I learned so much recently attending a Wim Hof Method seminar.
Leading up to the event I was like a kid waiting for Christmas. I’ve long understood the power of breathing. One of my first major steps forward with anxiety was seeing a Breathing Physiotherapist and literally learning to breathe again. Who knew we could forget?
And yet yes, many of us do it wrong. Yeah, how crazy is that, considering it’s probably the most natural action we can do. But we breathe into our chests and over breathe. This is just one symptom of the “fear state” that our host suggested most of us live our life in.
Nigel Beach, of Element Health NZ, explained that our autonomic nervous system is made up of two parts – the parasympathetic and the sympathetic – and the world is in sympathetic overdrive.
He talked about part of the reason being the cost of the comfort that we all enjoy in our daily lives. This has made us fragile and lose resilience; mentally and physically. Obviously you’ll know if you follow me that I believe this fear state goes much deeper. Back to the past experiences that shape our belief in ourselves and the beliefs we have about our world. It’s like looking at life through a lens framed by fear. But if we stop and choose to zoom out, we can see the same things through different perspectives.
For me a massive shift in perspective came really recently as I discovered my DNA. For so many years I’d been trying to fix what is wrong in my body by adding things in – probiotics, supplements, essential oils to treat symptoms – in my DNA results the answer was clear. The blueprint I need to get my body back to a natural state of balance that didn’t need all this extra shit to fix it.
For example, did you know when the body is under stress, our adrenal glands trigger the release of glucose stored in our various organs, which often leads to elevated levels of glucose in the bloodstream? Working with non-invasive blood sugar monitoring technology for optimal wellness, I have been seeing a lot of people tracking high blood sugar levels and wondering where in their diet they need to change up what they are eating. And granted, nutrition plays a huge part in blood sugar control, but at the same time I am seeing them working too hard and feeling stress and being “too busy”. This too plays a huge part in our blood sugar control and is why I am so passionate about my Whole Life Wellness Packages.
We are all living in a state of sympathetic overdrive because of our high stress, high noise, high pace lifestyles and this has knock-on effects through our holistic health. Those high blood sugar levels mean we don’t absorb all the nutrients from that lunch we just ate and so our body goes without the micronutrients it needs to thrive.
Nigel Beach, our seminar host said a sentence that was so powerful for me…
We are messing up our ability to to be human.
I couldn’t agree more!
So what do we do? What did I learn on Sunday that has already been transformational for me?
Start with our breath.
Notice how you breathe. Lie down on the floor, place a hand on your chest and in the dip of your diaphragm and feel whether you are breathing into your belly, pushing your ribcage out, or up into your chest.
Breathing is something we don’t generally think about; the job of our autonomic nervous system, but there are massive benefits of taking over control, in terms of our subconscious mind and physiology. Because if we can control our breath, what isn’t possible?
Wim Hof certainly lives with this “everything is possible” attitude that is infectious. We watched videos of him running a marathon barefoot and shirtless above the Arctic Circle, diving under the ice at the North Pole and sitting in an ice bath for the world record of 1 hour 53 minutes!!!! 2 minutes was a real push for me.
For the basics of the Wim Hof Method, visit his website, or attend one of Nigel’s seminars. The Method is simple on the surface, but you want to make sure you are doing it correctly and safely. You take 30 quick, deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your nose, but only exhaling 70% of the air you breathe in. Then, after the 30th breath exhale all the way out and then hold until you feel the need to breathe in again. At this point, inhale as deep as you can, and hold it for 10 seconds. Then take a 15 minute break and repeat for 3 rounds.
Nigel also taught us a really good breathing technique for anxious feelings, which creates nitric oxide and all its benefits on improved athletic performance, lowered blood pressure and better brain function (all things anxiety screws with.)
Combined with repeated exposure to the cold, mindfulness and consistency, Wim Hof says that his method can increase energy, lower stress and improve the immune system. Nigel showed us how he had purposefully hacked his body’s PH using the technique! And claims to have cured people of many afflictions.
For Wim it enables seemingly superhuman feats of endurance. However, for me it is the perfect example of biohacking to experience our human bodies at their best.
So for me, what’s next?
I literally text my Muay Thai Coach following this seminar with this question!
I feel like this is just the beginning. I have long believed in a profound connection between the mind and body and my experience in the ice only confirmed it. When I got into the ice my breath was stolen from me and it took me by surprise! Like a fear of the fear, not being able to breathe like that triggered memories of the feeling of not being able to breathe in a panic attack and that made me start to panic. But then I did what I’ve learned. Breathe and step out (not the ice 😉, but my perception of the situation). I breathed through. Doing this enabled me to rationalise. I’m in ice. My body is cold. I need to breathe to make it easier on myself and suddenly space came for air to get through. What would have been the result previously? Giving in to the primal desire to run from the pain and fear of being in that ice.
And that’s what we are doing every single day of our lives. In the comfort of our warm homes, shoes, medical bandaids and lifestyle crutches our autonomic nervous systems are giving into pain and fear and avoiding the actions that make our lives exciting and exhilarating. And we are experiencing the chronic health issues of our bodies physically being in this chronic state.
Just like my Signature Course, From Fear to Fierce helps you to go into your past and effectively deal with your past experiences by taking control and making a choice whether you want the beliefs created from it to rule your life… going into the cold, facing it with conviction gave me the empowering choice to decide whether I stayed and took positive action (control my breath) or give up and run. I cannot properly tell you what the feeling of going into that ice was like. It stole my breath and I felt like I was suffocating for the best part of that first minute and only then did I start to notice the pain in my hands and how my body was starting to violently shake. And yet with help from my fighter comrade sat next to me and my coach I continued to focus on controlling my breath. And even when I got out, the instinct was to run for a warm towel, but instead I used the power by body has to warm up! We danced, we jumped, we smiled! We felt alive!!!!!!!
The feeling of the ice snatching my breath and that struggle to take control and how my body then went into an autonomous state of fight or flight can actually be likened to how life is setting the pace for the majority of us.
Whatever your situation, I bet life has you going faster than is good for you. Whether you are already feeling the discomfort of anxiety you can bet there’s symptoms of this pace:
– how many times a day do you say you are busy?
– how often do you feel tired or overwhelmed?
– where is your mood at? Are you low? Do you go from high to low like a fall off a sharp cliff?
– do you often finding yourself taking a deep sigh out of the blue?
– is your sleep out of whack, or do you think you’re sleeping well, but wake up feeling unrefreshed?
Breathing is an effective way to slow us down and counteract the damaging effects that prolonged stress can have on our bodies — effects that are well known, are generally accepted and you are likely suffering – even if you don’t know it yet.
Something like Wim’s breathing technique and how it changes our physiology is key to understanding how we step in at the earliest transition point from our body’s state of wellness to disease. Where are we imbalanced? How do we get that balance back?
As an example of how powerful this is, in 2014 Wim Hof got a group of test subjects together under the supervision of Dutch researcher Matthijs Kox and they were injected with E-Coli. The test subjects had learned the Wim Hof breathing technique for 10 days previously and there was nothing special about these people; they were randomly picked. They performed the techniques as they were injected with the substance that would normally have people suffering fever and nausea pretty quick and instead they experienced lower levels of inflammation, and were less affected compared to the unlucky control group who had not learned and weren’t practising the Wim Hof technique! Wim’s got science intrigued…!
So, if we find out early that we are suffering with inflammation within our body through a simple blood test that measures CRP, and then we use the Wim Hof Method to eradicate it from our body, what does that say about our ability to avoid the chronic disease of which inflammation is a major warning sign? Moreover, what in our life is causing that inflammation? What does our unique body need us to change so balance is restored?
Check out this diagram… It’s a pie chart of the determinants of health in the US.
So across a person’s lifetime, their wellness can only be attributed 10% to the healthcare they received. The rest is us, our beautiful human body and all it superhuman powers and the ability we give our body to work at its maximum potential through our behaviour, nutrition and environment.
Making you rethink the power of a simple breath? If yes, reach out to me. It’s not just robots that can be tuned and improved…