Disclaimer: You're about to see one of the worst things I have experienced. It's uncomfortable to share, as it's very personal, and slightly graphic.
But I'm going to share with you anyways because what I discovered may change your life.
Some 30 day challenges are my excuses to try something new. Some are to potentially create a new habit, or face a fear, or get creatively inspired and so forth. But some, such as this one, kind of happen from a stroke of perfect coincidence in timing.
Two years ago, I developed a horrible skin condition from head to toe, seemingly out of nowhere, and after many tests, doctors were left baffled. It showed similarities to a number of things, but as each was specifically tested, left us scratching our heads, and me scratching my entire body.
It. Was. Miserable. Every 20 minutes, to maybe 3 hours, if I was lucky to make it that long, thousands of these hives would erupt in an uncontrollable itch, and I'd tear my flesh apart the point I was bleeding. The worst was when I was in meetings, on flights, standing in front of crowds giving talks, or staying at friend's places. Each time the wave came, I had to find the nearest shower, leaving it as dialed to as cold as possible and just sit under it to reduce the inflammation.
After 3 painful months, and thousands of dollars spent on doctor's visits, tests, and steroids, I came across the inspiring Vice documentary on Wim Hof aka The Iceman. Wim is a force to be reckoned with, and the method he developed with how the body received oxygen and reduces cortisol, through breathing exercises, cold water, stretching and some focus, he was able to perform previously unheard of feats of controlling the autonomic system. His claim is that this method can quell ANY dis-ease of the body.
Watch the documentary, its worth your time.
Needless to say, I was desperate and would try anything. Besides, I was already doing the cold showers, so I figured it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to go further. He has a step by step course that introduces each portion and how to dial it up, and it's very effective. In fact, in less than 2 weeks, I noticed an incredible improvement on the amount hives and the number of flare ups. At 30 days, it was maybe 1/3 of where it was.
Here are the few pillars of the program:
A simple technique to get oxygen flowing to thehypothalamus aka Lizard Brain.
2) Stretch + Breath
3) Cold Therapy
Strengthen the muscles around the veins, allowing oxygen to flow easier, making the heart work less, producing less cortisol (stress hormone)
Step-by-Step Explanation of the Breathing Exercise
1) Get comfortable
Sit in a meditation posture, whatever is most comfortable for you. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction. It is recommended to do this practice right after waking up since your stomach is still empty or before a meal.
2) 30 Power Breaths
Imagine you’re blowing up a balloon. Inhale through the nose or mouth and exhale through the mouth in short but powerful bursts. Keep a steady pace and use your midriff fully. Close your eyes and do this around 30 times. Symptoms could be light-headedness, tingling sensations in the body.
3) The Hold, retention after exhalation
After the 30 rapid successions of breath cycles, draw the breath in once more and fill the lungs to maximum capacity without using any force. Then let the air out and hold for as long as you can without force. Hold the breath until you experience the gasp reflex.
4) Recovery Breath
Inhale to full capacity. Feel your chest expanding. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath for around 10 seconds and this will be round one. The breathing exercise can be repeated 3 rounds after each other.
After having completed the breathing exercise take your time to enjoy the feeling afterward. This feeling will be more and more like a meditation.
When you start doing these exercises we recommend to take your time recovering from the breathing exercise. After doing the breathing exercise and you feel good, you can start with taking the cold shower.
As for the improvement of my skin condition, I was noticing great progress, but those times it happened it was still debilitating and I needed the ailment gone completely and immediately.
A friend was able to get a prescription cream from a dermatologist that acted like a nuclear bomb for fungal and parasitic infections. Even though it hadn't been identified yet, again, I was willing to try anything.
The cream scorched my entire body, but immediately began to clear up in full. Whatever it was, it hadn't returned in two years, and I am incredibly relieved!
But something else happened in that month of Wim Hof's method. My energy levels went up, my enthusiasm and optimism was noticeably higher more consistently, my body temp stays warmer in cold temps, and I just can't enjoy the feeling of hot water the way I used to.
Cold water just has more feeling, even emotional, and I don't feel as good as when I leave it cold. It makes things like being able to jump into an alpine lake, a lake formed by snow melt, not just possible, but enjoyable!
It's been exactly two years, and 3/4 of all my showers are still cold, and a couple times a week I maintain the breathing exercise. It's a challenge that became a habit, and I love hearing stories of people's lives Wim changes.
Give it a shot, and let me know your experience!
Which of my 30 Day Challenges would you like to know about next?
- Polyphasic Sleeping
- Eating Color
- No Social Media
- No Liking
- No Plastic
- Get pissed off about 1 thing (and ignore all the others)
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