Breathe and expand your human with Dr. Trisha Smith
Thanks to a dear friend, we were one of the few to have gotten a spot at the 6 am class with Dr Trisha Smith at the recent Summit of Greatness, to experience the Wim Hof Method. The workshop left us feeling totally restored and peaceful yet energetic, for another intense day at the Summit: we just had to know more about the method, and about our very gifted instructor.
It is with a great pleasure and honour that we could interview Doc Trish whose knowledge and experience is priceless. In the sincere hopes that you will see and appreciate your amazing human body in a new light.
Dear Trisha, how would you introduce yourself to people that suffer from anxiety?
I would say that our breath controls how we want our body to react, and it controls our nervous system.
What is your passion/mission?
My mission is to empower people in their own health by optimizing their human performance and expanding their human. I try to get us back to our primal systems with simple things – breathe, move, play, sweat, freeze – all of which we should be doing for health, just as humans, and going beyond health by expanding our capacities.
What lead you to Wim Hof? And what healing did you experience or witness with that method?
I’ve always had a breath practice and have always been searching for new techniques and practises. When l heard Laird Hamilton, the big wave surfer, on Lewis Howes’ podcast “The School of Greatness” mention that he had been doing breath training with Wim, I had to know more about this Iceman. Laird is someone I respect with his training as he is in his 50’s, in phenomenal shape, and what he can do with his body and mind is amazing, so I had to know who this Iceman was. I started researching him, and literally signed up for the 10 week online program the next day, and jumped into the Wim Hof Academy with the first class of US instructors a few months later.
Practising the Wim Hof Method for the last two years has personally enabled me to regulate stress, not get colds or the flu, and manage fatigue. I have anemia so working out is really hard for me, but if I do the breath work before and a version while I am training it helps tremendously. Cold exposure training and ice baths have enabled me to conquer fears and learn how to work with fear, and enabled me to teach these workshops. This past Saturday I actually got up in front of almost 400 people at Wim’s event and spoke. The ice bath actually gives me, besides the physiological benefits, a mental component that has been life-changing!
Wow, how does it work with fears, is it through the mental component?
Yes, mental, but physically as well. When you get in an ice bath, it’s always going to be cold and you will always be scared to do it. It is a great tool to use as a mirror for your life- how are you showing up in fearful or stressful situations, what is it costing you avoiding fearful matters? Exposing these answers and then using the ice bath to emulate these experiences and build a toolbox of presence and control over how your body and nervous system react is priceless. Now when you do something nerve-wracking you learn how to feel your heart racing, butterflies in your stomach, and needing to run to the restroom for a nervous pee and then control and channel your reaction.
Besides feeling and working with the symptoms of fear, reframing fear into excitement can also support your fear conquering. Physiologically, inside of us, excitement and fear are the same. So if I can reframe the ice bath, and instead of it being this horrible thing, to being this amazing tool that can teach me a lot and is loaded with incredible benefits then my mind shifts. With my mindset shift I take it on.
When we met at the Summit of Greatness in Columbus, Ohio, we saw you wearing “Expand Your Human” T-shirts. What does it mean?
Well it’s like I said in the beginning, it’s about us optimizing our human performance with those simple things: breathe, move, play, sweat, freeze. We are humans doing non-human things most of our days. Most of us sit indoors in room temperature, blocking ourselves from nature, from hot or cold, not getting in the sun, not moving like we should. I think health is made so complicated, like we have to have this crazy technology or these pharmaceuticals and when you look at it on a basic level, especially through evolutionary biology, we need simple things. Maybe we should just get back to those human things and it will make us healthy. Beyond expanding the health of our human, we can expand the control over our physiology and our capacities.
Through research with the Wim Hof Method, it has been demonstrated that we can control our nervous system and our immune system, which had never been shown before. And not only Wim, but 12 other guys!! So we can control more of our physiology than we ever believed and do things that we never thought were possible.
How often do you meditate and how?
Essentially the Wim Hof method breathing is a movement meditation. After the breathing, I do meditation as you don’t want to get up too fast after the breathing because of what happens physiologically. I’ll do a body scan, say what I am grateful for and what my intention is for the day, usually in the morning.
What dreams did you realise so far in your life?
Oh lots of dreams, I always dreamt of serving people in health. After college I wanted to go to med school and I just needed a break, so I started working for an environmental company and travelling. At 30 years old I went to chiropractic school because it gave me the scope of practise that I wanted, which was to treat, diagnose, and prescribe exercise, so that was one.
Becoming a valedictorian in my class was another one (a valedictorian is an honours award for being at the top of your class with the best grades etc). And then the next step was that I knew chiropractic was a stepping stone and there would be something beyond that. It would be beyond just treating people because for me, even though I enjoyed that, I was always looking beyond a painful shoulder or a hip or a lower back, and again how can I truly optimize somebody’s human performance?
Then came along the Wim Hof Method which is just amazing and the research coming out with it is very compelling. Now I’m living a dream teaching the Wim Hof Method while using all of my skills and knowledge I have acquired as a clinician.
And do you have a dream at the moment?
My dream at the moment is to establish my own brand and bring it to the world, what I am calling WakeUp Routines, and the Wim Hof Method fits perfectly into this. And writing a book and teaching people very simple physiological and mental things that you can do every morning to set yourself up for an incredible day.
Wow, awesome, we are impatiently waiting for that!! Meanwhile, could you tell us the 3 books you would take on a deserted island?
– “Deep survival” by Laurence Gonzales is great
– “Sapiens, a brief history of humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari, which is about evolutionary biology and how we evolved and why we should go back to these simple things
– “The story of the human body”, by Daniel E. Lieberman, again on evolutionary biology
One person, very special for you, you’d love to have dinner with?
Good question, maybe Albert Einstein, it’s the first who comes to my mind!
And what would you like to talk about, with Mister Einstein?
Honestly, just talk about what it was like back then, and what drove him to be an outlier, and seek things that nobody else foresaw.
What was your biggest challenge so far in your life?
Honestly I’ve been blessed with how things have turned out, and I always listened to what needs to be done at the moment, that’s why I went to work for an environmental company and went to chiropractic school after so long. And now I’m at a new turning point in my life as I have just moved to San Diego and I’m transitioning out of the clinic, treating patients one-on-one. So now I’m in a phase of transitioning, listening and figuring out how it’s gonna work, that is the new challenge.
What do you do daily, first and last hour of the day, that you would like to share with us?
Well some is going to come out with my WakeUp Routines, so I’ll leave some mystery in that, but definitely getting sunlight first thing in the morning, do some movements, Wim Hof breathing, and then set up my day with what my intention is, and with what needs to be done.
And then last hour, putting in my mind what needs to be done the next day, just unplug, and now I have a fireplace here so sun in the morning, fireplace at night to get me into those primal circadian rhythms.
What is your experience of positive living? Do you have tips for our readers?
I think positivity is important. Sometimes people try to cover things up by being positive all the time and it’s ok when you are in it and not going so well. But having the mindset that it is possible, that it is going to be okay, and having the tools to make that happen, and again knowing we have more control of our nervous system and what happens then, than we thought.
What does the concept of “Star Family” means for you?
Well it makes me directly think about our primal beings, and the stars which have to do with our rhythms. When you look at our life, everything is rhythms: when we wake up, the way our hormones are released at different times, the rhythms of people living and dying and getting injured and better, seasons is rhythms, everything… that’s the first thing that comes to mind with stars.
And family, one of the most important things that keeps us healthy, again it’s very simple, it’s social interactions and taking care of our elders and being together as a tribe. I could see that with stars and family, systems of stars and how that all comes together.
Wow thank you very much dear Trisha!
Please see below to learn more and how to keep in touch with Doc Trish. We also recommend checking out the awesome Wim Hof online training: we’ve just finished week 9 and it’s been freezing but a truly wonderful feeling and experience lol!…
Just in: Trisha will start leading her signature WakeUp Routines challenge on January 2nd, 2018!! To sign up and/or know more, head to: drtrishasmith.com/wakeuproutines