Could Meditating in the Cold Be An Answer to Taking Back Your Life?

Could Meditating in the Cold Be An Answer to Taking Back Your Life?

Our greatest barriers are often the ones we place in front of ourselves.  Losing weight, being happy, setting (or achieving) goals- it all starts in the mind. Beyond wanting ‘it’- you have to get out of your own way. Imposter syndrome, self-doubt, and wanting people to like you will only hold you back. The Atlantic called it the ‘confidence gap’ implying women are likely to be less confident than men. But interestingly enough, Forbes countered that theory with an internal report from Hewlett Packard:

[...] Men apply for a job or promotion when they meet 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them[...]All too often what holds women back is not our actual ability, but how we perceive our ability due to the yardstick we're measuring it against.

What yardstick that is exactly, varies from woman to woman. Does losing weight mean a certain body mass index or does it just mean feeling healthier? Are you waiting to apply for a job until you are at 100 percent? 

We are taught to aim high, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you should also be cautious about what yardstick you measure yourself against. Your inner dialogue can, and will, hold you back if it’s toxic. 

Meditation exposes toxic language. Think of meditation as the ultimate practice to bring you back to yourself. Once you quiet the inner chatter, tap into your mind-body connection to stop comparing yourself to others. Today, we want to talk about using meditation techniques and the cold (a fun twist) to hit the restart button.

For those who already have an established meditation practice, you’re already aware of the many benefits. But this article is about how you can challenge yourself to go further and fortify your willpower. We are going to talk about the why, how, and if the cold can take your practice to new heights! 

For beginners, we recommend a guided mediation app like Insight Timer or Headspace. Meditation does a lot for you; like guiding you through distressing periods of life or relieving daily anxieties. The NIH (National The Centre for Complementary And Integrative Health) describes meditation as a tool to help relieve physical symptoms, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Menopause symptoms. But for battling self-doubt, meditation is probably the only answer; because it stops negative self-talk in its tracks. 

Let’s get into it. 

Is Meditating In The Cold (or Cold Water) Harder Or Easier?

Of course, everyone is going to have a different reaction to meditating in the cold. But it goes beyond being easy or hard and becomes about personal growth and perception. 

Normally people don’t seek out situations that make them uncomfortable. Or at least we don’t think we do. But look at it this way, when we workout, when athletes train, or when we spend hours practicing to get better at something, it’s not comfortable. We do these hard things to get better at something; because nothing worthwhile is ever easy. 


The Ice Man

Meditating in the cold is like Olympic training for the mind, or at least it is to Wim Hof. The man is known all over the world as the Iceman. The Dutch 61-year-old man has Wim in the Atlantic, hiked a snowy mountain shirtless, and has broken many Guinness World Records. He alludes that it is all because of the power of the mind and body working together. 



He is perhaps one of the most influential humans I’ve ever read about. A marvel to modern scientists; showing that the human body can be pushed past its imagined limitations to do the impossible. What I like most about Wim Hof is that he proves by closing out the chatter in your mind you can take control of your body and find peace. He takes mediation outside of just the cerebral and makes it about a body-nature connection. Hofs technique is not about forgetting the physical body, it is about the mind connecting deeply to what is real. 

Wim Hof says, “you are not thinking, your emotions stop[…] you get in a different plane than our conditioning and that makes you a free man.” Of course, using Hof as an example challenges mediation. While not traditionally meditating, in a criss-cross-apple-sauce way, he is engaging in meditation techniques. 


It's because he uses breath work and meditation that he accomplishes the unthinkable. But at the end of the day, world records aside, what Wim is doing is using cold training to quiet the nonsense that tries to crowd the mind. If he didn’t stop the chatter- he would die.


Take Back Your Life

He has to shut out anything that will not help him survive. And while you might not be in such an extreme situation, everyone should have the chance to live the life they desire. If you want to feel good about yourself and truly live your life, you have to think of each breath as life or perhaps death; because it is your one life. Today is your tomorrow. Enjoy the moment. Be mindful and take a page from Wim Hof's playbook!

Please note before you try any extreme training to speak with your doctor and follow professional guidance. It’s crucial to educate yourself on how to progress safely. Wim Hof's website offers a free mini-course you can try out. 


Those same techniques can be abstractly applied to yourself in your own home. You can open a window on a winter day, get out your pillow, and sit down for 15 minutes. Or you can fill a bathtub with cold water and do breathwork. You need not swim in the arctic to take control of your mind. You don’t even need to study the Wim Hof method, but you can push your limits and use safe cold-exposure to force your mind to let go of all the worry, stress, and negative self-talk that will crowd your mind. Focus on living your life to the fullest. 


BCRX Writer, Klarrisa Arafa