I have been practicing the Wim Hof Method (WHM on my daily task list) off and on for just over three years. During that time, I have experienced an array of benefits from it.
If you haven't heard of this wonderful practice, you can read and learn more about it here.
I have always felt like something was missing with the technique.
The breathing and the cold exposure both brought me into the present moment, in order to contend with the immediate. But I had trouble relaxing into the experience. I would find myself tense and and resistant, especially during the breath holds.
Recently, I have discovered an element that unlocks more from the method. That element is simple
Awareness = Release and Relaxation
I started bringing the tools from my mindfulness practice into the arena of breathing and cold exposure by creating a link between presence and letting go.
Whatever experience crops up during the breathing, I notice it non-judgmentally. It could be the rhythm of my heartbeat, a sensation of tightness in my hands or the weight of my legs against the floor or cushion.
If I am aware of it, I am relaxing and releasing it. This simple tool of equating focus and relaxation helps me spread an abiding calm throughout my body, and access states of being that are profoundly restful and restorative.
That's it. Nothing to it. I have found that it creates a positive feedback loop of reward that makes me want to commit to the practice again.
The takeaway for me is this: routines are wonderful. They allow us to show up, improve our practice and make progress. But, every practice can and should be tinkered with, essentially forever, in the search for new insights and growth.
What routines or habits do you have that could be optimized?