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New research indicates thoughts alone may influence the autonomic nervous system and immune response.

Wim Hof Surprises Scientists by Controlling His Body with His Thoughts

If you’ve ever wanted to see an example of the mind-body connection or the ability of thoughts to influence health, consider Wim Hof. A Dutchman who regulates his body temperature mentally, Hof, 52, has set numerous world records, including swimming long distances under ice, running half marathons barefoot in ice and snow, and being immersed in an ice bath for nearly two hours

I’m sure many who have seen him on YouTube ask, how does he do it? Others may be asking why.

For me, Hof’s ability to break through conventional human limitations brings up a host of questions. Is the body more than a self-acting, material mechanism? Is there a way that one’s thoughts can bring about health without physical intervention?  Can anyone do this?

Hof’s feats have been studied at the Feinstein Institute in New York, the Thermo Physiological Institute in Oulu, Finland, and Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

At the TED conference held last year in Amsterdam, Wim Hof was a featured guest. Professor Maria Hopman of the Nijmegen Medical Centre explained how she had studied Hof’s abilities and provided three possible explanations:

1. He’s conditioned his body to accept extremely cold conditions.

2. He’s genetically advantaged.

3. His thoughts allow him to control his body.

Recently, Hof agreed to participate in tests that ultimately called into question the idea that his feats may be due only to physical conditioning. Scientists at the University Medical Centre in Nijmegen conducted various tests on Hof for a year, culminating in what they described as the most difficult test on March 31, 2011. That day, they tested Hof’s mental ability to influence his immune system. Professor of experimental intensive care medicine Dr. Peter Pickkers and his team injected Hof with endotoxin to see if his thoughts would be able to effectively combat the bacteria. The injection was expected to cause Hof to experience flu-like symptoms.

They were astonished when he failed to get sick.

ScienceDaily.com reported the experiment in its April 22, 2011 article, “Research On ‘Iceman’ Wim Hof Suggests It May Be Possible to Influence Autonomic Nervous System and Immune Response.”

The investigators concluded that Hof was remarkable, but that the experiment could not serve as scientific evidence until the same results could be obtained with larger groups demonstrating the same results.

Jin Songhao and Chen Kecai would likely disagree that Hof’s abilities are unique to him and the result of a genetic advantage. Earlier this year, both men surpassed Hof’s previous ice bath record of 115 minutes. Songhao now holds the world record at an even two hours.

Hof doesn’t consider himself an anomaly. In fact, he gives workshops teaching others his meditation practice and believes everyone is capable of what he has demonstrated.

At the TED conference previously mentioned, moderator Jon Rosenfeld asked Hof what motivated him. He responded, “My mission is to show that everybody, by their mind, can reach more depth within themselves, and that we all have healing power, an inner doctor. Go back to that inner power and heal yourself.” Hof also noted that he believed that one’s thoughts can prevent disease.

I don’t know too much about Hof’s method of meditation, but I appreciate what he has accomplished. I also agree with him that we are all capable of promoting better health through improving our mentality. In fact, according to an astonishing report last summer, nearly half of all American adults are also concluding that praying about their health is worthwhile.

In my own experience, I’ve found that keeping my thoughts aligned with what I know about God has brought an end to chronic migraine headaches, physical injuries, and other forms of illness.  These positive outcomes didn’t come about through positive thinking or mentally attempting to will a change of health conditions. Instead, they were the result of lifting my consciousness to recognize and express more of my spiritual identity.

Hof’s book Becoming the Iceman is now available online.

About Bill Scott

Professionally, I'm a licensed architect in both Washington and California State. I love architecture, but when it comes to priorities, it’s hard to top good health. That’s why I’ve shifted my interest from the physical to the mental environment that we abide in. My articles focus on presenting helpful ideas regarding the important connection between what we think and our health. I’ve been writing for Blogcritics and other online and print publications since 2011 and I was published in the international medical/science journal, "Global Advances in Health and Medicine" in 2012. I also serve as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Washington State. Feel free to contact me at: [email protected] or on Twitter @WilliamEdScott.

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One comment

  1. Are you seriously suggesting that he didn’t climb Everest in his shorts, break numerous Guiness world records including running a marathon in his shorts around the North Pole and swimming 60 metres under ice with no equipment? That it is all an elaborate illusion? You sir are an idiot unable to google even basic things or use average critical analysis.

    Do you understand that Chris Angel and David Blaine are illusionists who have their own TV shows and this is just a guy who has been the subject OF many TV show and investigations by scientific establishments. In your limited world is it not possible to understand that these aren’t the same thing?

    The bacteria injection was studied under test conditions by a university. Are you so severely honestly and openly limited you’re doubting that is the case or believe that the university doctors and professors who investigated him did not consider his ‘immune system might be more robust than others’ or that they had not considered that he might not exhibit symptoms? You are extremely limited

    There is basically no-one at his level except him, surviving a climb of Everest in shorts and sandals is not simply a case of ‘the right conditioning and training’ else it would be common and there would be other people who can match him you seriously mentally lacking individual – there are no comparisons. Do you get it? Read for a few years and try to cure yourself of stupid