Try to breathe along with the music. Imagine that the flute is an extension of your breath, which is the most intimate part of you. Focus on the flute as if you were playing with it, making the breath that activates the note. The breathing is from the hara, the area two inches below the navel, which is considered the center of the body in many cultures.

Remember that breathing itself is linked to healing. Lamaze classes teach a "cleansing breath," and in yoga the first step of practice is regulating the breath. Your life begins with breath and ends with your last breath.

The beginnings of many of the honkyoku pieces start with a few phrases in a low octave and are quite brief. As one enters more deeply into the blowing meditation, the phrases get longer and longer. Let them pull you into the meditative state; they are designed to do that, as it is the breathing exercise aspect of the music.

Both player and listeners can enter into a trance state through this music. My teacher used to say that if you are playing for a lot of people, just choose one person and play to their kokoro, their heart. On this recording, I am playing to your kokoro.
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The piece of music featured here is called Kyo-Choshi, a Meian-Style honkyoku. This honkyoku is played simply, without any unusual techniques. The word choshi means "tone," "condition," or "state of mind." It refers to the essential unity and harmony of the universe or to the state of mind when heaven, earth, and humanity are perceived as one. This version of choshi is from the Meian-Ji Temple in Kyoto.

Although all Zen pieces help to clear the mind, I believe that through deep listening to pieces such as "Kyo-Choshi" one can find further awareness and unity in one's thoughts and memories. That is why it is one of my favorite pieces to play for the mentally ill and the aged.


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