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How taking an ice bath showed me the power of my mind
Getting out of your comfort zone really does wonders
I truly hate being cold. I always need a jumper; I take very hot showers; and sleep under a thick duvet, even though I live in Dubai, perhaps one of the warmest cities in the world.
Taking an ice bath therefore, obviously, was not on my ‘things I want to do list’. Yet, I took one last week. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I did it; I just had to - the universe was telling me to! (?) And it was the most rewarding thing I have done in a long time.
Perhaps it was the result of some subconscious thought seeding since my husband introduced me to the Wim Hof method a few years ago, and a trigger from my fitness coach who regularly does Wim Hof ice therapy, that lead to my innate desire to jump into a bath of ice not just once, but THREE times. I was in for 9 minutes in total.
It was the hardest thing I have done in a LONG time. And the most rewarding thing I have experienced in so many ways, here’s why:
I experienced the absolute power of being able to control your mind
Stepping into a bucket of ice triggers your brain’s fight-or-flight response which is a physiological reaction that occurs when we are in the presence of something that is mentally or physically terrifying.
The fight-or-flight response is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or to run away to safety - Very Well Mind
To be able to cope with the sudden shock your body gets when fully immersed in ice, you need to control your mind so that it doesn’t freak out. One way of doing this is by controlling the way you breathe. A twist on traditional meditation, I suppose (?).
As we all know, controlling our monkey mind is a feat of a task. Perhaps our mind can only be tamed, if at all, by consistent meditation. Even though I have learned Vipassana meditation, practicing does not come easy to me and the value of it can only be experienced over time if you meditate regularly. Doing an ice bath helped me learn not just in theory, but by doing and within 30 seconds, that I can control my mind if I really want to. It demonstrated to me firsthand the sheer power of mind over matter. I guess this is the kind of thing ultra marathon runners and Iron Man participants feel after completing the challenge.
An ice bath gave me the opportunity to experience immediate and absolute control of my mind through a specific type of breathing.
Realizing I can do really hard things, despite fear and discomfort
Learning what you are capable of by being in an extremely uncomfortable situation can only do you good. No growth comes from a place of comfort. I felt like I needed a jolt. I needed a challenge to help me step into 2022 with the roaring confidence that I can achieve anything I put my mind to.
I’m still on a high from the ice bath experience, feeling pretty invincible.
Benefits of having an ice bath
And then there are the other benefits that come with it*:
Boosts immune system (Wim Hof claims he has not had a cold for 11 years!)
Lowers blood pressure
Flushes metabolic waste from your body
Sends oxygen and nutrients to your muscles
Lowers any inflammation you may have in your body
Makes you resilient to stress
Increases levels of dopamine in the bloodstream by as much as 250%, dramatically improving your mood
Benefits of Wim Hof breathing
The Wim Hof method is a combination of cold therapy and breathing techniques and for overall well-being. The session begins with some Wim Hof breathing
Benefits of Wim Hof breathing**:
Reduced stress levels
Heightened focus and determination
Stronger immune system
Strengthens your cardio vascular system
Health is our only true wealth
In a time where health is really our only wealth, if something as simple as an ice bath, or even a cold shower, and breathing exercises can offer so many benefits, why would you not at least try it?
I put my fears aside and tried something that I thought would be good for me. Being able to put your fears aside and do something is a skill worth nurturing.
A huge thanks to Benoit and Roy from CoolOutBreathIn who made the experience so pleasant and safe. I will be back there with my husband for another round soon.
Please note, I am not a Wim Hof student or practitioner. My knowledge of it is limited. As everything alternative, there is critique of it too. Please do your own research before you try it. Do not try an ice bath at home without supervision.
If this method interests you, try with watching this documentary on Wim Hof, and take it from there.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2022. I hope you do something out of your comfort zone this year.
Also on a separate note, incase you are looking for some personalised curated links of the best information on the web as you enter the new year, Refind is well worth checking out.