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.
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.
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!
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.
We are like that.
Our spirit wants to evolve, grow, become strong and expand, and become happy, therein. There’s only happiness in living from this belief, feeling, within the depth of our being.
And that made me search for what was not in the books, it did not tell me, “This is luck,” “This is absolute health,” “This is the way to live.”
It was always so far from me.
So I began, beyond my fears, beyond my way of thinking, the rules, and all the things which had set in because of school, systems and hierarchy, I began to look for something deeper within myself.
Therefore, I went into nature. I went back to nature, mother Nature. I had followed many esoteric disciplines, but from books.
With the existent disciplines I could not really make this contact deeply within myself. Therefore, finally, I got attracted by freezing cold water.
Intuitively, I felt it was attracting me. It wanted me to go in it. I went in. I only took one minute inside, but I felt a tremendous recognition of the depth of my physiology, and I knew from the inside: this is it. This is what I was looking for.
Maybe you think: “Freezing water? Are you looking for freezing water?”
“It’s f**king cold! No, I’m not going to do that.”
But we have such internal powers within us. We are mammals, and we have these mechanisms, developed over millions of years.
Since we became humans, we’re making everything comfortable, putting clothes on, making rules to Nature, actually inflicting a damage to Nature.
The Amazon is in danger because it is not able to absorb so much CO2 anymore in the last 30 years.
What are we doing?
I tried to go into the depth of myself and look for answers. I found it in cold water. It brought me back because cold water really is merciless, but it is righteous.
And it brought me into an absolute certainty, within myself, beyond my thoughts, into this primordial very good, very strong feeling, and it united all the mechanisms within myself, making me able to stay, for example, in shorts, in freezing temperatures, all night long, just sitting, using breathing.
The breath is able to get into the depth of our physiology, far more than we thought before. And because of our way of behaving with clothes, we are not living in interaction with Nature anymore.
So cold does not affect us, and heat does not affect us because we are all, all the time, able to control the environment. But we are not able to control the mechanisms within.
Now, you saw this little film, which showed I trained people within four days, to be able, without experience in the cold, just in four days, to go in shorts at minus 10 degrees Celsius, and then for hours climb up a mountain to go to the summit. And there, it was minus 27.
It was all in a research program.
The doctors who were accompanying us were completely dressed with scarves, head-covers, and thick coats. They were suffering from cold.
And these guys in shorts were dancing the Harlem Shake on the top of the mountain.
Then I knew, these guys, in four days, will be able to control their autonomic nervous system, related to the immune system, making them able to withstand an injection of the E. coli bacteria — which normally creates uncontrollable shivering, headaches, all over miserable feeling, no good — they were able to control that within 15 minutes.
And you know why? Because they not only danced the Harlem Shake, they awakened these internal mechanisms from which we became alienated because of our comfort — the so-called comfort — and controlling Nature, without being able to control the nature within.
They showed this, and they passed their fears to do this. They felt: “Hey guys, this is a team. We are going to tackle the biggest war with the biggest amount of casualties ever, which is the war of the bacteria, the vaccine and the virus. Are we able to do that? I feel we are able to do this, but we have to do this together.”
And yes, in four days, just four days, they were able to go in shorts, at minus 10 to minus 27 on top, and do the Harlem Shake.
But at the same time, they were able to reawaken these internal powers, which gives them access to the control of their immune system, their autonomic nervous system, their hormonal system.
And what do we suffer in this world from?
From depression, cancer, all kinds of autoimmune diseases, and of having no control within: powerlessness.
And I say, now, surely after this research, it’s opening up, little by little. We published in the best of medical magazines in the world that we are able to go deeper within, and therefore change our way of thinking: happiness, health and strength are makeable for us all.
Every individual, going by science and showing just by measurements — a control group and a group that was instructed, enabling them in just a couple of days because they were motivated and took it on — can see that the things that I learned in the heart of Nature, not in the books, has altered them in the depth of themselves.
In just four days…
In just four days, we showed scientifically by measurement that everybody actually is able to control much more within, that they are able to go back to the natural state wherein we are able to control our hormonal system, which is connected to the nice hormones which make us happy, and the strong hormones which make us strong.
They saw in the hospital people lying in bed, doing certain breathing exercises and focus. They saw them creating, generating more adrenaline in a tranquil, controlled way, than somebody in fear for the first time going into a bungee jump — blood results comparison. That’s control.
And of course, a bacteria at that point has no chance. And that’s the immune system.
What do we have in this world?
A whole lot of diseases, a whole lot of powerlessness against disease, against depression and all that.
Because we lost track of what Nature is, within us and in interaction. So in the future, we have to take away all these borders, this way of thinking, this too much comfort, and thinking that we are able to control Nature, because Nature within should be happiness, strength and health.
We took this pursuit on, and we have no fear. We believe in this. We dare and do, all the time, things unbelievable by scientists, and physiologists are telling us, “This is irresponsible what you’re going to do. With 26 people, in three days, in shorts, climbing Kilimanjaro? That’s not possible, especially with people who have no mountain area experience, and have cancer, a heart condition, Crohn’s disease, MS, asthma, and all kinds of different diseases.”
I told them, “Are you motivated? Now we are able to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in three days, which is irresponsible, looking at it physiologically. But I feel we are able to do this.” So we took it on.
And all these physiologists told us, “You can’t do this. Because the physiological limits of the human body are scientifically stated as not enabling you to climb in three days, especially in shorts, up Mt. Kilimanjaro.”
We didn’t do it in three days. We did it in two days.
Now, I do not hear of them anymore. And all these guys — 65 years, the oldest one — he did it too, in two days.
Last January, we repeated it, and we took off 16 hours from this total of 46 hours. We did it in 31 hours, 25 minutes. I’m trying to astound, every time, showing that the power within every human body, every person in the world, is able to do a whole lot more, to become happy by his or her control, every individual in the world.
We showed that the autonomic nervous system is no longer autonomic. The books are changed in the universities in the U.S. right now, because of us: the first group in the world to show that the autonomic nervous system in relationship with the immune system, that was supposedly uncontrollable is 100% controllable.
All the 12 participants in this research showed direct control within 15 minutes, and the bacteria had no chance. That means: control of the hormonal system.
The hormonal system consists of hormones, and we have a brain. Once this internal natural power and the connection between the hormonal system and the brain is reestablished by going into Nature, and being able to do the Harlem Shake on the top of the mountain at minus 27. Anybody can do this.
I train people regardless of age. I am going to do the next climb with a person who will be 77 at that point. He is motivated. And he will be able to make a record time up the Kilimanjaro, like all.
The thing I want to state is: it is time to make possible in the consciousness of people that we are people who want to become — that the goal of people is to become happy, strong and healthy.
We showed by figures and measurements that we are able to control things much deeper within our systems. We’re alienated from our systems, so we lost control over the hormonal system, thus depression and all kinds of diseases. We are victims of that.
That’s a lottery. Maybe yes, maybe no; we don’t know.
But we do know now that by going into Nature, interacting the right way, we are able to deepen our control and power within, in just a couple of days because it is already there, made by millions of years of trial and error.
It is still there, and it is time to get back into control, to become happy — hormonal system — to become strong — hormonal system — and to become healthy — immune system.
We showed it all. I don’t know why it is sort of blocked. It is going so slow. The books are changing, right now, in the universities of biology and medical sciences.
I do not know why they didn’t take down what we showed as a first group about the autonomic nervous system in relationship with the immune system. That’s great news because it is important for every person in this world, in a very short time, to be able to go deeper within our power.
And it’s for free.
I think it’s time for the world, which is able to make such beautiful technology like iPhones and all that, to learn to guarantee happiness, strength, and health, for God’s sake.
And all these systems, we are running after these systems, while these systems actually should serve us, humans, to become happy, strong, and healthy. We showed that we are able to do this.
Why does it go so slow? I do not know. You are a young audience. I want to give you this message: “Hey, guys. We are able to do so much more in just a short period of time by awakening internal powers. It is unbelievable what you experience then, and what you are able to do.”
Yes, that’s a sort of message, a mission. And I’m not afraid to make mistakes at it, right? I believe it is time for everybody to take back the right to become happy, strong, and healthy.
From there, a happy, strong, and healthy person is able to learn just like that flower, to learn to expand in his mind, to co-create with the world, and that’s the purpose of life, instead of living in fears and “yakkings” and all these limiting forces all the time, taking your thoughts all the way up there – da, da, da, da! – but not inside here, where we can experience this happiness, strength, and health.
But we are able to do this. We have shown this right now, and I’m showing it all the time with a whole bunch of people, regardless of age, and even of disease, to be able to go beyond physiological borders, every time.
And what’s the clue? I’m trying to get through to you.
What am I talking about? What is my message?
Because I have no program in my head. I do not know. This is about life. Life is something to be, you know, worth living. The girl who was talking here, very brave girl, talking. It’s sort of that.
Because we all live in this society. One is happy and one unhappy. One is fitting in the system, and the other one is not fitting in and he is excluded. No!
There should be a system or a way of living for everybody to be able to become happy, strong and healthy. No borders, no limits, they are all within. And the freedom felt like a child who has no borders yet because she is taken care of by love and attention.
We all, while becoming adults, say, “This mind still wants to be this child” because life, planet Earth — all of creation is a wonder. It is so miraculous that we can’t understand, but we can experience. And that experience of expanding your consciousness is so great.
If it is withheld because we have to live in this system and make the system work instead of our happiness, then the mind is not able to expand and to go freely like this flower.
A flower is very vulnerable. Our mind is very vulnerable. It just wants to bloom and to flower, and that’s the most beautiful thing we could do to each other because if we radiate the right energy from within us — we are healthy, strong and happy — we love the next person.
Because we radiate this energy. We are energy. And if this energy goes freely again, it is because we cherish our internal mechanisms in the way mother Nature told us.
But because of this alienation, we have too much in the head, in the brain, in this system, and we are all connected to this system, but the deeper part of the brain is neglected. The child got neglected. The wonder got neglected. We need pills to become lean or to expand consciousness a bit.
And it should not be necessary because we have a beautiful pineal gland, which is actually calcified because of too much brain activity on the surface. It makes us distant from direct interaction, but we showed that adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone, can be generated in just 20 minutes to a level more than — Oh yes, hello! I have to finish, I think.
So, last thing.
We are able to do a whole lot more than we think or thought, even beyond what is scientifically stated. Just go for that!