Musical Meditation or Therapy
We ourselves are a kind of musical instrument.
We can sing, hum, whistle and make many other expressive and pleasing sounds. Sound waves are an integral part of the fabric of Creation. We use the words harmony, in tune, flow, express, create, commune, in trance, healing, stimulate, connect, carried away, relax, enjoy, motivate, uplift, make, etc. to describe the musical experience. This is because something special happens inside of us when we express ourselves with musical sounds. People have been participating in this musical experience since time immemorial.
My personal experience with the Native American style flute leads me to believe that this act of making music has a profound transformative effect. And, this transformative and therapeutic experience is available to anyone.
I find that in making (playing) music I enter a meditative state. Im sure there are many definitions of meditation. By meditative state, I mean an experience that is categorically different than what we experience in our usual mundane activities. I have experienced in myself that this musical meditation has the potential to relax me, focus my attention, stop the inner dialogue and open up a connection to a more fundamental (some say higher) state of consciousness. In this respect the flute can be considered a transformative or meditational tool.
I think that making music is an avenue, if you will, to what some call inner regions.
It is an opportunity - open to anyone - to go on a journey to a place without walls, without form and without preconceptions. A mini vacation from the everyday world. This musical experience is a place of astounding inner freedom. It can be experienced through chanting and singing. This therapeutic meditative state is also experienced when playing the hand drum or Native American style flute.
Very early on, being the inventive creatures that we are, humans began making special physical objects to expand the range of the musical sounds that they could make. We now call these objects musical instruments. At first, these music making devices were simple affairs. They allowed everyone to make music. A flute was a hollow stick or bone with a few holes. But, as our civilization has changed it created more and more elaborate musical instruments. Now a flute is a metal affair with so many bells and whistles that it looks like you could fly it to the moon. These new and refined instruments have, on the one hand expanded the range and type of musical sound. For example, increased volume and diversity of scale. On the other hand, the very complexity of these instruments has limited the number of those people who could actually enjoy playing them. Once music making was open to everyone. Now, it has become the provenance of a select few who have the talent and dedication to master these difficult modern instruments. Musicians have become professionals and the rest of us are an audience.
This was not deliberate. But, it is unfortunate. Now the vast majority of us don't make music, we listen to music. The experience of making music and listening to it are not the same. It is as if instead of dancing we were content to watch others as they danced. We can derive a certain type of pleasure thereby but it is not the same as dancing ourselves. We have become spectators instead of participants. And, our bodies, hearts and minds are diminished thereby.
The simple musical instruments on which earlier peoples played - and in many cultures still do play - continue to exist. A lot of us were unaware of this. We thought that the band instruments that we were introduced to in school were all that was available to someone who wanted to make music. And, the music we were taught to play was very regimented and static. It was not our own inner music but some other persons music. Fortunately, the simple instruments of our ancestors such as the hand drums, thumb piano and Native American flute are still available They are being rediscovered. These simple instruments can be played with little effort by almost anyone. I bear witness that this is true.
In grade school I played the trumpet.
I wanted to play the snare drum and so did all the other boys. Because I wasn't a teachers pet and she needed trumpet players I ended up with a trumpet. After a couple of practice sessions at home my Dad stuffed a sock in it which further dampened my already weak enthusiasm. I high school I played the clarinet for a while - why I can?t remember. In college I thought I'd try the guitar (the cool thing to do). I really didn't feel comfortable with or enjoy any of these instruments. For years I didn?t participate in any kind of music. I looked with envy at those who could enjoy the musical experience. But, I thought that because of some lack in myself I was not capable of making music.
Then fate (karma, destiny, chance) put a very simple flute in my hands. It looked like - you guessed it - a stick with a few holes in it. I blew on it gently - it made a nice, soft sound. I placed my fingers over the holes - it made a different sound. It was easy, and it wasn?t threatening. Those first combinations of notes were so simple I imagine no one could appreciate them but me. However, they were coming from within me and I was enjoying what was going on. Not struggling, not practicing but enjoying.
That was the beginning and the story goes on.
I have developed a relationship with the Native American flute. When I play, I am almost instantly transported out of myself into a place of deep relaxation and enjoyment. I can only call this feeling meditative. Any worries, cares, problems that I think I have, immediately disappear. When I stop - after a few minutes of half an hour it doesn't matter - I feel clean, relaxed and refreshed. Perhaps it has something to do with the rhythmical breathing or the dancing of the fingers over the tone holes. I don't know what causes it. I'll leave it to someone else will seek a scientific explanation of the phenomena.
This experience is not unique to me. I have seen (after having talked with many people who have had a similar response to playing their flutes) that this experience is available to anyone Because of our early conditioning and negative experiences many of us have been turned away from making our own music. We stood outside and looked in while others played. This does not need to be so. You can re-establish your connection to this extraordinary state of consciousness. It just takes a little willingness. Willingness to let go of self consciousness, old fears and inhibitions. Let go of the "I can't do that attitude" that imprisons our musical muse.
When you are ready the flute is there. Why not give it a try? What have you got to lose? Your fear of failure, your fear of ridicule? That's right, you can lose that stuff. Why not now.
The human mind in its habitual waking state pulsates with electrical energy at a rate of fourteen beats per second This pulsation is called the "Beta" wave. In a meditative state or a sleep state our mind pulses at a slower or " Alpha" wave rhythm of eight to thirteen times per second. The "Theta" waves of deep meditation are four to seven pulses per second. These lower rates of electrical activity are essential for problem solving, setting and attaining goals, and for experiencing that profound sense of pleasurable, meditative relaxation that we are so ardently seeking. You will find that playing your flute can take you to this place of inner joy. Enjoy your flute.
Watch the Fluteman Video