I don’t say ‘No’ to much, and certainly not to new experience. After months of working through, exploring and overcoming fear on the rock face, my climbing partner, Charlie, had yet another offer I couldn’t say no to; “Let’s jump in the river” – in late October, mostly naked. So, of course, I did. My daughter did too. This was to be my introduction to cold immersion, and Wim Hof.
So what spurred this seemingly random act?
An upcoming Wim Hof seminar Charlie was soon to embark upon.
What, Or Who, Is Wim Hof?
It is a method touted as a way to realize your full potential and reconnect. It claims both physical and mental health benefits.
I won’t bother listing the health benefits specifically, but the links highlighted in blue will take you to all the information you need, if interested.
My Cold Immersion Experience
After that first chilly dip the offer was made again days later. Again, it was accepted. These dips though, are not Wim Hof, nor cold immersion for that matter. For that, one needs to explore the breathing and a more deliberate approach to immersion.
So the third time was done much more deliberately – a slow immersion into water between 5-10°C for 2-minutes. I will quickly state here that since the first deliberate immersion, this has now become a daily exercise; with a focus on breathing and control, followed by warming exercise – and a shared experience.
I haven’t (yet) done the Wim Hof Method course. I will. Another of my friends, Victoria of GirlGoneGood.com has done the course and provides a wonderful account of her training (at the blue link). I can’t offer that yet, but I can offer the following:
Anything, maybe everything, is a little easier when you are with a group of like-minded, supportive, and engaged friends. Jumping in those first two occasions, the experience was more a gut-check and bravado. The subsequent slow and timed immersions were not.
With the context of the immersion being beneficial to wellness, as well as a shared experience, it was no longer an exercise that required getting psyched up. It was more a matter of focus, and then a controlled and intentional immersion. It was cold.
With my first slow immersion my breathing quickened immediately and it was only after a calm word – “Control” – spoken by Charlie, which brought me focus and allowed me to slow my breathing. Once achieved, a peace settled over me. It was no longer cold. My skin tingled, but soon this too subsided. At the 2-minute mark I had no impulse to quickly exit. In fact, the desire to stay immersed and sustain focus was strong.
However, encouraged to stand and exit, we then began a very relaxed set of squats and movements to warm the body naturally before dressing and ending the experience. It was exhilarating.
Now, after my 4th straight day of cold immersion I can say that I am hooked. I look forward to my daily dip and have actually found a renewal of energy in my daily exercise routine and healthy eating. I am not going to suggest that this is a direct result of the immersion, but rather that by embarking on this novel and challenging experience, a sense of calm, and a feeling of strength and focus from the experience has instilled in me a desire to seek more of what contributes to health and wellness.
My last immersion was 4-minutes. I think I will back it off and stay between 2 -3-minutes. It is important to keep the ego in check with these types of experiences. I’m not sure whether the claimed health benefits are legitimate, but with a group of friends that are keeping ego at bay and focused on personal growth, health and clarity, I think only good can come from the experience. Still, I will seek the training and better understand the process before exploring any further than I have to date.
Certainly, the last immersion was easier than the first, and my self-awareness and focus begins before I even start moving towards the water. Much like taking that first lead climb, there is a point where you commit, and overcoming that and getting on with it are to me significant growth experiences.
I am not suggesting you try this. Certainly not without training or at the very least a support group, but I will suggest you consider staying open to novel and challenging experiences to elevate your life experience and personal growth.