Archive for yamabushi

Icy Cold Refreshment

Posted in Buddhism, Daoism, martial arts, Monasticism, Religion, Shintoism with tags , , , , , , on February 19, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I always make sure a few minutes of my shower is cold. It wakes you up and gives you energy. It’s just science.

Do you wonder why Yamabushi and esoteric Japanese Buddhist practices involve “kaji”–waterfall training? It gives the practitioner energy and willpower. The plain truth is that consciously relaxing the muscles and breathing deeply while amidst icy cold water uses up an individual’s old energy and forces one to take in new stuff from the surrounding areas. That’s why there are ascetic Shinto practices which involve getting possessed at shrines whilst taking an ice-cold shower. The individual is catching the new energy in the waterfall.

 Hiroshige’s Waterfall

I don’t know about the whole possession thing, but if you live at a shrine or nearby, you’re probably half-possessed anyway — so go for it! And as for the rest of us chumps living in stale, (sub)urban areas without gnarly ancient shrines filled with tengu, a cold shower still develops the spirit.

When one is in the midst of freezing cold water, there’s only two choices: (A) Give up and freeze like a pansy; or (B) use willpower and powers of concentration to objectively observe the sensation of the cold, relax the muscles (especially around the neck, shoulders and hips!) and focus the mind on the warm parts of the body. When one has the ability to concentrate like this even amidst the freezing cold, they can move on to other sensations of pleasure or discomfort and overcome bodily identification with those.

Ahh…don’t overdo it though! Sitting in a freezing waterfall for 2 hours is sort of dumb. Uses up your chakra and all that good stuff.

Cold water is also good for the skin. I’ve always considered cold water good for the complexion and warm water good for the muscles. So switch ’em up in the shower for fast and positive tension-taming results!

There’s a reason hermetic, ascetic and Daoist masters all advised one to bathe in cold water.