wim hof method: six-month progress report, part II

This is part II of a memorialization of my experience with the Wim Hof Method. Part I addressed cold water immersion. Here, I’ll address conscious breathing.


A second pillar of the Wim Hof Method is conscious breathing. (See Wim Hof’s Web site for better instructions. I’ve been doing this for a while and may have modified it along the way to suit my needs.)

In the morning after walking the pooch, and again during the day if I’m feeling stressed, I lie down, close my eyes, and inhale in through my nose and out through my mouth for 30 breaths. I’ve done it more quickly, as well as more slowly. I get better results if I take my time and don’t try to rush through like it’s a chore.

After the 30th breath, I exhale, and then hold the exhale for as long as possible. I’ve managed as much as 3:05 minutes. Wim Hof suggests you should be able to get these results, and more, routinely, but I find I’m normally between 1:30 and 2:30, with longer numbers by the third round. While I’m holding my breath, I do a sound meditation–focus on the present and listen for sounds as they come.

Next, inhale, and then hold the inhaled breath for 15 seconds. Then, exhale and repeat the whole process two more times.

As I get through the third cycle, I’m so relaxed, I feel something between paralyzation (in a good way) and complete relaxation. I keep my eyes closed and continue the sound meditation until I can move. Then, off to the business of the day.

Wim Hof has explained some of the benefits you’ll get by following his conscious breathing method, but I do it strictly for relaxation and meditation.

I can’t say I have concrete results from this practice despite staying at it for six months. For quite some time, and more so during COVID, I’ve gotten headaches as often as every six days. I’ve tried to stave them off by doing my conscious breathing exercise as soon as I feel the earliest pings, but no luck.

But one thing I hope to achieve long term is an improved ability to stay “in the present,” which is the key tenet of mindfulness. I took a class in mindfulness a few years ago, but don’t practice it regularly. For anyone who is not familiar, mindfulness trains the brain to focus on the here and now. Too often, I stew over things that happened earlier in the day, or week, or when I was five years old. I can’t change any of it, but the dark thoughts ruin my day and make me feel bad about myself or for myself, and in the end, how does negativity fix anything? Or, I “catastrophize” the future. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve imagined the worst about some upcoming event, and then it all works out, and I tell myself, “See? This is what you dreaded? Why did you waste so much time and energy? It all worked out perfectly!”

So there you have it, not a super exciting post, but hey! Meditating or talking about meditating gets me all Zen. Are you feeling more centered and mindful, yourself?

If you’re thinking about trying the Wim Hof Method, his Web site offers instructions and details of benefits, as well as videos. If you really want to get into it, you can take paid classes both virtually and in person.

(Just to put it out there, I haven’t been through his paid classes and I don’t benefit in any way if you sign up.)

Keep calm and Wim on!

Tot de volgende keer.

(That’s Dutch for “see you next time.”)

Wim Hof is Dutch.

If you have to explain the joke it’s not funny.

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