Our society and technology have made life as comfortable as possible over the last several decades. Some of the biggest changes in our day to day lives have been in our living spaces with central heating and air conditioning that not only keeps our air temp at the precise desired degree but for some even controls the humidity with similar precision. Our beds, chairs, clothes and shoes all fit with cushioning that makes our existence as simple and effortless as possible. Modern electronics seek to make every activity voice activated through home automation, yet I can't help but notice that all of this comfort doesn't seem to be helping us to be healthier or truly more comfortable in our lives and skin. Have we gotten too comfortable?
Many popular health optimization trends are underpinned by this concept. Cold plunge, sauna, intermittent fasting and more have hard science behind the physiology of the benefits but in general these modalities and habits are simply pulling us away from the comforts we have created. While I recommend and participate in all of these activities it feels a bit like taking the escalator to the gym. It's a short deviation from the comforts of life with clear benefit but is it a big enough shift? Enter the idea of Misogi.
The Japanese Shinto tradition of ritual purification called Misogi has been adapted in our modern culture to a Misogi challenge. A purification of body and spirit that is discussed in detail by author Michael Easter in his book The Comfort Crisis. The principle is simple. Create a challenge that has an uncomfortably high rate of failure that won't kill you. This could be as simple as a multi day hike or complex like a backcountry exploration or mountain summit attempt.
The point is to not only get out of your comfort zone for a few minutes during your otherwise comfortable day but to create an extended period of discomfort. A trial that will challenge you and meet you where you are and help you get to the next level.
What challenges do you have on your schedule that don't include a work or family task for completion? I challenge you to find a misogi in your future to commit to. Something to train for both mentally and physically. Something that may be out of reach. Something that you may actually fail to complete. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and know that your body will thank you for it.