I recorded myself playing Shakuhachi yesterday and today. I wanted to share with you today’s recording.
click to play shakuhachi recording
Yoga asana (physical postures) practices are very helpful in preparing the body for seated meditations in which the body is usually placed in an unnatural static position in which legs are folded to form a base and the back is held erect. Regardless of preparation, static sitting places certain stresses on the body. Such stresses, especially when meditation is practiced regularly, can accumulate and manifest as discomfort, pains and over time even lead to injury.
Fortunately a few simple movements can go a long way to relieve stresses and help in a transition from stillness to movement. Two postures are all it takes to stretch the arms & legs, bend the back and gradually and safely restore movement. It takes at most a minute or two and is a great gift to the body.
Clicking on an image/animation will lead to more details and guidance on each of the postures.
If you can make the time for it you may wish to explore an extended version of this sequence, your body will be grateful for it.
During my first Shakuhachi lesson my teacher moved two fingers through the air in a way that described a shape of a bamboo leaf. He suggested I try to play tones accordingly – starting from silent, growing fuller and stronger and then fading out slowly and gently, almost if the sound never comes to an end. This metaphor touched me deeply and has been at the core of my practice ever since. For me it seems like a never-ending exploration of refinement and subtlety and it has kept me deeply involved with playing.
Here is a short recording I made of practicing just one tone with this idea in mind: playing bamboo leaf shaped tones
When I viewed this recording in a sound editor I could actually see the tone shapes and how they change. Though it can be very challenging to reach a consistent shape and tone the practice is always rewarding. I experience great pleasure every time I experience a soft and effortless fading of a tone, every time I complete a tone just as my breath comes to an end, every time I discover a new potential for refinement (I realized fading in is a very different challenge than fading out). This simple image of a bamboo leaf created a vast space for me to explore.
Finally, here is a recording I made of playing the first 5 breath of Take Shirabe where I try to incorporate this idea of bamboo-leaf shaped tones: 5 breaths of Take Shirabe