‘Ice Man’ on a Mission to Scientifically Prove Power of Mind

November 1, 2014 Updated: November 20, 2014

Wim Hof was born into a frigid world. His was a traumatic birth, struggling out of the womb he shared with his twin into the cold hallway of a Dutch hospital. He almost suffocated. His simple, faithful mother made a vow to God that if He’d let her baby live, she would raise that baby to become a missionary.

As a teenager, Hof revisited that trauma. Turning the cold and the shortness of breath that almost took his life into a power for good, he started on a path that led him to fulfill his mother’s vow in a way she could never have imagined.

In Hof’s search for something more he read Buddhist texts, did yoga, and tried numerous other martial arts or meditation techniques. He spent much time in nature, finding great inspiration there. One day, when he was 17, he slipped into a basin covered by a thin layer of ice.


“Boom, it felt so good!” Hof said, with characteristic gusto. “The cold makes you go within.” The cold connected him with the trauma of his birth, he said, and resolved it. He felt his blood rushing in an unusual way, his breathing changed. He realized that breathing a certain way allowed him to feel at ease in the icy water.

The changes he experienced while in the water allowed him to take control of automatic processes in his body.

“That’s a physical revelation. That’s a mystical revelation,” he said. The statement communicated well the dual nature of his realization—one both spiritual and scientifically verifiable.


He regularly submerged himself in the revitalizing aqua pura for 15 years before anyone knew about it. In seclusion, “no one knew me as the Ice Man,” he said. “I didn’t want to be nick-named, to be called crazy,” he said.

A local newspaper eventually discovered Hof’s unusual practice, however, and the Ice Man he became. “They made me Super Man sort of—the Ice Man,” he said. Humble in his strength and prone to a quiet, peaceful life even as he performs highly publicized stunts (some of which have earned him Guinness World Records), Hof seeks fame primarily to help others.

His message of inspiration is that anyone can do what he does, and thus achieve significantly better health.

Wim Hof, also known as the 'Ice Man.' (Courtesy of Wim Hof)
Wim Hof, also known as the ‘Ice Man.’ (Enahm Hof/IcemanWimHof.com)

The Vow Fulfilled

It was a phone call with Dr. Ken Kamler in New York that spurred Hof to pursue scientific proof of what he already knew to be true.
Dr. Kamler was interested in Hof’s ability to exert control over his own autoimmune system. If Hof could teach others to do the same, inflammatory diseases such as multiple-sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease, could be healed—without even using medication or surgery (the pharmaceutical companies aren’t Hof’s biggest supporters, Hof noted).

Other serious diseases may be cured with further study of Hof’s method. Dr. Kalmer told Hof that if the experiments testing his method could be replicated, it could mean a leap forward for mankind.

“That moment made me a missionary consciously,” Hof said. The promise his mother had made over her fragile newborn was fulfilled in this strong-willed man. He didn’t become a Christian missionary, but he did become a missionary in his work to bring strength of spirit to many. He would teach others, and he would verify with science the power of the mind to heal the body.


Half-an-hour after this revelation, he received a phone call saying his mother had died.

“She was a farmer’s daughter, she was naïve, but she was a good woman,” he said. “She is hearing this now, I thank her,” he said during a telephone interview with Epoch Times. He was speaking from Poland, where he is currently training a group of 20 people to bathe in ice water, to bring up emotions through breathing exercises, and to control parts of their bodies long thought to be beyond the power of the human will.

It’s Science

He has successfully trained students to achieve the same control over their bodies he achieved for himself, and the accomplishment has been documented in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

A study published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in May reads: “Hitherto, both the autonomic nervous system and innate immune system were regarded as systems that cannot be voluntarily influenced. The present study demonstrates that, through practicing techniques learned in a short-term training program, the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can indeed be voluntarily influenced.”

The study’s lead author, Matthijs Kox at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, told Nature that the results are preliminary, but hopeful. For the study, Hof taught 12 students his technique. These 12 students and 12 control subjects were all injected with a bacterial toxin to induce fever, headache, and other symptoms of illness. Hof and his students showed an increased ability to suppress the symptoms.

Hof’s students were able to produce adrenaline at will. Controlling hormones with the mind can help treat depression, Hof said, and it simply makes a person feel great. As terrible as it sounds, people even learn to enjoy ice baths. 

‘Pure Joy’

A reviewer for Physique Hacks tried Hof’s online course and said in a YouTube video: “During the first week of cold showers, the common theme behind my experiences and what I was writing down [in my course workbook] was one of pain—’absolute pain; pure hell; cold shower = oh the horror.’ But funny enough, by the end of week two, those words of pain transformed into words of pleasure—’felt amazing; pure joy; one word: wow.'”

Hof’s enthusiasm and vigor are contagious. His method is rooted in a sense of wonder, in a return to nature, he said. During his interview with Epoch Times, he often expressed that wonder in statements such as, “Wow, I’m so grateful I’m here on the planet!”

He has earned fame for feats such as climbing Mount Everest in shorts and making it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in record time with a group of his students—among whom were the sick and elderly. He’ll aim to set a new record with a group of students in January 2015. But this isn’t his main focus.

“The next challenge to me is science, research,” he said. “That’s my Mount Everest.”

He continues to teach and to have his method subjected to scientific research. He’s bringing the power of meditation and self-healing to the mainstream. He said, “This method is no longer alternative.”

Wim Hof offers online training, for more information see www.WimHofMethod.com.

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