It’s been one of the longest days of your life, but you feel very accomplished. Over the past fifteen hours, you completed a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and are 25 miles into your run. All this physical exertion has been without a single break. In about a mile and a quarter you will have completed what is considered one of the most gruesome sporting events in the world: the Ironman.
You’ve been training extensively for this day. For the past 13 weeks, you built up your cycling from ninety minutes to five hours and your running has increased to three hours. Your swimming started at 1500 yards and doubled over time. Weekend workouts were as long as nine and a half hours, more than a full work-day schedule, but significantly more demanding on your body.
Through all this training, you’ve been able to build up the necessary stamina to sustain such a prolonged physical challenge as this triathlon requires. But you’ve been training not only your body, you’ve been training your mind.
When you made the decision to take on this feat, you committed to months of strenuous workouts, to proper nutrition, and to continual hydration. This commitment is a dedication of your resources now to a future event. This version of delayed gratification requires a fortitude of mind.
If the mind can harness enough internal power to allow us to train the body, can it also accomplish astonishing results without physical movement?
In this article, we explore the power of the mind over the body, some extraordinary attainments made by one man, and the tool he used to do so.
The Ice Man
Wim Hof is an extreme athlete who is known as “the Ice Man.” He has run a full marathon at minus four degrees farenheit. In the snow. Barefoot. Wearing only running shorts. He also holds the world record for sitting still while submerged in ice water for a total of an hour and 44 minutes. And while many have attempted climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro and failed, Hof was able to accomplish this feat wearing just shorts.
What explains Hof’s immense ability to endure extreme temperatures while exerting immense physical energy? Does he have a secret physical training method that other athletes don’t know about?
The answer is no. The secret does not lie in his physical training. It lies in his mind.
In a 2018 study, Hof increased his heart rate, adrenaline levels, and blood alkalinity on command. He claims that his branded method can also alleviate symptoms of physical illnesses such multiple sclerosis, arthritis, cancer, and diabetes as well as mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
So what is this powerful method? As it turns out, Hof can endure freezing temperatures because of his ability to raise his body’s core temperature. To cultivate this mind-body connection, Hof uses Tummo meditation, a form of meditation that generates inner fire or heat through breathing techniques.
Tummo meditation incorporates a visualization. As is explained in this video, you visualize yourself “as a fully blown up balloon that is hollow. You then visualize a little object inside you glowing and generating heat.”
Becoming the Iceman
We now know what is possible through Tummo meditation, but can anyone train to attain feats similar to those of Hof?
According to the Dutch man, the answer is yes. As a matter of fact, when investigative journalist Scott Carney attempted to debunk Hof’s method, he ended up learning his techniques within one week and performing similar feats including climbing up to the top of Mt. Kilimanaro wearing just a bathing suit for most of the way.
So if you want to control your body temperature, and more importantly, your immune system, learn the Wim Hof Method (WHM) of breathing techniques discussed in his book, Becoming the Iceman. There is no telling what you’ll be able to achieve.