We Must Build Our Own Temple…

Nick Harper is, and will remain, one of my favourite artists. Easily one of the most unnoticed and hence underrated folk guitarists of all time. It’s fair to say that in part, it may be down to his choosing, crafting anti-establishment ditties, weaving in social commentary pertinent to the zeitgeist to his songbook, and only playing small venues, typically to small troupes of his loyal acolytes.

St Mary’s Church, Chester (c. 1433 AD)

Nick is the son of Roy Harper, a folk legend in his own right. Roy had a lot of success in the 1970’s with his own career, and a nod from the prog/rock Gods of the time who recognised his talents came his way back then, with Roy singing “Have A Cigar” on Pink Floyd’s classic “Wish You Were Here” album and Robert Plant/Jimmy Page dedicating a Led Zeppelin song to him in “Hats Off To Harper”. As a child, Nick found himself surrounded by such musical luminaries, and clearly has his dads DNA courses through his veins.

We are the richer for it, and any “Evening with Nick Harper” is always special. None more so that last night, set in a church.

On average, I have seen him at twice per year over the last two decades, but last night was right up there.

Conversely, I haven’t set foot in a church since my visit to Cape Town Cathedral many years ago, and tonight’s gig was held in Chester’s St Mary’s Church, built in 1433. Reverend Harper took to the pulpit and his parishioners looked and listened on.

We must build our own temple…

Surprised to see his wacky attire and supporting a new purple rinse (to detract away from the bald spot appearing, his words not mine, and as a loyal supporter of Liverpool Football Club, this new hairstyle could be a retrospective and referential nod to “crown paints”), it was clear that he looked a little nervous, not at all surprising after two years in the wilderness, not having played to a live audience, hindered slightly by an acoustic guitar that went out of tune constantly through no fault of his own (almost turning every song into a rendition of Wicked Game by Chris Isaacs), which I guess added a little tension, not that it showed much, such is he the professional.

Maybe it was the setting, maybe it was the two year absence, maybe it was that my consciousness frequency is tuned in on a clearer channel nowadays listening for pearls of wisdom, but the opening track “Build Our Own Temple” was poignant in two ways. Firstly, because we were (in a Christian temple), but secondly and most importantly, that we must (build our own).

I have come to the conclusion now that society only works for the few, politics and democracy (“Lies! Lies! Lies!”) are truly dead and the only way out of it is to create our own, a micro-society that operates outside the carnage, the disorder, the disarray.

And that was in essence what Nick shared with his congregation. Whilst a few people have become rich beyond their wildest dreams (no not Robbie Williams again), a few, just a few of us have woken up, woken up to the realisation that we actually care for one another, care for the health and well-being of our families, friends, neighbours and communities, and by building our own temples (in whatever form that takes), “Love Is Due”.

Nick then took us on a somewhat uncharted journey through his extensive back catalogue, playing songs he rarely does live, so it was a real treat for all to witness.

Simple…

I challenge anyone to reveal an acoustic guitarist who batters their guitar as much as Nick Harper. His live trademark is, and has always been, to change a snapped string mid-song, and such was the aggression of his playing tonight he snapped three.

Settling down after an edgy start, the guitar finally behaved itself and we were treated to over a dozen more sublime songs of pure poetry and perfection, leaving me for one, once again, in total awe of the man.

This is the beginning…

The final message of the night was again a nod towards activism, with “This Is The Beginning”, a call to arms, a message to all of those listening to think about a post-pandemic world, and how we can take the opportunity right now to change things, and forge new communities based on love and sharing, not ego and greed.

Peace be with Nick, and also with you…

WHM Fundamentals: Energy Management

“Everything is energy, and energy is you and me”. So sayeth Scouse progsters Anathema, the song “Everything” is one of the stronger tracks on the album “We’re here, because we’re here”, which is also the strap line on my info-graphic above.

This week’s Wim Hof theme was around energy management, its central tenet around controlling breathing to positively influence the effectiveness of the body at a cellular level, which in turn increases the amount of energy we have to play with. For that, the main practice was around power breathing, taking sixty rapid breaths instead of the regular thirty.

Going into this week with a fair amount of positivity, with only two”absence days” over the last fourteen registered. I did decide however to commence week three after a two day break, ironically because I had literally no energy in the tank left after this weekends music festival with my daughter, five decades of concerts, gigs and festival is starting to take its toll, so if the method brings more energy, then its very welcomed!

Day 1

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤬

✓ Energy Level 😐

✓ Mood 🤬

Yoga: Sun. Swan. Sun. Swan. Plank. Cobra. Cobra. Dog. Walking dog. Sun. Swan Butterfly. Seated Cat. Bridge Pose. Arching Cat. Back Roll. Boat.

Notes: Back on it today after a two day rest, although energy levels still a little low, so this week could be a welcomed thing! Was totally exhausted Monday/Tuesday after music festival at the weekend and the weather was scorching, adding to the fatigue. Still did my cold showers though.

New yoga stretches were OK and I’ll continue with Week 1 as a warm up. Downloaded a metronome app to regulate my breathing and set the tempo for power breathing and regular breathing. Felt super charged after 2 rounds of power breathing and felt the energy flow during / after the regular breathing rounds (retention of 4m30s and 5m0s). Felt totally stoned afterwards, nice feeling. Did experience some nervous twitching in my lips bizarrely, which made me pout like Mick Jagger! Should be an easy week this one.

Trying to fast as much as I can as I ate crap Sunday to Tuesday (still no meat or booze though and I’m still at my optimum weight – that said I feel “furred” on the inside, healthy eating and drinking for a couple of days will put that right). Did a pH test after breath work, was the greenest it’s been so far, so perhaps power breathing alkalises the body more. Will test after each session.

On reflection, I felt that my brain wasn’t working like it had done the last few weeks without WHM, placebo maybe, but I’ve actually missed it the last two days, just wish I could devote all of my time now to personal fitness and sharing my experiences with others. That will come, in time, and the corporations I’ve worked for will become a distant memory. My mood and stress has been adversely impacted by work, I’ve been fuming all day over the inaction of others and being told to calm my frustrations. I feel that no amount of controlled breathing and “Om’s” can get me away from the fact that I loathe this job at times, so the learning from today is to clearly stop giving a shit and be a financial mercenary. Be that nodding dog they want, do the bare minimum and take them to the fucking cleaners.

Day 2

x Stretches 🤬

x Breathing 🤬

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤬

✓ Stress Level 🤬

✓ Energy Level 🤬

✓ Mood 🤬

Notes: I dreamt of thunderstorms, and there was thunderstorms. I predicted today was going to be shit, and boy was it shit. For the first time in many years, I looked long and hard at my works laptop to see if I was got to turn it on, leave it off, or throw it through the window, such was my mood. Where has it all come from? Not ten days ago I was on the top of my game, WHM getting rid of any work related blues, so what happened, what changed? I think it was the realisation that people are taking the piss out of my good nature, willingness to graft hard and be the inspirational leader many think I am for the many, not the few. Maybe I am, but it’s all an act, well mostly. I do genuinely care for those that report to me and will do everything I can to nurture and push them on, even if that means me putting myself last and giving them all available energy until I’m exhausted and have nothing else to give.

Last night, I clicked on a YouTube link to a video by the modern philosopher Alan Watts, and within minutes I was hooked, everything he was saying was making total sense, discussions around time, thoughts, the lower and higher self resonating with me. Yet the most important point raised was courage. In order for us to be in control (of the things we can control), we must be courageous, we must make the right decisions to avoid us falling down the never-ending hole of despair. So what courageous things do I need to do to overcome my current situation. Many present themselves, all of which have consequences.

Resign – not a good idea from a financial perspective, especially given the current climate.

Sickness – a possibility, clearly the managers at work are influencing the maladies in me, perhaps an extended period of stress-related illness will put things into context for them, that their actions are causing invisible harm to others.

Work To Rule – refuse to do any work that is not within my current scope and contract of employment, should this be the case anyway?

Negotiation – plead my case to leave politely and coherently, and find a final position that will see me through to the end of my corporate days.

Clearly the best option is the last one, but I’m finding that anxiety is clouding my ability to articulate how I feel and what my own wishes are, and there is a sense of foreboding that my own wants and needs will be overruled by the strong arm of management, who will cite business continuity as the reason they will not let me move on. So logically it should go as follows:

Negotiation > Work To Rule > Sickness > Resignation.

Day 3

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: Better sleep. Better day in work. Reflecting more on what Alan Watts was sharing too (a position echoed by Eckhart Tolle) is that we must live in the now, the exact now, that what has happened in the past is gone and what may happen in the future may never come to pass. I ended up not having the conflict meeting, and I was so glad I never.

Had a good chat with my closest comrade (from Chile!) and reflected on his aged wisdom and also that of young Emma Radacanu who won the US Open Tennis Championship, about inner strength, courage and control.

All WHM exercises done today, with retention of 4m30s for both rounds, feeling incredibly stoned again afterwards and a lot of energy charging during rounds. Saw some bright lights on last round retention, which was interesting, a slither of bright light appeared as a small crack in my vision, like a rip in space-time you may see on a sci-fi movie. Not reading too much into it, but it was interesting nonetheless…

Day 4

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: Weekly weigh in and I’m 82.5kg, lightest I’ve been in many years. I do feel healthy on the inside, and the spare tyre around my mid-rift has now all but gone (a little flabby but not too shabby!), so just needs a tone up by yoga, planks and push ups. Just need to maintain my mental stability as this week hasn’t exactly been ideal, will try to imbibe more Alan Watts this weekend as I have a lot of downtime.

Watched The Matrix Reloaded last last, and the key theme is cause and effect. Made me reflect on two things, firstly, I am the creator of my own misery, letting work get on top of me caused my “duhkha”. Cause and effect. Secondly, the confirmation that the third pillar of the Wim Hof Method (power of the mind) really is the toughest one to crack, when that pillar dissolves, yoga and breath work don’t stand a chance.

Smashed it this morning, very much back on track. Starting to improvise with my yoga too, extending position and adding my own to work that tummy flab. Clearly work impacts me greatly, a look back over the stats for the last few months is that I report green for everything at the weekends, and have gaps and lapse days when work gets on top of me. Good to acknowledge that, difficult to change when one is caught up in the moment, in the chaos that corporate life brings. First game of squash in years too, let’s see how the knees are tomorrow! 3-2 victory, the power of Wim Hof saw me through. I was 4 match points down at 20-16 when I asked my son to stop so I could take in some Wim Hof breaths, he smirked and obliged (looking to the skies) and didn’t I just go on to win the next 6 points and bring it on home!!!

Day 5

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: Happy, healthy, strong, trust, respect, love, nature. These are the central tenets of the practice for me and as each day passes, the more these things become apparent.

This morning I took to the Welsh hills, to commence with my hill training for Snowdon later this year. Dressed only in shorts and a thin t-shirt, I took the path less traveled up Moel Fenlli, accompanied by only woolly beasts on four legs, beasts I no longer ate for Sunday lunch which made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Controlled breathing up and down the hills, regulated without feeling too much impact on body. Kept going without stopping 10km in all and 100 flights of stairs after summitting Moel Famau (if one can summit a hill!). Yoga with sheep by my side nearly put me back in the land of nod, perhaps I was counting them too much. nearly fell asleep counting them. Self-isolation on top of Moel Fenlli allowed my to strip off and get back to the elements, with a cold breeze chilling me as I performed the exercises, was so nice.

Really felt that with more hill training and cold therapy, I will be ready for the -5c to -15c ascent and descent of Snowdon across layers of ice and snow a few months time, need to get some crampons!

A little fatigued in the evening – but given exercises over the weekend all good, after hot tub and breath work (two short retentions of 2m0s) and a cold shower. Great weekend, back to the grind tomorrow, must learn the lessons from last week and let those feelings rise and fall, escalate issues to my boss to resolve without me wading in, that’s why they pay her the big bucks and not me! Dog walk and some as the sun went down and some Alan Watts shorts on YouTube (as well as ordering three of his secondhand books) brings to an end a fabulous weekend.

Day 6

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 😐

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: Minimal movement day! Felt I overdid it a little yesterday, felt a little light-headed when getting up from seated positions last night, so need to keep an eye on that.

Ordered an oximeter which turns up today, be interesting to see what my normal stats are and what they are after breath work (I see that is a fundamentals course check in a few weeks time).

Must keep my calm in work this week, cannot allow another two days like last week. Live in the moment and not worry about the injustices of work distribution and who is responsible/accountable for what, just do and don’t react. May have a light at the end of the tunnel with two new job opportunities presenting themselves last Friday, in darkness look to the light and all that.

Evening stretches (just week 3) and 4 rounds of breather (3m45s / 4m0s) and a trial run of my new oximeteter, which displayed an SPO2 of 99 at the start of the hold and 65 after a 4 minute retention. I believe the test is to increase the o2 in the blood during the breath work (it did reach 100%) and see how far it drops after retention (the alarm goes of at 94% and keeps beeping – proof during retention that the oxygenated blood drops quite rapidly. Need to do more research into the benefits of that (we already know it increases alkalinity and deceases acidity, but what more beyond that I don’t know. It’s part of week 5 training so sure I’ll find out more soon. 5 min cold shower and bed. Tired now…

Day 7

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: Had a great chat with someone in work today about life, the Universe and everything and shared my experiences with over the last 3 months, and ended up recruiting another potential neophyte at work (that makes 3 in total now). It did make me feel that I could potentiall share these pearls of wisdom with a wider audience at work, and see if I can actualy start the process of running WHM session (not formally of course as I’m not accredited yet), but sharing my knowledge and progress with other, which may in turn allow them to adopt what I have done already, giving them happiness, health and strength too.

Good yoga today, feel the core difference and the lengthening is more than when I started 3 weeks ago. No longer getting pains in legs, back which is a first! 4 retention rounds nailed (4m0s, 4m30s), measuring via Oximeter dropped SPO2 level to 65 after the 4m30 hold so it does work. PH still quite acidic though, but still not overly concerned by that as my weight and BMI is on the money. Shower cold today, will measure later to see how it’s dropped from 19.5 in the early summer.

Week 3 done, still on track with the mechanical goal. That said, it’s clear that my busy life can sometimes get in the way, but one day off per week is acceptable in my mind, but I’ll always do cold showers unless there’s a day I don’t get washed (eeuuww).

One thing is becoming apparent, there is no way I can tie down a busy job and be an instructor at the same time, so I have come to the conclusion that I will likely repeat the fundamentals course several times before signing up for the accreditation process in Poland. There really is no rush for me to do this, one rotation of the 10 week course will give me a solid foundation for success in the future, and also embed that mechanical mindset for daily practices which I have been yearning for, for so many years…

WHM Fundamentals: Stress Control

Stress. We all suffer from it from time to time. Some of us are perhaps in a permanent state of stress (I know I have had periods in my life when everything was out of kilter and I simply couldn’t function at all, only the mechanical processes of breathing, eating and sleeping seemed to work, and not that well either). Add to that the position most of us find ourselves in now, lost without direction in a world so chaotic and polarized, nothing seems to be going right.

I’m a firm believer in only concerning oneself with things that are within our control, worrying too much about things we cannot influence only leads to stress, to anxiety, to depression (or worse).

As I’ve been doing WHM for the best part of three months now, I can safely say that my stress levels (given everything that is going on in the world) are low. Week 1 taught me a few things about myself, that by having a mechanical approach to yoga, meditation, breath work and now cold therapy, gives one the ability to control the mind more. My wife had always said that I think and worry too much, but I’ve not heard her say that for quite a while now, so I must be doing something right, and one of the goals for this week was to replicate the stress-free attitude in work in the home, and by jingo I think I cracked it!

This week added new tasks to my daily roster of activities, namely controlled breathing (which measures normal breaths and controlled breaths using mantras/chanting – more grunting for me) and plunging hands and feet into iced water for three minutes, both of which I had no issues with. The focused mind can achieve so much, a broken mind achieves so little, getting power of the mind is the key to a happy, strong and healthy us.

Monday

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

x Cold Hands / Feet 🤬

✓ Controlled Breathing 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Yoga: Sun. Swan. Sun. Swan. Plank. Cobra. Cobra. Dog. Walking dog. Sun. Swan Butterfly. Neck Dangle. Arm Dangle. Sun. Child. Coffin. Knees chest/left/right. Coffin.

Notes: Apologised to my wife on my lack of patience and compassion yesterday during the kayak adventure. She said she has not seen any improvement in my attitude since starting WHM. Instead of reacting, I acknowledged this (which is new!), and aimed to change her perception by more positive actions and less reactions by the end of the week. Went for a 3km run (first in long time) and it went well, though need to keep an eye on the knees as they were sore later on, in an effort to increase the cardio activity, one eye on the proposed Snowdon trip with WHM Instructor Paul in a few months time. Decided to keep Week 1 stretches as a warm-up throughout the Fundamentals course as I really enjoy them. Did Week 1 and 2 stretches before taking another 10 min ice bath this morning, water was 11.1c when getting in, 16.5c when getting out, just shows how quickly the water warms up from the body, so skipped the ice plunge for and hands and feet because of this. Did controlled breathing exercise at a 10/2 rate. Feels like I have powerful lung capacity, probably due to the running and racing over the years, as well as WHM over the last 3 months. Did 4 rounds of breath work (2m45s, 3m0s, 4m0s, 4m20s) in the evening, after completing them all I lay naked (eeuuww) in the total darkness for 20 mins, energy coming in waves, and felt like a physical uncoiling in the belly, with overwhelming peaceful thoughts rising and falling. Need to also keep an eye on the tinnitus levels as well, quite loud going to sleep tonight. Great start to Week 2 though, another busy week at work and in the social diary. Created a notice board so I can track of my yoga postures each day and complete my homework sheet, and used my inflatable camping mat so I could do my WHM in the office whilst the son is using the spare room in his time home from Uni. No big pharmacy pills for 3 months, reduced inflammation due to a gluten-free / wheat free diet (mostly) and no alcohol. Keep going!

Tuesday

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

✓ Cold Hands / Feet 🤢

✓ Controlled Breathing 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 😐

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: Controlled breathing was different today 11/3.5, is it because I’m back at the corporate grind? Perhaps, although things are relatively calm at work. 3 min cold shower in the morning. Tired in the evening, a little weak from the days events, maybe due to dropping another half kilo over the weekend. Took more calories today to make up for the short fall after some essentials shopping (for the kids back to school/university) by eating out (nice gluten-free plant-based burger at Byron’s Burgers) so thought I would have had to kick and scream my way into yoga and breathing, but the ice challenge for the hands and feet (2 mins) followed up by hot tub sorted that. Full stretches, getting lower down already on the butterfly and the forward dangle. 4 breathing rounds were fine (2m0s, 3m45s, 4m0s, 4m0s). Will sleep tonight! Getting used to having less clothes on too. Doing my breath work and yoga naked seems more natural and less restrictive, and when I can get away with it I’ll do the same around the house. Clearly I do it out of site of others, wouldn’t want to subject others to that ghastly site!

Wednesday

x Stretches 🤬

x Breathing 🤬

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

x Cold Hands / Feet 🤬

✓ Controlled Breathing 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: Back up to optimal weight again which feels better. Lovely 5 minute cold shower, as the temperatures outside are colder, so is the shower water. Injecting a bit of fun into proceedings, I have started to dance like Thom Yorke in the Lotus Flower Radiohead video definitely helps stave off the cold, coincidentally its exactly 5 minutes long so I’ll do that from now on. Busy day in work and ended up falling asleep on the sofa, waking up at 11pm, was shattered so no yoga, breathing or ice challenge. Bummer…

Thursday

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

✓ Cold Hands / Feet 🤢

✓ Controlled Breathing 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: Smashed it this morning, yoga, breathing (2m45s, 3m35s, 3m45s, 5m0s) and cold shower (5 mins) all done before work. Also tested my pH levels which were 6.0 before WHM and 7.0 after. Some change that in 30 mins! May research on whether ones first piss of the day is naturally more acidic, would expect so after a long sleep. Interesting though. Controlled breathing good (10/2.5). Ice challenge before evening spa (3 mins hands) and off work tomorrow, life is good!

Friday

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

✓ Cold Hands / Feet 🤢

✓ Controlled Breathing 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: Straight on the yoga, controlled breathing (10/3) and “Thom Yorke Shower Therapy”. Day off work today with daughter, which was spent on a coffee crawl around most of the independent coffee shops in my home town, lovely. Had an impromptu hot stone massage from the wife in the evening which was amazing. Super chilled. Cold hands, feet and face tonight, found better receptacle (washing up bowl), which I poured over my head in an ice bucket challenge fashion at the end, hope I don’t get corns on my face!. 4 rounds of breathing (3m0s, 3m0s, 4m15s, 2m15s) in the evening. Smashed it! Little pain in my right leg (recurrent issue) probably due to yoga stretches and retention clench and relax, will take it a little easier tomorrow, will need meditation / stress relief to build garden fence for the wife’s mother!

Saturday

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

x Cold Hands / Feet 🤬

✓ Controlled Breathing 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: Completed stretches and built fence with no complications and a happy mother in law to boot! 3 intense rounds of breathing (4m0s, 4m30s, 5m20s) and saw that my face was quite red afterwards, I guess due to the retention. Nice 5 min cold shower to chill down. Dancing like Thom Yorke in the shower brings a chuckle to my routine, don’t think I can stop now. Maybe when I’m in the cold waterfalls next month (on my WHM Weekender in Cumbria) I may not do it in front of others, but may do it for laughs (hopefully they will see the funny side!). Went to town for an all you can eat and drink supper, first time I’ve been on a bender with others and not drank, I have the willpower not to drink already, and the evening was really nice and fun, so I’m not too much of a boring bastard without the booze which is nice to know! No time for ice challenges today, though I did do a pH test which had odd results, top marker = 6.0, bottom marker = 6.75, either way still quite acidic. Will see what all of that means tomorrow. Wonder how pH levels change during the day, and will also research on whether breath hold for 4-5 mins is a good thing or not and what the scientific benefits or hindrances are.

Sunday

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Shower / Ice Bath 🤢

x Cold Hands / Feet 🤬

✓ Controlled Breathing 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: Well, life well and truly got in the way of practice today but boy was it worth it! Up early to do my cold shower and controlled breathing, then off to the Neighbourhood Weekender Music Festival with my daughter, her first ever. It’s safe to say I did my stretches and breathing in an unorthodox way today! As she is only 5 foot tall, she was on my back most of the day so she could see the bands play, so stomach crunches, lunges, dad-dancing and deep breathing were the only things to get me through and it worked! We both had an amazing time and was well worth the practice sacrifice, we have to live and have as much fun as we can as well, right!

The next two days I was totally destroyed, and I still had to go to work (with a lot of work planned), so I took 2 days off from the Fundamentals Training to recuperate before going into Week 3, which ironically is all about Energy Management!

I’ve learned enough about Stress Control this week though, through the ice challenges and the controlled breathing, and I asked my wife if she had seen a difference in my “household stress” this week as I’d been making a conscious effort to improve, and she said it was quite a change (for the better), so thanks Wim for the remote marriage guidance!

WHM Fundamentals: Going Deeper

Upon completing the first official training course in the Wim Hof Method over in Wales a couple of weeks ago, I received an email with a 40% discount inviting me to sign up for the ten week fundamentals course.

I was already thinking about signing up for it before the course, but something (or someone hitherto unseen) was telling me to hold off. So purchase it I did and and last week I started “Hoffing”, the results from which are tracked below.

In short, the first week has been nothing less than transformative and even at the ripe old age of “nearly fifty”, I find myself learning new things about my own physiology, how the human mind and body works as a machine and that there is a hitherto (there’s that HP Lovecraft word again) unseen element that lurks beyond the four that we are accustomed to (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), waiting for the opportunity to introduce itself, given the right set of circumstances and desires of cosmic adventurers. This invisible element goes by many names; Aether, Quintessence, Chi or simply Energy.

To quote the late, great Bill Hicks (again!) “Today a young man on acid realised that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Heres Tom with the Weather”.

So if we are made up of energy, how is it that we can tap into that hidden energy, that hidden universe which lies beyond the five senses, and perhaps more importantly why would we want to?

We have options. We can of course choose the psychedelic route, an express train to an Esotericville, an alien world which may give answers to the questions we have been longing to know.

Alternatively, we can practice going into our own minds through yoga, breath work, and meditation, using our own physiology to experience the quintessence that binds the whole universe together, the outcome perhaps ending at the same destination as the “day tripper”, using that energy to bring health, strength and happiness to our mortal coils, without the use of substances to get us there. There is some evidence to suggest that the deepest meditation and yogic practices releases DMT (dimethyl tryptamine) from the pineal gland into the brain, so I guess why pay for drugs when you can generate them for free! Get high on your own supply as The Iceman says.

All of this leaves me to conclude that the materialistic world (with all of its trappings) is by and large meaningless, which is a complete polar extreme to the materialists view of the whole universe, in that it is simply coincidence and meaningless.

By seeking out peace, love and harmony, we find out who we really are and what is really important. That introspective look is a critical process, as it leaches out physical and meta-physical maladies, it leaches out those flaws in our personalities and gives us a real opportunity for personal growth and sharing what we have learned with others.

And it is in that clarity that I have already found opportunities for self-improvement. No longer do I eat meat, gluten or wheat – my body operates without inflammation. No longer do I consume alcohol – no more hangovers. No longer do I suffer from work-related stress – no more conflict-induced anxieties. No longer do I feel lethargic – no more procrastinating.

That is why, in such a short space of time, the Wim Hof Method is working for me, transformative even. This is not a sell, nor do I have shares in the company, it’s an honest observation on a practice which is very simple (when compared to others), a practice which is free (unless you choose to go deeper like I am) and most importantly perhaps, a practice that is quick to deliver results to keep one on track.

Clearly after experimenting with the free stuff that’s out there on the Wim Hof website, app and YouTube channel, and after attending the one day course, and after week one of the fundamentals course, it’s safe to say that I’ve embedded the component parts into my daily life pretty well so far and I’m seeing the benefits, but by no means am I there yet. As the daily digest below reveals, there is still a lot of work to do.

Week 1: Go Deep!

Monday

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Therapy 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Yoga: Sun. Swan. Sun. Swan. Plank. Cobra. Cobra. Dog. Walking dog. Sun. Swan Butterfly

Notes: Good start, all completed. Wanted it today. Printed manual and bound it to a folder. Breathing could be better, too much faff with the free videos that come with the course, I’ll stick to the WHM app on the watch, much better. Wasn’t comfortable on the floor, sore back, need better support.

Tuesday

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Therapy 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 😐

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: Straight on it today, no hesitation. Morning stretches without the video, but need ms improving as the flow and accuracy wasn’t fully there. Still a little pain in the lower back due to the floor but will be fine once son buggers off back to University and I have the spare room back. Retention ok, not feeling the capability to comfortably go past 3 minutes yet but that’s ok. Took 5 min cold plunge instead of a shower in the outdoor “pool”, was much better. Will do that every day and do an ice bath once per week. If every day started like to day I’ll be happy. Autonomy is the key! Back a little sore still after stretches, means it’s working muscle groups I’m not used to moving so all good. Energy levels dropped in the afternoon / evening, probably too much effort at work. Micro-snooze in the evening before swim and sauna/cold showers. Ended with pack of Aero chocolate bubbles, naughty but nice!

Wednesday

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 😐

✓ Cold Therapy 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: 10 mins cold therapy (8 in pool, 2 in shower). Did stretches and breath work in the evening after a session in the hot tub, stretches felt much better (after false start) and the swan dive was deeper already. Held the butterfly for over 5 minutes and it felt good, no pain in the back. Did 3 rounds of breathing, 2 mins, 2.5 mins then 4.5 mins. The last retention was amazing, I worked up from the feet, up through the legs then up through each chakra, physically putting pressure on each nexus point, pulling in my root and holding my crown with my hands, I felt a surge of energy uncoil from my stomach, which made its way up each chakra (releasing what can only be described as sexual energy) and into my head, where I began to see colours and shapes. It wasn’t a psychedelic experience but it was something visual I’d not seen during meditation before and could be as close to a kundalini experience I’ve had so far. Very interesting, breath clock stopped at 4.5 mins and felt I didn’t need to do another round tonight. Will try the same method tomorrow for each retention. Now for sleep, wonder what my dreams will be like!

Thursday

◦ Stretches 🤬

◦ Breathing 🤬

✓ Cold Therapy 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 😐

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: 8 mins in the cold tub in the morning before work. Had every intention on doing the meds in the evening but an experiment in inflammatory foods went wrong. I’ve not had a lot of food which inflames the body in a while, but the bread, fried potatoes and tempura vegetables mixed with the alcohol-free beer really bloated my stomach, to the extent where I found it uncomfortable breathing deeply. So I decided to skip yoga and breath work and go “fully in” in the morning. Trying not to beat myself up too much as I hadn’t seen my friends in a long time, it was enough not getting drunk with them, and the training isn’t a competition, I’ve already learned a lot this week from the stretches and the deeper level of breath work. Even my sleep was shorter and still felt very bloated in the morning (even my pee came out at a slower rate). Good lessons, time to write that inflammation blog! Will fast today.

Friday

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 🤢

✓ Cold Therapy 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: 11am after food inflammation gone. Just 3 rounds. 2:30, 3:30, 4:30. That kundalini experience is back too, even stronger than yesterday. 5 mins cold shower, which is now warm not cold! Body is getting acclimatised to the temperatures, even though it’s not ice cold. As the plunge pool is a pain in the arse to keep clean, I’ll take cold showers in the week and ice baths at the weekends. Really enjoying the stretches and I think it’s the first time ever I’ve stuck to yoga daily since I stared almost ten years ago. As each day passes, the practice becomes more mechanical. Mindful that my busy life may get in the way sometimes but I’m down with that, so if I skip a day or a breath work round, it’s OK. Tinnitus is still a concern as it’s bad today, I wonder if it will hinder my progress as an instructor, time will tell I guess but my stress levels in work are literally gone, even though the high pitched noise is still there. Pizza base (presumably containing gluten and wheat) gave me gip this afternoon, seems anything bready or wheat is starting to play havoc on my insides, time to ditch it for good.

Saturday

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 😐

✓ Cold Therapy 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 🤢

✓ Energy Level 🤢

✓ Mood 🤢

Notes: 5 min cold shower. Good stretches, will keep these too going into next week as warm up. Felt stoned afterwards, really great feeling. With three sets of tennis in the morning (even getting hammered 0-3 didn’t put me in a bad mood), silent disco in the afternoon (dancing like a crazy person through the streets of Liverpool with fifty other people, sober!) and shopping (retail therapy for my ladies), two breathing rounds was all I could muster! 20k steps, 17km completed, no wonder I’m knackered!

Sunday

✓ Stretches 🤢

✓ Breathing 😐

✓ Cold Therapy 🤢

✓ Sleep Quality 🤢

✓ Stress Level 😐

✓ Energy Level 😐

✓ Mood 😐

Notes: Ice bath day! 10 mins. Water a lot colder but 1 bag of ice not cold enough, need at least two, will make own (via new ice making machine) and see how many small bags I need. Good stretches and horse stance after the ice bath. Energy levels took a dip due to exercise day before as did mood/stress due to a less than enjoyable kayak trip out with the wife. Taking the positives out of everything, my wife needed help and I got annoyed at her, as the help she was asking for was basic and I thought she could do it herself. If I was to take that attitude with future Hoffers under my tutelage, then I wouldn’t last long at all. No breathing as far too exhausted to do anything at the end of the day, may need to change my routine if this is common. Slightly disappointing end to what was a strong week (no breath work , that said it was a public holiday and had lots of fun so again won’t beat myself up too much about it. Whilst I completely nailed stress at work, clearly I need to do it at home too. Next week is stress control, looks like a timely reminder!

One week down, nine to go. Week one was about going deeper, and I think I’ve done that clearly.

Week two is stress control, time to replicate the process that has worked well at work in the home too, see if I can be a nicer and more tolerating husband!

Inflammation Detox…

An accidental experiment yesterday revealed the true power of inflammation and the fundamental reason why as a race, humanity is so ill from the inside out.

I’ve been known in the past for being self-righteous and it’s a trait I’d like to think I no longer have, but last nights meal out with some old friends hit home just how much what we consume wreaks havoc on our often quite fragile internal mechanics, so this post is a guide to all on the evils of certain food and drinks, not me being a smug bastard or a paragon of health.

I’ve been off the “inflammatories” for the best part of two months now and during that time, I have seen my weight come down to my target, my BMI likewise following suit, and the general lethargy and bloated feelings disappear completely.

Whilst Wim Hof (not that I’ve read thus far) doesn’t share any real nutrition advice to his acolytes, other than to eat a more plant-based diet, he does hit home on the impact inflammation has on the body, and the amount of deaths that are directly (actually covertly) attributed to inflammation. Think about that for a second, there are over sixty million deaths per year associated to inflammation, the main causes are heart attacks, stokes, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, all of which account for the number one cause of death in the West.

Perhaps controversially, put that against the one million Covid deaths, and to paraphrase the late and great Bill Hicks “where is my commercial, where is my war on food and alcohol, where is my lockdown”.

It’s also clear that those with high levels of inflammation have perhaps passed away more often from Covid than those without, and I have friends and colleagues who have seen this pattern and have gone on to develop dietary and exercise plans to reduce the risk of severe illness or even death.

As I’ve mentioned several times in the past, Dr Jacob Bronowski first brought inflammation to my attention with his book and series The Ascent of Man. During his life, he studied the evolution of Homo Sapiens closely, and shared the stark fact that our bodies are not built to withstand the barrage of inflammatory foods we gorge on each day. Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers for a reason, what they could grab, kill and eat sustained their bodies, and that happened rather well for hundreds of thousands of years, until a chance interbreeding of grasses in the Middle East created the first wheats, the first breads, the first crops, the first farms, the first towns, the list goes on and on until we get to where we are today, technologically advanced yet evolutionally retarded.

The Wim Hof Method teaches us to reduce the inflammation in our bodies via breath work, increasing oxygen levels and supercharging our system reduce the acidity and increase the alkalinity of the body, the key to a more healthy lifestyle. The cold therapy (via cold showers or ice baths) also helps to flush out inflammatory toxins from the internal organs. If we go beyond the practice and reduce or omit the amount of inflammatory food and drink in our diet, then not only does that put us closer to the lifestyle of our ancient ancestors, but it gives us all a better chance of longevity, and with that, as Wim says, we become “happier, stronger, healthier”.

So just what are the things we should avoid, what are the things we should include.

Well for me, there is no better article than the one I found via a random Duck search (to Duck Duck Go is to Google, without the sharing of personal data to Big Tech!).

The missive on Dr Jockers website clearly articulates what inflammation is and the why and the how we should avoid it.

Without asking for permission (the link to his website and an acknowledgement of how awesome the article is here should avoid any litigation), I’ve included the great “info-graphics” from the article here, as an at-a-glance guide on the dangers of inflammation and what we can do to avoid it.

Like I said, this is not me being self-righteous because I do most of these things already, it is simply a guide for others to consider because I am really seeing the benefits of this approach.

Last night I fell off the inflammation wagon. I went for a meal with two old friends, our table was a vast sharing platter, a communal smorgasbord of Western loveliness. Still avoiding meat, I took bread, I took grains, I took fried potatoes and tempura vegetables, all washed down with alcohol-free beer (which still contains hops). I left the bar so bloated that by the time I “fork-lifted” myself into bed a couple of hours later, I felt awful. I woke up this morning feeling crap, my stomach distended still from last nights overload.

OK I had a great night catching up with my old buddies, but today my system is screaming at me, telling me stay on the right path and ditch the bad stuff. I told it in no uncertain terms to pipe down a little as we still need to have fun, right?!

It’s not an easy path to take either, our brains have been hard-wired to crave sugar, to crave advertised fast-food, to opt for the brightly coloured and wonderfully packaged processed supermarket foods over the grey, boring and time consuming preparations from our vegetable racks, but if we can gain the power back over our minds and turn off the razzmatazz generated by highly-paid marketing consultants who want us to buy more and consume more, then maybe we can truly be happy, healthy and strong…

Wim Hof Method Training: Day 1…

Today officially marked the start of the rest of my life. With the first seven cycles of seven years out of the way, and according to Buddhists the closure of my forty-nine adolescence age (my wife and especially daughter just said I’ll never grow out of it, The Scouse Peter Pan), I am approaching the adult age with a lot of optimism.

Yes I’m still concreted into the corporation I’m so desperately trying to “kango” myself out of, yes I am still surrounded by abject chaos due to the never-ending pandemic and global geo-political instability (as we all are), but the events of today have solidified my post-retirement plans.

I had been looking forward to today for a long time, ringed in red several times on the kitchen wall calendar, and it did not disappoint.

Training Day 1…

I was surprised about the lack of certified Wim Hof Method instructors in the UK, especially in Wales and the north of England, a grand total of two, covering a population of over thirty million people.

Today earmarked the first instalment of the journey to hopefully becoming an instructor myself one day, a one day Wim Hof Fundamentals course set in the beautiful hills of North Wales, just a few miles outside of Gwrch Castle, which houses a pair of likeable Geordies and D-list celebrities from time to time, who have scheduled challenges of their own.

Eager to get there on-time, I was the first to arrive and was greeted by our instructor for the day, Paul Roose. I had dozens of questions for Paul but didn’t want to barrage him from the “hoff”, so waited patiently until after our comrades had all fallen in.

He did however share two things that shocked me. The first, was that the course very nearly got cancelled, on the basis that his ice supplier had let him down, and he had to scrabble around the supermarkets of North Wales for alternative supplies (water, water everywhere, nor any drop to freeze).

Ice, ice, baby…

Thanks to Comrade Justin at the local Food Warehouse, he managed to acquire the required amount (120kgs) and safely ensconced them in the on-site freezers (which were just about big enough).

Strategically spaced around the girl guides hut, Paul shared with us the background behind the InnerFire movement and the Wim Hof Method, plus some details behind Wim’s backstory. Whilst interesting and already known to me, what blew me away was Paul’s back story, inspired by his honest, humbling and heart-felt journey from the brink of despair to where he is today. What Paul lacks in height (his words not mine!) his towering strength of will and determination has got him where he is, and made his case for change (in terms of his ten disciples for the day) an easy sell, to me at least. Here we had a gentlemen bearing his soul and past dilemmas with a bunch of strangers in an effort to bring our own reasons for being present today front of mind.

So after listening to Paul, and as he proceeded with asking the group to introduce ourselves, I fell out of time as I do periodically and more frequently these days, and spent what felt like hours viewing in 8K IMAX, a panoramic review of my life with two questions running around in my head. Why was I here, and how the fuck did I get here?

The why was simple. Or was it? I’ve convinced myself that the why was because I wanted to put in place a post-retirement plan so I didn’t have to work in the corporations again, to keep some money coming in and to keep my mind from not procrastinating into dementia. But in an instant, I realised that it wasn’t about any of that, it was about my journey, all of the rotten things that have happened to me, all of the rotten things I’d done to others, and how, through the last ten years since my self-scribed “spiritual epiphany” I have gained the wisdom, empathy, life experience and communication skills to help others.

As for the how, I guess that is down to either fate, choice or blind luck.

The first chapter of my two chapter book of life was mainly about taking. I have given my children the best possible chance of success and my wife a comfortable, adventurous and happy life (mostly!) and my buddies some fun and frolics, but beyond the irregular charity donations, very little in the way of philanthropy.

The realisation of what I must do next hit me like a hammer. I must learn the skills and competencies to help more people going forward, to help heal broken people in the way that Paul was inferring with his honest approach to the neophytes that sat before him.

I’m not built for traditional yoga, the meditation manual I wrote many years ago is far too complex that even I don’t believe in it or follow it, and reiki is best administrated by those closer to “the source” than I, but here we have a method so simple in structure and accessibility, yet so strong in it’s ability to change people’s lives, that by navigating through its many levels, I have the opportunity to be proficient in a toolkit that gives people happiness, strength and health, which is all anyone needs beyond the five basics elements for living; food, water, air, shelter and sunlight.

The Iceman Cometh…

After the full round of introductions (including my own), Paul give us a good account of the basics of the Wim Hof Method, after which we had our first exercise, a simple breath retention after a single breath. I managed to knock out a 1m33s retention which was good I guess, but no surprise as I’ve been practicing my breathing techniques for over two months now.

The second was again to take a simple breath and complete as many push ups as we could, I managed just nine, not surprising with what my daughter describes as ”chicken arms”.

Men talking bollocks…

The third was to submerse ones hands and feet in ice water (the former being more difficult than the latter), something I’d not done before, but with focus and calm breathing, I managed three minutes for both. Once the body gets over the initial shock and mind overcomes matter, it is actually quite easy, the blood rushing to the surface of the skin, providing as it where, a barrier to the nervous system which would otherwise be screaming “get me the fuck outta here”.

It burns, it’s burns…

Returning inside with grass-filled feet, we then took to the floor to practice the breathing method, again something I have practiced for a little while now. That said, there were things I was not doing correctly, so the fine tuning helped me acquire a new personal best of 5m30s of breath retention (not that I’m counting, as Wim says himself it’s not a competition).

Breathe m*therf*cker…

It was as this point that Paul asked us to again “politely piss on the pH paper” (my crude alliteration, not his), which showed up any differences in body alkalinity after doing four rounds of breathing when compared to none earlier in the session, with mine showing a little improvement, others massively so. After this, we then did another round of breathing and redid the push up challenge, all of us doubling our efforts, with my meagre nine turning into a rather impressive twenty two on an exhale. Not bad for a bloke who makes Mr Muscle look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Need to breathe like Holly…

After a spot of light lunch, it was time for my first proper ice bath. I had been preparing in the months prior to the course with cold showers every day and my make-shift plunge pool in the garden, but temperatures only ever get to 16c minimum so not that cold. Today was different, today was cold! Beforehand, Paul taught the group how to do the horse stance, which was like tai chi movement but with a bit more gusto and chanting. Warming up and with the right focus and intention, I got straight in the birthing pool filled with iced water up to my ear lobes, closed my eyes, and breathed calmly until the body shock subsided.

Playing it cool…

Paul asked me if I was ok half way through, I said I was fine and focusing on a tree in the far distance. And there is strength in nature, in trees, which are firmly grounded and avoid fragility when facing turbulent weather, the same could be said for us. As Wim says, be strong like a tree!

Chewbacca legs keeping me warm…

After four minutes of being submerged and my body becoming very warm, I submerged my head under for a further thirty seconds (thus stimulating the vagus nerve which is responsible for regulating mood, heart rate and the immune system). Jumping out, I did a few laps of the field and the horse stance until my body had warmed up.

Meanwhile in the birthing pool…

Everyone did amazingly well at all of the challenges, none more so than the ice bath, all of us staying in for two minutes or more.

Feeling invigorated, we came back inside for some closing words and advice from Paul and an invitation for us all to take home and practice what we had learned, so to overcome the obstacles he clearly has in a complex and fucked up world.

Naturally I hung back at the end to fire a few quick questions at Paul, not wanting to hold him back any for getting home, he very kindly obliged and gave some sound advice on the Wim Hof Academy and the training and annual accreditation process.

The course exceeded my expectations and the best part for me was hearing Paul’s story and his journey into now (to paraphrase Eckhart Tolle), and if I have just one ounce of his passion and drive to help others to find their own paths, then I can’t fail to succeed.

For those interested, Paul is running further course this year and they can be booked via https://www.wimhofmethod.com.

Clearly I can’t recommend Paul highly enough, a great guy inspiring others to be happy, strong and healthy.

Kendal Calling…

Wim Hof Training Day Two – Four with Paul’s northern comrade Emma is coming up in October for me, a course conducted in and around the picturesque town of Kendal in the Lake District. It will be cold. It will be wonderful.

Oh and that second thing that shocked me, he had already read this blog site before I met him today, that my friends is synchronicity in action…

Torn…

Adventure. Culture. Nature. Geology. History. Architecture. Language. Cuisine. Arts. Climate. Evolution. Consciousness.

These are just some of the positive aspects of travelling. As scribed in past posts, I’ve had the privilege and freedom to travel all over our “little blue dot” over the last four decades, without any restrictions whatsoever, with the exception of border crossings and passport control.

And it is for that very reason, that I have seen a remarkable self-transformation, into someone that my former hedonistic self would probably not recognise. Travelling to around thirty countries, I have over time embedded myself into the DNA of each one which has given me exposure to a different world-view, based on the geological and societal evolution of each locale.

It’s not only me that has benefited from this approach to life. My wife has accompanied me to most locations and she too is aligned in terms of wisdom and spiritual maturity. My two sons had the privilege of attending one of the best international schools in the world for three years, and both recall with fondness our holidays in Asia, Africa, Europe and The Americas, and both have turned out to be amazing human beings, very different from one another but possessing the same moral compass at their cores which is guiding them through life.

But today, we live in a very different world, a world which is effectively closed down (temporary or permanently) when it comes to travel, and as such, my daughter will not have the same world view afforded to her parents and siblings, through no fault of her own. Disenfranchised.

It’s fair to say that I am now torn. Although I am not done with adventuring on Planet Earth yet, if it came to the crunch that I could not travel anymore (for reasons other than Covid travel restrictions), then I (on personal level) would probably be alright with that, but because of Covid and the global alignment of governments the world over, what we now have is a clear choice between free will and control when it comes to the freedom of movement.

Our government today declared, in no uncertain terms, that it will only be those that are double vaccinated or fully vaccinated (inferring a programme of mandatory boosters lies ahead) will be allowed to travel across borders, and this was likely to be “forever”. Unprecedented.

As previously mentioned, I’ve already made the decision not to take the Covid vaccine (for reasons I’ll not repeat here), which leaves me in a very sticky predicament, do I stick to my strong principles and erect the middle digit to Westminster and other world leaders cranking up their own Orwellian travel rulings, or do I roll up my sleeve with gritted teeth and a foaming mouth and accept a double jab so that I can accompany my daughter on her path to cultural and spiritual enlightenment?

I’ve always said that my “ikigai” is my family and I will always do what it takes to support them, nurture them, evolve them into better human beings, and if that means overruling my deepest instincts for the love of them, then I guess that’s exactly what I must do.

On reflection too, now that I am forced into making that tough decision (taking the “blue pill”) for my daughters next few formative years, I don’t think I want to be stuck on this little island forever. I’ve never classified myself as English or British, and with a post-Brexit entrapment with perennial Tory governments in seat, I actually despise these lands now. Never have I witnessed such a polarised nation, with every single topic, idiom, way of life divided equally into two camps (with the exception of the “1%ers”, the haves and have nots), which continues to destroy and erode the community cohesion I have grown up with. That said, are there any better countries to live in just now, I suspect they are all going through the same process?

What a shitty fucking world we live in right now…

Wim Hof Method: The Trials…

The simplicity of the Wim Hof Method and it’s accessibility to all, is, as I have found out, the secret to its success.

I took it upon myself to dive straight in to several experiments (not all that are offered), namely breathing (including retention and meditation), cold therapy (twenty day challenge to take cold showers for three minutes per day, culminating in my first ice bath this morning), and certain physical exercises (push-ups, stretching, inversions and horse stance).

As already mentioned, I have tried a lot of eastern-based practices over the years, yet this western variant (no not Covid related) seems to resonate with me more, allowing me to stick rigidly to it, compared to the other methods.

I found the breath work to be both invigorating and serene at the same time, the supercharging of my body through increased oxygen surging through veins, arteries and capillaries, waking them up and working them to provide a natural high and the ability to hold my breath for four minutes, and it is during that time that I experience a real peace, and all for free. I recall in desperation paying a not too insignificant amount to partake in a transcendental meditation course which never really worked for me.

The cold showers shocked my body into life after the breath work, and even though the temperature was only a cool nineteen degrees centigrade, it was still cold enough to make a difference, to calmly withstand room temperature water, which is quite odd. I can walk around the house naked (what a horrible thought) for hours and not be affected by nineteen degrees centigrade, but turn that same temperature into water and you feel the immediate difference.

Might as well start on the most difficult level, no time to lose…
Mr Flibble says four minutes WOO (With Out Oxygen)…
Cold shower challenge complete…

That’s biology at work. The reason the water feels colder than air is because water is the better conductor of the two. When you plunge into a nineteen degrees centigrade shower or pool, heat escapes your body much more easily across the entire surface area, than it would if you were simply standing in nineteen degrees centigrade air, as the water takes more heat from your body, and quicker, it feels colder.

Naturally, I wanted to experience an ice bath to take it to the next level, and after some serious contemplation and lack of opportunities in buying a large wooden barrel, I acquired a portable bath (yes it’s a thing), prepared zip-lock ice bricks and took my first ten minute plunge today. At fifteen degrees centigrade (which is just cold enough for the magic to start working according to The Hoffer), it didn’t take my breath away, probably down to the cold shower preparation each day. I’ll need more bricks to get the temperatures down to below ten degrees centigrade (when the real magic happens), I just need to broker a freezer space deal with the wife!

It’s a start…
Maybe my Chewbacca legs are keeping me too warm…
Done…

The horse stance and “tai-chi-esque”manoeuvres do seem to raise the body temperatures to counter the less-than arctic blast of cold to the system, and these are much needed, as simply towelling of doesn’t seem to increase the temperatures rapidly enough before the chills set in.

My wife and I also took it upon ourselves to take the practice to the beach early one morning this week, where I found a perfectly flat rock to do my breath work and horse stance on, sandwiched between a dip in the sea, which again was a relatively warm eighteen degrees centigrade.

Just breathe m*therf*cker…

My plan is to do the breath work in the garden before my tribe rises each day and take a plunge, to set my intention for whatever the day should bring, giving me more power in the mind to succeed, at whatever it is I need to do.

One thing I have noticed, is that the method certainly gives me that grounding and stable platform for the day, but within a few hours of getting back on the corporate treadmill, the same old duhkha reappears, so I may have to carve out a “WHM siesta” at lunchtime to see me through.

One thing is for certain, the method helps, but it can’t change everything. Over time, I hope that I will have that power over the mind, and with that find the courage to make a real change in my life, to ditch the stressful job, live with the financial consequences of that decision and find more a meaningful venture and peaceful existence.

In August, I am booked on a one-day WHM course with a qualified instructor over in North Wales, with a view to seeing if I too could embrace the method more deeply and see if there is an opportunity to become qualified, to learn the deeper levels of the practice so I could teach others of the benefits that are clearly there, and with that take a bold and brave step into the unknown world of financial insecurity yet corporate liberation, and with that, a freedom from the bondage of a system that doesn’t work for me.

Fully in. Letting go….

The Iceman Cometh…

Baader–Meinhof is a phenomenon in which after noticing something for the first time, there is a tendency to notice it more often, leading to a belief that it has a high frequency, and perhaps (taking it a step further) there is an esoteric force at work, pushing it into consciousness, giving the self a nudge to find out more.

I had never heard of Wim Hof until recently. The first time I heard the name was when I took to the road last year to survey the land for our planned eco-retreat (the progress of which is near zero due to pandemic related logistics issues). Our trip to the Lammas eco-village soon after raised his profile further, and further still with my foray into ishnaan (ancient cold water therapy first practiced by Indian sheikhs in the Punjab) and finally Russell Brand who has waxed lyrical about the guy for the last eighteen months.

As my recent duhkha post detailed, I have been trying far too hard to find enlightenment, peace and equilibrium over the last decade, in a desperate attempt to find answers to the hard questions of why are we here, how do we maintain a healthy mind and body and what happens to our soul when we die.

I have undertaken many practices during that time, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, reiki, kundalini and all forms of holistic therapy. Whilst that was not wasted time, I found that I was no more balanced than before, wiser of course and more knowledgeable, but still somewhat out of kilter.

One of my commune comrades started to talk about Wim Hof again a couple of weeks over breakfast, and I decided to take a deeper look into this guy to find out what his method was (WHM – Wim Hof Method).

After watching some of his (and Russell Brands) YouTube videos and downloading his free app, I found that his approach to wellness was simple, so simple in fact that it was instantly accessible to all, free at the point of entry, which used our mind, lungs and skin to help retune our physical and meta-physical states of being to bring back balance, calmness and a super-charged immune system to boot.

Contrast that to the other forms of conditioning out there, chemical conditioning via Big Pharma, mental conditioning via Big Therapy, physical conditioning via Big Trainers, spiritual conditioning via Big Religion, all of which comes at considerable expense.

Even the spiritual practices like yoga, transcendental meditation, and holistic therapies don’t come cheap, but the WHM looks to give you all of that balance for free via (in the main) breathing techniques and cold water therapy. That’s it. No detailed rules, laws, regulations, dogma, trinkets, gadgets, just you, your body, your time and water.

Naturally this sounds too good to be true, but as with many things in life (with the exception of injecting heroin, jumping out of a plane without a parachute or supporting Liverpool FC), I’ll try anything once.

So I did just that, and all that I can say is that it works, or at least it is starting to.

Breath work I have done before in yoga (relaxing and energetic), but never have I attempted body oxygenation and breath retention. Within the space of just a few days, I found myself being able to hold my breath for just shy of three minutes, post-which my stress levels plummeted to absolute zero. No technique I’ve done thus far has allowed me to go from breakneck speed to a dead stop so quickly. Remarkable.

The cold therapy I found quite easy too. New Years Day this year saw me in sub-zero temperatures in the sea close to home, albeit with a swim suit on, and I have taken cold showers since, but not with such routine or regularity. Every day I wake up now, energised after unbroken nights of slumber (another benefit of the WHM), almost racing for the spare room where I take my morning “meds” in the form of breath work and contemplation, followed by either a cold shower or a quick dip in the sea if the tides are right before the work day commences.

I am already seeing the benefits, I feel my head is less foggy, my body is reacting well to the new practices, and conflict situations in work have been dealt with as matter of fact rather than “oh no!” scenarios.

Naturally I wanted to know as much about Wim Hof as I could, so my wife bought me his recent book for my birthday which came today, three chapters down already at lunch and I’m in awe of the guy. Humble and honest background, no bullshit, easy to read and the words come straight from the heart, giving me the impression that this guy is both authentic and awesome in equal measures.

Incredibly, he has twenty-six work records, mostly ice-related shenanigans, but it was his clinical trials that pricked my attention most. Here was a guy in his fifties, deploying his own breathing/cold therapy/mind over matter techniques being injected with ecoli under lab conditions, monitored by medical practitioners to see how this man really reacted when his body was put under a real attack, only to find that his immune system was so strong, the bad bacteria had no impact on him whatsoever. He repeated the experiment with twelve of his trainees a short while later and all twelve tests had the same outcome.

What is this? Is it luck? Is it good DNA? Is it poor test conditions? Or is it the fact that here we had a man who could manipulate his immune system in such a way that made him somewhat impervious to bacteria and viruses, even when injected directly into the body?

From what I have read thus far, the science backed up the latter.

Many have frowned upon me when I have told them that I will not be taking the Covid vaccines, on the basis that I believe that I am healthy enough for the virus to only impact me slightly, and that the vaccine is still only on emergency licence until 2023 with no clinical conclusions reached. Mr Hof it appears has now given me the opportunity and associated techniques to boost my immune system even further, which I will embrace with freezing arms (from the cold showers).

I’ll continue to do the daily exercises to see how the practice improves my mind, body and soul, but may leave the ecoli injections a while longer…