Image courtesy of an educational organization advertised here on our blog, Native Flutes Walking.
Seeking Inner Peace? Consider Playing A Native Flute
A hundred years ago, no one really talked about stress. Today, you will hear everyone from grandma to the baby worriedly saying, “I’m so stressed out.” Go to the doctor and she will tell you that you need to reduce stress to recover from an illness or improve your overall health for life. The Stress Of Modern Living is on the lips of every news reporter describing crimes, every social worker documenting familial breakdown, every author penning tales of the daily life of modern man.
Let’s listen to somebody else, for a minute. Someone not talking about stress as a fact of life, but as something you can step out of, on a regular basis, if only for part of your day at first try. Recently, I sat down and listened to a very long interview with the late scholar, Joseph Campbell. In this interview, he made a suggestion for Americans hooked into the stress cycle that would enable them to break away from it, bit by bit. He advised people to create a space and one hour in the day for themselves. In this space – it might be a corner of your bedroom, a chair in your garden or a blanket on your balcony – you would consciously let go of the things you likely spend most of the rest of your day thinking about.
You would stop thinking about your job, who you owe money to, who owes money to you. You would stop thinking about your responsibilities, quarrels, fears and doubts. Instead of this, you will just be yourself – a creature of the earth, with a body, a beating heart, eyes that see, lungs that breathe, nostrils that smell things. Other creatures spend hours just sitting, just being still, just being themselves, with no external calls on them to perform. So, in this hour of your day, you will just be you, and not all the things you do.
This suggestion of Joseph Campbell’s rang true with me as prescription for a life graced with a sense of self-awareness many people never know, because they are too busy doing other things to really sit down and meet themselves. In Western culture, it’s next-door to an insult to call someone self-aware, but I would suggest we rethink that. If you aren’t aware of the wonder of yourself – yourself as a living, feeling organism – you can hardly be expected to observe the wonder of your fellow beings. Sages of the ages have told us we must first love ourselves before we can learn to love others, and I feel that this all ties into developing a sense of respect and value for our own spirits and bodies, through quiet reflection. If you live your whole life too busy to ever do this, I think you will have missed an encounter with the most important person in your life – you.
|But how do you take the first step? How do you quiet your busy mind down to a place where you can truly be you, no strings attached? I would like to suggest that you consider coming to a quieter place through music, and I know of no instruments better suited to self expression and reflection than the native flutes of the American continents. From Canada to South America, flutes have been made by Indigenous Peoples for thousands and thousands of years, and the gentle practice of playing one of these on a regular basis seems to me to automatically move the flutist into a reflective personal space, mentally, physically and spiritually.||
People with large resources of material wealth seem to spend endless sums of money seeking happiness. Do they find it? Only they can tell. What I can tell you is that the small investment you might make in a native flute has the potential to give you a gift of inner-confidence in being yourself that is beyond monetary terms of value. You might choose the ultra simple Ocarina, the soulful-sounding Plains Flute or the energetic, lilting Andean Quena, and whatever you choose will become a voice for you to send out a harmonious, personal sound into your surroundings. A sound that says, I am me, and I am here.
Many native flutes are relatively easy for total beginners to play, and the point here is not to become a concert flautist, reading sheet music and worrying about technique and perfection. No. Not at all. The whole point is not to worry – just to let you flute sing with your own, personal tune, your own music. This sound you make can become a form of meditation or prayer for you, a form that centers and balances you within yourself.
I believe that through this intimate music, you will begin to know yourself better and to start sensing your special place on the Earth. You are not a thing apart, a mere spectator, cut off from the natural world. You are the natural world, natural man, with a song to sing, just like birds, whales, coyotes and elk. Your song is beautiful, because it is part of life.
As the stress drifts away through your daily music, you become stronger inside yourself. Certainly, when your music time is over each day, you will return to the cares and obligations of your daily life with a strengthened sense of who you are. This will then begin to extend to who those ‘others’ are in your life. Recently, I also listened to a speech given by the Dalai Lama, in which he suggested that there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. There is only ‘we’. It has taken the Dalai Lama many years of reflection to truly believe this, I think, and who knows what benefits there may be for you, if you allow a meditative time to become part of your life? I hope the insights you gain will include love of yourself and others. And who could not love a person who is making music from their heart?
Play without doubt and doubt will be gone while you play. Play without fear and fear is gone. No, there is no magic, no prayer, that removes the uncomfortable parts of life, the sorrow and pain, but this doesn’t mean you cannot step back for a small time to experience some of the other things in life. The beautiful things, the quiet things, the expressive peace of music.