Dr. Caroline Leaf – If anything, this year and the global COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that so much is out of control. Yet there is still reason to hope! Even though we cannot always control what happens to or around us, we can control how we choose to react to the circumstances of life.
In this podcast (episode #216) and blog, I speak with the incredible “Iceman” Wim Hof about his new book The Wim Hof Method, the power of mind management, how cold exposure and deep breathing can improve our mental and physical health, ways to protect your body against viruses, how to train the brain to overcome any obstacle, and more!
Although it may not seem like it, many aspects of our lives are in our willful control. Everyone can influence, at will, their own biology and lifespan through directed mindfulness and good lifestyle habits like deep breathing. In his book, Wim Hof points out how research has shown that within just 8-9 weeks you can lengthen the telomeres in your DNA through mind work and healthy lifestyle choices, which can have a positive effect on your health and longevity! No matter what happens or what will happen, you are in charge of the moments of your life! You are capable of so much more than you have ever thought possible. The power we have within us is unreal.
Wim Hof teaches people how to start harnessing this power naturally through the three pillars of his method:
Through the power of intention, you can direct your biochemistry and genetic expression and become happier, stronger, and healthier. You are a thought alchemist!
However, this is something that needs to be practiced daily. Mind-management is a skill that needs to be taught and developed from youth—it is a lifestyle, not a one-off thing. As you self-regulate your thinking daily, you change the way you function for the better.
Always remember, you are the owner of your own mind. Don’t focus so much on the external world that you forget about the power you have within you. You can awaken this power at any time!
2. Cold exposure:
Cold exposure (like taking regular cold showers) helps boost the cardiovascular system, which increases blood flow, oxygen levels and the availability of nutrients, so we are better able to have energy to think and live well.
3. Deep breathing:
Based on research, Wim Hof has shown how deep breathing, mindfulness and cold exposure helps with mood regulation, which can strengthen our mental resilience and help us combat depression and anxiety.
The adrenaline rush from deep breathing also resets our biochemistry, putting the brain and body into a state of good stress and preparing you for positive action. Deep breathing can help make stress work for you and not against you. Top-down regulation through mind management and deep breathing creates neurological pathways in the brains that harness your stress mechanisms to help you deal with the ups and downs of life.
Deep, intentional breathing can also help boost the immune system by better fueling the cells of the body and helping it fight off pathogens, which is especially important as we enter flu season during a global pandemic! In fact, as Wim notes, deep breathing may even increase the white cell count in our bone marrow, helping us combat illnesses like cancer (when paired with other treatments).