Roy Sunak – The music man
Roy Sunak is a professional Bansuri player and composer based in Berlin. Here, he explains in his own words how yoga and meditation have influenced both his life and his music. All of these things, he believes, can help us experience a greater awareness of the present moment and flow more effortlessly through life
Yoga and meditation are very much synonyms, which have many meanings. At their core, they refer to unity, awareness or mindfulness, and concentration. So, when we are aware of something, it means we become one with that.
By those meanings we understand that yoga and meditation are very much a state of mind and not necessarily something that we do. To gain such skills, one of the practices I enjoy is yoga asana. Asana simply means posture – any posture, whether it is sitting, turning your head to the right or raising your arm to the back. If we observe our posture mindfully and the transition from one posture to another, then we practice yoga.
As we can understand that purpose, we can see that everything we do, we can do meditatively – when we breathe, eat, sit, stand, smell, listen, play music, and so on. If we take a simple posture like sitting, there are so many elements to be aware of at that moment. As we dwell in that present moment, we can become aware of all the elements of sitting: our legs, back, neck, heads, arms, and even our breath. Yoga practice allows us to develop the skills of mindfulness so we can be able to integrate it in our daily life. When we sit and let our mind jump from one thought to another, we don't allow ourselves to enjoy the practice of yoga.
The body is a temple
We should treat our body as a temple and a yoga asana practice gives us that opportunity to find time and space to approach our body and to take care of it mindfully. A variety of methods for yoga asana have been developed; some have more flow than other, some use different sequences, and so on.
By developing mindfulness, one can also know which posture is good for that individual (and which is not good), how long to stay in any posture, and what is the right flow. With the right awareness on can see that this also changes between different days.
After all, this is not a competition, but one's own journey of development and maintenance of our own body – a very beautiful way to understand our body and to unite with it.
"When we sit and let our mind jump from one thought to another, we don't allow ourselves to enjoy the practices of yoga."
Music, rituals & awareness
Music is the same. When I play even one note, I like to be aware of that note. The quality of the sound, the pitch, the breath, the articulation, the rhythm. If we lose our awareness for a fraction of a moment, we lose it all in that moment.
By developing awareness with the right practice, I try to apply that in my daily life. After gaining good quality of Shamatha (concentration), with the right yoga asana practice we can also develop Vipassana. In both cases, when I approach yoga asana, meditation or music practice, I like to have a small ritual. I like to light a candle or incense. In both practices I sit on the floor, which is part of the tradition, but also feels more comfortable. In addition, I turn off my phone. This small ritual is a way of 'preparation' for something different that I am going to do now. Any small change to differ between what I had done until that moment and what I am about to do, helps to put aside distractions and therefore to clear the mind.
Once the mind is clearer, it is sharper. We can better focus and be aware.
One method that I have learned is to observe our sensations and how they perceive things.
I like to apply this method with what I call 'sound meditation'. In this session, I invite the audience to meditate on sounds and to observe how our feelings change according to different sounds, whether it is a singing bird, the wind outside, a barking dog, a car or a musical note. This is very much a self-journey because it is all a matter of how we perceive things.
The practice is a journey, and like every journey we will encounter difficulties and obstacles. In time, the qualities of our mind will grow. Through the practice, we learn to face these challenges with a soft mind, which means we can then overcome them easier.
Through my yoga and meditation practice, I learn to find activity in calmness, and calmness in the activity, which has had a wonderful effect on my music.
Journey of a tear
My album 'Tear In The River' depicts a journey of a tear, which is joining the river for the first time. Like every other journey in life, the tear experiences excitement, anxiety, fear, joy, connections with other tears, obstacles on the journey and new friendships.
The connections from the album were founded during the lockdowns, where my yoga and meditation played an especially influential part of my life.
The compassion we all experienced – learning to let go and be less strict with ourselves – was significant in those times, helping us to connect to each other. I hope that my album shares many of these emotions and feelings for other to find comfort and joy when listening to the music.
The new album 'Tear in the River; by Roy Sunak is out now. Visit: roysunak.com