Joren de Bruin leads worldwide week-long experiences where he combines self-healing and nature immersion to empower people. In a nutshell: you’ll learn to activate your full innate potential. One of the methods he uses is that of Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman. Joren was kind enough to tell us about his organization Into The Wild Within, his travels, and how this all came to be.
A while ago, our founder Roger and Joren met at an episode of Campfire Stories. In this series of gatherings, people are invited to share inspirational, positive stories in a back-to-basics setting. Roger got inspired by Joren’s story, started trying some of the method’s elements, and is actually feeling healthier and stronger. So who is this Joren de Bruin and how did he come to practice and teach the Wim Hof Method?
A series of injuries and a sudden herniated disk in his lower back puts Joren through a long medical quest for relief at age 20. The then semi-professional soccer player doesn’t find suitable treatment and eventually doctors tell him that not much can be done about his situation.
“They gave me painkillers and told me to rest, so there I was...”
In a way, this harsh message drove Joren towards the inward exploration he’s currently on.
Feeling that the door to traditional medicine had just closed, he decided to see what he himself could do to get better.
“I’ve always believed in the power of our own healing ability and wanted to know what I could do with the power of my body and mind and nature’s elements.”
There might not be such a thing as fate, fact is that when Joren decided to look for help in 2012, one of his friends suggested to meet his father. Another fact is that his friend’s father was (and is) Wim Hof.
A week later Joren and Wim got together. They immediately started practicing Wim’s method. First breathing exercises, then the cold showers.
“A cold Amsterdam December shower surely is no joke, but it immediately felt great.”
Together with elements of yoga and learning to understand the power of the mind, these cold showers led to astonishing results in the first month. After 18 months of recovery stagnation, it took just two weeks for Joren’s pain to dissolve and his overall wellbeing to improve. This took discipline and hard work, he stresses.
“It may sound easy, but I practiced the techniques several times every day and made clear to everyone around me that my health had to be my top priority”.
Activating our physiology
So what is the core of the Wim Hof Method? Joren explains that it combines the power of your own mind, breathing techniques, and going into cold nature to control your body’s stress. When we use these techniques, we activate old layers inside our physiology that have been ignored for too long in our comfortable lifestyles. We are constantly surrounded by the (illusionary) stress of modern society, for instance from our phones and computers, or events in the past or future. This exhausts the body. In one person that can lead to anxiety, in another to depression or a weakened immune system.
“It’s almost as if we've changed our relationship with nature into a battle against it. We have lost the connection to our inner selves and the ability to observe, feel, and manage our stress levels. On top of that, we don’t allow ourselves to recover and heal. Just as we don’t give the planet the chance to recover from our almost insatiable desire to consume. I believe we can change our relationships with both our bodies and the planet back into loving, harmonious eco-systems.”
Connecting to nature & earth living skills
In exploring this interconnection and conscious relationship, Joren loves to learn about and teach earth living principles from native and ancient cultures. Skills such as primitive fire making by friction, plant awareness, or tracking animals are sustainable and serve to better understand where we come from as a species. They also show how we are an integral part of this vast and beautiful ecosystem. Joren spent nearly a month on a Caribbean Island practicing these skills extensively, followed by a 6-day survival quest.
Into The Wild Within
To help people reconnect with this inner and outer relationship, Joren and his partner Elena Stavropoulou founded Into The Wild Within. With the Wim Hof Method, meditation, breathing, earth skills, sound healing journeys, and mind, body and self awareness, they let people experience their inner strength and cultivate deep inner peace. At the core of all their activities lies a focus on allowing participants to fully engage with and immerse themselves in beautiful natural surroundings.
Cold Nature Immersion
Although it seems clear to many people that our behavior is damaging the planet, it still has to sink in that our personal actions and practices also hurt or help the small ecosystems we live in: our bodies. That is where Joren’s challenge lies during the travels that he hosts. He helps participants reconnect with their deeper inner layers, their primal strength, and nature itself.
Usually the groups are international blends of backgrounds and objectives. Most people come from Europe and the US, but also from Jordan, India, and New Zealand. They join Joren’s travels to improve health issues, deal with anxiety, or to simply feel better, stronger, and improve their quality of life.
All participants are looking to be more autonomous in their daily lives and search a deeper connection with themselves. So off they go, immersing in nearly frozen lakes or on mountain walks in Poland, Sweden, or Iceland, in temperatures that range from minus 5 to minus 15 Celsius.
They adapt to the cold pretty much right away. On day one all participants are able to stay outside in below zero temperatures in bathing suits for over an hour. After three days the group sets out for a mountain walk in minus 10 to minus 15 in the same ‘attire’.
“And they are in control! Without letting fear or pain destabilize them. Instead of reacting from fear, they can now respond from a place of inner strength, an important difference. Regaining this intuition for maintaining a balance in our inner nature and the ecology around us is the main thread of these experiences.”
Music & Rhythm
Music has been a big passion for Joren since his recovery. He Learned to play the guitar and the handpan, while also writing his own songs and developing his voice. These were pivotal in him finding his purpose and entering his own path of self-knowing.
Not surprisingly, this music became part Joren’s guidance of meditations and breathing journeys. Daily hour-long sessions take people deep into themselves to release stagnant energies and emotions and expand their consciousness about and awareness of themselves. Powerful insights and breakthroughs can occur. Joren’s sounds are a catalyst in increasing the potency of the breathing sessions.
“When I finally started to accept that my life wasn’t going to be as I thought it would - being a professional soccer player - I had to completely rediscover who I was and what I liked in life. I learned that your darkest hours and deepest downfalls can become our biggest gifts and life lessons, even leading to serving and inspiring others”.
The results of Joren’s guidance are amazing. Participants said it was the best week of their lives. Others overcame serious physical and mental health issues and saw immediate relief and improvement of their symptoms and moods. All this is a demonstration of the power of the human body to heal itself when in sync with breathing and nature.
“I’ve seen people with chronic pain, Lyme, depression, burn-outs, and all kinds of auto-immune diseases improve after five days of intense practice and nature immersion. Coming from a place of debilitating pain and stagnation myself I recognize how valuable this is. Seeing these remarkable shifts in others, witnessing them become more free and in control of their own wellbeing, is why I do what I do.”
Do Try This At Home!
If you are like us and think these results are pretty impressive, there is actually something you can try at home to see the effect of Joren’s work. This exercise can also substantially lower your co2 emissions and gas bill, so it’s worth a shot anyway!
“Gradually build up taking cold showers. Before you step into the shower, take a moment to scan your body for stress and uncomfortable areas. It’s important to calmly breathe in through the nose into the stomach and slowly breathe out. This triggers the nerve system. It trains your body and brain to communicate better and to simply be comfortable. If you do this for a few weeks, you’ll notice that the water is not that cold anymore and your stress level is normal. Now imagine being able to manage stress and breathing like that in every situation”.
If you are curious to explore more, Joren is going to the French Alps in September, where he will combine his mind body work together with learning how to play the handpan. After that in October he’ll lead his much praised week long experience in Iceland, the land of ice and fire. Followed by another week in Sweden in December, where you will learn to deeply connect with nature from within, by practicing earth living skills like making a primitive fire by friction with materials gathered from the landscape. Corona update - you can now practice with him from the comfort of your home, through his new online home practice membership platform and live guided breath journeys
For more info on the wim hof method you can go to www.wimhofmethod.com