At the Heart of Aikido
To Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, misogi was at the heart of aikido. Misogi is an ancient Japanese practice that is focused on purification. Its purpose is to cleanse you of all accumulated defilements. By doing so, you can reestablish a harmonious relationship with yourself and everything around you.
A misogi ritual can be performed in different ways: The approach that is best known, is misogi through exposing the body to ice-cold water. A person typically immerses him or herself in a lake, waterfall or the sea. In Japan every year many people take pilgrimages to sacred bodies of water to perform misogi. Other forms consist of chanting and misogi jo, or cleaning the inner organs and mind with deep, regenerating breaths.
After performing misogi properly, you enter sumikiri – a state of pure clarity of body and mind. It is said that in this condition your heart is as bright and clear as a cloudless sky, untainted by obstructive thoughts or worldly concerns.
To Morihei Ueshiba, purifying body and spirit is part of the Way of Harmony and helps aikido students to establish harmonious ways of being, to develop one’s Ki, as well as to achieve peace and calmness within. He put it this way:
Misogi is a washing away of all defilements, a removal of all obstacles, a separation from disorder, an abstention from negative thought, a radiant state of unadorned purity, the accomplishment of all things, a condition of lofty virtue, and a spotless environment. In misogi one returns to the very beginning, where there is no differentiation between oneself and the universe.