The other day, I had the privilege to take part in a misogi, led by Leon-sensei. Misogi means purification ceremony, and this ritual is done to purify the body and mind, to reset focus and intention in one’s life.
There were about fifteen people who attended the ceremony/class. It began with silent meditation, followed by stretching and warmups, then breathing exercises.
Then the purification ritual began. We sat in a line on the mat, eyes closed. Two people in the front of the room rang a jangly bell. With every ring, we were to chant out a syllable in full voice, eight syllables total. Gradually, the chanting grew faster and faster, and then we chanted four syllables to each ring, accenting the first and fifth syllable. While we were chanting, someone would come up from behind and lightly strike our backs on each accent, encouraging us to keep going and chant louder.
There was a short break before we began the chanting again. Leon-sensei spoke briefly about using the breath in technique practice. A slow, relaxed breath results in a smooth, relaxed technique. Sounds obvious, but this was a revelation for me.
When we resumed chanting, we divided up into two rows. The front row remained seated and chanted, while the back row struck the front row and encouraged them. We would switch places several times before we ended the two-hour session with silent meditation.
After the first session, I was shivering, but by the very end, I was sweating. I felt drained and energized at the same time, and I had lost my voice entirely. When I got home, the relative silence from being alone was deafening. As the day went on, I somehow felt the need to do everything with the greatest of care– that it was of the utmost importance to take care of my self and my surroundings, that the simplicity of something like making myself some tea was very beautiful.
I feel changed somehow– happy, settled, loving, at peace. This misogi was a good experience for me.
Compare this ritual and its aftereffects to what I had experienced at the sweat lodge nearly three years ago.
This site gives a good description of misogi as well.