past our thoughts, and if we learn to heal others and just to love others, then we will transcend our ego. That is what our reality wants — what our soul wants — is pure love.” – Wim Hof
You are deserving of deep, authentic, and pure love. But something people don’t often talk about is that experiencing that kind of love with someone else starts with us. When we have cultivated an authentic love with ourselves, we can bring that same energy into a relationship with someone else. 30 intentional breaths or a cold shower are both great first steps toward this pure self-love.
One of the things that inspires me about Wim’s story is how he found indescribable love and meaning after a tragedy. When he didn’t think he could live anymore, he turned to the thing that helped him quiet his mind and remembered how strong he was. That was the beginning of learning to love life again and helping others do the same. Wim truly became unstoppable, and that’s exactly what he said the power of love is:
“When you are in love? You don’t think. You fly. You’ve got enormous power to go from A to B for the object of your love. Nothing can stop you. We have to learn to love life. Then nothing will stop you. We are built to overcome any obstacle in our life to realize the beauty of our mind and soul it’s there.” – Wim Hof
If you are at a place in your life where you are barely getting through each day, I want you to know that learning to love life again is possible. I know because I went from being broke and depressed living on my sister’s couch to experiencing indescribable love and creating work that changes lives. I’m living a life that’s better than anything I could have imagined back then. So, I want to challenge you to give yourself the gift of connecting with yourself.
Whether you’re dragging yourself through each day or waking up with an inspiring vision every morning, the tools Wim shared today will jumpstart and accelerate your journey to greatness! You were meant to be in love with life and share that love with others in the way you live. So, give yourself the gift of connecting with yourself, whether it’s through 30 intentional breaths or taking a cold shower, and do something great!
I don’t know about you, but I think Wim is absolutely amazing! If you want to learn more about his work, check out his website, and follow him on Instagram. Make sure you grab a copy of his book The Wim Hof Method. If you enjoyed this message, be sure to check out the two other times we talked: Episode #398 and Episode #799.
Thank you so much for spending your time with me today. If you enjoyed this message, please share it with your friends and help spread this message of greatness. Just take a screenshot of this and share it on Instagram. Tag Wim, @iceman_hof, and me, @lewishowes, and let us know what you learned! Also, it would mean the world to me if you could hop onto Apple Podcasts, subscribe, and leave a review. Anytime someone leaves a review and a five-star rating, more people are able to find this podcast!
That’s it for today. But, in case no one has told you lately, let me remind you that you are loved, you are worthy, and you matter. Now, go out there and do something great!