Compassion Through Healing Music
by Debbie Danbrook – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My name is Debbie Danbrook, and my compassionate creative practice is Healing Music, specializing in the Japanese Shakuhachi Zen flute. After a career in classical and jazz music, performance art, and creating music for dance, theatre, and film, I heard the Shakuhachi flute at a dance festival that I was playing at in Vancouver (I was living in Montreal at the time). After hearing the first note on this flute, I knew without a doubt that this was my flute! Within a week I had bought a ticket to Japan and off I went to study. I had difficulty finding a teacher; I didn’t realize that Shakuhachi was traditionally played in the past only by monks and in the present only by men (it was thought too difficult for women to get a sound). I did find a wonderful teacher, and I became a Shakuhachi Master, the first woman ever, and I have gone on to incorporate this ancient ‘Suizen’ or Blowing Zen instrument into my Healing Music compositions.
I am a member of some wonderful organizations. I have performed at dozens of events and festivals for the Sacred Dance Guild (open to dancers of all backgrounds and dancing abilities).
I am an Associate Composer with the Canadian Music Centre and also a member of SOCAN, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada. I am the co-founder of Music Can Heal - a non-profit organization that brings peaceful, healing music to uplift and soothe those living in care facilities. I am a teacher and have taught Shakuhachi at the University of Toronto and privately here in Toronto, Ottawa, Guelph, and internationally on Skype.
For me, compassion, kindness, and love are all intertwingled. (a fairy word) Each one of these energies starts within ourselves, how we listen to, and care for our own heart. The compassion, kindness, and love we feel for ourselves will then be the measure of the energy we offer to each and every person we meet and each situation we encounter.
When I sink into the energy of compassion I feel my heart brighten, open, radiate. I try to feel grounded, calm, and peaceful, allowing the heart energy of compassion to reach out wherever it needs to go. This is a state of being that I strive and struggle and endeavour to live in. I hope that this photo invokes in you the feeling that I have when sharing my gift of light.
How best to share the energy of compassion in our daily lives? For me, it is the little things: a smile, a gesture, an offering of help wherever needed to each and every person met on the path of life. And sometimes, it is the importance of listening and witnessing. Sometimes the most compassionate act when encountering suffering is to just be there, be fully present, and hold the heart energy of compassion in that moment. This is especially true during the challenging times we are living through today.
We often see and hear about the suffering of individuals, groups of people, and whole nations. We can feel our hearts breaking for them. If we can drop into calm, grounded peace and send out the energy of compassion that pours out through that breaking in our hearts, we are helping the collective energy in the best way that we can.
How best for me to share my Debrina heart energy of compassion to those I may not meet? Through my music. (Debrina is my Fairy/Priestess name)
There are two main channels for my music - through my recordings (22 now!) and videos, and through the medium of live performance.
I am grateful for the technology that has allowed the ripple effect to send out my recordings and videos to people around the globe. And I am grateful for the performances I have been able to offer around the world: at concerts, meditations, conferences, spiritual gatherings, Temples, memorials, and many other varied events and ceremonies. And, of course, the joy of playing for family, friends, and students helps me to share compassion in my closest circles. Whether I am playing for one person or for one thousand, each sharing of music is equal - always the best that I can offer. This is something I learned from my teacher in Japan when I was studying my Zen Shakuhachi flute with him. And always from the heart - this is what I learned from playing my Shakuhachi.
When people hear my music, it can touch their hearts. Music can be a direct energy shared from heart to heart. If that music is offering the energy of compassion then this energy can flow directly into the hearts of listeners. Such is the healing power of music.
Here is a photo of me playing at a workshop offered by my dear friend and incredible energy healer Eva Gold. When I look at this and remember the feeling in the room, it opens my heart, and I feel love, peace, and compassion.
These two photos I have chosen to share are me with two of the most compassionate beings I have had the pleasure and joy to meet and play for.
The first is me with Jurme Wangda. I played at many of the fundraising events he helped organize to raise funds for a senior’s home for Tibetans in exile. For many years he was the personal bodyguard for the Dalai Lama. Not only is Wangda caring and compassionate, but also incredibly fun!
JURME WANGDA AND DEBBIE
Here I am with Thupten Jinpa Langri, who is the principal translator for the Dalai Lama. I have played for him at several Mindfulness Conferences here in Toronto. One time as I was playing at Koerner Hall, he stood in the wings offstage listening to me. I could feel his incredible energy of compassion and love surrounding me as I played. I am so grateful for this beautiful memory.
THUPTEN JINPA LANGRI AND DEBBIE
And lastly, I would like to share four very different music videos, each offering the energy of compassion and the different shades of energies it can evoke.
This first music is from the Purple CD of my ‘Spirit of Shakuhachi’ chakra recordings. It is the energy of the third eye, the seat of compassion. You will hear my shakuhachi flute and a soundscape I played of crystalline keyboards. For me, this evokes gentle compassion.
YOUTUBE - WATER BUDDHA - ZEN BAMBOO FLUTE
In this second video, I am playing in Rwanda at the Genocide Memorial. I am standing on the site of a mass grave of 250,000 people. I had imagined that I would be sending out my music with the energy of compassion and peace. I was wrong in my assumption. As I played, I felt a huge multitude of souls behind me, and it was they who were sending out the energy, and I was the channel offering strength and almost fierce compassion through my Music Meditation.
YOUTUBE - SHAKUHACHI MEDITATION INSIDE
THE KIGALI GENOCIDE MEMORIAL CENTRE
Here is a beautiful visual created by the talented Chris Gartner. You will hear my voice this time. This piece has always felt full of peace, love, and the fluidly of compassion moving through us. The piece, ‘Inside We Move Closer’ is from our ‘Light From The Super Earth’ recording.
YOUTUBE - DAVID DARLING, DEBBIE DANBROOK,
CHRIS GARTNER, NEAL WILKINSON
And finally, here I am playing at my favourite place on earth, my Temple Hozanji in Japan. For me playing here evokes one of the most grounded and enveloping feelings of love, peace, and compassion… Please gather this compassion into your hearts and share…
YOUTUBE - DEBBIE DANBROOK SHAKUHACHI FLUTE
IN JAPAN HOZANJI TEMPLE