Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mind Over Body

"No one knew me [in seclusion years ago] as the Ice Man. I didn't want to be nick-named, to be called crazy. They made me Super Man sort of -- the Ice Man."
"The next challenge to me is science, research. That's my Mount Everest."
"This method [meditation/self-healing] is no longer alternative."
Wim Hof, Dutch national, inspirational Guinness World Record holder
The father-of-five also holds the record for having the longest ice bath. Here he emerges from a frozen lake in the Spanish Pyrenees mountains

"Hitherto, both the autonomic nervous system and innate immune system were regarded as systems that cannot be voluntarily influenced. The present study demonstrates that, through practising techniques learned in a short-term training program, the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can indeed be voluntarily influenced."
U.S. National Academy of Sciences study
Lead author of the study, Matthijs Kox of Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands considers the results outlined in the study to be preliminary, holding hope that controlling hormones with the mind, for example, can help treat depression. The study involved Wim Hof, dubbed Ice Man, teaching a dozen students his meditation technique.

The study culminated with those students and another dozen control subjects injected with a bacterial toxin inducing fever, headache and allied illness symptoms, with Mr. Hof and his students demonstrating an increased capacity to suppress the symptoms. Basically, Mr. Hof, through his method of disciplined meditation is able to control his bodily reactions to stress.

As a young man searching for meaning in his life, he familiarized himself with Buddhist texts, did yoga exercises, tried martial arts and meditation techniques, and found great inspiration within nature. When he was 17 he accidentally fell into a pond capped in a veneer of ice: "Boom, it felt so good!" he reminisced. "The cold makes you go within."

Indeed it would; it would make most people shrink internally, traumatically shocked at the instant cooling of their bodily system, and it wouldn't be long before, if they were unable to haul themselves out of such an icy environment, their body would begin to shut down, core temperature dropping quickly and alarmingly, threatening existence.

But for Mr. Hof, feeling his blood rushing in a way he was unaccustomed to, he responded by altering his breathing rhythm, realizing that breathing a certain way resulted in his feeling comfortable, despite his icy baptism. This experience led him to take control of automatic processes within his body. "That's a physical revelation. That's a mystical revelation", he stated.

Now he is embarked on a mission to prove that humans are capable of the duality of spirituality and body control whose results can be verified scientifically. Earlier he had practised his strange new 'liberation' of the spirit with his newfound capacity for his mind to control his bodily reactions and functions quietly, without fanfare. Basically now he sends a message, that what he has been able to do, anyone can, with the proper instruction.

He had received a telephone call from Dr. Ken Kamler in New York who is an expert in high-altitude medicine; Mr. Hof's fame doubtless having come to the attention of the researcher. Dr. Kamler expressed a keen interest in Mr. Hof's ability, exerting control over his body's autoimmune biological networking system. The power of Mr. Hof's will to control his body is unique to science.

The 'Iceman' Wim Hof, 55, has broken 21 Guinness World Records including running a full marathon above the Arctic circle wearing only a pair of shorts. Here, he meditates in the snow in Holland
The 'Iceman' Wim Hof, 55, has broken 21 Guinness World Records including running a full marathon above the Arctic circle wearing only a pair of shorts. Here, he meditates in the snow in Holland

The mind-over-body technique he pioneered gave way to feats of control through meditation and breath control that Mr. Hof has demonstrated in a variety of ways, earning him no fewer than 21 unique distinctions through the Guinness awards. He has climbed Mount Everest close to its daunting summit wearing only shorts. And run a full marathon in the Kalahari desert. He has immersed himself in ice water for a period far longer than any other human, and sustained no injury in the process.

Mr Hof said: 'I don't bother with gyms, I just workout where I happen to be whether it's in the garden or at home'
Mr Hof said: 'I don't bother with gyms, I just workout where I happen to be whether it's in the garden or at home'

At age 55, he is in remarkable physical shape, always challenging himself through his environment and his relationship with nature; both the world around him and the nature within. His self-discipline and comprehension of his bodily functions, setting his mind to talk to and instruct his body opens new avenues of scientific enquiry into the biology of animal life as it relates specifically to human animals

His students arrive at a point under his mentoring where they are able to produce adrenaline by willing it. The hope is that he can teach other people to do what he does and in succeeding, inflammatory diseases like multiple-sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, using his methodology, could be healed, without surgery or medication.

Dr. Kalmer inspired Mr. Hof on his mission to help improve the lot of humankind if experiments meant to test his discipline controlling the mind could be repeated. With its success, a leap forward for mankind could result. That promise alone enough to validate and inspire this teacher of an amazing technique of mind-and-body control to lend himself fully to that marvellous enterprise.  

So ... here's hoping ... !

To be fair, there have always been instances of religion-inspired mystics reaching a state of neutral-consciousness, separating the body from an experience through mind control enabling them walk over hot coals or lie on nail-studded beds without sustaining injury. These historical, sometimes cultural practices reflect in part what Mr. Hof has achieved in his exploration of the natural world; his own and nature's, both endowed by Nature.

None yet, though not from lack of trying, have succeeded in freeing themselves from another power of nature's majesty; gravity, to achieve levitation or flight.

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