The practice of misogi, like most other Japanese meditative techniques, originated in Shintoism (the ancient Japanese religion). The monks used it to cultivate humility, fortitude, patience and worship of the gods. Gradually Misogi migrated into the everyday life of the samurai and even representatives of the ninja and Yakuza clans. Legendary warriors educated and perfected themselves by training their body, mind, and spirit in a variety of ways, including indulging in misogi, also known as sokosin no gyo. The Russian language "misogi" can be translated by the expression "to plunge into the river to cleanse the body and mind." This is exactly what monks and warriors did - they spent many hours in icy water, training the power of the spirit. For the next few days, the meditators sat in a pose. seiza (on the knees), repeating the sacred texts.
In addition to exhausting hardening and prayers, a special breathing practice using suzu (heavy metal bells). The participants of the misogi (and there could be up to several hundred) beat the bells and at the same time shouted out certain syllables: “Too ho-kami-ami-tame”. The combination of bell-ringing, harsh cries and deep frequent breathing contributed to the fact that gradually everyone fell in, experiencing at the same time the maximum concentration of consciousness and the extraordinary clarity of perception. In most Japanese military schools and Shinto monasteries, where misogi was practiced, meditators did not just shake the air with their suzuand, as an additional endurance test, they were beaten with metal bells in the back of a neighbor sitting in front. During meditation, the backbone of each participant maintained 10,000 blows of enormous strength. Or could not stand, which also happened all the time.
Today, misogi in its original form is officially allowed to practice in only one place - the Japanese school of martial arts Ichikukai. It was opened in 1922 in memory of the legendary samurai Yamaoka Tessu, a big fan of this cruel meditation. Today, brave souls come from all over the world, mostly those for whom Japanese martial arts have become an integral part of life. Admission to Misogi is compulsory medical insurance.
The fact that traditional misogi is no longer practiced anywhere except in Ichikukai does not mean that it is completely forgotten. On the contrary, today this practice, albeit in a modified form, is very popular due to the activities of the outstanding master Koichi Tohei. He transformed the process of ancient meditation (although the adherents of the old form of the misogi usually use the verb “castrated”), removing from it religious overtones and debilitating cruel elements. Today, following the example of Koichi Tohei, aikido masters all over the world spend for their students lightweight forms of misogi - short breathing meditations using suzu (this time the participants wave the bells in the air, sparing each other's backs), and this sound develops and hardens their martial spirit.
In Moscow, misogi is currently being held only at the Ki-Aikido Academy. It is noteworthy that among its participants it is often possible to meet people “from the street” who are not engaged in aikido or some other kind of martial arts. They insist that this practice allows them to clear their minds and intensify their internal resources, and also teaches them to concentrate on their main goals, allows them to become more self-confident and to withstand failures. “When several dozen people in a single rush ring bells, breathe and scream, be sure: any depression, fatigue or stress will recede before such an energy onslaught,” says the charming lady, “student” of the Academy. - Sometimes I allow myself to skip the session with Sensei. But in order not to come to meditation - I even never had such a thought. ”
Metamorphosis from misogi is another example of the adaptation of ancient technology to modern conditions. This is an example of how complex serious practice, once available to individuals, has become almost a routine activity for millions of ordinary people. True, whether it is correct to call almost sacral technique and what is now practiced in aikido sections and schools with the same name "misogi" is a big question.