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MB #036: Misogi, Spartans, and Personal Growth

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Hey friends,

Welcome back to The Mission Briefing, a weekly newsletter where I provide actionable insights, food for thought, curated recommendations from personal experience, from the web, and more.

Today's issue is about personal growth and transformation - from a different angle than most are used to.

Looking back at my experience as an Army Ranger, it's incredible to consider the feats of strength, endurance, and mental resilience that were required of me. Things like a 20-mile overnight ruck march with 90 lbs of gear while puking blood from an ulcer, or getting only 90 minutes of sleep each night in the field during Ranger School, or countless other experiences.

One of the primary benefits of these kinds of experiences are the physical and mental resiliency that you'll develop. Everything else in life is much easier and less stressful when you've put your body and mind through things much more challenging than whatever life is throwing at you.

The downside is that this is a lot like a muscle and if it's not exercised it will fade away. But the good news of that is that you can train it!

I learned earlier this year about something the Japanese call a Misogi, and after learning about it immediately signed up for a Spartan Beast race as a result. The Spartan Beast is a half-marathon race with 30 obstacles. I knew it would be a huge challenge for me in this season of life - which made it perfect for a Misogi.

Misogi, deeply rooted in Japanese culture, involves immersing oneself in cold water or standing beneath a freezing waterfall to "cleanse both body and mind". It is a practice focused on transformation, shedding old habits and beliefs to embrace a more powerful version of oneself.

As a Christian, I don't subscribe to the spiritual components of Misogi and Japanese culture, but neuroscience is clear about how these kinds of experiences can create very beneficial adaptations. Doing hard things and stretching yourself will build your willpower and resilience. Andrew Huberman shared this yesterday about related concepts:

Unfortunately due to schedules and location changes, I had to transfer my race to the Nashville event and they weren't offering the Beast at that location. So I gathered my friends Gabe, Marco, and Hudson and we jumped into the 10k Spartan Super with 25 obstacles instead. We challenged ourselves and pushed hard, finishing in the top 15% which was a huge success for us.

Despite the differences between a traditional Misogi and a Spartan Race (or other), they share a common thread: the pursuit of personal growth and transformation. Whether you find yourself beneath a waterfall in Japan or conquering Spartan obstacles outside of Nashville, the goal is about pushing your limits and discovering (or rediscovering) untapped resilience, strength, and courage.