Last night in seniors class, we practised sleeping! Yes, you read that right. SLEEPING. How can you practise sleeping? Isn’t it something that just happens? Well, hopefully it does, but most people have plenty of experience with disturbed sleep and even insomnia. Anyone who has ever gone a day or two without it knows that[…]Read More
Check out this little video I made when I went with my family to Mt. Buller, one of Victoria’s skifields in August 2008. It has taken me a long time for me to get it on to my site, so sorry if you were waiting all this time to see me shirtless!It is just a sample of misogi practice in the cold.I started out by doing toitsu no in or “The Seal of Unification”. This is one of the mudra or a hand posture, which are associated with Mikkyo Buddhism. You do not need to be a Buddhist or religious at all to benefit from this hand posture, just as you do not need to have any religious beliefs to gain benefits from yoga positions.When done properly, this is a great tool for immediately and deeply unifying mind and body – especially for beginners, who may not know how to do Ki breathing or Ki meditation. It is important to think positive, healthy thoughts while doing this seal.
The second part of my misogi practice was kokyu ho or “Ki breathing”. The state of our mind is reflected in the quality of our breathing. By calming the breath, we calm our mind and vice versa. Thus, instead of becoming distracted by the brisk air around us and worrying about how cold it is, we focus on deep, full breaths. When our mind is in this state, there is no shivering.
Usually, these two practices are done in the comfort of our homes or the dojo, but I wanted to try some “old school” discipline and do them without a top on in the snow in a setting of natural beauty. I have heard stories of Osensei and his students practising this way and indeed, Tohei Sensei and Shin Shin Toitsu students do cold water misogi on New Year’s day in Japan, where they crack the ice off the top of a dedicated lake and enter the freezing water up to their chests.
I did not do it formally when over in Japan, but I have done it in icy rivers (see photo gallery) and in the crystal clear rainforest water of Mossman Gorge in Far North Queensland at dawn, one summer’s morning before my black belt exam. (What?! That can’t be cold, surely.) Oh yes, it is. Those waters flow down from the high, pristine mountains under the deep shade of the rainforest canopy. Without unifying mind and body, it is cold enough to take your breath away!
All this may sound like self inflicted torture, but on the contrary, it is a superb way to bring our mind into the Present and be in the body. The uninitiated will seek to brace themselves against the cold and tense up. Done properly however, we learn to totally relax under the adverse conditions and to truly extend Ki. (What else can you do? Haha.)
When we finish misogi, we actually feel invigorated, extremely calm and powerful.
I would like to take some of my students to the snow in the future for a holiday and to show them more of these practices.