The idea to combine chakra meditation and shakuhachi occurred to me already a couple of years ago. The shakuhachi is such a special instrument, whether it gives energy, peace, spiritual awakening or helps you fall asleep. When I started to be interested in this topic, I found some music composed for shakuhachi related to chakras, but this was not what I was looking for, so I kept on searching further.
I eventually created my own chakra meditation practice with shakuhachi in a very simple way. It is not related to special frequencies like some other musical chakra meditations, but aims to help you open your entire body, heart and soul when you play shakuhachi.
I introduced this practice during the last Fukiawase session, and my students seemed interested in it. So this encourages me to share this practice in this post.
How does it work?
The shakuhachi has got 6 basic tones and I associate each of it with a chakra, starting from the root note RO (all holes closed), and opening one hole after the other, from bottom to top. For the last and 7th chakra, I’ve tried different possibilities.
- ROOT CHAKRA = 1st tone RO otsu
- SACRAL CHAKRA = 2d tone TSU
- SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA = 3d tone RE
- HEART CHAKRA = 4th tone CHI
- THROAT CHAKRA = 5th tone RI
- THIRD EYE CHAKRA = 6th tone I (GO-NO-HI for Kinko players)
- CROWN CHAKRA = Dai-Kan-no-RE / or the highest tone of the 3rd octave (Dai-Kan) your can play / or silence.
While playing a tone, focus on the corresponding chakra in your body. You can repeat the tone a fixed number of times (I use to repeat each tone 4 times) or just play it once and move on to the next one. While you focus on the chakra, just imagine that your sound comes from this chakra, and not only from your mouth.
As there are only 6 basic notes for 7 chakra, I’ve been experimenting different possibilities for the CROWN chakra:
– Dai-Kan-no-RE, which is a natural harmonic of RE and doesn’t need the meri-kari technique
– or Any harmonic of RO-otsu in the Dai-Kan Register, without correcting the pitch
– or playing RO-otsu very softly in order to get only the subtle overtones (my favorite at the moment)
– or The highest tone of the 3rd octave (Dai-Kan) you can play: it connects the lowest and the highest tone you can play in one exercise, you cover your entire range of pitches.
– or Silence. Like the Crown Chakra either gets the color purple or white, you may use a sound (purple), or no sound (white). Silence is an important component of the music for shakuhachi. Internally listen to your sounds without producing any.
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The C.O.R.E of the sound through Chakra meditation
Center – Open – Resonate – Experience
CENTER: Including a meditation moment in your shakuhachi practice helps you to center yourself. When focusing on the different chakras in your body, this meditation asks you to be present in the “here” and “now”. Playing shakuhachi is physical. Your body can’t be anywhere else than in the present moment. Come back to your body and center yourself in the present moment.
OPEN: When we play shakuhachi, we often focus on our lips, fingers, head, and abdominal breathing. And mostly on the music notation. We are intellectually busy with reading, listening, criticising ourselves, trying to follow the notation and play the right notes on the right pitch at the right moment. We’re not very much in the awareness of our whole body.
The chakra meditation aims to help you open your main energy centres in order to play with your whole body. For each tone, open a chakra and a hole, and let the energy flow freely. When you move on to the next chakra / tone, keep the previous one(s) open.
RESONATE: At the end of your chakra meditation scale, you should feel your energy and sound streaming and resonating in your whole body.
EXPERIENCE: This meditation is a way to become physically and spiritually connected to each sound. Experience it, play it, share it. When we practiced it during the Fukiawase last June, with 11 shakuhachi blowing together, I felt totally rejuvenated after it.
Before you start trying the chakra meditation, here is a short description of each chakra and its application for shakuhachi:
- ROOT CHAKRA: Base of the spine, lower body (legs, feet). Feeling grounded in the earth and in the sound (root note).
- SACRAL CHAKRA: Pelvis. Base of the abdominal breathing and of your creativity.
- SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA: Diaphragm. Control of your abdominal breathing. Powerful breath.
- HEART CHAKRA: Heart, arms, fingers. Bridge between the Chakras of Earth and the Chakras of Spirit. Play shakuhachi with your heart, put love in your sound. Give and receive.
- THROAT CHAKRA: Throat, mouth and lips. It is where you shape your sound (mouth and lips). Communication center (throat, voice), center of your truth.
- THIRD EYE CHAKRA: Eyes, ears, brain. Vision, Listening and Intuition: what do you want to say with your music? Where are your sounds and musical phrases coming from and going to?
- CROWN CHAKRA: Top of the head, Spirituality. The essence of the traditional shakuhachi.
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When you start to getting used to associate tones with chakras, try to play Kyorei with this awareness (U replaces CHI in the Chakra scale). Feel how the music resonate from your entire body and inspires your soul… Isn’t it powerful?
Happy chakra blowing. And don’t hesitate to share your experience in the comments section.