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An Anchor

Thursday, October 27, 2011

kamaka, kamaka ukulele, 'ukulele, standard ukulele, soprano ukulele

Kamaka standard (soprano) 'ukulele

I was going to title this “Using the ʻUkulele as an Anchor.”

But then I pictured a bunch of people in boats and  (gasp!) throwing their ‘ukuleles overboard and trying to literally use them an an anchor.  The image made me laugh.  And I was equally horrified by the thought.

But it’s what I’ve been trying to do lately: use the ʻukulele as an anchor.

Or more specifically: Using the SOUND of the ʻukulele as an anchor to the present moment.

Here’s the scoop:

A series of traumatic events in my youth rocked my world.  As a survival technique, I learned to “disassociate.”

It’s not that uncommon.  We all do it–at least to a certain extent.  When the going gets rough, we “check out” (mentally) and go to a happy place.  Perhaps a happier time in the past.  Or even dream of a happy time to come in the future.

And let me be clear:  I’m so thankful to have been able to do that as a kid.  I’m pretty sure it saved my life.

However, if that becomes a standard practice/habit for you, you run the risk of losing touch with the present.

Think about how much time you spend during the day thinking about “What if…” (future) or “I should have…” (past).  It’s pretty wild how little time many of us stay rooted in the PRESENT moment.

That’s a HUGE problem for me.

Recently, I was reading about a Buddhist tradition that uses the sound of a bell to remind the practitioners to “come back to the present moment.”

The sound, in essence, wakes them from their dream state.  It helps them to become aware of the NOW.  It serves like an anchor–something to hold on to.

And I was thinking that I could do the same thing with my ‘ukulele.

For example, I spend a significant part of my day studying about the ancient traditions of an ancient valley.  Then I spend time studying “vintage” songs–the crooner classics–that I love so much.  And I also spend a piece of my day working on a writing project that explores events from my personal past.  That’s a lot of living in the PAST.

As a champion worry wart, I spend a lot of time dreaming up catastrophes.  Yup.  Like  ”What if the (insert potential tragedy/catastrophe) happens?  How will I/we/the world deal with that?”  Living in the FUTURE.  (And not even in a fun way.  Yuck!)


One thing that I keep close at hand is my ʻukulele.

You guys know how much I value a simple strum break.  The sound of those 4 simple strings helps to ground me.

It’s like my “bell.”  My anchor to the present.


This week, I’ve been taking a moment to really LISTEN to the ʻukulele.

To strum it very consciously.  And I’m not talking about doing that for an entire song.  I strum a simple chord a few times.  (Maybe 3 times in a row.  Or perhaps a simple “Hawaiian vamp” that you might hear at the start of so many classic hula tunes.)

And I really LISTEN to it.  This isn’t about listening to see if my ‘ukulele is tune.  Or even to strum the opening of a tune I’m about to play.  This is just to listen to the sound.

And I’ve gotta tell you:  it’s helping.

It’s really neat to be able to strum and take a deep breath and just listen.

So, I thought I’d pass this little practice along to you.

Maybe it will help you, too!

Using the ʻukulele as an anchor to the present moment.

Right on.

What tools/tricks/techniques help YOU stay anchored to the present moment?  Drop me a line!  I’d love to hear from you.

2 Responses to “An Anchor”

  1. That’s so beautiful and resonating – like a big temple bell….a very good anchor. Listening is a great meditation exercise. and to your ukulele – ahhh…heavenly….my anchor is my breath. it always brings me back to the present. Joshin asked in one of his primer classes on beginning meditation, “can you breathe in the past? how about breathing in the future?”

  2. Jason Poole says:

    Aloha e June! I love that you appreciated that image. And I love that you shared your PERSONAL anchor–your breath. How wonderful–something that’s always with you. And I LOVE the questions–can you breathe in the past? Can you breathe in the future?

    Ah… the challenge of being present. Interesting that it should be so difficult! It’s right there… and yet so elusive.

    Mahalo for that!