Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Going Inside and Just Breathing

I woke up feeling a little sad yesterday as I prepared to put my self-imposed restraining order on my Internet activities. I decided to go to meditation after skipping the past three Monday mornings.

When Gordon showed up, he suggested we revert to our original meditation approach: two 25-minute sits separated by a break of 5 minutes. He also proposed that we use the 5 minutes for a walking meditation, something I had never done.

It was an especially quiet Monday morning with no garbage trucks, no irate drivers, no screaming school children. The first sit was like it usually is, where I find I settle into something deep just 5 minutes before the bell sounds.


The walking meditation turned out to be such a cool interlude. First of all, Gordon approaches it much as a Zorba-the-Greek style dance in totally slow motion. He actually learned the particular step he uses in tai-chi. The idea is to walk slowly and purposefully, carefully thinking about and placing your foot with each step and discovering a breathing rhythm that fits your pace. To show you how slow it was, we went around a circle of 12-foot circumference just 2 times in 5 minutes.

Given my walking challenges, there could be no better way for me to walk mindfully. Gordon was like the Pied Piper leading me and one other person in our slow walk. Then when he sounded a bell we slipped back into our pose for the second sit and had no trouble dropping into a wonderfully deep place.

After the meditation hour was over, Gordon told me he had brought me a flute that he thought I might enjoy exploring. We walked to his car and he pulled out not only the flute, called a Shakuhachi, but also a book with instructions for how to play it. Gordon, an accomplished musician, has graduated from this $90 model to a $300 flute and he takes lessons from a master Shakuhachi player once a month. He stood out on the sidewalk in front of the DC Public School and demonstrated the magic flute. It was the most beautiful soulful melody ever.

Gordon warned me that the first time I tried to play it I might not get anything but air out. I told him I could whistle and asked if that would make a difference, to which he just laughed and said to give it a try. He told me that the secret to playing it was in learning how to breathe, just as in meditation.

This morning after I meditated in my little inner sanctum in the basement, I pulled out the flute. For at least 5 minutes I blew with no sound but rushing air. Then as I tried various approaches to holding my lips, I suddenly made music, realizing that you have to relax when you blow. It wasn’t soothing music like Gordon’s music, but it was cause for hope.

So after I meditate, I will explore my new wind instrument, eventually learning how to achieve a full scale using the blow hole and the 5 finger holes. I will figure out how to add sweetness to the sound. I will indeed learn how to breathe.

I suggested that next week Gordon bring his Shakuhachi and lead us in our walking meditation while he does his slow dance as we make our two circles.

This is my week for going inside to look around, putting the outside world on hold. Sometimes our ability to heal ourselves is deep inside and must simply be discovered.

4 Comments:

Blogger riseoutofme said...

I want a Gordon ...

Having meditated for the last 30 years with a couple of mindless years in the middle I have some idea, not a whole lot, of where you are coming from ...

I would still like a Gordon ...

12:54 PM  
Blogger riseoutofme said...

Or if a Gordon is not available maybe a flute?

12:55 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I can't even whistle. :( You make me want to find my wooden flute. I know I have a couple lying around.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Rise -- A flute and my friend Gordon are indeed nice to have around.

Kristin -- This flute is like no other I have ever seen because there is no mouthpiece. You simply blow over top of a hole!

10:40 PM  

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