Get ready for an ice bath! Cold exposure is not only good training for the mind, but also has incredible health benefits on a cellular level. Meet Wim Hof, aka "The Ice Man," and hear about how his ability to withstand extreme temperatures caught the attention of scientists all over the world, who began to study his physiology and his methods.
Learn more at onecommune.com.
Jeff: Welcome to Commune, where each week we explore the ideas and practices that bring us together and help us live healthy, purpose-filled lives. I’m your host, Jeff Krasno.
In addition to being a podcast, Commune is also an online course platform hosting some of the world’s greatest teachers - such as Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, and Mark Hyman. Tap the link in the show notes, or head over to onecommune.com to learn more!
They call him "The Ice Man."
Wim Hof holds 21 World Records connected with cold exposure. Wearing only shorts, he’s climbed the world’s highest mountains, ran a half marathon above the Arctic Circle, and swam more than 50 meters under ice.
Just like an iceberg, there’s so much more below the surface when it comes to the power of cold exposure.
As you’ll hear in this episode, it’s not just about training the mind and body to withstand super cold temperatures, it’s about what happens on a cellular level. Cold therapy combined with conscious breathing offers a powerful natural path to optimal health.
Increased energy, better sleep, heightened focus, reduced stress levels and a stronger immune system are just some of the powerful effects of the Wim Hof method.
And in today’s episode, we’re jumping into the cold, feet first!
And yes, I did take an ice bath with Wim.
I’m Jeff Krasno, and welcome to Commune.
Wim: My name is Wim H-O-F, Hof. Father of six unbearable children. Beautiful, I love them, but unbearable. They call me "The Ice Man" because I do all kinds of extremes in the cold and got a lot of records there in. Then the scientists came in and they thought of this is impossible. I can tell you, it is impossible, with the wrong mindset.
Jeff: I think people live with a lot of fear in their life.
Jeff: Fear is the opposite of love, some people say. I had a lot of fear about the ice bath.
Wim: Oh, really?
Jeff: Yeah. Wasn't sure. Now wake up this morning, go right in. You know? I want to talk about all of the healing properties that people get from being in the ice and doing the technique. But I will also say that the ice is also a bit of a metaphor for being able to conquer your fears and tap into the soul, you know?
Wim: Absolutely. Yeah.
Jeff: You were curious about life and purpose at a young age, because you began to this, what became the Wim Hof method, when you were a boy, is that right?
Wim: Oh yes. Yes. I remember when I was 12 years, I was already looking into psychology, into Buddhism. Hinduism, esoteric disciplines, cultures, traditions, languages, anything. Yoga, karate, kung fu, dervish dancing, whatever I could do. Not because I had to teach. I was curious. I was in a soul search. That urge came from deep in there. There is more than meets the eye. There is more than I meet here in this reality where I was and where I come from is like the Netherlands, Western kind of a lifestyle, all busy for your careers and this and that. A lot of stress they're in, 'cause you got to be career oriented to get some security into the future. That way of thinking was not mine. I was more into the moment into, "Hey, what do you feel now? What do you see now?"
What I saw was a lot of stress, a lot of cancer, a lot of autoimmune diseases, a lot of depression, a lot of people not being happy. So I became a person who became extremely extroverted in the moment, very spontaneous and doing whatever I feel and follow it in a natural way, in a natural way. Because I want to know what is the soul. I really want to know what is the soul. Not what the church did and the temples and the [inaudible] and the mosques. I actually hated the... you could not play there. We made it always into a play. We were obligated to go to the church by my mother. I love her very much but not the church.
I mean you've got to sit there as a child. It is not making sense. You got a priest there with some bowl and all kinds of strange things, saying things you don't understand as a kid. So real sacredness we miss out on real sacredness. Any kid is very curious. Any kid is very impressed when it knows that he is learning from the insight. We lost that touch that make me go into the moment and and learn.
When I was 17, I came in contact with the cold water. That means I already had years and hundreds of books I had read and so much practice I have gone through already. So much work I had already done. The cold water was the one that made me connect, like boom, inside.
Jeff: Yeah. Tell me about that moment. Where you discovered the ice for the first time and how that made you feel. Because I'm sure that first time it was, it's not like this morning when you get in the ice bath, right? The first time it's like, "Whoa!"
Wim: Actually, that is the way I learned about breathing. 'Cause if you go into an extreme impact, a forceful impact on your body, the natural thing you do is you breathe in or you equalize the impact with a internal gasp. To ignite hormonal power, the Adrenal access. It's a natural thing in the end, is a natural thing to get the adrenal axis going and equalizing the impact on the body. That made me feel deep in. So the mirror, the cold, made me go deeply within and past this thinking brain, being non stimulated in clothes and nice and warm, always regulated, when it is too warm you make it cold, when it's too cold, you make it warm.
It's always non stimulative state of a bodily awareness. But at that moment, I got a real gulp of life force within me. That made me feel so good the whole day long. Being in the water there, it was not longer than a minute, but that was like my brain stood still. The time space thing stood still. I was in eternity. That was an experience.
I think you get compare it to when you are in love with somebody, you are really madly in love you. Don't think. You fly! You go! It's nothing that can stop you. That is what happened to me at that moment.
Jeff: Yeah. So you discovered this ice that brought you into the present. Then how did the breathing connect?
Wim: Yes. Because I felt so good. So the trigger became real as a way to get in and to feel great, to ignite and activate all kinds of internal processes and mechanisms that make me feel strong from within. If you go out of the water, the internal mechanisms are still activated. That makes you feel so good. I began to know that the breathing became deeper, because these internal mechanisms, they lack oxygen. That made me become aware that if you breathe deep, you get a complete different set of feelings and awareness, perception. That made me go and indulge more and experiment more into the breathing, apart from the eyes, apart from the cold outside, back at home, and began to learn about doing all kinds of breathing, experiment.
I saw all the lights of the world, all the Chakras of the world, I could change whatever was gone in my head, three dimensional. It was amazing. Anything I had read in books, that was in comparable with the sensation and the experience by doing it.
I did it for years and years and years. So there I got my practice. I learned from the cold how to breathe. Then when once I got the breathing done, I learned how to get the mind in a state of being which I maybe have read but did not understand.
Now by experience, I could discover, within myself that there is much more than meets the eye. It's not in books, it's not taught in schools and all. It made me impervious to the cold. I could stay a whole night outside in shorts, in freezing temperatures and feel great about myself, because I was so powerful and being able to do that.
That resulted in all kinds of challenges, because I wanted more, more, more, more. Then I came in contact with television, to [inaudible 00:15:31]. From there on, I did all kinds of records. They asked me to do more and more and more. I could meet them in their demand.
So got 26 of these records, then the scientists came. They said, "What this man is doing is physiologically not possible, but he is doing it. Let's experiment on him."
Now we have proven through these experiments and research that we are able to tap into the autonomous nervous system, into the endocrine system, into the immune system. Now the professor say, "After do research, this is a transformational technique that will change mental health care."
What are we talking about? Just a simple, soul searcher, that there is more than meets the eye, has began somewhere, and is a dropout from school, is teaching the professors and doctors in the world where they don't have an answer.
I tell them, "Nature has the answer, don't dwell in the books, go back to nature. The nature is always within." That's why we are able to awaken people's true nature within one day, two day, three day. We do not train people to do something. We awaken people to their true inner power.
Jeff: Yeah. So you accomplished feats that people thought were impossible and then they started paying attention. So you climbed Mount Everest. You ran a marathon in not just [inaudible] too.
Wim: In the desert at 5,000 meters on the Everest and beyond the polar circle.
Wim: Three different extremes. The heat, the cold, and the oxygen deprivation state. And barefoot.
Jeff: And barefoot.
Wim: So how far can we go? Much further than we think.
Jeff: So now the doctors and the scientists, they're looking, they're like, wait a minute, how does this guy do this? So then they start to be like, if he can do this then what does this mean for medicine? What is the effect on the vascular system, on the endocrine system, on the immune system?
So I know that now you've started to very much focus on the science and the evidence to bring this technique into the biggest, biggest world. And so I want to talk a little bit about the immune system for example. I know that you did an experiment where you took a group of people to Poland and you gave them the training for...
Wim: Four days.
Jeff: ...just four days. Tell us a little bit about how that experiment worked.
Wim: The experience began after they experimented on me. But I'm NS1. I'm just one test subject. I'm sort of a guinea pig the last 20 years. You always want to test on me. I say what I can do you can do too.
Wim: But it began testing on me. They injected me with a bacteria which normally makes people sick. It is a controlled experiment.
Wim: And the toxemia model, it's e coli bacteria, become just bloody sick.
Wim: Fever, headaches, all over agony, uncontrolled shivering, vomiting, all that. Not good. Not good whatsoever.
Jeff: Right. So they did this, they injected this bacteria just to you first?
Wim: After 16,000 others. And they all became sick. Only I did not become sick. I was just well. And then they looked inside the blood and they saw me suppressing more than significantly the inflammatory markers causing the fever, the headaches, being sick. And it was not there.
Now inflammation, inflammatory markers, are the cause and effect of disease, actually any disease. And now there is a person who is showing that he is able, within a quarter of an hour, to suppress the inflammatory markers, the inflammation.
Wim: But you are the Ice Man. You are doing such an extreme in nature, you have done incredible things. But it is not representative for humans and the human physiology. And I said, "No, it's not true." What I can do anybody can do.
I got an identical twin brother, he's not able to do what I do because he is not doing what I do. So if I'm able to make people do what I do, which is not too much. How much days do you think it takes for a person to get a little bit close to your resort? A year? One and a half year? 10 days. It became four days. And now it's like one day.
But then the first big study showed that within the four days I made these 18 people in total, practice. I said, "Hey guys, you guys, we are on a mission and you got to be the greatest gladiators ever. You're going to beat the war that caused the most of misery and pain and disease in the world. The war on the bacteria and the virus."
And they understood. They gave it all from day one to day four. On day four, without former experience in the mountaineering, nor in the cold, they were able to go in shorts with me, and that's the training before, in shorts. Minus 10 it was, Celsius, centigrade. There it began at the slopes in the Polish mountain at the border.
And we went up and it was minus 13 when we came across. I mean freezing cold. And there we went up the slope. And from the other side, we can still see it, these military people dressed up like ninjas 'cause only this part was open, the eye part, 'cause it was so freaking cold.
Jeff: Cold, yeah.
Wim: Don't want to say the French word, by the way.
But it was freaking cold. And then it came over the mountain and they saw us coming up in shorts. We're going to win that war.
Jeff: That's right.
Jeff: That's right.
Wim: And we made stupid selfies there and they were flabbergasted. We went on the top of the mountain, was minus 27. And they danced the Harlem Shake up there. Dancing like crazy because we have conquered something inside. We had reconnected with our inner nature.
Jeff: And these are just regular people?
Wim: Regular people. Randomly chosen by the university to take part in this program.
Wim: Four days later they were in the hospital and the 18 I trained, showed 100% score within a quarter of an hour, not becoming sick.
And then they looked inside the blood and the saw these people have been influencing deeply into the automatic nervous system and the innate immune system, thought of inaccessible by science up 'til then. That was the revolution.
Jeff: And how do you explain that?
Wim: Yes. We have just completed a study, it's into publishing, shows within 20 minutes people become very alkalinized through this method. So alkaline water, alkaline food, et cetera, is all nice. But you yourself, through the breath, are able to become very alkalined within 20 minutes.
They took the blood directly after and they saw that, the values very alkalined and great. And then five hours later they took it again, we were still alkalined. So it is not just a momentum. It's going to go on for the rest of the day.
And what is alkalinity? Alkalinity is actually derived by chemistry in the body. Because of our comfort zone behavior, we become de stimulated of the impact of the elements of nature on our body, thus our chemistry becomes stressed. Cell biological stress is created. And then the alkalinity is being out of balance. Maybe not on the surface, but in the lymphatic system, and that's the storage system of our bodies.
You know what happens. The storage capacity is able to store up, but then when it's tranquil, nature says, now you work it up, you get the garbage out. Get the storage of the acidity out of your body. But we don't because we keep on going with shallow breathing and de stimulated.
Thus, the garbage system is not working. What happens over time, like five years, six years, seven years, eight years, 10 years, whatever, depends on the physiology, you get autoimmune diseases. Why? Because the garbage suddenly I get back into the system. Then you get the de regulations and nobody knows. You get pills, you get medicines, you get [inaudible] all those things.
So now we found that these breathing exercises are able to get into the lymphatic system and it cleanse the lymphatic system of the acidity and the wrong biochemistry and make it alkalined.
Wim: And that's within 20 minutes.
Jeff: And this can have major ramifications around diseases like cancer, for example?
Wim: Yes. In the end cancer is a genome expression which happens when the body becomes too acidic. There's a lack of oxygen, and the body needs oxygen to maintain itself. But if there is furthermore no energy left because the oxygen is fully consumed, the body becomes acidic. And when it becomes acidic, then you get anaerobic dissimilation and aerobic cell division. That's cancer.
Wim: Cancer's simply a natural phenomena that happens. I need to make cells but there is no oxygen, so I'm going to do it anaerobically. And then you get the wrong genome expressions, they go wild, berserk, and that's cancer.
Jeff: Yeah. So by practicing the method-
Wim: You cannot get it. Because it cannot exist in an alkaline environment.
Jeff: Yeah. Wow.
Yes. And then of course the effect on the vascular system. Talk a little bit about the vascular system.
Wim: The vascular system is amazing. It's three times the world's length within us, composed with millions of little muscles. I always says, cold shower a day keeps the doctor away. Why? Because killer number one in society is cardiovascular disease related. It kills more than any war. It's a silent killer and it goes everywhere and it take out the quality of life, there's less energy, there's the wrong chemistry in the body because the vascular system is not toned through the de stimulated behavior, the comfort zone behavior. And thus these muscles don't work the way they could.
What happens is that the heart needs to compensate for the loss. That means that it is beating, pumping more than it should. It creates stress. You get glucoses, cortisol, in the body.
Wim: This is what we suffer in the west a lot from, from continuous presence of cortisol in the body. That's why we sleep difficult. And in the end, cortisol continuously creates oxidative stress to the cell. Cell damage. It causes inflammation, and it shortens your life.
All that can be taken away when you begin to take a cold shower. Then the millions of little muscles are going to be trained. What happens is that the oxygen [inaudible] vitamins get a lot better to the cell. The cell experiences a lot loss stress. It's being received with the right nutrients, building stones, and oxygen. They actually get more energy, that's one.
And then the heart is going to pump 50 to 30 beats a minute less 24 hours a day. That means stress is really out of there.
Jeff: Yeah. So how do you bring this method? And you're doing it. You're teaching everywhere, you're traveling, you have online courses. You have the fundamentals course. We're making a course together.
Jeff: But in order to enact global and system change, what are the keys to that? Is that essentially being able to permeate the health insurance providers? Or is it about more evidence-based studies? Is it about being able to train other clinicians?
Wim: If I'm meeting people like you, yourself, entrepreneurs with the right heart.
Besides of that, to bring this through to science, this is what I thought is necessarily. I want to help all the children because they are innocent and their innocence needs to be protected. So I need billions to make projects go. I don't want a penny of it, but I want to make billions.
And I was on the way, like a chess game, to get into the game and find ways to get a lot of money. Traction, and all that. Then I began to think, "No, I've got teach the parent. I've got to teach the adult. I've got change the science."
Wim: And that's what I did. We showed the autonomy, nervous system, endocrine system, immune system, it all can be deeply influenced. Now we got into the brain and the mind, and shown that we can change mental healthcare. But, to me that goes too slow.
That's why I'm here with people like yourself, to scale it up.
Jeff: To scale it up.
Wim: Yeah. Right.
Jeff: Every day you wake up with this tremendous energy, this tremendous spirit. Is this every day?
Wim: This is true. Thank you. I love life.
Jeff: I know but, right. And this is the thing, it's infectious. In the best way, right? You bring all these, you have, you bring this energy and this spirit to the people around you ad that makes them feel a sense of purpose and want to work with you, and that's why there's all these projects that are coming up all the tie because they're like, he's just energy, he's pure love, and he has no fear.
Wim: It's ridiculous, fear, We live too short, We got to live. But I still need the right people to create the right chemistry and make things happening for those who cannot live their lives. Who are suffering right now.
Jeff: And is that at the core of your purpose? Is to relieve suffering?
Wim: Oh yes, Yes, Absolutely.
Jeff: I love you, man. You are wonderful, and this has been a joy for me to get to know you, to learn from you, to be with your family. It's such a great gift. Thank you so much.
Wim: Thanks man, and I love you, too.
Jeff: There’s so much we can learn from the story of The Ice Man, Wim Hof.
Our journey to lasting wellness can’t be motivated by seeking short-term comfort. To grow, we must be willing to step into discomfort.
Maybe that means attending a yoga class for the first time, or maybe that looks like an intermittent fast. Uncomfortable situations offer us a chance to face our fears and build resilience in body and mind.
Maybe you don’t need to jump into the ice bath today... but how about a cold shower tomorrow morning?
Thanks for listening to the Commune podcast and for going on this journey of personal growth and transformation with us. I’m your host Jeff Krasno, and I’ll see you next time.