I have always been a shallow breather. Judging from my dad’s recent problems, I blame him. 🙂
Throughout my years delving into remedies for both my physical and mental health, a consistent recommendation from my woo woo peeps and doctors alike, has been a focus on deep breathing and meditation.
I always start each meditation with deep, intentional breaths, but find that when I am deeper into it, my body reverts back to the shallow breathing, often decreasing the overall positive effect of said meditation.
Recently, I impulsively opted into an ad (as I often do) for a new community run by Russell Brand. It was a free 7-day “course” previewing available classes in the paid membership. I think I only clicked open day 3 or 4, but that one click lead me to my new favorite human, Wim Hof.
I think I might have been having a hard morning when I opened that email and thought, “Screw it. I’ve got nothing else to do.”
You see, the Wim Hof Method is not just an exercise in breath. It’s an exercise in cold. His method begins with a series of breaths for 3-4 rounds, although in this preview, he only shows it once. I assume this is because he expects you to work your way up to additional rounds. This is then followed by a cold shower, that starts at one minute then increases daily until you hit 5 minutes.
That first day was a bitch.
But I kept doing it. Each morning, 5 minutes of breathing and 5 minutes of a cold shower. And you know what? If I get to the end of a day and find myself having been extra anxious, or reactionary, there is a 99% chance I hadn’t done my practice that day. (See YESTERDAY’S post for a perfect example of that).
I have experienced an abundance of benefits in the short month or so that I’ve been doing this:
- An all-around improvement in my well being. I feel less anxious and stressed. I’m more in control of my ability to respond instead of reacting. (more on this tomorrow, maybe)
- A decreased sensitivity to cold. This is important in this New England winter weather. Due to my poor circulation, common in shallow breathers and females in general, I’ve often found myself freezing in a perfectly warm room. I no longer experience this.
- Less dependence on caffeine. When I get out of the shower in the morning, even after warming the water up at the end of the five minutes, I feel completely invigorated and ready to conquer my day.
- An increase in my productivity. I am a more productive human when my anxiety is not taking over my brain.
- I’m consistently breathing deeper and more intentionally throughout the day.
Hof has an abundance of testimonials on his website, particularly from those struggling with autoimmune disease. I’m interested to see if I experience any additional benefits in my joint pain and long term fatigue utilizing his method.
When you have a chance, you should google this guy. He is an epic, loud, enthusiastic, dutch dude who found his way down this path and purpose completely by accident. He has endured so much pain and trauma; he attributes his ability to cope and heal to his relationship with the cold waters.
The man holds TWENTY-SIX world records and regularly runs retreats in various parts of the world where he trains people to climb mountains in bare minimum clothing. You can learn more about Wim Hof and his method here. He’s also done a lot of hilarious podcast interviews.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, when you’re feeling stuck in a rut, try breathing. Deep, intentional, life saving breathes. Then jump in a cold shower if you’re feeling brave.
P.S. The 5-minute showers are getting too easy and apparently my next step is an ice bath 2-3 times a week. I’ll report back when I have the time and guts to execute on this.