Becoming the alchemist of your own chemistry

A teacher was once telling my class about this old man called Wim Hof. Wim Hof carries the title of ‘The Iceman’ due to his ability to withstand very low temperatures – we’re talking hours. In ice. Topless. The Iceman believes that we all have the ability to control our body’s chemistry despite the strength of external conditions, explaining that we are able to “turn [our] own thermostat up” through techniques such as particular breathing exercises and meditation. According to science, the body naturally can’t handle extremely low or extremely high temperatures, but Wim Hof rebelled against this preconception and demonstrated – through the use of the capacity of some of our other human abilities- that actually, we can.

I find this quite amazing. Not only from the scientific aspect (this is considering I don’t know a lot of science lol) but in the way that this tells us so much about the capacity of our internal power, despite sometimes fixed, difficult external conditions.

I particularly like Wim Hof’s description of his ability to turn his ‘own thermostat up’ when in extremely cold climates. Again, it just shows the extent of the control we can have over ourselves, even when all the odds seem to be against us, and this ‘thermostat’ that Hof talks about, can, if you want to think of it this way, be symbolic of happiness. We can essentially turn up our happiness even when we feel like we can’t and everything around us suggests otherwise. In Wim Hof’s words, we can be the alchemists of our own chemistry. I know he may have probably been referring to our biological chemistry but it applies in the same way if you look at it from a psychological perspective.

There’s a quote that I once read by Khalil Gibran (you should check out his work if you don’t know him) which kind of amplifies this idea of the ability of internal factors to override external factors.

“Happiness is a vine that takes root and grows within the heart, never outside it.

Everything you need is within you. Although we may sometimes feel that our happiness or comfort depends on particular external and seemingly uncontrollable factors in our life, ultimately, within us we have superseding capacities that we don’t know the power of until we utilise them, as Wim Hof showed to us through his combatting of difficult climates. All these internal capacities really ask for is our full activation.


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