Standing the Ice With Our Minds: Wim Hof (Transcript)

Full text of Dutch athlete Wim Hof’s talk: Standing the ice with our minds at TEDxYouth@Maastricht conference. Popularly known as The Iceman, Wim Hof in this talk discusses the ability of our minds and bodies to influence our immune system.


Wim Hof – Dutch extreme athlete

Look at this little film, three and a half minutes.

(Video clip starts…)

Narrator (in Dutch): Wim Hof, The Iceman. This is how we know him, a man who can withstand extreme cold for hours.

Journalist (in English): 8 o’clock now, on Friday morning January 25th, 2008, a chilly morning for most folks on the plaza…

Narrator (in Dutch): A man who can climb Mt. Everest just in shorts. A man who ran half a marathon in Lapland, barefoot and in shorts at -30 degrees Celsius. A man who swam large distances under the ice, from hole to hole. He does the impossible.

Journalist: Wim Hof knows how to deal with extreme cold, and says he knows how to control his innate immune response. According to scientists, it’s impossible. For over a year, the St. Radboud Research Center conducted experiments on The Iceman. Is he really a medical mystery? The results, according to the scientists, are remarkable.

Narrator: Something remarkable is going on with Wim Hof. It seems as though he’s able to influence the response of his immune system.

Doctor: To make it scientifically reliable, Wim should train a group of ten to practice his techniques, and have another group of ten not trained by him, to see if we can reproduce those differences.

Narrator: 12 young and healthy volunteers have been trained by him for four days in Poland, for a crash course in what Wim mastered years ago: withstand the cold and meditate.

Wim Hof: If you learn some techniques I learned in the cold and apply my breathing technique, you can go deep into your nervous system; not just a little deep but down to the autonomic level.

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Narrator: And then, the research. Just as with Wim in 2011, the volunteers were injected with a dead bacteria while applying the techniques taught by him. A normal human being would get very sick for about three hours.

Doctor: Here comes the endotoxin. 10 for the worst state, zero for the best.

Patient: Zero.

Narrator: And then, the control group: volunteers not trained by Wim. Results: the guys were very sick, even shivering. All the blood samples of the 12 volunteers and the control group have been tested in laboratory setting. The results are very, very remarkable.

Doctor: Our most important conclusion is that we’re able to say, for the first time in history, very clearly and without doubt, that a human being is able to influence his autonomic nervous system, something that was scientifically not considered possible.

Wim Hof: It is you, who can do this. You, you and you. Everybody.

If you can control the stress hormone level in your body and bring it back to its natural state, you feel more energetic but also more complete yourself, a deeper level of self-awareness. We can do much more than we thought would ever be possible.

Video clip ends…)

Wim Hof: All right. There he is!

Thank you.

I heard great speakers, just now, before me, and it’s all coming from the heart. We are able to make mistakes. Of course, we believe that living from the heart is the only way in which there is no border. There is no border in feeling, in sensation, in what we want.

And to come on this planet Earth — beautiful planet by the way – I had my… What?

Oh, in the red spot. Okay. Yes.

You know, the only goal on this planet, this beautiful planet, actually, is to become spiritually aware and to have a feeling like a plant, like a flower. She grows into a stem, then leaves. It takes sunshine, rain, and all the elements, and in the interaction it becomes a natural flower.

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