Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Do you shiver?

Japanese kids practicing taki-shu-gyou 滝修行
Japanese meditators are famous for meditating outside during cold weather and/or under cold-running waterfalls - taki-shu-gyou 滝修行. It is a way to still one's restless mind. On the physical side, it is a way to induce one's natural mechanism to generate internal chi. During cold weather, our more natural response is to shiver. Through tightening and contracting one's muscles during shivering, heat will be generated to protect one's important internal organs to counteract the loss of heat through the air. In taki-shu-gyou the force of the waterfall helps one to focus one's mind as well as activate chi to strengthen and connect the "standing-muscles" (the same muscles being trained in zhan zhuang - standing meditation). With a will power of "not-to-shiver", chi will continue to be generated to withstand the cold and keep our vital organs warm.

This kind of cold-induced chi training has often been used by martial artists to strengthen their bodies and calm their mind (in particular before a fight). Famous Brazilian jujitsu master Rickson Gracie demonstrated in a documentary (the Choke) his style of cold-induced chi training (check my previous Martial Art workout post here).

Without going as far as Master Gracie, a veteran meditation practitioner can try practicing half-naked meditation during cold weather, perhaps immediately before taking a warm bath or shower. It is a good way to build a strong body/mind and to prevent common colds. Just remember: Concentrate....and don't shiver!  Can you see which of the Japanese kids is shivering?

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