This insight came when I was trying to break the 2 minute mark. What I had noticed was that I would take the in-breath without even noticing it, and although it was blissful and I benefited from the breathing, I started to get frustrated. I wanted to get to that 2:30 time. I started to focus on the time, pushing myself to get to it. I was directing my energy towards the time, and not being in the moment. I lost the experience, and wasted my energy.
It made me think of a reading from the book the "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind"
“But as long as you think, "I am doing this," or "I have to do this," or "I must attain something special," you are actually not doing anything... when you do not try to do anything special, then you do something. When there is no gaining idea in what you do, then you do something.”
― Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
This is the problem, when I bring my effort or trying into it, I actually ruin the experience.
So much of this book speaks of this:
“Our effort in our practice should be directed from achievement to non-achievement.”
“If you think you will get something from practicing zazen, already you are involved in impure practice.”
So just practice, without adding anything to it. The addition only weighs down the experience. This is the key to peace and serenity.
I have been doing Wim Hoff Breathing now for about a year on and off. Most recently, I have begun to work with the space of stillness that comes during the breath hold as there is a great deal of knowing and insight that comes through the stillness.
For those of you who have never done Wim Hoff breathing, the process is a bit like this. You breathe heavily (focusing on the inhale) for 40 breaths, and then exhale and hold for 1, 2 and even 3 minutes or more. If you listen to Wim himself, he has a very encouraging voice to guide you through. Here is the first recording I used, and I even go back to it when I have less time.
Insights have actually come from the very beginning of the process, as I worked with stilling my mind. At first, every time I came to the breath hold, I would feel this tremendous wave of fear. I felt the compulsion to get up and see what was going on. I always thought someone was at the door, or coming into the house. It was weird. As I let the feeling pass, it got less and less, and eventually went away. After this, I started to experience other "mental bad habits". I would worry about am I doing it right, or what are others thinking. All of this blocked me from being in that state of pure being. These habits of mind were basically ruining the peace of my life experience.
What I have come to believe, is that during the stillness I am able to clearly see my mind in action, and have enough distance to separate myself from it. This is not unlike the goals in most meditative practices where you seek to dis-identify from the ego, or form, and learn to just be, present with self, or the I AM presence.
Because these insights have felt so powerful, I have decided to start sharing them here as blog posts.
This first one, is: Discipline Is Its Own Reward.
Personally, I am a rather undisciplined person. I tend to follow my impulses. I tend to hesitate and lay around, and look at what I need to do rather than to do it. I tend to hit the snooze button, or not set the alarm at all. The insight from this session of Wim Hoff was so clear that it has started the type of routine that someone like me can follow. It is simply "4-7". What this represents is a block of time I commit to getting lingering projects finished. It can be AM or PM, depending on my schedule. All those little lingering things. Instead of walking by the clutter, I pick it up for 10 minutes. For those three hours I am actively working on completing things.
So far it seems to be working. I am seeing the rewards. So give it a try. Maybe your discipline routine will be different. Maybe you just start meditating, or going to the gym every day. Or maybe you even start doing Wim Hoff breathing every day.
The rewards it bring will be worth the effort.