Category Archives: Meditation

ONLINE MEDITATIONS

Online Meditations in Corona time

While having to keep physical distanciation for who knows how long, meeting online via Zoom or Skype has become a good alternative to connect to each other.

Earlier this year, the “RO-BUKI Wave Across The World” gave me the idea to create a Shakuhachi Online Community to blow and meditate together once a week. During the sessions, the focus goes inwards, to connect to your body, to your inner peace through your breathing, and to blow with full awareness what your heart tells you (solidarity with the world’s sufferings, healing, compassion, love, emptiness, silence,…), uniting your sounds and efforts with those of the other participants.

The experience of the last months – before the summer break – worked beyond expectations (I didn’t have any actually). It brought a new dimension in my shakuhachi path. Meditating together is not teaching, it is sharing. I deeply enjoyed the connection to fellow shakuhachi players from different countries. Level doesn’t matter. Some participants are my students, some are not. How good this feels.

Once a month, we had a Q&A session which brought very interesting reflexions and interactions in the group.

So it’s time to resume the weekly meetings, starting on September 7. Grab your favorite shakuhachi and let’s RO together!

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Shakuhachi at home

I hope this post finds you well. The situation in the world at the moment is so chaotic, how are you coping with it? I am grateful to be healthy. Where I live, I feel reasonably safe. Of course, there is always a little risk, but we stay at home most of the time, are very careful when going shopping and hardly see anyone from outside. We are not locked down in the Netherlands, and as my husband and I live very close to a nature preserve, we can enjoy the beautiful spring in the early morning and late evening, when it is very quiet. (photo: Wim Scheenen)

As I am used to working a lot at home, I thought that it wouldn’t change too much for me, but actually it does. I think that the main difficulty is the uncertainty. How long will the current situation last? I fully realise now how much time I normally spend planning and organising things on a long term basis, and now, it is week after week… The second difficulty is the social distancing. Luckily we have computers, phones and media. I must say that the daily online Robuki has become a great meeting point to blow together and stay connected. In all these circumstances, the shakuhachi and its wisdom helps me go through these difficult times. What does it bring to me?

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Chakra meditation with shakuhachi

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.

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My Jinashi project

Last summer, I bought a very nice Jinashi shakuhachi 2.2 made by the Spanish maker Jose Seizan Vargas because I was looking for a special flute to practice Koten Honkyoku. I was very curious to try to play on a Jinashi flute, explore its sounds and the difference with a Jiari shakuhachi. As I am not myself a shakuhachi maker, here is a link about what a Jinashi shakuhachi is, besides Jose’s website (even if you don’t speak Spanish, have a look at the pictures, it already explains a lot).

Even though I haven’t managed yet to give much time to this practice, I am very happy about the results. When I just want to blow, I grab this flute, and it feels just perfectly what I need at the moment. Pure happiness.

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Meditation or music? Or both?

There is a lot of discussions going on about what shakuhachi is or is not, should be or shouldn’t be: is it a meditation instrument? is it a music instrument? or both? should we or shouldn’t we pay attention to the musical result when we play it?
The first thing I would like to say about it is that we are all different people, so it looks normal to me that we have each a different approach of the shakuhachi, different goals, different needs, and that we like different things in it. I think that the shakuhachi is a great instrument to teach us to be non-judgemental. But I read and hear a lot of judgements here and there, about what shakuhachi is and is not, and that surprises me. I think we can express what we like in playing and listening to shakuhachi without considering that our way is the only way. In my teaching, I try to help my students to find their own way, not to imitate me or Fukuda Teruhisa. Our school and repertoire is wide enough to provide different aspects of the music for shakuhachi, but not all aspects. And the most important to me is that my students play in alignment with themselves, and take lessons from me only if they find what they like in our school.

So music or meditation?

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Shakuhachi & Meditation

Happy 2018!

I wish you a healthy, peaceful, musical and happy New Year!

A new year has started, with new challenges and new resolutions. Last year, my good resolutions were to follow 12 zen rules and  apply them to shakuhachi. I kept this in mind throughout the year, and started gradually a more consistent practice of meditation. This leads me to my good resolution of this year: be a better person. I believe that everyone can contribute to make this world better starting with oneself, and I’m trying to improve my share. I have been learning a lot since I’m meditating on a daily basis and it has been deepening my shakuhachi practice. Although I’m still a beginner, I’d like to share with you how meditation helps me to become a better shakuhachi player.

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Performances

I’ve been performing since I’m fifteen, and I’ve never learned how to do it. I didn’t even think there was something to learn about it. However, when you think back to how many  people get nervous when they have to perform, from good anxiety to total panic that they have to calm down with medicines or even stronger stuff, you start to ask yourself whether there might be somehow something to learn about it. I can still remember moments of total panic during competitions and it didn’t feel good. Playing music shouldn’t lead to this amount of stress. At a lower level, I also experienced the frustration of practicing so hard for a lesson and then not being able to play the way I wanted when in presence of my teacher and the other students. So, is there something you can do about it?

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Daily meditation with the shakuhachi

Meditation with shakuhachi is different than practicing or performing. There is no artistic goal. It is full concentration and full acceptation, without judgement. I have a few standard exercises to get started, and, depending on the days, I like to experiment and try new things. I generally put on a timer and decide how long I’m going to practice.

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Good resolutions

My good resolutions for 2016 were these 12 zen-rules I found somewhere on the web (my apologies to the author, I don’t know anymore where I read them).

Zen – 12 essential rules

  1. Do one thing at a time
  2. Do it slowly and deliberately
  3. Do it completely
  4. Do less
  5. Put space between things
  6. Develop rituals
  7. Designate time for certain things
  8. Devote time to sitting
  9. Smile and serve others
  10. Make cleaning and cooking become meditation
  11. Think about what is necessary
  12. Live simply

I had the feeling that they could help me to improve things in my life. One year later, reading them again, I can see what I already managed to improve and where I still need to work on.

I can apply some of them pretty well to the shakuhachi: Nr.1-2-3-5-6-8 are easily related to the way I use the shakuhachi to meditate (read here how).
Nr 5, “put space between things“, makes me think of the Japanese “ma“. In daily life, it also means for me “take a break regularly”.

But I still have a long way to go, so my good resolutions for 2017 remain these 12 rules, with emphasis on Nr.4 “do less” and Nr.11 “think about what is necessary“, with the help of Nr.5 again (“put space between things“) and Nr.7 “designate time for certain things“. Actually, they are all about making choices… apparently, that’s what I need for this new year.

For Nr.10, I think I manage pretty well with cooking as a meditation moment, but I still have to work hard on the cleaning!

To be continued…