Carrying a lot of fear and prejudice against cold water, I boarded a bus on December 4th, 2016, to Poland, where I was to spend several days exposing myself to extreme cold and some strange breathing exercises. I knew close to nothing about the WHM at that time, and I wasn’t exactly tempted by the idea of swimming in freezing mountain brook. However, the idea of learning something I considered ‘unlearnable’ awoke my curiosity.
Within a couple of hours from my arrival to Polish Przesieka, my sense of cold water had changed. Activities I’d considered impossible became a reality following the very first bath I took outside. Together with the other participants, I discovered the powers we were born with, that we’d lost through mere convenience. Slowly, day by day, we were rediscovering them. Suddenly, I could withstand extreme cold, both in water and walking outside. I gained the ability to ‘clean’ my head with nothing but oxygen and proper breathing.
The Winter Expedition is about fellowship, snow, music, tears, laughter, skill-building, darkness, sunlight, and a new love for nature found in the direct contact with all its manifestations. It is about descending into the creek and climbing the mountain, about overcoming one’s limitations, and learning to read what is naturally written into our genes.
I cherish the week that I spent in Poland learning about the Wim Hof Method, as one of the most valuable and beneficial weeks of my life. I detail the experience in Ice Apprentice, and continue to live every day what I learnt with Wim and his capable instructors during that week.
In a way, all graduates of the Winter Expedition leave the course with a legacy written deeply within their bodies. I too brought it home, and I love passing it to others because I’m convinced that cold water and fresh air are the essential keys to our inner and physical health and strength. The applicability of the WHM to daily life is staggering: I don’t have to protect myself from cold anymore; instead, I am using it, seeking it out, enjoying it, and looking forward to its chilly touch.
Hana Moravčíková is a literary critic and health & fitness journalist.