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Wim Hof in conversation with Alison Beckner

Photography by David Vasiljevic

Wim Hof is the ultimate autodidact. At a young age, the Dutch extreme athlete started experimenting with cold water plunges combined with breathwork. He sought to monitor the impact of his experiments on a variety of physical and emotional states such as energy levels, sleep, focus, sports performance, willpower, stress levels, recovery time, creativity, and libido. Over time this resulted in his eponymous method, now taught and practiced worldwide. His motivation is to help people become healthier, stronger, and happier.


“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless—like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”— Bruce Lee


Alison Beckner: What is your sweet spot? When do you feel you’re in your own place? When do you feel the opposite, and how do you recalibrate in that case?

Wim Hof: I like to be near water. If I’m close to water, I’m more flexible. It makes my blood flow. Jala is water. Svadhisthana chakra is water. I’m in my place when things get into a flow, not rigid. When they are rigid and blocked, they are heavy. But when I’m in the flow, wow, that is water. Like Bruce Lee said, “Be like water.”


I can be like water. I can feel it. And then I get the wisdom of everything there is, because water knows how to contain wisdom. It excludes itself and it’s there, it’s the wisdom of the universe, of eternity. Of the past. Beyond space. It’s all in there. Water has the property to contain intelligence. Once we become fluid within our minds—not blocked, but fluid—we are able to understand this wisdom.


Water is the ocean, and water is where we come from. When we are blocked, our bodies, our organs get blocked. This leads to chronic mental and physical illness, which are becoming a big problem within our society. I know how to take these diseases and afflictions away. To take them away simply entails reducing inflammation. It starts with breath, exercises, and cold water.


The air from our breath brings a different body chemistry all together back in the microbial, the diaphragm, in the intestines area— into the Svadhisthana chakra. It is a direct cause and effect. And from there we learn to go deeper and deeper into the intelligence of the property of water, of fluids within the cells. Blood flow is like water. We are 99 percent water molecules. So, in fact, we are actually water. Water is a fundamental component of our physiology. And we’ve got to learn to influence that to keep our balance. Cold water is merciless, but righteous. It resets the body. And this is what creates balance and allows us to be in our right place.

AB: What are your thoughts on flow? When are you in the flow?

WH: Blood flow is fundamental to life. Water can connect us. But we defer so much, and we live in this whole dualistic way. Too much in the brain and too little in our blood flow. We don’t know how to influence that consciously.

Now if you go into cold water, you learn to connect with your vascular system. The vascular system is the heart channels and anything that needs a flexible channeling. You are very able to do that. And then there comes the second part. You can influence the water, as well. Water has intelligence, it can receive alertness, our thoughts, our positivity.

AB: The Svadhisthana chakra is also associated with creativity and through creativity with sexuality. So water, fluidity, creativity, and sexuality.

WH: Yes! And people have a lot of problems with sexuality. In sexuality, we engage this creativity, this creation. It’s all creation. It’s all water. I find that people who are creative do not have as many problems around sexuality. You know the only time when I’m not thinking about sex is when I paint. (Many people don’t know it, but I’m a painter.) I’m not in a midlife crisis. I don’t do those things. I will live to be one hundred and twenty years old.


When our body is balanced—the blood, the quality of the cells—then inhibitions and blockages do not exist, so the libido and sex drive become very natural. You do not think. You do. And when you do it, you know how to attract people and just go with the flow. Flow is water. Flow is blood.

AB: You’ve been doing this method of immersing yourself into cold water since before it was “your method.” You immediately knew that it was beneficial to your health. Emotional, mental, everything. Have you noticed that creativity, your drive, your flow, all of those things have markedly increased over the years as your practice became consistent and developed?

WH: Since I started going into the cold water, I have become so much more virile within my creative power. And much more driven. Feeling that, feeling a sense of unconditional good during the day that really comes from being in the water and its influence on blood flow.


Blood flow is fundamental to life. Water can connect us. But we defer so much, and we live in this whole dualistic way. Too much in the brain and too little in our blood flow.


Cold water is able to exercise all the veins, all the capillaries, very effectively. With that, you get flexibility into your blood flow circulation system. And with that, it knows how to get rid of blockages, inhibitions and all those things, which directly relates to blood flow—in the abdomen, all the cells in the brain, the fingertips, in your toes, in your penis, in your vagina. Anywhere. Everywhere. That is sexuality. All comes together.


We wear clothes. We are not in concert with nature. We are not in concert with water. We are dry. We dress ourselves all the time, all the time, all the time. We should go into the water, and not only into the water, to exercise the cardio principal system. And that is done with cold water.

AB: What about other emotional benefits?

WH: Oh, emotions, love—and all of that. It becomes just more. You become more, get more in the moment, your emotional life is increasing. You become much more open and sensitive. You have more patience because you’re not into your mind anymore. You don’t restrict the experience of the moment. Your soul is there. And that is just beautiful. You have more patience for others, because they are also beautiful. Everybody is beautiful.


We have been so disembodied, through our society. We have been sodomizing our mind. Polluting our planet. Destroying Earth. We became insensitive. It’s got to stop. How to do it? Get into the water. Into where we came from and what we are. All of the beauty, all of the sexuality is there. All of the creation. Because when you get into the flow of things, you get along.

AB: If water were an emotion, what would it be?

WH: Bliss. Achievement. Success. Every day is a miracle. When you rise, be happy because you are alive. You are going to change the world. That’s the way I feel. The sense is right here, right now. It’s a miracle where we are. It’s amazing what we have. And it’s amazing what we can do. Just be like water.

AB: What are your thoughts on guilt and what is your relationship to guilt? Is there anything that you feel guilty about? Because that’s obviously extremely detrimental to any kind of physical, emotional, or mental flow.

WH: Guilt is a big part of my life. I lost my woman in ‘95. She jumped from an eighth story window. She was schizophrenic, so-called, and she got a lot of injections and pills and medicine. But it only got worse. She jumped from the eighth story of a building, after kissing our four children goodbye. Though it was not me who did it, I still felt the guilt. And still my children, gave me a sense that I was the one to blame. I didn’t do it, but this feeling still exists. Anything we have within us and that we don’t have an explanation for, we blame it somebody or something. And I took the blame. I took the guilt. It made me able throughout the years, to be, very good at what I became—world records and all—but the guilt stayed. Guilt can work itself into the depth of a person. I am now on the verge of changing. Having experienced that guilt, I am now letting it change into water, into creation. New findings and results in the neurological community show that my method— what I learned on my own—is a transformational technique that can change mental health care. It is only now that I am able to close the circle of guilt, and to lay it down and to get it out of my way. Everybody has this capacity. Just be like water. Don’t sit with the blockage. Go with the water and keep going until you find absolute solutions. You will find a solution. Don’t sit with the problem. Go again. Be dynamic, be creative. You will find it. It can always be found.

AB: What or where is your favorite place on Earth so far?

WH: Mexico. The Earth itself. Water. The oceans. Right now with my sweet little baby. Wherever I can be changing the world. And in the garden, just to look at the flowers and plants, to be in Paradise, the Garden of Eden.

AB: A dream, a goal, a wish.


Cold water is merciless, but righteous. It resets the body. And this is what creates balance and allows us to be in our right place.


WH: Showing people that they are able to have 100 percent control of their minds. I want to show and give that power, that knowledge of power, to people. And that will create a paradigm shift. We can all be happy. If we are happy we don’t need power, we don’t do bad, we stop war. We start reaping and producing. I say be like water, and you get to the ocean. Be like water, and you become very attentive, at will, to go any place in your own body. That is the power of the mind. The ocean is what we came from and how we evolved. It is still is within us. We are like the ocean. We are emotion. Motion is water. Flow. Movement. And we are like the sea. Go with that flow. Don’t be something different than the flow you are. Sometimes more emotional and sometimes less, but always like water.

AB: If you were to choose a superpower, what would yours be?

WH: To bring love to the people. Warmth to the heart. To create tribal power. We are not so different. We are one. There is the flow. There is the power. There is the love. That’s what I want.

AB: What does “human shift” mean to you?

WH: Paradigm shift. That we as adults stand up. That we understand our responsibility, take control, become accountable and self-aware. From there, love will come.