what I learned from being really, really cold
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what I learned from being really, really cold

what I learned from being really, really cold

How the Wim Hof Method and sitting in a ton of ice changed my life and why you should consider getting uncomfortable to be happier and healthier in the long run

My name is Theresa, and for as long as I can remember, I've been seeking. Seeking methods, tools and circumstances that make me feel better.

It's not that I've been feeling bad all my life, but I definitely had my fair share of not-so-great experiences, and there is always room to improve.

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When I was still in high school, I read every self-help book I could get my hands on. I would then study psychology at university and then get certified as a coach and yoga and meditation instructor shortly after.

Over the years, I've taken a bunch of trainings to deepen my own practice and expand my knowledge about how humans work.

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I am not writing this article to tell you that one thing will turn your life around, or fix every issue you've ever had. But I want to tell you a little about my learnings and how the Wim Hof Method played a crucial role in some of my more recent development.

So let's dive right in.

the wim hof method

This paragraph will give you a quick overview of the method and where it came from. You can skip that and go right to where I write about my experience. If you want to know more, I recommend you go to the WHM website or look for an instructor in your area to really learn what it is about.

who is wim hof?

Wim Hof
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Wim Hof is a dutch guy in his sixties, who is also known as the iceman because he has the ability to withstand extreme cold for much longer than the average human. He broke several world records related to cold and heat and did some crazy stunts like climbing Mount Everest in shorts in only 28 hours. When Wim caught the media's attention, he also caught the attention of several scientists because he claimed he could consciously influence his autonomic nervous system, which was not believed possible. By now, several studies are showing what Wim could do but also what the Wim Hof method can do for "normal" humans. If you want to know more about the science, go here.

strong body, strong mind

When I did my first ever ice bath, I wasn't sure if this was actually something I was capable of, but I was intrigued by the idea. I went into my first WHM fundamentals workshop with little expectations and no prior knowledge, and I was blown away. Not just by my own experience, but by what it did with people around me. My 70-year-old aunt (and her arthritic hip) joined me for the experience, and the determination I saw in her face while she was sitting in this tub full of ice cubes was incredible. Besides that, the cold exposure was able to ease her pain for a couple of days, and she decided to take cold showers every day after, which helped with pain management in the long run. This experience showed me that this method is not only for young and strong-looking people. There is so much strength in all of us, and the method is a great way to discover what you already have within you.

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Since I started my education to become a Wim Hof instructor, which I just finished in September 2021, many other members of my family and some of my friends have joined. And from my nephew to my dad, all of them had their own challenges to face, but also their own victories and breakthroughs with the cold.

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being comfortable with the uncomfortable

When we get into the cold, our first impulse is to hold our breath and get ourselves out of this uncomfortable situation. And believe me, even after the 100th ice bath, it is still not easy when I get in. But by overriding this first impulse, trying to calm down and surrender to the situation you are in, you can learn to build greater capacity for discomfort. You realize that you are capable of doing uncomfortable things, which is a pretty handy thing to know.

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the cold has allowed me to feel so much more - joy, sadness, anger, love - and to appreciate and allow it all

It taught me that it is okay to feel sadness, anger, frustration or grief and that for these feelings to pass, we need to allow them and surrender to them rather than fighting them. It's very similar to how it is in the ice bath. You can't fight the cold. You have to allow it and surrender to get through it.

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As a coach (and yoga therapist to be), this is not only relevant for me personally but also for my work with others. It is a skill to hold space for discomfort in others. It's not about jumping in and trying to save them from every negative feeling they could ever experience, but rather about supporting them in the process of moving through their suffering.

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open, honest and raw

Ever since I can remember, I've struggled with my body image and how I looked and felt in my own skin. I am a fan of the current movement of #bodypositivity, and it's been beneficial that my social media feed has significantly diversified. However, it still has not been easy for me to accept myself the way I am.

My experience with the cold has worked with this as well. When I am sitting in a tub filled with ice cubes, there is not much mental energy left to think about how I look or how my stomach or my thighs are not the way I want them to be. And when I come out of the ice bath, I am so impressed by the strength and the capacity of my body that it is tough to resent it.

together we can do more

The WHM has also been very rich in community and connection.

Almost every time I go for a cold dip in the river or the lake, people are wondering about what I am doing and reaching out to ask their questions. It's like going for a walk with a puppy. When you are walking outside in your bathing suit in winter, you will be noticed. And for me, this has led to some fascinating conversations and has provided me with many new friendships.

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Thanks to the WHM, I met other people who were seekers just like me. It allowed me to feel less alone and gave me a sense of belonging that I enjoy.

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I hope reading about my experience has inspired you to reflect on your own comfort zone and your capacity for discomfort. For a piece of content to do something for us, we need to relate it to our own experience. For this reason, I wrote some questions you can ask yourself now.

Reflections
  • Am I okay with being uncomfortable? What is my usual pattern to deal with situations that don't feel great?
  • How do I react to discomfort in others? Do I tend to save others, and am I actually helping?
  • When are you leaving your comfort zone, and what have you learned from it?
  • How do I feel about the idea of sitting in an ice bath for two minutes? Why would or wouldn't I try it?

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Article by: Theresa Vecsey

Theresa is a Notion Ambassador, Teacher, Coach, Artist, and Learner

based in Vienna, Austria πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ή

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