Shakuhachi Breathing by Carl Abbott

When you play shakuhachi a thorough exercising of the intercostal muscles of the chest takes place. Most people today are not aware of how they breath resulting in shallow, laboured breath and irregular rhythms. There is a close relationship between the brain and the breathing centers of the body. This is the main reason for the loss of natural, deep breathing. Have you noticed how your emotional state such as anger, fear, excitement, frustration show up in your breathing? Everyone experiences this whether you are aware of it of not.

By developing awareness of breath through development of diaphragm and chest, breathing becomes more even in everyday life. This facilitates natural breathing rhythm when faced with extreme life conditions such as stress or emergency which in turn strengthens stamina, calmness and self-control. For example, next time when faced with anger, fear or worry, stop for a moment and focus on steady, deep breathing and you will feel your stress dissipate. In Yoga, one’s life span is measured in breaths. Therefore, according to the yogin’s formula if you breathe 20 times a minute, you will, after some years of playing, reduce this rate to 12 or fewer breaths a minute. Hence, lengthening your lifespan by 20 – 40 %!

Deep, invigorating exercise of the respiratory system aerates the lungs, expelling C02, oxygenating all areas of the lungs and cells of the body which in turn helps in reducing colds and other respiratory ailments.

Zen Honkyoku Music offers a way to train one’s awareness of the subtle qualities of life. It encompasses all aspects of living from the subdued, passive ‘yin’, to the active, forceful ‘yang’ . Learning to harmonize these forces musically opens the mind to harmonizing them better in daily life.

The shakuhachi sound itself is a mantra which creates a gateway into the silence of watchfulness that lies beyond the opposites. In this reflective state, you move beyond the dualities. The sound is a feedback quality, mirroring the state of mind of the player. By strength of will you can choose which qualities of mind you want to develop. By observing your sound, you can see if you’re securely on your desired track.

The transformative power of shakuhachi and nature