Breathe to Better Health & Happiness
As someone always searching for how to get more out of life I’ve come across a wealth of information, methods, and ideologies. Some differing and some very similar. Some good and some bad. On one such soul search I found myself reading about a man I had never heard of. His name is Wim Hof and they call him “The Ice Man.”
The Ice Man is known to be able to swim hundreds of feet below the ice, hike Mt. Everest in just shorts, hold his breath for minutes on end, and overcome the effects of a neurotoxic injected into his system through the power of breathing and meditation. That’s just a few of things he’s done. Remember, mind over matter?
For me, Wim was the catalyst into the study of the power of breath. The first and last thing we do in this world is breath. If we learn to control our breathing we can overcome fear, anxiety, sadness, a lack of motivation, achieve happiness – the list goes on.
I’m reminded of a story I heard years before understanding the power of breath. Marine Humvees were patrolling a city in Afghanistan when the last Humvee in the convoy ran over an IED. After the loud bang, the convoy leader looked down and realized he had lost his legs. Instead of going into panic, he recalled a breathing technique he learned involving in a book for military officers. The technique consisted of a 4 second inhale, followed by a 4 second exhale repeated. It is sometimes called square breathing. The officer then check to see if his men were ok and then tourniquet his own legs before passing out. Doctors told him that had he not had the presence of mind to breath and calm down that he would have gone into shock and bled to death. The power of breath saved this soldier’s life.
Breathing is the one part of the autonomic nervous system that we have complete control over. We can take deep breaths, shallow breaths, sigh, and hold our breath but the body will ultimately take over when it needs oxygen, hence its autonomy The power and healing properties of our breath are not to be underestimated. After all, breathing is the first thing we do when we enter the world. It is also the last thing we do. The power of breathing is not to be underestimated.