New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

Summit of Greatness 2024 | September 13-14 | Los Angeles, CA


Wim Hof


Breathing = Control

We’ve all had our fair share of hardships, haven’t we? Especially with the coronavirus hitting our planet, we are together experiencing these unpredictable times where our physical and mental health have become vulnerable. And just like any other challenging time, I know how difficult it can be to move on and try to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This brings me to a quote by one of the most sought-after spiritual teachers and authors, Eckhart Tolle, who said: “Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”

And on the same lines, Albert Einstein also said: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.”

Both these quotes talk about the power of moving on for a brighter present and a better future. They stress how essential it is to let go of what we can’t control and to have a better hold over our minds. 

Today, we have an incredible guest with us — Wim Hof. He is loved and admired and an inspiration to millions worldwide, including celebrities and athletes. Meanwhile, some people find him controversial as well.

“That [which] you cannot control, which is the most essential in life, is love. It’s like a flower. You cannot control a flower, but you [can learn] to let things go. … It’s just being vulnerable within yourself and witnessing the inner voice and depth. … And that [inner sense] is the greatest source of inspiration.” – Wim Hof

Wim has been on The School of Greatness a few times already, and he is one of our favorite and most popular guests of all time. Today, we talk about COVID and its implications and how to boost your immunity, and we also dig deeper into human psychology and how we can master our own. Let’s dive in!

Who Is Wim Hof?

I am sure all of you have heard of Spiderman, Superman, or Antman, but have you ever heard of the Iceman?

The Iceman is our own real superhero, devoid of any fiction or fantasy. And that’s who our guest today is, folks — Wim Hof, aka ‘The Iceman.’ Wim got this nickname for breaking a few records related to cold exposure. His feats include climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts, running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle on his bare feet, and standing in a container for more than 112 minutes covered in ice cubes. He has even set several Guinness World Records for swimming under ice, the fastest half marathon barefoot on ice and snow, and direct full-body contact with ice. This man is the closest thing to a machine.

Wim is an extreme athlete from the Netherlands, and his extensive training enables him to control his breathing rate and blood circulation and to withstand extreme temperatures. His unique breathing method — The Wim Hof Method — has become extremely popular over the last few years. He also has a book by the same name. The exercise is focused on deep and rhythmic inhalations and exhalations, controlled hyperventilation, or power breathing, which includes a voluntary short stress response leading to more resilience to stress in the future.

I am excited for you to learn from this man and have a burst of inspiration, information, strategies, and tools to support you in your life right now.

Coronavirus: Dealing with Stress and Isolation

People have been responding differently at a time when the world is facing the coronavirus pandemic where much time has been spent in self-isolation. A lot of people are stressed, and it just keeps on getting worse. But Wim tells us how we can move past this setback.

 “There is change happening on a [global] scale, and it is about our consciousness, perception, and neurology. … We have to become more aware of who we are, … what nature and love are, … and what [our] purpose in life is. … [There] is destruction in the world, and this now is a time of opportunity to go within and to reconnect with a new paradigm.” – Wim Hof

We all have a mind that needs to be more in connection with our hearts. Everyone just wants happiness, strength, good health, and long life for their near and dear ones, which should be guaranteed.

“There are professors that are investigating the functioning of the brain at will, to see [if] we have come to new possible neurology. A new control wherein we, at will, are able to tap into our brain, the seat of our mind, and go deeper [into ourselves]. And that is going to be the new paradigm where [we] can control our [mind].” – Wim Hof

Wim is a pioneer and shows beyond speculation what a human brain and your will can do. When you have better control over your mind, you will be able to choose between a happy or an unhappy lifestyle.

The Two Things You Can Do to Have More Control Over Your Mind

Wim then talked about the things that we can do daily to keep our mental health in check.

#1 – Vascular Fitness

The vascular system comprises the vessels that carry blood and lymph through the body, which brings forward the importance of vascular fitness.

“When you take a shower, have a nice and cold one because that is [part of] vascular fitness, [and your] energy feels [more pronounced] afterward. … And then when you sit down, your energy flow and blood flow is a lot better, … [which] makes you feel [good].” – Wim Hof 

Alternate hot and cold showers are the most effective because you open up and close again and again. In this way, you train the millions of muscles in your vascular system, which helps blood flow better through your system. That results in reduced stress and helps in gaining better control over your body.

#2 – Deep Breathing

After a cold shower, Wim recommends 20-25 minutes of deep breathing exercises because it has been seen that it changes your body chemistry.

“You are the ruler within your own mind and body, and this is the mindset [that you should have]. … You should actually become alchemists in the morning. … The cold shower will help your vascular system, … and the breathing exercises [transform] your body. And then suddenly you will realize that you are the master of your stress, health, and happiness.” – Wim Hof

People become more self-aware when they begin to do these breathing exercises and adopt the habit of taking cold showers.

“When you cleanse from the outside, you automatically cleanse from the inside.” @Iceman_Hof  

Strengthen Your Immune System and Weaken Your Sickness

Are you feeling weak right now? Maybe you have the flu or even the coronavirus, but if you want to know how to get out of your sickness, you must read on.

“If [you] feel weak, then you must do breathing exercises. The breathing exercises … bring down inflammation which was weakening [you], … make you feel strong, … and give [you] confidence.” – Wim Hof

A small breathing exercise allows you to have better control over your immune system at will. Breathing is one of the most effective methods of bringing down stress and sickness. You can also use cold showers to strengthen your breathing ritual.

“[Experiencing] cold water is a real stress. … And you can fend off this stress by … breathing exercises … [which] work differently than any other technique. … If you learn how to deal with cold water, you will also [end up] learning how to deal with your emotions and mood. … The deepest part of your brain goes into the survival [mode], and it shoots out adrenaline … into the bloodstream and resets the body. … It [in turn] fends off the bacteria and viruses.” – Wim Hof

You can become an alchemist with the help of the breathing technique. With practice, you will start becoming aware that you are able to alter and change yourself, and with that, you open up to the great potential you received from nature.

Nature has these excellent capabilities that we can utilize by mastering how to deal with stress. And when danger comes, our mind knows precisely how to adapt to the aggressor, and we get the power to take ourselves out of any misery or pain that we are experiencing. Stress, as a teacher, prepares you how to stay relaxed in every situation, be it euphoria or depression. As a result, your energy remains clean.

Overcoming Self-Doubt and the Fear of Uncertainty

Referring to the uncertainty in people’s minds lately, I asked Wim about what we can do to train ourselves to believe in ourselves more and overcome self-doubt.

“Self-doubt comes from the subconscious. [Your subconscious self always seems] to know that you are not in the right [place] to be able to deal with the coming situations, and that creates self-doubt. So I ask you to go into breathing and go past the blockades and the mind and body’s conditioning. Because breathing is like water, it goes everywhere … and unblocks the right chemistry.” – Wim Hof

Once the blockade is open and the cloud of self-doubt disintegrates, you will gain confidence. In this case, confidence is the feeling of freedom and knowing that the flow is there and you are in control of it. 

“Your subconscious [will adapt to this] feeling of confidence, [and it will] feel natural and … absolute. This technique … of breathing in a cold shower … is very accessible and effective. … Now we know how to get into [our] subconscious [mind] and take away any blockage, fear, or inhibition.” – Wim Hof

This breathing technique or type of meditation can be built up to be practiced twenty-four hours a day. It reaches a point when it becomes effortless and just becomes a part of you and allows you to be conscious of all feelings giving you the strength to face every fear. It also enables you to remain euphoric and confident even in the time of quarantine or lockdown.

Lessons Learned from the Coronavirus Pandemic

Much of the global population found themselves locked inside for a considerable amount of time, thanks to the COVID situation. While many of you may have experienced stress, a lot of you were also able to utilize your free time for something worthwhile. But we must be conscious of the lesson that this apocalyptic situation has taught us.

“Besides the terrible death toll, [this pandemic has taught us] a hard lesson by mother nature, [forcing us] to just stop. … We can’t keep on exploiting and polluting the world and staying insensitive toward each other. … Nature has the answer to all our problems, … and we have to give back to it.” – Wim Hof

Nature did indeed bring our life to a complete halt, probably as a sign to think about the path we are collectively on. Many of us found ourselves isolated and cut-off from the rest of the world, staying either alone or with our families. And by being isolated with his wife during city-wide lockdowns, Wim was able to cleanse himself and address things that they weren’t able to talk about earlier.

“I am actually getting back to the way I watched [or saw] her in the beginning, … the way you are with a woman that you are attracted to. … And I am so grateful for every moment that I have with her.” – Wim Hof

I think we lose that sense of wonder and curiosity initially when we are isolated from someone because we feel frustrated and stressed about not being able to go out or have some space. But if we come from Wim’s point of view and express more gratitude, we will rediscover the qualities we loved about our partner in the beginning. Your mind is there to serve you and not to dominate you. This is going to create a magical experience as opposed to a challenging or stressful one.

And reigniting that curiosity and showing more appreciation and love will rekindle a relationship that had its challenges or even strengthen a bond that is already strong. Appreciation and gratitude are like breathing and ice therapy for your relationship. And being vulnerable is a sign of strength that leads up to love, which is the absolute control of the mind.

Why You Should Listen to this Wim Hof Podcast Episode Right Now…

Guys, this was such a powerful and mind-opening conversation. If you were moved by this post, you should definitely check out the whole episode, share it with someone who needs it and ask them to subscribe. I will be grateful if you do.

I appreciate Wim for taking out the time for this episode of The School of Greatness, sharing his wisdom and light and challenging us to be better human beings. For more knowledge and guidance, you can check out his website here. You can also follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube

As a parting sentence, I would like to quote Jackson Kiddard — “Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go and trust the Universe.” And remember, we arise from the past, we shine like a light in the present, and we can guide and direct this light with love.


To Greatness,

Lewis Howes - Signature

“You have the power to adapt to anything." @Iceman_Hof  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • How was the experience of being with all the athletes and business partners in Poland for a week? (2:41)
  • How have you been responding to the quarantine time during all this stress? (8:23)
  • What are three things we can do on a daily basis to have more control of our own minds? (12:21)
  • When was the last time you got the flu or got sick? (18:31)
  • What should people do every day to help increase their immune system? (22:41)
  • How does breathing affect your immune system? (24:09)
  • Is there too much stress we can put on ourselves? (32:10)
  • What’s the best way to overcome self-doubt? (35:21)
  • How important is it to be playful in quarantine? (37:48)
  • What do you learn from your 2-year-old? (40:23)

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How Wim is treating inflammation and stress (0:42)
  • Why what you cannot control is the most important (5:50)
  • How to release stress through cold showers and deep breathing (13:41)
  • Why Wim submitted his blood to universities for study (21:10)
  • How breathing matched with cold water helps to fight bacteria and viruses (26:37)
  • How exposure to cold showers will prepare us for any stress (29:10)
  • Why what you share and commune with others helps (39:03)
  • What we have learned from the hard truths of the Coronavirus (42:11)
  • Plus much more…

Transcript of this Episode

Music Credits:

Music Credit:

Kaibu by Killercats

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