It’s not every day that you meet a 20 times Guinness record holder. When you come to meet him though [ & you train under his supervision in the method he developed], the chances are you will get some insights. Wim Hof (the “iceman”) is an amazing person – like we all are. However, there are 2 good reasons why you will hear this expression about Wim all the time:
i. he has stripped himself off what he calls: “the programming”. He doesn’t dress his true self with a politically correct behavior (i.e. he encourages people to breathe, breath deep – not caring which hole the air comes in) neither takes himself seriously.
ii. he didn’t hold back in life. He “went deep”. I cannot pay justice to the importance of this comment but basically what it means is he went where he didn’t feel comfortable.
1. Nature is the teacher
Nowadays, science is, unfortunately in my opinion, perceived as the only source of truth. Science started as an attempt for humans to systematically understand nature.
“Nature is the teacher.” ~ Wim Hof
He encourages students to go to nature and learn everything he knows.
“Nature is merciless but righteousness” ~ Wim Hof
2. Train your body to adapt not tolerate
Up until recently cold exposure was for me similar to weight training. I lift weights → I get stronger → I can carry heavier bags from the supermarket [ i.e. I expose myself to the cold → I become more tolerable to cold → I am less likely to get sick in the winter (or something among these lines anyway) ]. While partly true there is a 2nd degree of benefits more significant.
We can moderate our body temperature whether we are exposed to cold or not. Cold offers feedback but the environmental temperature should not determine our body temperature. The day prior to the ascent of mount Snezka Wim told us: It will not be very low tomorrow* but you should go high.
* meaning the temperature will not be very low
3. Zorba the Buddha
Osho Rajneesh (1931-1990) spoke about how life should be a meditative practice, which should be equally enjoyed at the same time. Zorba the Greek (according to Osho) is the foundation and Buddha is the palace, on top of the foundation.
“If everything goes according to me, every man will die as Zorba the Buddha. Between the Greek and the Buddha there is not much distance, but first you must be the Greek.” ~ Osho
Wim is such a model. The word joy is not foreign to him, yet every breathing practice and exposure to cold is an opportunity to go into meditation.
4. The body’s calling, pick up the phone
Have you heard the phrase holistic approach? Well I do all the time and I have become more allergic to it than Dracula is to garlic. The reason is that while in principle the idea is good, it has become a marketing hashtag for pre-prescribed (usually expensive) protocols.
What’s Wim approach then: He gives you 3 basic tools (breathing, cold exposure, focus), encourages you to practice regularly and focus on the problem at hand. If you now think that’s one size fits all approach, I encourage you to go try some visits to a local cold lake or some deep breathing sessions. You will only go as far as you can. And why I am so confident about that?
These approaches are engaging. They are on the opposite end of the spectrum where drugs, vitamin supplements, or massage treatments will deal with the problem without your participation.
5. Be humble to be great
Wim is a warm-hearted man prior to being an iceman, in my eyes at least. I could list myriad examples I witnessed in 1 week which confirms that. Instead I would bring to your attention the reason WHY he does what he does: To empower people.
He is not competitive or tries to be an illusionist. In his own words:
“What I can do, everyone can do.” ~ Wim Hof
I remind you: 20 Guinness Records.