“Sit down, hands on your thighs and breathe”, those were the final instructions I received and then I sat down and relaxed. Well, I tried to relax.
Earlier that freezing cold Saturday morning I arrived with 14 others for a weekend that would leave a lasting impression on me. The location was filled with a remarkable collection of different things, consisting of a sauna, a campfire pit, a rock of about 4 metres high with a pool underneath it, a jacuzzi and a bath that had vague similarities to the jacuzzi.
I just arrived at the Wim Hof Center in Stroe for a full weekend of total immersion in the Wim Hof Method. This is a method that consists of 3 pillars: breathing, cold, and commitment. Now I can almost hear you thinking, “I breathe every moment of the day, when it’s cold I just turn up the heating and my commitment is already okay, so why spend a whole weekend on it?”
It turns out that the average human has very shallow breath, in fact, we breathe too often and not deeply enough. The cold can be our friend and can, together with breathing properly, help to increase our stamina. The whole Wim Hof Method is about personal development and stepping out of your comfort zone. After all, there is no growth to be made in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone either!
Remember the bath with a vague resemblance to the jacuzzi that I mentioned earlier? It was not exactly a jacuzzi. In fact, when I arrived two men were filling this bath with ice cubes! Later on… after receiving final instructions that were “Sit down, hands on your thighs and breathe” I stepped into that ice bath. Yes, it was cold, but not as cold as you’d think. This is the point where commitment comes in, supported by a controlled breathing rhythm.
That weekend boosted my health and my energy levels and also pushed me out of my comfort zone into the growth zone. It inspired me in many ways, about life and work. If you read my columns regularly, then you know that I try to walk on the Camino to Santiago at least once a year for inspiration and reflection. The effect of this weekend was like that Camino walk but on steroids!
One could say that sitting in an ice bath falls into the category of “Don’t try this at home”. However, you actually can do it safely at home, but do learn about the methodology before you try it. There is more to it than I can describe here. I will include a few recommended books under this column.
I’ve written my last column of the year completely on a personal subject, not related to business. Although I can see that there are many connections to (alliance) leadership. Also, I am sure seeking personal growth by stepping out of my comfort zone will benefit my future work as well.
What will you do to push your limits and step out of your comfort zone to grow into a radiant New Year?
Enjoy your Christmas festivities!
- “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art”* by James Nestor is an amazing book about our breathing, the science behind it, why we lost it and how we can recover it.
- In “What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength”* Scott Carney explores the mind and body connection and reveals the science that allows us to push past our limitations.
- “The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential”* is Wim Hof’s own book in which he describes the methodology and his journey in developing it from his childhood all the way to endorsement by science.