What's Your Misogi?
Last summer I read a terrific book that I highly recommend, The Comfort Crisis by Micheal Easter.
I wrote several blogs in which I explore many of the theme Easter presents in his book. Today revisiting the blog I wrote exploring the concept of the Misogi.
Miosgi is Japanese word that describes an arduous journey that transforms you. The original misogi was born from a Shinto myth of a god who is so broken hearted over the death of his goddess wife that he travels through the underworld to bring her back to the land of the living. He faces demons, fire, and all manner of dangerous and scary creatures. When he finds his wife he is despondent because she is essentially a demonic creature of the underworld. He faces an equally difficult journey escaping hell and when he finally makes it back to the land of the living he immediately immerses himself in a frigid waterfall to purify his soul. If he didn't perform this purification ritual he would have succumbed to the foulness that lingered from the underworld.
Shinto monks have kept misogi alive through ritual bathing in frigid waters. Western followers of misogi have morphed the practice into something more. According to Marcus Elliot, a Harvard-trained sports scientist, modern misogi are designed to test our physical and mental edges. He says misogi need 2 criteria:
1. You should have a 50% chance of completing the journey
2. Don't die
Misogi is meant to circumnavigate our human potential. During your misogi journey you will be tasked with exploring what you're willing to put yourself through to become a better human. Ultimately, whatever you decide to do for your misogi it will be an exploration and it should change of your comfort zone.
An example of a misogi from the book is one that Marcus Elliot completed. He and several others moved an 80# stone underwater for 5k. They did not use SCUBA, they held their breath, dove down about 10 feet and walked along the ocean floor moving the stone as far as they could. They did it as a rely between 5 people. It took them several hours and all of them said it was the hardest thing they had done. All of them are planning a harder misogi for next year.
Misogi is deeply personal and my misogi is likely to be very different from your misogi. No matter what you do for your misogi, it will take you on what Joseph Campbell calls the Hero's Journey. You will be separated from your comfort zone, you will undergo some transformation and you will incorporate what you learned into your life upon your return.
I know several of our TSCF tribe members have done a misogi. Kim ran across the Kalahari desert in 5 days. James and Meg are doing the ridge Run this August. For some of us a misogi could be our first marathon, or a long backpacking trip, or a backcountry hunting trip. Our misogi are our own and should not be developed to compete or compare with someone else. It's you against you.
So, share with us in the comments. What is your misogi?
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