Part of why I am enjoying the shakuhachi more and more lately is that I am getting better. I am getting more consistent in hitting kan and I am more stable in that register than I used to be. I am also learning new songs. I like the fact that things are going well.
In terms of gain and loss, this can be difficult to navigate. Invariably, things will get harder and if viewed as 'loss' it can be very discouraging. Actually it is not a theoretical idea for me right now, I have run into something that could be taken as a setback.
This week Michael worked with me on my embouchure. We spent just about the entire 90 minute lesson on it. He dropped a lot of information and images on me, and most of the time I tried to implement them, I lost the tone I was used to being able to produce.
He counselled me well on how to work with all of these changes. They were not to be implemented or practiced all at once, but rather one at a time. Their practice was separate from the skills involved in learning to play songs. However, as I experiment with these aspects of the embouchure, it should inform and influence my current one.
Still, days followed where these concepts crept in (without being mastered), and caused me to lose tone on songs I can normally play. This could be seen as a setback. I like playing songs, and I like to be able to reproduce things I can do. It feels good. It would be far to easy to get frustrated and make an error.
Getting discouraged and not playing would be an error.
Ignoring what I have been taught and continuing on, clinging to what I already have would be an error.
It is a moment to practice trust.
Trust in myself.
Trust in my teacher.
Trust in the process.
I have seen this type of trust function in the dojo and the zendo. This trust does not produce rigid and blind obedience to a person or system. This trust steals the reigns from the ego and guides the student to place that is free and dynamic. A place that they ultimately take themselves.