Wim Hof Method – Day 19

Crazier shit has happened. I missed yesterday. Over the past month, I’d been looking for a new job. I have a ‘stage’ at one place but not a full-time role. Fortunately the stage has afforded me some great connections in and around the city, and with an hour’s notice yesterday, I found myself working with some very talented people. After a morning trip to the market, I raced home and threw on some deodorant (no cold shower) and jumped on my bike. I focused on breathing as I peddled the 3.6 miles to, what might be, a new place to work. It turned into a very long night. And I now have a job. It will be a place to learn from a lot of experienced people.

This morning I got up and, before coffee or breakfast, practiced breathing. I felt tired and distracted from having finished so late last night and from having skipped yesterday. But it wasn’t until I embraced the difficulty and just let go of the pressure I was putting on myself to practice that I was able to get into it. I told myself I’d stop at 3 rounds. After my third round, my times had been dropping. I was not feeling comfortable. I sat up in frustration and just slowed down. I started breathing again. I layed back down and took my time. I tried to focus on the feeling rather than trying to fight off my distractions. I was fully focused and was able to control and hold my breath much longer. It was almost like I forced myself to do it right. I don’t know. It was a weird practice but it finished on a good note.

One more thing. From training jiu jitsu I have listened to many of the great teachers. Kron Gracie is a young professional athlete and Gracie jiu jitsu fighter. He has learned a lot about breathing, meditation, and cold training from his father Rickson, who was a multi time world champion Vale Tudo fighter who competed in the Pride Fighting organization in Japan. I watched this video again last night.

The question about breathing comes at 7 minutes.

My times were 1:40, 1:30, 1:15, and then finally a comeback 2:15. All were completed with empty lungs.

Wim Hof Method – Day 17

I had to write this later than normal because things came up. I had some good conversations with a few different people regarding the direction of a few different things. It is important to be invested, but it is also important not to be over committed.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein

I thought about balance today. Maybe my mind was more focused on moderation at the time that it came up. But ultimately, the concept of moderation is about balance. I read somewhere that there are three important aspects to your life that you must maintain. Relationships, work, and health. If, or I should say when, one of those three starts to take over, the others suffer. It is a zero sum game. We only have so much time to invest. There has to be a balance. We must obsess when we can dedicate time to something we love, but we must do so in moderation. I think that this rule, as with most rules, it can be applied at both a tiny and large scale. The small scale example that sparked my interest was directly related to the breathing practice.

Last night I watched more than a few videos instructing how to properly perform the Kundalini Yoga technique, breath of fire. While each teacher had their own way of explaining, all reinforced the importance of the exhale being equal to the inhale. If we exhale more breath than we inhale, the practice will not last more than a few seconds. They have to be balanced.

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Observations 

Breathing

Times : 1:00, 1:00, 1:30, 2:00

Physical: I tried a number of different seated and lying positions to try and improve my breathing. It was difficult today. I find that most movements are performed better when the lungs are empty. Empty lungs seem to improve my movements.

Mental: I was a bit distracted by my physicalities and other outside pressures. I was present during the practice and enjoyed it. I knew I could not dwell, but did not feel rushed. I finished with more energy and in a better mood than I’d started.

Notes: Don’t go crazy.

Shower

The shower was good. It ended up being pretty mechanical. I didn’t find time to focus on the cold, the breathing, or sticking around longer than I needed to get the job done.

Wim Hof Method – Day 16

Saul Bellow said “…art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.” I agree with him. This carries over into actual art as well. Even where lines of symmetry exists, the eye is drawn away to the point who breaks the perfect pattern.

Today’s practice was riddled with distraction. Maybe I underestimated my timing, other tasks I had scheduled, and ultimately distracted myself. Either way, distractions exist. And with any natural phenomenon, I welcome the opportunity to learn from them. Because of the distraction, I sat an extra 15 minutes and completed a fourth breathing practice cycle. My times reflected the inconsistency. In the end some adjustments were made, and I was able to reach a two minute breath hold with my lungs completely empty. In the end I’m more than happy with how it went and look forward to dealing with future distractions.

Even the shower was irregular. I misread the length of time on my music, which I had planned on giving me a sign to get out. I turned off the shower before taking a piss. I wondered if the shock of turning back on the cold water after standing there pondering whether to piss down the drain, get out dry off and piss, or turn back on the water would be worse than the initial shock felt upon entering. Turns out it wasn’t bad at all.

After that I felt like I should continue following the pattern of eraticism, so I went outside and shaved my head…

________________

Observations 

Breathing

Times : 1:00, 1:00, 1:00, 2:00

Physical: I was really cramping and having issues with my feet falling asleep while seated. I tried laying down and going back to sitting. I did some yoga, but could not find the right spot. During the breathing I was great, but in between cycles when not focused the pain and discomfort caused me to have to move around and stretch quite often.

Mental: There were plenty of mental distractions from noises and alarms, issues with the music and the stopwatch. Through these minor hurdles I never really felt frustrated or upset. I was certainly more mentally focused on the last cycle and have remained very calm, confident, and positive since completing the practice today.

Notes: Believe in yourself, take cold showers, and practice deeper breathing.

Shower

The shower was good. I must have spent 7-8 minutes under the cold water. As I get used to it I am almost looking for the shock from the cold. It feels like I am chasing the cold water. I might jump in the lake soon.

Wim Hof Method – Day 15

I thought the shower was going to suck when I stepped in. It only took a few seconds to get comfortable and really calm my breath. I stepped out full of energy, no shivers. It’s getting better.

The work was done during the breathing. The shower was the easy part. I found that holding breath with completely empty lungs is just not consistent. The diaphragm has to be relaxed in order for the rest of the body to relax. I can strengthen the diaphragm by practicing breathing exercises, but there is no point in limiting my breath holding. The first two were done with empty lungs and the third was done with a normal relaxed inhale performed after the 30 deep breaths. The breath was not deep. Nothing was forced. The exhale before the breath was full, and the inhale was effortless. The calm I felt, along with the O2, allowed me to break 3 minutes.

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Before the practice I took a walk. I counted as I stepped and inhaled/exhaled. Before when I showered, I would count to 5 on the inhale, and exhale for 5. I think that is an odd number for me and doesn’t really resonate with my natural breath. Inhale for counts of 8 and exhale for counts of 8. I do this when walking and it is very rhythmic. It took me back to when I would do this while running. Running, I would inhale/exhale on a 4 count, always. Sometimes I’d count faster, sometimes slower, but always with a rhythm.

This is when I noticed how much this breathing practice, rhythm and music are connected. I felt it a few times thus far when listening to icaros while breathing. I could feel my heartbeat in time with the music, my breathing would often match up. It seemed coincidentally weird. Now I know there is nothing weird about it. That 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 is musical rhythm. It’s a four four count. Each day when I practice, music is playing. Come to think of it, music is always playing. Music has been a valuable tool and will continue to be.

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” -Aldous Huxley

Observations 

Breathing

Times : 1:30, 1:15, 3.05

Physical: The second round of breathing was very intense. I wish I would have done the hold with some air in my lungs to see how long that hold would have been. The charge of O2 in the body really does feel like electricity going down tingling everywhere. This also is coupled with lightheadedness and cool ringing in the ears.

Mental: Felt very clear during the practice. Very good. I felt a lot of energy after.

Notes: Not going to stress the empty lungs on the hold going forward. Third breath was after a neutral inhale, not a deep breath.

Shower

The shower was great. Not at first, but it became pleasant quickly. I am trying to focus the water on the sensitive areas, which I learned are where brown fat is stored…coincidence?

Brownfat PETCT.jpg

Brown fat displayed as the patient was cold during the exam.

Wim Hof Method – Day 14

I thought these showers were supposed to start feeling warm after two weeks. Maybe tomorrow . . .

Today was a bit out of the ordinary, not in the sense of breakthroughs or setbacks, but the sequence of events. I took time to breathe this morning and completed three rounds. I noticed that I am spending a bit more time and becoming a bit more consistent with both the inhale sequence and the breath of fire practice. Focusing is not as difficult, and I am finding myself comfortable, wanting to sit longer. As mentioned before, these instances come when meditating where you feel light. It is hard to explain. I often times feel like I am floating right in front of my eyes. It’s not uniquely profound. But the feeling is different than just sittin, noting the pressure in the muscles, the breathing, the odd thoughts and sounds that come and go. I think that those little moments are what I’m looking for. They remind me of a good golf shot that makes you want to play again the following week.

I didn’t jump into the cold shower until later this evening following about two and a half hours of jiu jitsu. It was another solid night on the mats, and the cold shower was a refreshing way to cool down. I guess it is getting a bit easier.

Observations 

Breathing

Times : 1:35, 2:25, 2.15

Physical: The second round at the hold I felt very light headed, ringing in ears, tingling everywhere. I really felt like I could have held longer here and on the third round. I felt like a physical or mental block causing me to gasp before I need oxygen. I’ll continue to listen to my body and breathe… 

The breath of fire is improving, but I need to study it more and understand the technique before I end up winging it and developing bad habits. One resource I plan to use here: http://wrestlejitsu.io/2014/12/02/breathe-like-rickson/#more-161

Rickson Gracie practicing nauli

Mental: While I do think there is some physical/mental block keeping me from holding longer, I am generally satisfied with the practice. I feel like I have a clear mind while practicing. I am enjoying doing the work and the mental game of trying to figure out how to improve.

Notes: I did an extra hold with full lungs and held for 2:05. I only did the deep breathing for 3-4 breaths before trying this hold. I want to test my theory that full lungs vs empty vs completely empty will make a huge difference. But, my empty/fully empty holds are still too inconsistent.

Shower

The shower is cool. It does take some concentration to avoid gasping or flinching upon entering. I knowingly catch myself and re-focus on breathing when it happens. After the first minute or two, I find that it becomes easier to stay focused and avoid the flinch. I usually want to stay in the shower longer than I do. Maybe by winter I will be ready for some ice baths . . .

Wim Hof Method – Day 13

It was patience that I put into the inhales this morning that resulted in the improved times. I learned a long time ago that when you inhale deeply, that last gasp where you fill up your lungs completely is very important. I don’t know this to be true. If it were, that would mean the slope created by looking at the ratio of importance of breath and volume inhaled would be non linear. That might be true . . .

If we think about the lungs, not as balloons, but more like veins and branches. The air that you inhale must meet the haemoglobin (red blood cells) that distribute the O2 around the body. In my way of thinking about it; when I inhale, I am filling up my lungs, but really I am pushing air out into the tips of the roots. If I inhale more fully, the air can reach more places and be processed more effectively. If we do not inhale fully, the uninflated roots are closed off and go unused. I might have to do some research on that . . .

Today I completed the breathing exercises and cold shower as normal. All was well. My breathing times increased from two days ago when I held for just under 2min to today on my second breath which I held for 2:45. My third cycle I held for 2:35. I consciously took my time inhaling to fully inflate my chest and pause for a second to make sure it was all full before exhaling. I tried to follow the cycle 2 sec inhale 2 sec exhale with more force being applied to the inhale.

I noticed that when finished washing, standing still and slowly rotating in the shower makes it harder to stay warm than when washing. Seems like that’s a no brainer. My goal is to get cold in the shower, and also get clean. Yesterday I was not shivering after 6-7 minutes of showering, but today standing still, it did not take long to get the shivers.

I think a good practice will be to stand and get cold/comfortable, wash, then stand and get cold again until shivers start. Good stuff today. Looking forward to some yoga and jiu jitsu tonight.

Wim Hof Method – Day 12

“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” -Jack Dixon

If I remove some of the measurable results from today, and focus purely on the fact that X was done, a step was made. The step may not have been a big step. The step may not have been exactly in the right direction. The step may, comparatively, been a terrible step when measured against steps from days past. That’s fine. The goal is to step.

There was plenty of smoke in my lungs from standing around the fire, and there was a gross feeling in my guts from the beers. This morning there were plenty of excuses for why I could not hold my breath for more than 1:30. I went through the cycle four times to try and regain my focus and attention. There are instances in meditation when you can get that feeling of being perfectly there, in the moment, outside of your body sort of floating. It seems like the hardest thing to stay there. Once you are there, you think about it, and poof, you’re back. It’s like when you realize you are in a dream and wake up. You could have stayed in that moment, but no, it was fleeting.

Today seemed like a fight to stay focused in that moment during each step of the breathing practice. I tried not to force it, I tried to force it, focus, focus, focus, posture, counting 1, 2, 3, 4 . . . then daydream, new thoughts pouring in, feeling, flinching and on and on. The practice was not bad. The important thing, or the rationalization is, that a step was made.

The hard work focusing ended up paying off when I hit the cold shower. I found that when I was more present and focused on breathing, the water became more pleasant feeling. The cold shower is a great tool for keeping you focused. You turn away and the water hits your other arm and it snaps you back. You are almost forced to remain on task. And, when you get off the cold reminds you. The remainder, however, comes in the form of one’s own subconscious reaction to the sensation. You aren’t ready for the cold. But to stay ready, all the time, regardless of the excuses is as difficult as staying in that moment when fully present. But it’s possible with more practice and more focus.

 

Observations:

 

Breathing Practice

 

Cold Shower

Part 1 – Exhale Part 2 – Inhale

Part 3 – Fire

Physical

 

No significant changes.

Light headed. Ears were ringing at the end of breathing and during the hold.

Felt blood pumping during hold

 

No significant changes.

Fairly unprepared at the beginning. Became comfortable within a few minutes.

Mental

Ability to focus – fair/average Ability to focus – fair/average Ability to focus – good Calm, clear

Measurable

 

15 full exhales

30 full inhales x 4

Holds 0.51, 1:15, 1:30, 1:00

 

None

 

6-7 min

Notes

Not forcing inhale makes it easier to focus. Difficult to find rhythm Seated with posture needs improvement. Mood shifted from negative to positive

Wim Hof – Day 11

Today I focused on weaknesses. Physical weakness, mental weakness. Understanding one’s inability to focus can explain shortcomings or lackluster results as much as understanding that correcting a physical weakness can result in better mental clarity.

I noted yesterday that, during the breathing and hold exercise, that the length of time that I could hold my breath was proportional to how fully I exhaled. In order to exhale all of the air from my lungs, I need to fully engage my diaphragm. If I exhale all of the air from my lungs, my theory is, the weakness of the diaphragm wanting to relax creates tension and is often the limiting factor causing me to gasp for air. Today, instead of focusing on the result of having an untrained diaphragm, I tried to focus on improving this weak point.

I still want to improve the times in which I can hold my breath. Today I was a bit all over the place in terms of times. My focus was less on the times, or the diaphragm during that step, and more on being present in each deep inhale and focusing on making each breath count. With time and practice both my ability to control the need to gasp for air, and my breathing techniques will improve. But it is important to understand that it is not going to improve overnight. I will continue to take steps in order to improve:

  • Stay fully present during inhale sequence
  • Exhale fully before holding
  • Continue to strengthen diaphragm with breath of fire and other conscious breathing practices

With these in mind, hold times, and the ability to focus during the practice will improve.

My shoulder is still a bit sore. It causes some discomfort in my neck and back. I think this is a common injury in jiu jitsu caused by rolling over the shoulders and pinching the muscles in and around the rotator cuff. This, while it may not have been the cause, can also be affected by weak or damaged muscles along the spine (often caused by neck cranks).

The cold shower today was pretty good. It is starting to feel normal. A few times during the cold shower I was able to sense my body subconsciously relaxing, sensing the inevitability, as the cold landed on a sensitive spot. It’s like my mind and body know that it is really not that bad.

General observations were

  • More aware of weaknesses
  • Not letting the full practice be derailed by focusing on them
  • Making small steps to improve weaknesses while improving strengths by keeping a general focus
  • More comfortable with the cold

Observations:

Breathing Practice

Cold Shower

Part 1 – Exhale Part 2 – Inhale

Part 3 – Fire

Physical

Minor numbness in feet and pain in hips when seated.

Generally better posture.

Felt cold sensation in extremities and ears. Lightheadedness

Could feel blood pumping during hold

Improved posture makes diaphragm engagement more difficult. Good posture is more important. Still notice some tiny gasps when sensitive areas are hit with cold water. No shivering until around 6-7 min.

Subconsciously gritted teeth a few times.

Mental

Ability to focus – fair/average Ability to focus – good Ability to focus – good Calm, with some aggression

Measurable

15 full exhales 30 full inhalesHold times – 0:55, 1:41, 1:25 None 6-7 min

Notes

 Seated with posture going forward None Seated with posture needs improvement.  None

Wim Hof Method – Day 4

Again, found under Pages instead of Posts…thought these two were lost forever.

Today being Day 4 meant nothing more than noting that the initial feeling of wonderment and excitement for something new started to fade. The initial burst I felt was like cutting into an apple and discovering the sweet smell of the juice. If that was Day 1, Day 4 revealed the clean white fruit starting to turn brown. The apple appears to oxidize in seconds. This first glimpse of vulnerability was not met with much disappointment. What more is in store?

Last night following a few hours of jiu jitsu I was the first to enter the showers. I still had a sweat going, but not like the mid-summer, unairconditioned, cramped conditions following an hour black-belt class at GB Montreal where after 30 minutes of rolling with 40 teammates on the mat was followed by a mad dash for the 4 showers only to emerge sweating in dress clothes while bumping into those lined up to do the same. I had cooled off a bit. And, I jumped in quickly and found myself being forced to breath fully in order to relax myself under the cold water.

The cold shower was the least miserable that I’d had. Toward the end I was rinsing off and decided to enjoy it for a few extra seconds until considering others waiting. It was only uncomfortable at the start. After a few seconds it became nice and refreshing. I didn’t need to focus on breathing at all.

This morning was another story. Awoken abruptly by an uncharged battery meant to power our smoke detector; intermittent beeps each 20 or so seconds created an environment unfit for human occupancy. Luckily it was after 8am. For an accidental alarm, it was very well timed. A short trip to the hardware store and things were quiet. Caity made coffee and I got to work. Two cycles of the breathing exercises and I made my way to the shower. I was not excited to get in, and after a few minutes under the water, I was very excited to get out. I would say that my back and arms were very sensitive. I thought about how, after two weeks, the tiny muscles surrounding the veins and capillaries beneath the skin will become stronger from clenching against the cold shock of the water. I wondered how many reps that I’d completed up until this point in my life. I’d jumped in plenty of cold pools, run outside in plenty of snowstorms and stood outside in hundreds of cold November rains. How have these muscles not yet been built up? Do they atrophy as I sit here warm in my robe, or while I’m driving my car with the heater on, sitting in a movie theatre, or sleeping in my bed? I guess so.

The shower this morning was that of Day 4. It was blase. But as I stepped out, again I felt invigorated and energized. While there will be no jiu jitsu or second cold shower tonight, Day 5 will come and the practice will continue.

Wim Hof Method – Day 3

(Just found this under Pages instead of Posts filed under I don’t know how to blog properly)

The part of the practice that has had the most variation has been the showers. For the first few days I’d been assuming that heavy breathing was needed to help negate the cold shock in the shower. Only today did I follow the actual advice to try and relax and embrace the cold. However, I had some differing observations from the past few days. Yesterday, and the day prior, I had two showers. I showered in the morning and clenched and hyperventilated dramatically to try and fight the cold. Then, I showered after jiu jitsu class in the evening. That shower was more of a light breathing and quick washing type shower. But, I noticed that the cold was not as painful. Maybe the post workout shock is a good thing.

Yesterday the morning shower again was fought using deep breathing. I got a bit light headed, but as I ended and opened the curtain, I felt amazing. Last night’s post jiu jitsu shower was not as enjoyable. I’d hurt my shoulder before the class ended, and jumped into the shower after having cooled down. I think the best way to attack the post workout shower is to do so when you’re still hot.

This morning I did the breathing before breakfast. This was much better. I went through the cycle twice but found that I’m unable to hold my breath for much time at all when I’ve exhaled. I will try and time this and work to improve my time going forward, but I don’t want to open my eyes and dick around with my phone while I’m trying to focus. Maybe I’ll just continue to work without observing the measurable time. We will see tomorrow.

The breathing went well, the shower was cold as hell. I slowly rotated around and focused the cold on my damaged shoulder which felt great. The back and tops of my shoulders are as sensitive as anywhere else. I think it is very likely that places that are most sensitive to tattoo pain are the same as cold pain. I wonder if this practice will make my next tattoo more endurable . . . I doubt it.

I was able to relax and stay in the shower for a few minutes. I felt great again after getting out. This time I was very hungry. The cold in the shower still reminds me of some sort of cold work like hunting or fishing in pursuit of food. I’ll keep associating it with that I guess…