Empathy, sharing – and didgeridoos

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Happiness is about sharing knowledge, friendship, support and laughter – important for anyone who like us is learning to play the didgeridoo. So following on from our musings around the campfire and the mystery of how Tipi Paul with one piece of bamboo established an energetic connection with the earth and everyone within earshot, we thought it might be useful to let you know how things have progressed since then. Fully inspired by that evening we decided we wanted to learn more, firstly by finding out more about them and maybe in time by learning to play one.

So for any didgeridoo virgins like we once were, let’s start with a few facts about the didgeridoo. It’s is a wind instrument thought to have originated in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia and it comes in all shapes and sizes. Some believe it to be the world’s oldest musical instrument at over 40,000 years old.

In years past didgeridoos were made from eucalyptus tree trunks which had been hollowed out, while still living, by termites. In more northern regions of Australia however they were made of bamboo. Nowadays they are made from all sorts including glass, leather, hemp, ceramic, plastic, dried/hollowed cactus stems and hollowed out logs and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Traditionally Aborigines on ‘walkabout’ would go into nature and listen intensely to animal sounds, the sounds of the wind, thunders, and trees creaking and water running. The empathic and energetic connection they felt was then replayed within the droning of the didgeridoo and used as an accompaniment to chants, singers and dancers at ceremonies and gatherings.

It is this empathy and energetic connection that is important to us. Empathy is often described as the ability to ‘spend time walking in someone else’s shoes’ and to do that means developing greater self awareness of our own internal feelings and state. Becoming more mindful of what we are feeling and experiencing in the moment enables us to ‘park our own stuff’ i.e. separate from our own fears and concerns to fully feel what we are experiencing. So when on walkabout the didgeridoo becomes the Aborigine’s way of expressing to others what is being sensed, interpreted and felt.

Only in this mindful state of awareness can we truly respond and become empathic, giving and reflecting others’ experience in ourselves in a supportive and appropriately responsive way. And that causes us to ask – when did you last become fully empathic and mindful of another’s experience?


Photo credit: “Didgeridoo – U. Dist Street Fair 1993 – 2” by Joe Mabel – Photo by Joe Mabel. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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