The Ice Man
I recently came across an article about a man nicknamed “The Iceman”, a crazy Dutch person who climbed past the “death zone” altitude on Mount Everest (around 7,500 ft) wearing nothing but shorts. For real. Oh, and he also decided to climb all of Mt. Kilimanjaro, also with just shorts.
In the midst of winter, with bone-chilling temperatures, and the warm feeling of the summer sun a distant memory, I thought it appropriate to talk about Wim Hof, the “Iceman” and how he has conquered the cold. He’ll make us all feel like weak little flowers in comparison to his feats of strength and basic crazy behavior.
Who Is Wim Hof?
Hailing from the Netherlands, Wim Hof is a daredevil, self-experimenter, meditator, world record holder (over 20 records), mind-over matter genius. Putting himself under extreme circumstances, Hof has placed himself under scientific scrutiny, allowing scientists to test him and validate his achievements. Hoff is able to achieve things which were previously thought as scientifically impossible, that is until he continually bulldozed previous notions of what’s possible.
Some of his achievements include; the world record holder for longest ice bath, immersing himself in ice water for 1 hour, 44 minutes in 2010. For most people hypothermia would set in shortly after exposure to such cold temperatures, but for Hof it’s no big deal.
In 2009 he completed a full marathon above the arctic circle in Finland where temperatures were close to -4 degrees Farenheit, in only shorts. And his feats aren’t only relegated to the cold. In September 2011, he ran a full marathon in the Namib desert without water, most likely only wearing shorts. See a pattern?
Probably the craziest of all his feats was back in 2011 when Hof was (purposely) injected with toxins, under doctor supervision, and effectively demonstrated that he could control his autonomic immune response. Wim raised his cortisol levels and lowered his cytokine blood levels (inflammatory markers) only with his meditation and other breathing techniques.
The toxin was also injected into volunteers, all of whom have never meditated or completed any Wim Hof method. The toxin normally causes flu-like symptoms; fever, headache and shivering. When Wim Hof was injected with the toxin, nothing happened.
I’m partial to thinking he’s a sorcerer. Anyone else?
How Does He Do It?
Is Wim Hof a sorcerer, wizard, or polar bear stuck in the body of a thin white man? No. Hof is just a guy who has credited his success to meditation.
Hof is able to influence his autonomic nervous system and his innate immune response through meditation and breathing exercises of which he calls, accordingly, The Wim Hoff Method.
Is Hof An Anomaly?
His motto, “We can do more than we think” may be a bit of an understatement if you look at all of Wim’s personal achievements. But can any ordinary person learn how to survive such insane conditions? Can someone meditate their way into becoming super- human and survive a 90 minute dunk in ice water, or perhaps climb Mt. Everest wearing only shorts? Just another Sunday stroll for Wim Hof. However, he’s claimed that anyone can achieve such feats, and we’re all capable of any of these achievements.
Remember the study where Hof was injected with a toxin? Well, they also injected the toxin into some of Hof’s students. His students use the same techniques he preaches. And as it turned out, those who meditated and used the Wim Hof method did not become as ill as the control group.
Admittedly, after suffering through the arctic winter temperatures Chicago has to offer, the Wim Hof Method sounds intriguing. What if I didn’t have to feel bone cold all the time? What if I was able to turn down my heat and save money? Can this method keep me from buying an 800 dollar parka? Will my hands stop feeling like icicles?
Eh, I’d rather wear a parka.
Feeling skeptical? Watch this video of researchers who have studies Wim Hof defeat all the critics.
Whether or not you want to try his method, the importance of Wim Hof and his story shows how powerful we are as humans. Meditation, breathing, and practice can get you incredibly far. Tibetan monks who practice “Tummo” meditation have similar abilities, and Hof is the Westerner who has brought these methods to the mainstream.
But can Hof’s methods and ancient meditation techniques translate to ordinary folks? Perhaps, but why not try for yourself? You can go to his website here, and become the next Ice-Person. If you happen to try it, let me know! I’d love to write a follow-up on your ice-cold achievements.
And if you aren’t interested in becoming the next Ice-person, why not try 10 minutes a day of good old, vanilla variety meditation. Personally, I believe the benefits to be just as amazing.
Self-care, meditation, and time for yourself can not only make you a healthier person, but it can make you a super-human.
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