I woke up this morning on very little sleep after a long night of partying.. Last night we had an amazing fiesta. Our Irish amigo Dara played DJ and had us all grooving to Afro-Irish drumming and some good old classics from his motherland. Then we heard music from everyone’s favorite hit lists from all over the world ending with Nikki Manaj and Johnny cash. It was awesome, we drank, danced and sang and most importantly talked. I have bonded with some of the most amazing people ever in this trip, what an amazing group…
Wim was right in the middle of it, drinking wine and dancing and just being him. The man literally emanates love from the core of his being. To stand next to Wim and have him give you the deep gaze that only he is capable of when speaking is an experience difficult to put into words. Wim is like the father that most people wish they had. He is positive, strict, fun, leads by example, always smiling but also completely convicted in everything that he does. His steps and words are both carefree and methodical at the same time and you cannot help but seek his approval even as he reminds us that we don’t need it. He is truly a pioneer for the human spirit. He learned everything in “hard nature” as he calls it, completely on his own with no instruction manual and is now sharing his findings. I believe this method can uplift the consciousness of all people spiritually and physically.
Today the meditations lasted 1.5 hours and we went really deep. I had some incredible experiences and some amazing afterthoughts. So many of the blockages I have been dealing with came to the surface after the meditation, it was like I understood myself and the significance of so many things in my life so much better and can now focus on letting it go.
Today’s big task was to practice out breathing in the freezing ice pond under the waterfall and as opposed to just stand there for a minute like in day 2, we were to stand in the water, do 20 meditative power breaths and then submerge our heads completely underwater for at least 30 seconds. The challenge here is that you have to completely suppress your mammalian instinct to breathe when your head goes under the freezing water. It’s very hard to do and it also needs to be done methodically and under complete control as after you submerge you need to hike back to the house while soaking wet. I wasn’t too worried about this other than my feet, I knew they would be in for a treat in the walk back but I managed to set aside the anxiety and relax.
One we got there we went in groups of five. Everyone tried to submerge but not all could last 30 seconds. The panic instinct is very strong. When it was my turn my toes were already frozen from waiting to go in but the moment I went in the water I reminded myself that it was all just temporary. When Dennis saw me jumping in place getting psyched up back at the house prior to leaving to the waterfall he said “Haj, relax man. It will be cold and it will hurt, and that’s all.” He smiled and put his arm on my shoulder and that really helped put things into perspective for me. By the time I waked into the center of the pond and actually went underwater I was already in the water for over a minute. Running water that is freezing is harder to deal with than a stagnant pond because the small film of heat that envelops your body in a normal ice bath is washed away every second. This is why everyone here who had been training in ice baths and cold showers was still having trouble in the waterfall pond.
When I submerged I just relaxed completely and accepted the cold. Initially it ran through me and pierced like a thousand stinging needles penetrating the skin but then after 5 seconds it felt good. Hard to describe but it was invigorating despite the pain. I counted to 30 at a good pace and then waited five more seconds to account for a speed up in my counting due to the anxiety and cold. When I finally stood up I was the last one up from my group and I had done it! It literally felt like being reborn, I don’t know how else to describe it. I threw my arms in the air and let out a carnal yell of success. Dennis started laughing and said “you look like Rrrrambo man, so tough” in his awesome Dutch accent (making fun of me) which immediately made me laugh
As I walked by Wim put his hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eye and said “great job Haj, nice work.” I know that I am not yet where I would like to be on my spiritual path because his words meant a lot more to me than they should have. I should derive all of my pride and self-worth internally. But in that moment I felt like I had made it into an inner circle of sorts. Out of the 25 people here he knew my name and made it a point to congratulate me. I was stoked! (Despite how good it felt, in retrospect Wim found a way to do this to everyone in some way shape or form over the duration of the trip. He has a way of making everyone feel special which is another thing that makes Wim so awesome)
Back at the house now after a sauna and hot shower (ended with cold water of course) and I feel amazing. I did not want to do anything in the cold yesterday and I had absolutely NO desire to immerse today. That’s said, I did it! Anything that comes my way whether I like it or not, painful, scary or not, I now face with a heightened degree of confidence. To quote Wim “I’m not afraid of death, I’m afraid of not living.” I feel more alive now than ever. After the meditation I noticed how much I was in my body, I felt my feet on the floor, things looked brighter with more color, almost like a high resolution TV. After the water rebirth my senses are even more heightened and better yet I am more able to control them by acceptance of the world around me. I now really see how I can only really change one thing in life, myself. I see that I can do this by simply altering how I perceive life.
Robert and I had a discussion after the water exercise today where we both admitted that we did not fully understand the cold training until now. We thought a lot of it was for theatrics but we now realize that it is the ultimate test of self-discipline. If you can accept and manage the “fucking freezing cold” as Wim would say, you can manage anything in life. You have to apply the breathing techniques and mental detachment from your neo-cortex in order to fully thrive, not just survive, in the cold.
Some cultures like Russians and the Polish have a tradition of cold exposure and now I understand why. It’s not just that they’re crazy and hard core, it’s that these cultural traditions have an amazing impact on mental and physical health. When your body has to deal with the freezing cold less a sweet polytech North face jacket, it creates more antibodies and you become literally stronger as a result. To learn to enjoy such activities creates intense levels of mental wellness as well. By adding in the breathing and conscious intention, which is what makes the Wim Hof method different, you can actually completely control your entire mental AND physical reality which is absolutely mind blowing but most importantly, empowering.
Looks beautiful from the outside but “cold as hell” (as Wim says) when you submerge…