I find myself continually inspired by people that smash through the limits of human potential. I remind students of all ages that we are capable of so much more than we know. Learning about people that rise to seemingly impossible heights motivates us to improve in our daily lives.
Last winter, I wrote about the famous mountain climber, Alex Honnold. This fall, a fellow Black Sash enlightened me about Wim Hof and his method. To be honest, when he first e-mailed me about him, I had to go to Google (I didn’t even know it was a person’s name). Since then, I’ve been obsessed with learning more about the “Iceman” and how he achieved mind-blowing feats. Wim Hof set 26 Guinness World Records! Notably, he swam 57 meters under arctic ice in a pair of shorts! He climbed to 7,200 metres on Mount Everest wearing just shorts and shoes. He also ran a full marathon in the Namib desert with no water.
Hof is categorized as an “extreme athlete” (you think?). While his acts seem unachievable from our vantage, what I find most intriguing is the method he devised which moves people worldwide to better mental and physical health and their own amazing accomplishments. His method instantly drew me in, as it is rooted in Eastern breathing and meditation techniques and even incorporates the horse stance (mind you barefoot in snow!). Here is a link to a short documentary that really shot his method into the global spotlight.
At the time of this writing, I’ve practiced his method every day for the past month. I feel completely invigorated! With only a short daily time investment, it yields amazing results. Author Scott Carney travelled to meet Hof with the goal of debunking his method. In the process he ended up becoming a believer. His book is called What Doesn’t Kill Us. It sheds a lot of light on the specifics of the method and the science behind it.
The crux of the book is that exposing our body and mind to environmental challenges will cause us to adapt to become stronger individuals. This concept resonates greatly with everything I’ve learned and experienced during my years training Kung Fu. Furthermore, all my martial arts teachers have emphasized the importance of proper breathing; it happens without our thought, yet, with our consciousness, we can control it and experience the many benefits.
With the early onset of Winter this year, the discovery and practice of this method seems very well timed to not just survive the cold but to grow from it. Unless we move to warmer climes, we have no control over the weather we face this season. We can, however, like our breathing, control our mindset. This really illuminates the essence of life: focus on what you can control, embrace challenges and be positive. Spend some time learning about Wim and his method and prepare to approach each day with vigour, discipline and confidence in what you can achieve!