This October, I began a retreat which I am very excited about, the Musical Universe & Sweat Lodge Retreat at the Megamiyama Life Center in the beautiful mountains of Nagano Japan. From the time I was 20 years old, I not only began an intensive practice of meditation, but in my private life, dove deeply into the Native American ceremonial tradition. Even though most everyone thinks of me as a musician, on the inside, I am deeply involved in the shamanic crafts and native, earth based traditions.
It is interesting that from the time I discovered the Native American path, I immediately was drawn to it on an almost instinctive way. When I was about 22 years old, I met my shaman teacher up in Montana (Listening Thunder of the Cree people) and spent 11 years apprenticing with him (sweat lodge, pipe ceremony, sun dance). Then, some years later, found out from my father that our family, back in the 1700s gained Algonquian blood on my grandfathers side and I am actually 1/16th Native American.
Sweat Lodge Family
In the mountains around Nagano Japan, I could not find any willows (the traditional (flexible) branches to make the lodge from, so I needed to use bamboo, which worked decently
The basic form of the lodge built in a very specific fashion.
Many of the participants wanted to try their hand at cutting wood! And actually, next year we will add on a day to the retreat so those who want to come early and help build the sweat lodge with me, can join in the work and learn that art form.
We also spent some time learning some of the principles of Nada Brahma and the Musical Universe topic. Learning to perceive the world around us as being made of vibration and thus feeling the world (and ourselves) radiating waves of energy which we sense and feel, opens us to more and more of what is really happening moment to moment. The combination of this perception and the practice of meeting the basic elements of nature (sweat lodge, pipe, vision quest) are very powerful.
Here is the gang after our Nada class.
We were blessed with amazing weather and good temperatures, so we spent lots of time enjoying the out doors.
At the Megamiyama Life Center, the food is amazing!!!
The founder of the Megamiyama Life Center, What a wonderful vision he has and what valuable work it is (especially in this day and age) to provide a healing and nurturing place for events like this to happen.
1st Bi-Annual Japan Tabla Retreat
This October marked the first bi-annual tabla retreat in Japan. The same way that I began the tabla retreats in Boulder USA, I began this retreat as a mostly beginners retreat and will train them and others to become what ever level of player they desire. Most simply want to enjoy having a personal practice that includes music and some sense of meditation. Others will want to work hard and begin playing with others and performing. So after a few retreats, I will break the retreat into levels as I have done in Boulder.
As many of you know, the tabla is perhaps the most complex and difficult drums to learn on the planet. There are so many subtle and intricate elements involved, that it can be very intense for the beginners who didn't imagine learning to "drum" was so involved. But after gaining a long weekend of tools, many people fall in love with the depth of the practice and of course the satisfying and beautiful tones of the tabla. So they come back again and again.
In the beginning, much of the work on tabla has to do with watching the teacher and repetition of basic movements and techniques until the body knows it on its own. I have found that in Japan, the general students ability to focus and emulate the lessons is unsurpassed. I believe it has to do with how they are raised from the time they are children. You can see it in the culture in general as well, paying attention to details and respecting the guidance of their elders and teachers. I am always deeply impressed with their focus and dedication.
Working on Dha ti Dha ge Dhi Na ge Na
Japan's Fall Tabla Retreat 2012
My time in Japan has been incredible. Very diverse in the types of retreats, music and friends that have gathered. I feel so very blessed to be able to share these arts and many moments with the people of Japan and through my blog, with you all.
Now I am off to Australia to meet up with Steve Oda to do the annual Ozzy tour. We'll hit Byron, Brisbane, New Castle, Mangroove, Melbourne, Tasmania, Canberra, Manly and Sydney. I'll give you the stories in my next entry.
Signing off for now and may you find your way deeper into your heart and into the life we are living.