Hiking barefoot across glaciers. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts. Staying in a full contact ice bucket for one hour and 52 minutes. If you were to bump into Wim Hof on the street and hear his stories, the phrase crazy old man would quickly come to mind. But once you got past the surface (and maybe did a little Googling), you’d soon realize that Wim Hof’s improbable feats of mind over matter are very real.
Meet the “Iceman,” owner of over 20 Guinness World Records and a “method” that has the potential to enhance how science understands the human mind. You see, Wim Hof is able to do things with his brain that most of us will never even attempt. And for good reason, because to the unskilled, unpracticed soul, what Hof does would surely kill you.
Does this sound like hyperbole? Just try swimming under iced-over bodies of water for any distance and emerging unscathed, without hypothermia. (Actually, maybe don’t.) The 57-year-old Iceman has done exactly that and lived to tell about it. He’s a man who calls the cold “his warm friend.”
It’s kind of amazing — given Hof’s stories — that he’s not a household name. He defies all conventional reason, tackling daredevil feats with a calm we could probably learn from. He’s not the “Most Interesting Man in the World,” but with that job vacancy open, Hof could easily take the torch and run with it across a glacial ice sheet.
“The cold is an absolute doorway to the soul,” says Hof of his secret to survival in extreme conditions. “You become the alchemist of your own chemistry… anybody can do it.”
Score one for the yogis and transcendental meditators of the world.
Wim Hof isn’t urban legend. He’s not even a freak of nature. He’s a man who’s unlocked the power of the human mind in a way that is inspirational at the very least… and at most, might open a revolutionary doorway into how we understand ourselves.
“Depression, fear, anxiety and pain… all unnecessary suffering. The industry says that’s normal and I say that’s sick,” argues Hof, who leads workshops around the world to help people counteract these things and even has an online course. “We take pills, kill the symptoms… but not the cause.”