Category Archives: Meditation

Shakuhachi Wisdom

Inner & Outer Journey

In the history of shakuhachi, there is a strong shift: when the shakuhachi went from being a spiritual instrument to becoming a music instrument. It was at the end of the XIXe century, during the Meiji era. Actually it was a dreadful period for Zen Buddhism, thus shakuhachi. The Komuso monks were not allowed anymore and had to give lessons and concerts to survive. The shakuhachi took its part in chamber music with koto and shamisen to play “sankyoku“.
Apparently the zen tradition was still allowed in a couple of temples (to be practiced secretly?) and after some time, was allowed more officially again. I am not an historian so forgive my approximations in this story.

What inspires me is how the shakuhachi survived this transition: opening to the outside world. Like it followed an underground stream to reappear further, when its time had come again. In the meantime, the Tozan school of modern shakuhachi was born and Japanese music was more and more influenced by the Western culture.

And then, in the 1960’s, shakuhachi was almost dead again. Shakuhachi master Yokoyama Katsuya realised that the shakuhachi had to be brought further to the outside world, meaning outside of Japan. Shakuhachi reached the USA, Australia, and later Europa and the rest of the world, other Asian countries included. The interest for traditional shakuhachi in Japan is still low (please correct me if I’m wrong here), but still exists. And shakuhachi has reached different of styles of music: jazz, pop music , movies, video games, etc.

Yet, the spiritual tradition is still alive and has been developing more and more outside of Japan as well. This is fascinating. It makes me wonder whether you need a balance between the inner and outer world to embrace shakuhachi fully. If so, how do you find this balance?

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Invitation to my virtual Shakuhachi Dojo!

In the Netherlands we entered 2021 in full lockdown. No fireworks, no party. With the hope that the world situation will improve dramatically in 2021 with vaccination, I started to dream more and more of a virtual space to develop my activities and connect with more people. This dream has become a virtual shakuhachi dojo on Patreon! Discover it here.

What it is exactly ?

It is a space where I will share every month the different aspects of my work with shakuhachi: recordings, meditations, tutorial videos and creations. Choose your abonnement and you will receive monthly benefits and exclusive contents. If I get enough Patrons, it will help me to realise some of my dreams!!

When you realise that the ultimate happiness is being yourself and that nobody can be better than you at it, then the competitive ego disappears. Remains the deep motivation to do your best at being yourself, for you and for the world. This is what this project is about.

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5 MEDITATIONS on the Chakras of Earth

In this post, you will find 5 meditations with shakuhachi on the Chakras of Earth: the Root Chakra, Sacral Chakra and Solar Plexus Chakra.

Those three Chakras are related to the abdominal breathing which is used to play shakuhachi.

Hence theses meditations on the Chakras of Earth will improve your awareness of your abdominal breathing. If you practice them regularly you will feel more grounded and you will be able to connect to your breath more easily in any situation.

Beside the physical awareness, the Chakra meditations also work on an emotional level, which will be also explained.

NB: In order not to spam my followers who are not interested in this topic, the next Chakras Meditations will be published as Pages and not as Posts. You will find them back here.

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Chakra Meditation courses

Chakra Meditation Technique

Chakra Meditation with shakuhachi is a meditation technique I have been developing in the last few years and started to share online this year during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is inspired by Chakra breathing meditations but its purpose is not to provide Sound Healing, nor it is a musical practice. It is a technique to improve and go deeper into your daily meditation with shakuhachi.

Practitioners do report feeling better afterwards. And it can help you a lot to improve your shakuhachi playing through increasing your physical awareness and relaxation. All you need is a few minutes a day… and a shakuhachi.

In these challenging times of Covid-19 pandemic, I notice that meditating on the chakras with shakuhachi gives energy and helps people to feel more grounded and better prepared to tackle negative emotions. I experience it myself every Monday evening with my online group during our common shakuhachi meditation.

“Can you hold the body and spirit as one?”
Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu

These courses will enable you to practice with me at home, at your own time and rhythm.

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ROBUKI & Loving-Kindness

WORLD SHAKUHACHI DAY on October 8 – Let’s blow 108 RO!

Blow away Covid-19 !

This week there will be the first World Shakuhachi Day. We will blow 108 R0 to “express condolence with victims of Covid-19, sympathy and encouragement to infected and hospitalized patients, and to dedicate a heartfelt thanks to the medical staff and hope for a solution to fight back the disease. Let’s blow 108 Ro with the spirit of bowing away this global pandemic.”

As my ROBUKI practice lasts normally around 10 minutes, I trained counting until 108 RO and it took me 27 minutes (4 RO / minute). I didn’t have difficulty to count, putting a mental mark every 12 RO up to 9 times. Keeping a regular breathing rhythm and relaxing in the sound help me to stay focused.

If you have difficulties to count until 108, here are some tips about how to keep track of 108 RO.

For my following sessions of 108 RO, I put on the timer on 27 minutes, with a bell ring every 3 minutes (=12 ROx9). This helps me to hold on to my rhythm of 4 RO / minute and enables me to notice immediately if my breath becomes a little more shallow or my lips tense up.

On Thursday October 8, I will be celebrating the World Shakuhachi Day online at 8:30 PM (UTC+2) with a ROBUKI of 27 minutes (108 RO). If you would like to join, just contact me. All you need is a shakuhachi and a computer or a tablet with a webcam.
Let’s blow 108 RO together!

Next to this event, ROBUKI is is part of my regular shakuhachi meditation. I like to put on the timer instead of counting how many RO I blow because it allows me to concentrate fully on my favourites meditation practices, which are the Loving-Kindness and the Tonglen Meditations.

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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?

Continue reading Meditation or music? Or both?