The Mind-Body Connection: Can Consciousness Influence Immune Response?
A study was carried out by “The Iceman”, a Dutch practitioner named Wim Hof, who is a world-record holder famous for his ability to resist cold. A team of researchers of the RadBoud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Netherlands studied Wim Hof’s method, making use of special breathing exercises, and used it to train a group of 12 volunteers to fend of inflammation while in freezing temperatures.
During the study the 24 volunteers, 12 trained in Wim Hof’s method and 12 who did not undergo training, were injected with a strain of bacteria that promotes flu-like symptoms.
The result of the study found that those who had undergone the training reported much fewer and less intense symptoms than those who were in the control group. The trained volunteers also produced smaller amounts of inflammatory proteins, and higher levels of interleukin-10, an inflammation-fighting protein!
“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,” writes the scientific journal PNAS
“Orthodox neurobiologists and orthodox immunologists have been skeptical. They think the study of the interactions between the nervous and immune systems is a ‘field in the shadows’. This study is a nice way to show that link,” said an immunologist at the University of Salerno in Italy.
This isn’t the only study, however, to show that there is a direct link between a mind trained in concentration/meditation’s ability to influence the immune system.
Australian scientists concluded through testing that consciousness may be able to influence the intensity of allergic reactions.
What the test results seem to imply is something known to Yogis and meditators the world over for thousands of years – that mind and body truly are interconnected and meditative practice truly is a method of inner healing and self-growth.
The tests which have been performed so far are rudimentary and just scratching the surface of the implications of what this strange connection between consciousness and the body could imply, with implications for Medical Science being profound!
Us humans have many more latent powers within us than are generally realized! And science is only just now catching up to that!
This is my team and I training with Wim Hof at his home in Holland – full interview coming soon 🙂
How To Do The Wim Hof Method
The first part is a breathing exercise which can be likened to controlled hyperventilation. This is, of course, an oxymoron. Hyperventilation is something which happens involuntarily. But just imagine the breathing part, without any of stress triggers that normally cause this way of breathing. The image will consist of rapid breathing that makes one languid, invigorates one, makes one high on oxygen. One mechanism of this practice is the complete oxygenation of your blood and cells.
1) Get comfortable and close your eyes
Sit in a meditation posture, whatever is most comfortable for you. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction. It is recommended to do this practice right after waking up since your stomach is still empty.
2) Warm Up
Inhale deeply. Really draw the breath in until you feel a slight pressure from inside your chest on your solar plexus. Hold this for a moment and then exhale completely. Push the air out as much as you can. Hold this for a moment. Repeat this warm up round 15 times.
3) 30 Power Breaths
Imagine you’re blowing up a balloon. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth in short but powerful bursts. The belly is pulled inward when you are breathing out and is pulled outward when you are breathing in. Keep a steady pace and use your midriff fully. Close your eyes and do this around 30 times or until you feel your body is saturated with oxygen. Symptoms could be light-headedness, tingling sensations in the body, electrical surges of energy.
4) Scan your body
During the 30 power breaths, delve into your body and become aware of it as possible. Trace your awareness up and down your body and use your intuition as to what parts lack energy and what parts are overflowing. Scan for any blockage between the two. Try to send energy/warmth to those blockages. Then release them deeper and deeper. Tremors, traumas and emotional releases can come up. It can be likened to kundalini rising. Feel the whole body fill up with warmth and love. Feel the negativity burn away.
Often people report swirling colors and other visual imagery during this exercise. Once you encounter them, go into them, embrace them, merge with them. Get to know this inner world and how it correlates to the feeling of tension or blockages in your body.
5) The Hold
After the the 30 rapid succession of breath cycles, draw the breath in once more and fill the lungs to maximum capacity without using too much force. Then push all of the air out and hold for as long as you can. Draw the chin in a bit so as to prevent air from coming in again. Really relax and open all energy channels in your body. Notice how all the oxygen is spreading around in your body. Hold the breath until you experience the gasp reflex on the top of your chest.
6) Recovery Breath
Inhale to full capacity. Feel your chest expanding. Release any tension in the solar plexus. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath once more. Drop the chin to the chest and hold this for around 15 seconds. Notice that you can direct the energy with your awareness. Use this time to scan the body and see where there is no color, tension or blockages. Feel the edges of this tension, go into it, move the energy towards this black hole. Feel the constrictions burning away, the dark places fill with light. Relax the body deeper as you move further inward, let everything go. Your body knows better than you do. After 15 seconds you have completed the first round.
Start this practice with one or two rounds. Try to do it daily and add two more rounds in a few days. After you feel more comfortable with holding your breath you can start to add exercises and stretches. Work up to a minimum of 15 minutes or 6 rounds with exercises. You can do this practice for how long it pleases you.
If you feel dizziness or pain, get out of the posture and lie on your back. Breathe easily again and stop this practice session.
Reserve at least 5 minutes after this practice to relax and scan the body.
- 30 times balloon blowing
- Breathe in fully
- Breath out fully and hold until gasp reflex
- Inhale fully and hold for 10-15 seconds.
- Repeat until finished
- Take 5 minutes to relax and scan your body
Disclaimer: Do not do retention after exhalation before diving, piloting any vehicle or under the shower, it should be done in a safe environment.
I am actually now a member of the Wim Hof method that is an online step by step program that goes very deep into his method.
I found it is similar also to holotrophic breathwork and rebirthing breathwork made famous by Leonard Orr and used by thousands of others around the world.
These are techniques I have used to help strengthen my immune system and reduce stress. I have to say that Wim Hof provides exceptional training that is very easy to follow and goes much deeper into areas such as cold thermogenesis that further enhance the breath work.
I first trained with The Wim Hof method by learning it online through Wim’s online course that is very good.
Learn the Wim Hof Method online here: