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Wim Hof views
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12/8/18 4:49 AM
Just wanting to get some informed opinion on the breathing methods that this guy advocates.  For what it's worth, I've been doing them daily for a year as they certainly produce a kind of energy and seem to alleviate daily anxieties to an extent.  However, when I compare it to other practices I wonder whether I'm falling for a cool internet trick or doing something that will have lasting and growing benefit.  I'm not generally sucked in by marketing hype - indeed it is the popularity of his method that actually makes me question it - but equally there has clearly been enough of a perceived benefit for me to return to it each day.

Anyone any experiences or views on this?  I am fairly well read, (not as much as some on here) so I'm fully aware this isn't authentic Tummo, (nor would I want it to be) and is not any of the 'standard' Indian pranayama practices.  But does that make it wrong?! 

RE: Wim Hof views
Answer
12/8/18 5:16 AM as a reply to Hugh Fox.
I'm really curious how your year of practice went. Could you describe what you did and what you found the results to be?

RE: Wim Hof views
Answer
12/8/18 5:23 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
I'm really curious how your year of practice went. Could you describe what you did and what you found the results to be?


I had gravitated to yoga the previous year and this slotted into that framework.  I get up at 5 am generally, sit for a while with diaphramatic breathing then do some basic asana.  Then I perform a few clearing type practices like nauli and uddiyhana banda plus some kapalbhati, then do 4-5 rounds of his breathing - which is widely available online.  The breath holds are generally in the 2-3 minute mark and during these I feel quite blissful in a slightly stoned way.  Different to states you get in standard anapana type stuff in my experience anyway.  I finish with some sitting, concentrating at 3rd eye area, (this bit is wishy washy to my mind - I need to review it and maybe get some more guidance).  I'll then have an ice bath after a physical workout which I've grown to enjoy.

Results wise, it definitely makes me feel 'good'.  Energy levels are high and I care less about small stuff that used to get me down.  That's a decent enough result, but I am plagued by the thought that it's not really giving me any genuine insight or sustainance in the way that a more traditional route might.  In short, I still can't work out if he's discovered something with proper depth or just a cool human trick! 

RE: Wim Hof views
Answer
12/8/18 6:45 AM as a reply to Hugh Fox.
Here's my perspective on breathwork, FWIW.

It's been awhile since I did any but on and off over the course of about a decade I spent a fair bit of time practice breathing exercises from martial arts and yoga, some learned directly from teachers and other stuff from books. Just like with most things in my life, I played, experimented, and modifed freely because that's the way I learn best. And the results were extremely good--I look at it as kind of like shamatha, a practice to facilitate insight, and you can absolutely blend breathing exercises with insight practice just like you can blend shamatha and vipassana. I spent about a 6-8 month chunk of time with about 4-6 hours per day on formal asana/pranayama/vipassana practice (plus dedicated mindfulness off cushion the rest of the day) and that was a particularly rich time of practice. While the breathwork might not have directly led to insight, it definitely helped grease the wheels.

I found only a few books on putting together yogic techniques and vipassana and frankly none were worth reading in my opinion (though I can find them and make a list if you like). I'm a big fan of just doing the experiments myself as this has worked very well or me. This is not to say that it isn't dangerous (all the books on my shelf about pranayama carry grave warnings) but I've never run into any serious issues with it.

It sounds to me like your current practice is a really great base from which to blend in insight practices. But yeah, I would also be concerned that there isn't enough insight practice in there to actually cultivate insight. That's an easy fix, though, as you can just tack on some insight practice at the end. All those blissful sensations? Notice that they are impermanent, that they flow, that they comes in waves and then dissipate. Or do some sort of self-inquiry practice. Etc. There are many ways to do it. 

RE: Wim Hof views
Answer
12/8/18 8:13 AM as a reply to Hugh Fox.
... if he's discovered something with proper depth or just a cool human trick! 

I'm not sure that a lot of meditative practices and effects aren't cool human tricks. Jhanas and other concentration states in particular. They're definitely helpful and can push us along toward awakening. Think of all the different spiritual practices around the world and how different the various approaches are - some (many?) the result of playing around with cool human tricks.

RE: Wim Hof views
Answer
12/8/18 11:18 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yeah, I agree. Drumming, dancing, taking various chemicals, participating in rituals, chanting, etc. all can bring on altered states of consciousness which make insight "happy accidents" more likely to happen. I think the specifics are less important than just getting deep into the process of whatever it is and really being present. 

RE: Wim Hof views
Answer
12/9/18 3:11 PM as a reply to Hugh Fox.
Hi Hugh, I have also been doing Wim Hof breathing, following on from a couple of years of breath meditation, jhana, and insight practices.  First up, I agree with Andromeda and Chris Marti.  Nothing wrong with cool tricks and yes it provides a good base, but doesn't really do much directly for insight.

Hoffing does seem to be similar to some old pranayama practices, and from my own experiences it definitely has meditative (but not insight) components. The breathing itself is a form of anapanasati (meditation on the in-out breath), and helps to calm and focus the mind by concentrating on the bodily formations (breath).  When wim says "go deep" and "feel the magic" on the retention it is a really good gateway to mindfulness of bodily sensations, and can train the mind to closely observe those sensations.  The mild euphoria is not really jhana, in my experience, but has similar benefits in that it calms and concentrates the mind on a single mental state. You might also experience ringing in the ears and weird lights behind the eyelids, which are common experiences for both hoffing and other kinds of meditation.

I find that doing 20 minutes of hoffing gets me nicely into access concentration, and it is somehow easier and a better preparation than 20 minutes of anapanasati.  For me hoffing is a good maintenance practice, and if I have more time available then I add extra meditation afterwards.  I  find that 20 minutes of hoffing and 20 minutes of meditation is just as good as 40 minutes of meditation, but somehow much easier. 

So you might want to try changing your routine and do your sit straight after your last recovery breath on hoffing, rather than before.

If you want to use hoffing as a preparation for insight, use the 'go deep' and 'feel the magic' to note the arising and passing away of bodily sensations all over the body. Also, you can try to move the mindfulness of bodily sensations and slight euphoria into piti (bodily rapture, including activation of the spine) and sukkha (mental bliss) respectivel to achieve jhanic states of concentration.  You can do this during the third and fourth breath retention.  After I achieve piti and sukkha I try to move through the jhanas by (1) moving my awareness from the back of the eyes up to the fontanelle, which suppresses cognition and encourages bliss; (2) then dropping mindfulness of piti in the body and just absorbing myself into the mental bliss through the fontanelle, and (3) then moving my awareness from the fontanelle down to the brain stem and simultaneously out into the environment. Hoffing seems to make all this a bit easer to do.

As always, insight practice has its dangers, so be ready to deal with your shit, as well as any disorientation that arises (read MCTB for guidance). Practicing loving kindness and scraping off some of your worst clinging can be a useful antidote to insight disorientation.

Just my perspective ... hope it is not totally useless!   Good luck with your practice.

Metta

Malcolm

RE: Wim Hof views
Answer
12/9/18 3:49 PM as a reply to Hugh Fox.
Not too fussed about any insight applications, I think the medical potential is the most interesting thing.
Also, if you read What Doesn't Kill Us by Scott Carney, you get a story about how native Americans would train themselves to tolerate cold. After the apocalypse, which is impending, the survivors will be those who can live without central heating and woolly sweaters.

RE: Wim Hof views
Answer
12/9/18 5:17 PM as a reply to curious.
Related video - a free diver explains:

http://digg.com/video/freediver-ocean