Transforming Migraines with Air and Water

By Akiva Silver


When I was a kid I used to get headaches. I remember having them at a very young age and my mother bringing me to the doctor. I will never forget Dr. Green telling me that this meant I would have migraines as an adult. It makes me wonder about the power of suggestion.

At 19 I had my first true migraine. It felt like a metal spike was driven right through the top of my head. I fell down in that instant, unbelievable pain coursed through my head and I could not open my eyes. I had many headaches like that one. Often I would be on the ground drooling, praying for relief, thinking I might be dying. Sometimes I would vomit, the pain would get so intense. I went to see a doctor believing that I had a brain tumor. I was given an MRI. They told me that my brain was fine, I was just suffering from cluster migraines. Bottles of pills would help. There were ones to alleviate the pain after a headache started and ones to prevent a headache from coming on. All the pills made zero difference.

The headaches came and went for the next 19 years. They evolved as time went on. I might go a month or two without a headache or I might have 4 a week. There were periods when they only came in the afternoons and if I could fall asleep then I would be fine the next morning. Other times they came in the mornings. Sometimes the pain was dull or sharp. Often it was concentrated just behind my eyes or just one eye. There were endless triggers for the headaches to start. Working in hot weather, bright sun, anger, stress, and just absolute randomness were the most common causes. I would often have great lumps in the back of my neck where my lymph nodes would be swollen.

Many days were ruined by these headaches. I would have to stop an enjoyable evening with friends, I would leave work early, I was barely present for the first week of my first born son’s life. I tried everything to stop them. I tried prescriptions, acupuncture, herbs, meditation, prayer, changing diet, caffeine, magnesium, and nothing worked. Then a year and a half ago, the headaches got much worse. I started waking up with them in the morning and even in the middle of the night. I started to feel them all the time.

One day I was sitting in the kitchen with my family when I started seeing beautiful colors out of my peripheral vision. The colors were waving and unfocused, I thought I was having a transcendental experience, but then the colors started to make my whole vision blurry. They moved from the periphery to everywhere and I could not focus or look at anyone. I could barely see my wife’s face. A few moments later I experienced a tremendous migraine that lasted in waves for about 5 weeks. Yes, a 5 week long migraine.

During that time, I dragged myself through work and family life. I puked a lot as the nausea was so intense. I began to believe that my life would always be like this. I thought I would just feel like that forever. I went to a doctor who gave me a bunch of tests. Blood work showed lyme disease, allergy tests listed a dozen foods, and an MRI showed no tumor. I was given a prescription for a very powerful drug that would supposedly prevent headaches. For some reason, I felt no faith in the pills, the lyme protocols, or the food allergies. I followed none of the doctor’s advice except to start doing a sinus rinse. I’m not sure why I had no faith in the tests and bloodwork. I knew I had been bitten by hundreds of ticks over the last several years, I might be allergic to nuts and wheat like they said, I just felt like nothing would help. No one could understand what these headaches felt like.

I had reached a very low point. The future looked like nothing but nausea and pain, morning, night, and all day. I could not see how I could feel better. These headaches had turned into a constant wave of nausea, vision blurred by wavy colors, and a dull pain behind my eyes. It was hard to look up at anyone.

 One evening I had a phone conversation with my brother. I was telling him about how bad the headaches were. He told me about a guy named Wim Hof who used deep breathing techniques to alter his body chemistry. I had no faith, but out of curiosity, I watched some youtube videos of this eccentric Dutchman. It was pretty crazy, this guy was submersing himself in ice water for hours and climbing mountains in shorts and no t-shirt. He was all about oxygenating the blood and using cold water as a teacher.

I started doing the exercises and my headaches subsided. Some mornings I would wake up with a terrible headache and just do the breathing exercise over and over and over until it went away. Since I started, it has now been 15 months since I have had a headache of any significance. If a headache starts, I can quickly take care of it with the exercises, but this rarely comes up now. I take no medicine for the lyme disease and eat all the foods that I am ‘allergic’ to. At 39 years old, I feel supremely healthy, more than when I was 20. Something, or many things have changed in my body from these exercises that I would like to share with you.

 I no longer have any fear of migraines. I have been given a new life by finding that the power to heal myself was inside me the whole time. When I had gone a full year without a migraine, I was astounded and grateful. The techniques I’ve used to change my life are simple, free, and available to everyone. I am bewildered that they are not more widely known in a society that spends so much on medical research, but it actually makes sense. There’s not nearly as much money to be made in the deep breathing industry as there is in the pharmaceutical.

About a month ago, I read an article in the NYTimes about a new migraine drug called Aimovig. It is given as an injection and cost $6,900/year. It has a 50% efficacy rate. The article went on and on describing how wonderful it was to give migraine sufferers new hope. I could only shake my head. I know how desperate migraine sufferers are. Here is one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world, and they seemed to have no idea about the possibility of healing through simple breathing techniques. As I read the article, I felt the deep need to share my perspective, my story, so that it may reach some people who suffer from migraines. It is no small tragedy that this basic information is not available to most people whose life is being turned into hell. There is a way out of migraines that is not through drugs. It is through the air and water all around us. The forces of air and water are powerful and ancient, they are doorways for you to tap into the natural pharmacy of chemicals that already exists in your body.

The techniques I’ve been using are simple. They can be used anywhere, as much as needed. I’ve gained so many benefits from them that I now practice all the time, whether I need to or not. The exercises I am about to describe are highly enjoyable and a serious side effect is elevated states of consciousness. I have found these exercises to be highly addictive. I find myself waking with them every morning, practicing randomly throughout the day, and before I go to bed at night. I don’t need to do them that much just to not have headaches. I do them that much because I enjoy them so much.

In the beginning I would use these exercises to fight off headaches. If I felt one coming on, I would start working with one of these techniques until the headache subsided. Now however, I almost never have headaches start. The exercises have changed my body’s chemistry and the levels of oxygen in my blood enough that migraines are no longer an issue. Now I am just exploring consciousness and the mind-body.

 Here are some of the exercises I’ve been using. I am no expert, just someone who wants to share their experience. There is no one right way to practice any of these techniques. The more you look at different teachers of them, the more variations you will discover. There are many more exercises and many great instructors out there. I wish you a great journey in conquering your own migraines.


Wim Hof Breathing: You can be sitting down or laying down for this one. I find if I am sitting, that its best to sit up straight, though it is also fine to recline on a couch. I prefer sitting in a chair to sitting cross legged on the ground. This allows me to sit comfortably for much longer periods of time and to better focus on the breathing exercise.

Breath in super deep, as deep as possible, filling your lungs all the way, filling your entire body with air, filling your cells. Exhale just part of the way and inhale super deep again. Repeat this 30 times, inhaling as deep as possible and exhaling just part way. On the 30th breath, exhale fully and relax. Allow any feelings to exist in your body as you sit or lay in silence with no air in the lungs. Stay like this as long as you can (which is surprisingly long). When you need to, inhale deeply and as you do, pull all of your energy up your spine to the top of your head and squeeze. Some people say to squeeze all of your body, I prefer to squeeze up from my perineum, anus, sexual organs, and abs, leaving the rest of my body relaxed. Hold for 10-15 seconds. That is one round.

The next round starts on the next breath. You can do as many rounds as you like. If I have a headache that has already manifested, then I might do as many as a dozen continuous rounds.

When I am inhaling, I like to envision my body filling with light.

            The Wim Hof method is incredibly powerful. During the first few rounds, you may need to be very gentle when you squeeze to the head. I have actually induced headaches by squeezing too hard, too early. As you warm up through the rounds, you can squeeze harder and harder. When I have created a headache by squeezing too hard, it goes away with a couple more deep breaths.

            During Wim Hof breathing, you will likely become very tingly and experience many wonderful sensations in your body. These are signs of deep oxygenation and the body becoming alkaline. Everything is ok. You can keep going. It is possible to pass out, so be sure to practice in a safe area. I have sometimes reached a point where I hear a sound like no other. After and during the squeeze, a rush of the most beautiful noise blankets everything. It sounds to me as if the noise is always there, and I am just tuning into it. I have felt many other incredible sensations that are indescribable. This doesn’t happen every time, but it happens often enough that this exercise has become a regular part of my life.

            There are many videos on youtube of people (including Wim Hof) demonstrating this breathing technique. It has many benefits including extra energy and a strengthened immune system.


Breath of Fire and Kundalini Yoga

            I am certainly no expert or even a trained instructor. I am only describing what has worked for me. If you are interested, there are many classes, videos, books, and articles available on breath of fire and Kundalini.

            Breath of fire is a rapid breath. It mimics the pace of a dog panting. Breath in and out of your nose quickly and powerfully. Two to three breaths per second is a good goal. It takes practice to find your rhythm. Each inhale and exhale should be the same length, otherwise you’ll quickly run out of air. Once you find your rhythm it is a very powerful exercise, awakening the entire energy body.

            During breath of fire, sit up straight, close your eyes, and look upward and inward focusing on your third eye. There are many variations in which different body positions are used during the breath of fire.

            At first this is a very difficult breath, but it is worth being able to do it. You can do it for a  couple minutes or as long as 20. I find my entire mood is dramatically shifted after 20 minutes of breath of fire. It feels as if the cells are dancing.

            Kundalini yoga works with very powerful energy that is stored in the body. I have become fascinated with this energy since learning about it. I never would have become so interested if I had not started down this path of trying to rid my life of migraines. There are many, many kundalini exercises, breathing techniques, and meditations. They have produced some of the most ecstatic, blissful, sublime states that I have experienced.


Cold Water

            When battling a tough migraine, this can make all the difference. The power of cold water to shift your entire system can not be overstated. Cold water is so powerful that you should not just jump in or you could make yourself feel much worse. Instead, charge yourself up beforehand. Extreme breathing through Wim Hof method or through breath of fire is a great way to get warmed up before entering the water. During cold days, I often add in a few minutes of aerobic exercise to make sure that my blood is pumping.

            When I was first starting to use cold water, I would do it in the shower. First I would start with hot water. I would let as hot a temperature as I could stand pour over my head and neck for a while. Once I felt totally relaxed, I would take some Wim Hof breaths (be careful, as you don’t want to get so light headed that you pass out and crack your head in the tub!). Then switch the water to full cold. Let the water run over your chest, arm pits, back, neck, face, and head, everywhere. Breath slowly. The key to cold water is acceptance not strength. Don’t resist, just allow feelings to be. You don’t have to judge them or name them. Relax your shoulders and allow the cold to do its work.

            Once you’ve exposed your body to cold water several times, it will become easier and easier. Often your body will feel hot as the cold water sprays off it. Now your entire circulatory system is working better, your heart is joyous, your brain is full of blood and oxygen, you are alive without fear.

            Stay with the cold as long as you can. Maybe you will start by just exposing yourself for 10 seconds or a few breaths, but over time, you’ll be able to enjoy it for a couple minutes.

            It may sound hard or horrible, but combining deep breathing and cold water has the power to transform a life full of migraines into a vibrant, enjoyable life.

            There are many benefits to the cold water besides the destruction of headaches. It also stimulates your entire system and shifts consciousness. Cold water adds energy, wakefulness, and a robust immune system. I have not had so much as a cold in the 15 months I’ve been practicing deep breathing and cold water.

            I am fortunate to have a very cold creek flowing just outside my door that I can submerse myself in. I believe the cold water found in nature is a very powerful healing tool. If you choose the path of cold water, I hope you can find rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, or oceans to use some of the time.


Dr. Joe Dispenza Meditations

            We all have an emotional connection to our pain. There is a history, a story that we tell ourselves. This story has been rehearsed, practiced over and over every time we encounter our pain. It is essential to get behind this drama, to see it and change it. Recognizing your patterns is the first step towards destroying them and creating new ones.

            Dr. Joe is an exceptional explorer of consciousness. He has written numerous books, holds workshops, has hundreds of videos, and offers guided meditations through his website The meditations cost around $10 to download. They are worth about a million times that.

            I’ve been practicing daily meditation for around 17 years and I never experienced anything even close to what I have in Dr. Joe’s meditations. He takes you on a journey beyond your mind and body and then back again.

            There is one called ‘changing beliefs and perceptions’ that completely changed my life. I saw for the first time what my anger was and I have since been able to let go of that poison.

            There is an advanced meditation on the pineal gland. This one fascinates me. It works to activate the pineal gland which lies deep in the center of the brain. Considered the doorway to perceiving other dimensions or the eye of the soul, the pineal gland is a powerful center to awaken.

            Interestingly, in most of Dr. Joe’s meditations there is a section in which the breath is retained and energy pulled up to the top of the head. This is a common theme I have found in many practices including Chinese Chi energy work, Kundalini, and Wim Hof.

            Once we are exploring these exercises we are beyond the headaches, beyond just seeking relief. Exploration of the brain into blissful and awe inspiring states is now a possibility, a reality. As Dr. Joe says ‘all possibilities exist in the quantum field’. What will you tap into? You don’t have to spend the rest of your life suffering with migraines. The Universe holds more possibilities before you.


            For years I tried so hard to figure out the source of my migraines. Now, I don’t care that much. I am just grateful to move beyond them. I have not had a migraine for a long time, but recently I had a very interesting experience. During a Dr. Joe meditation I was struck with a sharp and sudden flash of migraine pain. I immediately got up and left the meditation. I took a shower and did a lot of deep breathing until it subsided. The next day, the sharp and sudden migraine returned at exactly the same point in my meditation. I decided to stay with it, to look at it objectively. I paid close attention to this pain. Within a couple minutes it transformed into a pleasant feeling in my head shifting towards the point of my third eye.

            At the point at which the headache manifested in the meditation, I had built up an enormous amount of energy. My body was vibrating at a very high state. I now wonder about all my earlier headaches. Had I just had more energy in my brain than my body could handle? I don’t know, but I am grateful to work with this energy, to explore it.


While I do not have to consider migraines most days, not every day is easy. Some days I have to work hard to not have a headache. I will get sinus pressure and the warnings of a head ache for several hours or even days sometimes. When this happens I keep up with breathing exercises, hot/cold showers, and rinse my sinuses with a simple nasal saline rinse from the grocery store.

            I will do the exercises as much as it takes to not have a headache. Sometimes this means paying attention to my breath for a good portion of the day. The more I do, the better I feel. Sometimes I need to do exercises when it would be inappropriate. I may be driving or in public and I simply can not start breathing deep and heavy. This is when I will use a couple other breathing techniques.


Slow and Deep Abdominal Breath: In this breath use the nose. Simply breathe out all the way, slowly. Feel your stomach turn inwards as all the air is expelled. Wait, feel the pause, the space between breaths. There is a point at which it will feel time to inhale. Fully inhale, expanding the diaphragm, belly, and chest. Fill every cell with air using a very slow and calm breath. Hold all this healing oxygen in your body for a moment before exhaling.

            During this breath, we are really slowing down. I find that 2-4 breaths per minute is a good goal to shoot for. I have heard of yogis taking just one breath per minute. This slow breathing automatically invokes meditative and blissful states. It has the power to wipe a migraine away like wet rag on a chalkboard.


Multiple Inhalation/Exhalation: Take 4 inhales followed by 4 exhales. You are stopping and starting the breath many times during this exercise. As your lung capacity builds, you can increase the number of 4 to as many as you like. This technique is also very powerful and effective at raising vibration and erasing headaches.


            For a time, I was tortured by headaches. I felt that I would be so happy without them. Now that they are not a factor in my happiness, I find that there are other factors. It seems that life is a dynamic journey requiring constant adjustment and rebalancing. Truths sometimes change and reality is a fluctuating dream. Sometimes we are bewildered or bewitched. We fall into fits of sadness, anger, and despair only to rise out of them with no troubles at all and back down again once more. We can not see very far into the future or out into space. Infinity lies before us. Enormous stores of energy surround us and course through our veins. The power of the sky vibrates all around us. We breathe this energy in. The space of this Universe is filled with energy. What appears as nothing is anything but nothing. The air is packed with atoms that are packed with ever smaller worlds. We breathe in the infinite. Our breath is forever. The air that enters the body has existed forever and will continue to do so, passing through animal, plant, soil, sky, and eventually stars.

            This breath is more powerful than anything you can buy. It is available to you every second. Enjoy it. The breath is a wonderful elixir that can stir magic in your mind and body.

If you liked this article, check out my book, Trees of Power