It had been a pleasurable journey. I left Dublin in good spirits. I had plenty of time to catch my connecting flight in Frankfurt. I was relaxed and content. But, that changed.
My heart was pounding in my chest as I sprinted through Frankfurt airport, desperately looking for gate B23. I had never missed a flight and I wasn’t going to start now. Or, so I thought. I ran and ran and eventually got to the gate. I could see a plane. As I screeched to a halt, I handed the attendant my boarding card, bending over to catch my breath.
“Your flight left 15 minutes ago. All the rest of the flights to Prague are full. I’m not sure if you will get there today.” My heart sank.
I was about to learn a firm lesson in patience and surrender.
The winter is a time of darkness. It is cold and damp (if you live here in Ireland). I used to fight this. I wanted it to be sunny. I wanted to play basketball outside. I was fighting the darkness. I didn’t adjust to the change of seasons and it often made me sick.
But, now I embrace it.
I embrace the cold. I use it to invigorate me. I embrace the darkness. I use it to slow me down, to do less and to hibernate. I embrace the night. I sleep more, I spend more time breathing. I don’t fight it anymore. I dance with it.
That lesson came back to me as I stood looking at the empty runway in Frankfurt airport. I had to dance with the situation. I had to look at all the possibilities, accept them, sit down and wait for the situation to unfold. No amount of worry or stress would fly me to Prague. I had to embrace the darkness and surrender.
Here are a few other ways we can embrace the darkness:
Enjoy the darkness, revel in the Winter Solstice and have a merry Christmas.
If you feel tired, sick, stressed or depressed, there is a simple and effective way to change that. It is a natural combination of breathing, focus and gradual exposure to the cold. It has turned the medical world's view of what we’re capable of upside down. For the first time in Ireland, you can now learn the Wim Hof Method.
It was a strange sight. The sea was grey, nearly black, except for the white tops of the choppy waves. But, there in the middle of it was the figure of a woman, swimming using only one arm. She bobbed up and down on her side, but still managed to crawl through the water.
I kept a close eye on her as I walked down to the shore. Eventually she emerged from the cold water, clutching the handrail with one hand as she got out.
Cold and free
She was old and glamorous with gold dangling earrings and full make-up (waterproof I presume!). On land, it was clear that she had suffered a stroke in the past and could only use one arm. But, in the cold Irish Sea she was free.
Gradual exposure to the cold is hugely beneficial to us. It boosts our immune system, reduces stress, increases cardiovascular strength and connects us deeply with our emotions and nature. We feel exhilarated and electrified (in a good way) afterwards.
Bursting with energy
When we combine it with profound, deep breathing the benefits are nearly limitless. It has been scientifically proven that the combination of breathing, cold and focus can increase our immune system, decrease inflammation, balance our hormones, bring about a stable, calm state of mind and make us feel happy. It is natural, simple and effective.
I’ve felt it. I went from being tired all the time (that’s what four young children will do to you) to bursting with energy.
The person spearheading this revolution in health and happiness is Wim Hof. His simple and effective method combines breathing, cold and focus. It is proving again and again that we are capable of becoming healthy, happy and strong one breath at a time.
Deep down we already know this, but we’ve forgotten along the way. Well, not all of us. When I finished my swim, I ended up sitting beside the glamorous old lady as we dried off. She turned to me and said:
Life is always better when you’ve been in the cold sea.
Learn more about the Wim Hof Method by watching the video below.
I work with people to bring greater health, happiness and meaning into their lives. I write about the things I learn along the way. My name is Níall Ó Murchú.
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