Chado, The Way of Tea
Playing the Gong has much in common with the Japanese art of tea. While many of us are used to just grabbing a coffee from Starbucks, to the Japanese, tea is an all encompassing experience. Tea is much more than the drink itself, it is the preparation, the setting, the atmosphere. Anyone can make a cup of tea, but to carefully think about making a cup of tea and be mindfully involved in the making, that is an altogether different experience.
“Chado 茶道, the Way of Tea, is the practice of preparing, serving, and drinking Tea. Since the 15th century, it has been a study in preparing a bowl of powdered green tea (matcha 抹茶) as well as incorporating many of the arts of Japan. This elegant yet simple practice reflects the philosophy of the four principles of Tea: Harmony (Wa 和), Respect (Kei 敬), Purity (Sei 清), and Tranquility (Jaku 寂).”– From Chado: The Way of the Tea by Wakai Dokokai
In the same sense, I find and emphasize great importance in setting up for my sessions. I prefer to arrive at least an hour before the start time. This allows me to mindfully set up my rack and attach the Gongs & Bells. For me, the experience of getting ready to play is as important as the playing itself. They are connected, intertwined.
If I am rushed for time and need to set up quickly, I don't feel as connected with my instruments when I start. It takes a while to get into the right frame of mind. But when I have the time, I can set up and think about my instruments and their sound. I can think about the room and how those sounds will react in there. And I can have time when I finish setting up to get connected to both the space and myself.
The practice of preparing is as important as the playing.
In the preparing, I'm creating the right atmosphere for those people attending. I'm making sure that I am ready and comfortable, and in turn that they will be ready and comfortable.
And when I play, I am deliberate with my actions, taking care with how I play, how I strike each instrument. Nothing is sloppy or haphazard–just as in making tea, each action is deliberate and full of meaning.
Be meaningful in your actions and bring your full attention to them.
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