Since last writing for the purpose of writing, the Wim Hof methods have been taken less seriously but still practiced in varying capacities. Just two days ago I had my first warm shower since some time in October or November I guess it was. It really helped me to understand the acute benefits of the cold showers. When I stepped out of the warm shower, I was stepping out into my cold bathroom. I couldn’t wait to throw on a robe and get warm. This was a very different feeling from the satisfaction and relief that is felt after shutting off the cold water. Opening the curtain and breathing deeply, slowly drying off while simultaneously warming up naturally feels so great. This felt bad.
For years I hated winter. At this time of the year I would be at my most miserable and depressed. I’d dread stepping outside. My gear was always correct. I’d rock layers and layers and still I’d be cold. Constantly muttering, ‘I hate winter’. This winter has been the opposite, almost. I’ve found myself going for long walks in the cold. I always have enough warm clothes, but never feel cold. I have been wearing my minimalist shoes without socks pretty much daily. As long as I stay dry, I’m pretty much warm and comfortable outside. It is crazy. I have to attribute it to the cold showers.
The way that I tried to explain it to someone last night (who happened to be a philosophy student) was to compare it to the stoic practice of negative visualization. They would subject themselves, sometimes metaphorically or just in thought, to difficulties in order to allow them to appreciate what they have. For example, they would practice going outside on a cold day/night without a coat. This was done to inform the mind that one should be happy to have the ability to stay warm. I think one of the basic tenets of stoic philosophy is to want-what-you-have. We all ‘want’. And, wanting what we can’t have will lead to suffering. In order to avoid suffering, it is important to learn how to want and appreciate what we already have.
There are certainly some similarities between this practice and negative visualization. I hadn’t recognized it at first, but I do think that stepping into a cold shower is negative visualization in practice.
The part of the Wim Hof method that I struggle to find consistency with, is the breathing. It wasn’t long before I felt like holding my breath was a waste of time. While I am not convinced of this, I did feel like the hold was more or less a test. It feels like when a runner takes his pulse. The pulse will let them know how their body is reacting to the workout. I guess maybe I didn’t find much benefit in the hold because I had failed to see consistent times. That said, the running, and in my case, the breathing, is the practice/work. I have found benefit to my jiu jitsu, yoga, and meditation in practicing the breathwork.
The thing I need to focus on in the coming days, weeks, and months is making time to write. Writing will help to focus my practices, intentions, and will ultimately help me to improve all the above.