Taki-shugyō: In Praise of Cold Showers


It’s summer in Tokyo. It’s hot and humid, in a way that can really take it out of you. I’ve discovered, however, that cold showers go a long way in helping get through these sauna-like days. I pretty often have two or sometimes even three a day (one in the morning and one in the evening; usually one after the gym or dojo). 

I started off doing the “James Bond shower” (also known as a “Scottish Shower”): starting hot, and gradually dialing back the temperature until at the end of the shower it was fully cold. That’s a pretty comfortable way to approach it, especially starting off. However, reading this inspired me to skip the gradual dial-back and just switch to simply flipping the water straight over to cold at the end, as a practice in controlling the flinch mechanism.

But cold showers aren’t just a great way to cool off (and learn to control your flinch mechanism); they can also have a meditative aspect (as well as a number of reputed health benefits).

In Japan there is a tradition known as taki-shugyō (滝修行): “waterfall training”. Continue reading

More on meditation

“In Emptiness, there is Good; there is no Evil. There is Wisdom, there is Principle, there is the Way – the Heart is Emptiness.” – Go Rin no Sho

Last time I talked about why you should probably be meditating, if you’re not already. Here I’ll discuss how I meditate, how I work it into my schedule, and some tips for getting started.

My general practice is to do zazen (座禅– “sitting Zen”) meditation morning and evening, for 15 minutes or more each time. However, I employ quite a bit of flexibility, and as long as I do some meditation twice a day I’m fairly satisfied and seem to benefit quite a lot. Right now my university classes are on break, so my schedule varies a lot more than it does more than during the semester.


How I meditate

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