Maybe my disdain for the cold turned me onto this. Maybe my prior, I’d say failed, attempts to understand the basics of seated meditation inspired me to find another way. Perhaps looking back at what I’ve learned about philosophy, human history, evolution and geography have always made me wonder how our ancestors survived. After day 2 I think I caught a glimpse. I pulled back the curtain after turning off my freezing cold shower and felt awakened. The pictures hanging on the wall were vivid. My vision was never so sharp. I felt like sprinting.
This moment reminded me of other times in my life. I thought about the first time I had taken LSD. I looked at my pupils in the mirror. They were dilated even in the bright bathroom light. My friends and I talked about this and how we were sensitive to light because of the phenomenon. This is the first thing observed during a psychedelic trip. Even on light doses of mushrooms or cannabis, colors become more vivid. Was I having a psychedelic trip in my bathroom from breathing heavily and stepping into a cold shower for a few minutes?
Three days ago I saw that Wim Hof was the guest on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. I hadn’t heard the name. But, when I saw that he had climbed Everest in a pair of shorts, I remembered a documentary that I’d planned to, and since forgot to watch. Skipping back and forth between the live podcast feed, I browsed through some of Hof’s website and came across the Vice documentary. While Rogan was getting personally introduced to Hof, he talked about the scientific research that had been done while Hof was out breaking world records for executing physical tasks while withstanding extreme cold. The studies were all there on Hof’s page. They were explained further in the Vice piece that I watched, deciding to forgo the podcast until later.
I immediately connected with some of the things that Hof was talking about. Wim Hof is a middle aged man from Holland with a salt and pepper beard and an accent that reminded me of my German friend Matthias. Hof studied many types of meditation and Yoga before developing, what his son has since marketed as, the Hof Method. The Hof method was a combination of exercises similar to holotropic breathing combined with meditation and cold shock therapy. Hof explains that with this system he has been able to tap into the central nervous system and consciously control the immune system. Hof has shown in himself and his students, the ability to raise the heart rate, body temperature, pH, and produce adrenaline. This ability was previously believed to be only automatonic (controlled subconsciously by the body responding to stress).
While it is day two, day two is the first I’m writing about this. Day two is the introduction, and day two is not yet behind me. I still have to cook and go train.
But after my breathing practice, which was performed twice, I had a few things worth noting.
- Sitting upright and tucking my chin toward my chest improved the ease with which to exhale fully.
- Performing the breathing in the morning before eating will be better as I felt some minor sensation from having eaten.
- The second repetition of the breathing was done from a seated position (to improve the exhale), but when attempting to hold my breath, the position seemed to be restrictive
- Hof suggested doing push-ups during this time to experience strength during times of (previously assumed) oxygen deprivation
- Hof also suggests contracting the root chakra, holding moola banda by contracting the rectum and dick and pulling the navel in toward the spine. I don’t know that this helped me hold the breath any better.
- Observing some slight discomforts in the diaphragm and ribs when breathing (could have been from jiu jitsu) and the knee and IT band while seated. Noting these and zooming in/zooming out as described by Shinzen Young did help cause these to dissipate. This practice, also implied by Hof was also helpful during the cold shower.
- The cold shower was cold at first but became pleasant. Cold sensitive areas were the back and armpits.
- I was reminded of camp and dunking my head in the spring
- I remembered Rickson Gracie in Choke jumping in the frozen river in Japan
- Stepping out of the shower made me feel a connection to ancestors who must have been forced to step out into the cold to hunt
- a feeling of wanting to sprint
- improved vision
Overall, day two was great. Tomorrow I will start earlier in the morning and complete this before breakfast.