Friday, 25 June 2010

On the Spiritual Aspects of Taiko Drumming


Like most Japanese arts, taiko is mainly about practice.  Once you build sufficient "muscle-memory", even the most complicated rhythms and movements all feel very natural and straightforward, and you get to think about other things like your interaction with the crowd, your voice, facial expressions... your timing and connection with the team... and so on.

This has an innately spiritual essence to it, because your body is a flurry of activity, doing things that, by all accounts, you never believed it capable of doing -- and yet at the same time your mind is completely relaxed and at peace, not even really "in the moment". 

Recently I've become aware that this relaxed state of mind occurs the moment I pick up my bachi (taiko drumsticks).  Suddenly everything is peaceful and well-ordered and makes perfect sense.  My mind can take a nap since my body already knows exactly everything that's going to happen.  

As I understand it, this is the essence of the asian concept of "no mind", and in entrenched deeply in everything from martial arts to music to zen meditation.  Probably, training in anything enough will ultimately reach this state, but for me, physically-oriented arts like taiko, music, and martial arts fit best.