Hot & Cold


It’s now winter in the northern hemisphere. Those aches and pains are now making there way to the surface and reminding me ( again ) that taking care of the body is so important.

Many Zen monks take hot bathes and cold bathes alternatively.  In the bathroom, there are two tubs, one with hot water and another with cold water.  They dip in the hot one for awhile and then slowly dip in the cold one for as long as they can.  Then, they repeat this cycle four to six times.

Nagato Sensei suggested this to me in regards to strengthening the immune system. However, it is not necessary to completely submerge the whole body in a tub of water. Foot baths are just as good and obviously more convenient. We can also perform this process to any other parts of our body that has been prone to stress, injury, or is just overworked.

The alternating of hot-and-cold bathes is apparently far more effective in building a stronger body. It seems to increase immune resistance, improve circulation, enhance tolerance against very hot or very cold weather, and loosens muscle tensions.

This is fascinating because this ‘hot and cold” process is used to create strong, durable, and beautiful Japanese swords.  A sword maker first heats a block of iron in very high temperature oven.  Then, he will “strike while the iron is hot.”  Next, he will put the semi-shaped iron block into cold water to chill it.  He repeats this hot and cold process until the iron block is perfectly shaped and strengthened as a steel sword. 

The “stress” of this alternating “hot and cold” processes seems to enhance our physical as well as mental durability and strength.

Karada Odaijini Kudasai.


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