Inspiration through psychology, drumming rhythm and sacred sound www.druminspire.com
One Heartbeat Cyprus – 8 Drum circles island wide Multicultural Peace building Project
Funded by the Unite Nations Development Project2010
One Street One Festival Peace Building – Co-operation and Collaboration between Artists of Cyprus with The Future World Centre
“When people are drumming together, everyone is speaking through his or her drum and listening to the drums at the same time… intertwining rhythms in which everyone is speaking, everyone is heard, and each person’s is an essential part of the whole” (Friedman, 2000).
Drumming is a dynamic way to connect with others without language and other cultural barriers. Recent research proves that drumming can increase self-esteem, along with other cognitive skills, as well as assist in the treatment of various psychological, physical & emotional conditions. It teaches tolerance, respect while deepening interpersonal relationships. Recently there is even speculation that it can rearrange the brainwave states and exercise the brain areas to maximize higher brain potential. This dynamic tool can develop communities and elevate consciousness in a variety of ways and DrumInspire workshops offer a range of learning procedures along with therapeutic benefits to actualize human potential.
HISTORY OF DRUMMING
Ancient Illustrations from Egypt and Mesopotamia suggest that drums existed thousands of years ago. Greek mythology trace drums back thousands of years, linking frame drums to the goddesses Aphrodite and Athena and Cybele, who played them to celebrate the divine feminine. As a worldwide phenomenon, drumming has been practiced in Ancient Greece, Africa, Asia, the East, Middle-East and Far East, throughout history. In Africa it served as a tool for communication between tribesmen primarily, taking also precedence as the main instrument in most healing ceremonies and those commemorating rights of passage. In ancient matriarchal cultures, drum rhythms were used to purify and intensify ceremonial practices. Herein we can realize that drumming is intimately bound with the sacred and spiritual, acting as the conduit between the earthly domain and that of the divine.
MYSTERY OF DRUMMING
In times gone by, North American Indian shamans used the drum’s rhythms to travel into ecstasy. They referred to the drum as a ‘canoe’ or a ‘horse’ that transported them into the underworld. Helping them connect with the healing spirit, the rhythms facilitated a journey into the future vision for the tribe. Rhythm anchored the connection to spirit, while keeping the vision alive long enough for shamans to receive spiritual guidance in maintaining the balance for individuals and the group. In their belief system, the drummer was the gatekeeper between heaven and earth, the drumstick was the masculine device that ensured support from Father Sky, and the drum itself was imbued with feminine energy, symbolizing Mother Earth. The skin was most sacred, due to the fact that a goat had sacrificed itself to honors a ‘giveaway’; an honored gift.
WOMENS RHYTHMIC WISDOM
Ancient matriarchal societies and some still present today, hold the drum as a symbolic tool of the rhythmic cycles of creativity and transformation. Customs existed in which women were the ones who held the rhythmic tradition of the tribe and it was the women who played the drums for tribal ceremony. Still today in parts of the Middle-east, some villages in Italy, Africa, Spain and Ireland and commonly spread in the Arab states, you can find groups of women playing drums of all kinds.
RHYTHM AND THE FEMININE DIVINE
In ancient middle eastern, mesa Anatolian and Mediterranean regions, the frame drums were used by women for very specific purposes. In Ancient Cyprus the frame drum, for example was used to purify the brain and prepare a state of mind suitable for divination. celebrate and worship feminine divinity. Largely associated to goddess cults, these women used frame drumming and circle dancing to harness lunar energies, thought to be the symbol of creativity and fertility. Since rhythm was symbolized by lunar energy, the moon had goddess status for these women. Attuned to lunar cycles through their menstrual cycles, their rituals celebrated full moon and first moon. The frame drum was a symbol of this connection, and helped bring them closer to the feminine natural mystique. Emblematic of the moon as the mother of rhythm, a woman holding a frame drum became the symbol of the moon goddess, considered to be the mother of natural rhythms… the one who governed the oceanic tides… the mother of creativity & transformation (When the Drummers were Women, Layne Redmond)
“Rhythm… has the most intense and immediate influence on man, and it affects directly both the body and the emotions” (Assiogoli,1965).
“We are born with a need for rhythmic input. It affects our brain waves’ function and may play an important role in normal physical, emotional and intellectual development” (Roskam, 1993).
Life starts with our fetus warming to the meditative sounds of blood moving through our mothers’ veins. Within this rhythmic resonance of bodily sounds, our fetal bodies begin to develop. An internal world of rhythm begins to grow, in our breath, heartbeat, brainwaves, blood circulation, firing neurons, endocrine system, and in our DNA. There is no judgment, only the ebb and flow of sound through time. And so we grow in a symphony of rhythm.
Our external world is also filled with an endless melody of rhythmical sound. Nature, waves, wind, rivers, birds in flight, seasons and the whale’s song all move with rhythmic flow. The universe has a rhythmical flow of planets revolving around each other, leading time into cyclical rhythms. The moon takes 28 days to revolve around the earth and every 365 days the earth revolves around the sun. In 24 hours light turns to darkness, then to light again. The whole fabric of our inner and outer world is an interwoven set of rhythmical patterns, a kaleidoscope of cycles, reflected in our sky, our earth, our oceans and each other. Rhythm strokes our physical, emotional & psychological processes with health enhancing effects on our passage through life.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RHYTHM
“Through rhythmic repetition of ritual sounds, the body, brain, and nervous system are energized and transformed”(Redmond 1977, In Friedman, 2000).
Psychologists have studied the psychological effects of rhythm on the human psyche. One such psychologist, Dr Assiogoli states that the attributes and states of the human psyche are highly susceptible to sound and rhythm. According to Assiogoli, emotional states like depression, elation, joy, passion, weakness, strength, sorrow, loss, fear and personality attributes like introversion and extroversion all vibrate at certain rhythmic frequencies. Added to bodily rhythms and subtle cell vibration, the psychological self too has a specific rhythmical sound vibration.
In his book, The Psychology of Music, Seashore explains that rhythm can both stimulate and relax. Exposure to rhythm brings about a state of elation, which then transforms into calmed stillness. Rhythmic music inspires us to dance, and in the dance we are entranced into a state of autointoxication. Seashore argues that because of our innate connection to rhythm through the ages, it must have has assisted the evolution of our species, and therefore must have benefited our survival and facilitated our evolution as a species. For Seashore, our instinctual attraction to rhythm is best understood in terms of our relationship to ‘play’. He defines play as a self-pleasing physical or mental act that has no decipherable end. Through rhythm we are invited to play, surrendering our preoccupation with the end of the journey and instead enjoying the moment in the experience without knowing its destination. Consequentially, rhythm is the psyche’s pathway to play. It provides a pleasurable space to which there is no determined end.
The all encompassing rhythmic pulse of life and the way in which rhythm penetrates and transforms our psyches, is of profound psychological importance. Both Seashore and Assiogolli thoughts imply that rhythm can produce a therapeutic effect on the individual. Since melody and music can bring us to tears, elevate our mood, and change our emotional state, with rhythm embedded in our physical structure, its easy to understand that rhythm makes us feel good. Its therapeutic value and restorative benefits is old wisdom practiced for centuries all around the world. Most significantly underpinning these traditions is the drum, an instrument that has made the very nature and natural phenomenon of rhythm both articulate and profoundly interactive with both the mind and the body. The theory of entrainment illustrates the complex manner in which this effect takes place, how it articulates the mystery of rhythmic wisdom and the way in which rhythm and drumming become therapeutic.
“When a group of people play a rhythm for an extended period of time, their brain waves become entrained to the rhythm, and they have a shared brain wave state. The longer the drumming goes on, the more powerful the entrainment becomes. It’s really the oldest holy communion” (Redmond, 1997).
Entrainment is a revolutionary scientific discovery that helps to explain and confirm that rhythmic repetition of sound influences human experience. Christian Huygens, a Dutch scientist, discovered entrainment, a scientific phenomenon of synchronized movement, in 1665. Huygens found that when two pendulum clocks, positioned side by side are suspended in motion, they begin to swing in perfect unison within 24 hours. The frequency of a moving system is determined by the frequency of movement of another moving system, illustrating the principle of entrainment. Entrainment explains that the frequency of an individual’s rhythm or ‘moving system’ depends on the frequency of another dominant rhythm or ‘moving system’. Humans, like pendulums, can also become entrained to move according to a dominant rhythm.
Drumming illustrates the concept of entrainment. Drummers identify the dominant bass rhythm to copy it, synchronize with it, or improvise off it. A strong bass beat will encourage other drummers to merge with this sound, creating unity and harmony. This aspect of merging with a dominant rhythm happens naturally, demonstrating the propensity for humans to synchronize with a dominant rhythm outside themselves. Recent research shows that experiential states have their own vibrational frequency. Through the process of entrainment it seems possible to alter moods and shift consciousness by changing the vibrational frequency of the respective state. Since drumming is a clear production of rhythm and vibrational frequency, the drum can be used to transform physical, psychological and emotional states.
“As the body becomes comfortable with a pattern that is repeated for an extended time the conscious mind relaxes, and worries, fears, tensions and inhibitions are let go. Then physiological changes occur in the brain and body, and as a result participants enter a state of relaxed, effortless, energized clarity that athletes and martial arts experts experience. They encounter feelings of inner strength and the ability to take on challenges, as well as creating connectedness to others in the team and to the natural world”
(Katz, People Dynamics, 1999).
“Drumming changes peoples consciousness”(Redmond, 1997).
STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
“Research indicates… drumming changes brainwave patterns and dramatically reduces stress” (Katz, 1999).
Scientists using electroencephalographs can measure brain wave frequency per second. Three states of consciousness have been detected; alpha, beta and theta states. When directing our attention outwardly, our brain wave vibrations range from 14 -40 cycles per second. This is called the Beta state of consciousness. When we reflect inwardly at ourselves and look within ourselves, brain wave vibrations range from 7-14 cycles per second. This is the Alpha state of consciousness, a state in which we are centered, relaxed and calm.
When we enter a Theta state of consciousness, we are at the crossroads between consciousness and unconscious forces; the known and the unknown. In this hypnogogic dream like surreal state, we travel in the threshold trance of sleep. In Theta we have impulsive mystical insights, creative solutions to boring problems, and we experience physical and emotional healing. We can process more information than normal. Intense mental discipline is needed to stay awake in theta, for the temptation is to fall asleep. Without intense meditation it is hard to remain aware and awake in theta, most often we slip quickly down to Delta state, the slowest brain wave frequency. With waves occurring between 1-4 cycles per second, delta is the state of unconsciousness and deep sleep.
MUSIC & CONSCIOUSNESS
Musical comprehension is a joint function of left and right brain functioning. Research shows that rhythmic music is an effective way to synchronize brainwaves. Rhythmic sound can drive brainwaves into alpha or theta states of consciousness wherein the two hemispheres synchronize, generating an awakened state of consciousness called hemispheric synchrony. Here the brain can enjoy integrated hemispheric processing, resulting in rapid insight, strong intuition, sharp focus, increased comprehension and emotional mastery. Rhythmic sounds can awaken the mind and allow transcendental consciousness to occur.
DRUMMING AND TRANSCENDENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS
“Drumming is an ancient technique that has been used to shift states of consciousness. In various ancient cultures chanting, rhythmic breathing and drumming constellated an ancient technique used to synchronize the body with the mind in order to explore varying levels of consciousness. The physical activity of creating repetitive sounds entrained right & left-brain activity to alter brainwaves to a relaxed theta state of consciousness. In this relaxed state creativity, intuitive insight, healing & spiritual awareness contributed towards a condition of healing of physical, psychological and emotional wounds.”
(Redmond, 1997) (www.layneredmond.com/index.html).
History tells us that the spiritual art of healing required potent transcendental states of consciousness to take place. To break ties with the rational mind, rhythm was used to induce reflective and awakened mental and emotional states. This kind of altered awareness allowed the healer to communicate with ‘spirit’ whilst in a trance. The Native American Indian Shamans and African healers used drumming and chanting to achieve trance state. This trance state altered brainwaves into alpha and theta states, psychologically proven to promote emotional processing and introduce peaceful thoughts. This kind of altered consciousness was used to negotiate spiritual assistance in the healing process. Many traditional healers and medicine men and women travelled on the beats of rhythmical drumming to provide the care-giving services their community required of them
The left hemisphere of the brain governs verbal communication, logic, rational thought processes and analytical thinking. Contemporary western society emphasizes the left-brain functioning. This can be seen in the consistent use of the written word, often considered superior to creative outlets. Theory and information have taken on the highest credibility in the western paradigm.
The right hemisphere of the brain governs creativity, intuition, visual and auditory stimulus. Also operating as the emotional center, the right hemisphere processes all emotional input. Somewhat repressed, the right brain activity has been marginalized as an inferior system of experience. The effects of this bias leave the artist on the fringe of society, and the scientist highly respected. Normally, the different hemispheres operate independently. When one hemisphere is dominant – with brainwaves cycle in 30-minute to 3-hour intervals – information from the opposing sphere is unavailable. Although rare, right and left hemispheres may omit the same brain waves, however they almost always remain out of sync with each other.
Hemispheric synchronization occurs when both left & right brain hemispheres are active simultaneously. Equally coordinated hand movements on a drum can produce this effect, as do moments of creative brilliance, deep meditation or exposure to rhythmic sounds. Since both hemispheres are equally activated, the brain hemispheres synchronize and a meditative state of balance in the brain ensues leading to heightened awareness and mental clarity. Consciousness of this nature has been named the state of the awakened mind.
THE AWAKENED MIND
“Sometimes individuals will use the drum to help them attain higher states of consciousness” (Friedman, 2000).
Profound insight, intuition, mental clarity, deep comprehension & emotional clarity occur when the brain is in balance. Barriers between unconscious and conscious material are permeable, allowing difficult emotions to be processed more easily. Mystical insights and a sense of peace are awakened mind gifts that bathe the psyche in the liquid of transformation. Often referred to as a trance state, hemispheric synchrony is a very healthy brainwave frequency that can be used to transform consciousness and further spiritual growth. It is an opportunity for spiritual transcendence and higher states of awareness.
“It is said that ancient shamans could travel to the moon via the resonant beating of the drums and from there they could look down on the world” (Lynn, The way of the drum: audiocassette).
Ancient ceremonial rituals used drumming to induce altered states of consciousness, or trance states. The trance became the vehicle used by shamans & healers to connect with divine energies in the spiritual dimension. The drum initiated a vibrational frequency that helped them transcend normal consciousness to achieve a trance state. Rhythm helped anchor their travel into trance states by creating a sound link between the material world and the other ‘dimension’ and the rhythm of the drum became the conduit for heightened awareness, clarity and ecstasy, helping the healer channel divine wisdom to the rest of the tribe.
Trance states are so named for their transcendental qualities. They are able to : surpass oppositional and judgmental thinking; clear the mind & cleanse emotional toxicity out of consciousness; allow an intersection between conscious & unconscious forces; induce a hypnogogic dream like surreal state filled with mystical insight, peaceful feeling and creative brilliance, offer physical and emotional healing qualities & spiritual rejuvenation. Unsurprisingly, trance states are associated to most ancient healing practices. Some scientists believe that hemispheric synchrony may be the neurobiological basis of transcendental states of consciousness.
RESEARCH ON TREATING VARIOUS SYMPTOMS WITH RHYTHMIC ENTRAINMENT INTERVENTION
Research studies conducted by the Strong Institute show that drumming can advance the following areas of psychological well-being:
- language and communication skills,
- social interaction and engagement,
- sensory defensiveness,
- attention span,
- improvement of eye-contact,
- containment of aggression,
- alleviation of anxiety
Findings conclude that a musical program of complex rhythmic patterns positively stimulates the central nervous system, showing improvements within 3-4 weeks.. These effects facilitate long-term behavioral and cognitive improvement in neurobiological, physical and psychological illnesses. Repeated exposure to specific rhythmic hand drumming patterns improved the treatment of mild depression, Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Epilepsy, behavioral problems, immune system disorders, head injuries and chronic pain disorders like Sciatica and Fibromyalgia. These programs, called Rhythmic Entrainment Interventions (R.E.I.) are customized to reduce specific symptoms in non-intrusive 4 month listening home programs that are monitored accordingly, to optimize results. Such interventions are available through Aha Intelligence and follow a in depth inventory assessment phase.
RESEARCH ON CANCER AND DRUMMING
Further research conducted by an American organization, HealthRhythms, researched the benefits of drumming in cancer treatment programs, investigating the effects on the central nervous system. Findings conclude that rhythm influences and promotes healthy immune system functioning. This somewhat informs the work of neurologist Barry Bittman, M.D. and his renowned research team who discovered that a specific group drumming approach significantly increased the disease-fighting activity of white blood cells. These ‘Natural Killer cells’ seek out and destroy cancer cells and virally infected cells. Along with conventional medical strategies, Dr. Bittman includes group drumming in all of his disease-based programs at the Mind-Body Wellness Centre. (www.remo.net)
DRUMMING ADDITIONAL TO TRATETMENT PROGRAM
Psychotherapist Friedman uses drumming as a therapeutic modality to assist in the treatment of various conditions. In his investigations, drumming activities were found to have benefited the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Speech Difficulty, Substance Addiction, Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Stress Management, Troubled Adolescence, Autism, Downe’s Syndrome and William’s Syndrome (Friedman, 2000).
LIFE SKILLS TRAINING WITH DRUMMING
Other researchers like Roskam, (1993; 1995), studied the effects of drumming with groups of troubled adolescents. Results show that drumming positively influenced self-confidence, body image, emotional tone and general mental health. Similarly, Informal research studies conducted with the children of the Red Cross Pediatrics Burns Unit in Cape Town, South Africa, offered half-hour drumming sessions over a 3-month period. After two months of drumming, a sensitivity to group dynamics and the beginnings of a group identity began to form. Most of the children showed an increase in concentration span and attention. Interpersonal growth, varying degrees of emotional release and increased self-esteem were also evident (Albertyn, Spence, 2001).
Another drumming movement, Drumawé, used drumming to increase self-esteem in adolescent boys in Cape Town, South Africa, in an extra mural art program, ‘Just Africa’. Most of the boys showed increased self-confidence , which enabled them to demonstrate their rhythmical skill to the rest of their group. Group solidarity and group support also grew (Drumawé: Just Africa, 2002). Drumawe was also asked to intervene with a life skills driven project with adolescent boy inmates and high security male adult inmates in the infamous Pollsmore prison in Cape Town South Africa. The rehabilitation program was guided by N.I.C.R.O and was dedicated to address the adaptability of second or third time offenders by preparing them for the outside world upon release into society in a program called ‘Are you tough enough’. In depth assessment and evaluation of the program revealed drumming to be a significant activity in the approachability of the training content and helped to elevate self-esteem in these males considerably.
“…the listener is able, with the voice or an instrument, to choose his or her own expression of those aspects that reflect personal feelings” (Klower, 1997).
Let us consider the example of ‘Joan Soap’ who is feeling fatigued and lacking energy. Like a blank canvas onto which the artist paints, the drum can act as a tool onto which Joan can project her tired mood. Joan expresses her level of energy, by playing a steady, slow beat. If Joan starts to play a fast beat on the drum her mood lifts, energy levels increase as the sounds reorganize her internal vibrations. This example shows how the drum acts as a catalyst for change. Like an alchemical vessel, it becomes a transformer effecting change in the individual, transforming the mood in the individual him /herself and eventually even the surrounding atmosphere. Transforming negative emotional states into pleasurable ones is a profound skill that often takes time and patience. Adding to this process a therapeutic drumming intervention with its projective, alchemical quality can truly revolutionize the journey by accelerating it, making it more intriguing and leading it to the fundamental level of meeting a deeper essential inner nature and even revealing some intrinsic universal truths about life and how to live it.
THE DRUM AS A PROJECTIVE TOOL
The drum can be used as a projective surface onto which emotions and thoughts can be projected. Like a mirror or a reflecting therapist, drums provide a surface onto which emotions can be viewed, released and processed, hereby cleansing the body of toxic thoughts and feelings. Another way in which since rhythm and sound appeal to the preverbal right brain hemisphere, unconscious material is also activated more easily. This immediate connection with unconscious processes helps to release stored up energy. It also makes the self-discovery journey an active display of emotion that is non-verbal and expressive.
DRUM ALCHEMY : The drum as alchemist
“Alchemical drumming” is the process of transmuting what is unhealthy in the body and releasing it through the drum” (Friedman, 2000).
Alchemy was the name given to a medieval chemistry practice that sought to transmute base metals into gold. The true power of the drum can be seen in its ability to introduce sound patterns that effect the brainwaves of the players. Its alchemical power is evident when alternative sound patterns are used to effect a desired change. Like alchemy, the drum’s sound vibrations can be used to transform basic emotions (by projecting, mirroring and then releasing them), into higher ‘golden’ states of consciousness. This transformation process has been referred to as the “alchemy of drumming” (Friedman, 2000; 50). It refers to the idea that it is possible to procure
POWER, POTENTIAL AND ACTUALISING THE ESSENTIAL SELF
“And the sound of a drum is power made manifest” (Friedman, 2000).
The drum itself can even act as the ideal catalyst for discovering and maximizing ones inner potential. There are two reasons for this, first, MRI based brain researchers conclude that musical improvisation is one of the most sophisticated and inclusive ways for the brain to operate. Musical ability then and the creative expression thereof is a profound way to access greater brain potential and develop a relationship with the self that is activated in a concentrated mental state. This implies that the ego-based traps of unconscious thought and mental chatter are missed. Secondly, in turn, when coupled with the intent to embark on a journey of self-knowledge through the drumming experience, this relationship to the self can become an intriguing discovery of the universal laws of physics, how we interact with them and a deeper knowing of an essentially true nature that resides inside this matrix. This instills a deep connection with the true Self, an inner knowing of how to remain connected to the field of awareness whilst remaining active (drumming is a kinetic physical activity) and a contemplative reckoning with this internal world while playing becomes truly possible, fascinating and all the while experientially educational.
“The djembe is also known as the healing drum because of its history as a tool in African healing traditions” (Rhythmedge.com/hist.html).
BENEFITS : PSYCHOLOGICAL, EMOTIONAL & PSYCHOSOCIAL BENEFITS OF DRUMMING
“…the drum has been used since time immemorial as a regular part of healing traditions…” (Klower, 1997)
- Emotional and creative expression: develops and encourages expression of all kinds of experience non-verbally; then enhances creative self-expression; develops creativity.
- Emotional release: helps us let go of troubled feelings, physical tension, frustration & sadness.
- Develops memory and increases concentration and attention: by learning to play structured rhythms, long & short-term memory skills are exercised and extended.
- Self-discovery: facilitates learning about desires, fears, personal issues, skills, limitations, and intentions.
- Develops right brain hemisphere functioning: emotions, creativity, intuition, sound & visual.
- ‘Hemispheric synchrony’ /mental clarity: balancing the right & left brain hemispheres results in theta brainwave states which calm, soothe and expand heightened awareness & creativity.
- Group/community awareness: we learn to co-operate with others to make music, this leads to feeling heard, acknowledged and affirmed by the group. We awaken to our role in the group.
- Increases Self-esteem: Self-expression leads to confidence, as does musical skill development.
- Increased Energy: drumming releases endorphins, which energize body & mind and lifts our spirits.
- Peace and stillness: expressing emotions creatively clears the body. Rhythm stills the critical mind.
- Stress release & Relaxation: drumming ventilates our emotions and allows relaxation.
- Communication: drumming is symbolic non-verbal communication, teaching us how to listen, repeat, reflect and express. Then, with strong conviction, we can speak proudly to the world.
- Motor-co-ordination: drumming develops hand-eye co-ordination, motor skill fluidity and teaches the brain to send messages to the hands in accordance with auditory signals.
- Time keeping: mental discipline is required to monitor the physical action in accordance with the time & pace of the rhythm, promoting mind & muscle control. Intuition develops here.
- Inspiration: the music and magic of the drum’s rhythm excites us & fills us with passion
For these reasons drumming is highly suited to addressing and facilitating personal growth and inspired experiential learning processes.
“In our society, full and total expression on any level is an extraordinary gift, for many of us censor our thoughts and hold back our feelings” (Friedman, 2000).
The drum helps us develop personal expression. As a non-verbal form of communication, drumming helps us learn to articulate what we are feeling and thinking clearly. In this way it builds our confidence to help us communicate with others proudly and effectively. Discovering your uniqueness, expressing it proudly and harmonizing it with others, is a key DrumInspire workshop feature. These journeys help participants serve their highest vision by learning to express their uniqueness on the drum. In this way drumming becomes a fun way for us to tell our own story through rhythm.
“Your drum can help you discover creative expression”(Friedman, 2000).
“(Drumming)…the opportunity to express their individual creative talents in a structured way’ (Katz, 1999).
Drumming can enhance creativity and creative expression. Firstly, drumming stimulates the right brain hemisphere, which is the powerhouse for audial input and also the source for creativity. Activating this area with sound helps to develop our creative energies. Secondly, drumming is a creative adventure that and can allow unstructured play and improvisation. By improvising into the rhythm of beats we hear, we can play our own desired sounds. This means we can play with a spirit of exploration and create any sounds we like to hear. Originality, uniqueness and idiosyncrasies are great aspects to play with as they also reveal and develop our own style. Creative development is maximized with intuitive drumming, that is free style.
“Drumming, for some reason, helped me to release some of the sadness” (Thomas Willet. In Friedman, 2000).
“Drumming can also unlock the emotional blocks that you may have, that may be repressed or suppressed within”(Friedman, 2000).
Drums can be used to release troubling emotions. Anger, sadness, doubt, fear and even depressed states, can be observed and released through the drumming action. Hitting a drum allows for the immediate expression. In releasing these emotions we also let go of the negative thoughts that pre-empt them. Cleansing emotional toxins from the body and mind is a necessary step to thinking positively about life and feeling better about our position in it. Drumming can also help to identify emotions, acknowledge and release them. It can act as a projective tool for expressing the unspeakable in order to clear emotional pathways for future well-being. Ultimately drum therapy borrows a little from dream analysis, primal therapies, Gestalt and person centered therapy, where reflected feeling, movement and symbolic understanding work together for therapeutic effect. However, when intending to deal with deep emotional issues, it is always recommended to seek support from a trained psychotherapist or music therapist to assist in the process.
“Music is an especially effective way to process emotions, either passively or actively”(Klower, 1997).
“Drumming gives us words for our state of anger as well as our state of grace. When we have the word to articulate our anger, then the anger is not so overpowering. There is a way out.”(Helm, 2000).
Identifying and then expressing how we feel enables us to start actively processing our emotions. Having someone hear and reflect these feelings back to us is very important in this process. It is possible to express emotions into the drum, which acts like a mirror, reflecting these emotions, and their rhythmical components, back to us. This has a lot to do with being heard by the other. In the case of drumming, expressing emotions into the drum involves having these emotions mirrored/reflected back to us. This reflected emotion allows us to contemplate how we are feeling, almost simultaneously preparing us for renewal. As we release the emotions, the emotional pathway to new ones is cleared, preparing us for renewal and rejuvenation. This is what happens in the alchemy of drumming; a process whereby the drum has the power to transforms psychological states by transmuting their energy into constructive alternatives by altering their rhythmical flow and transmuting the reserve energy they contain.
Drumming requires a point of concentration in order to mimic the sounds we hear, and play along with the dominant rhythm. In order to play rhythms we learn to count beats per bar, a sophisticated task, possible only with focused attention. To communicate these thoughts to our hands, and to play the beats in time, also requires attention and concentration. Drumming is a physical meditation that extends concentration while developing body awareness. Drumming exercises these areas of attention whilst strengthening psychomotor skills and co-ordination. For these reasons it is highly suited to the treatment of A.D.H.D. and various neuropsychological conditions that show impairment in these cognitive regions (Friedman, 2000).
“Other tangible benefits include the use of motor-skills, hand-eye co-ordination, concentration and memory expansion” (Katz, 1999).
Remembering which beats go where while you play them is something we have to learn to do in order to keep drumming (short-term memory). Similarly, we must also remember the sequence of beats to adhere to specific rhythmical arrangements (long-term memory). Luckily drumming can become a fun way to develop and extend memory, great for children and formative learning. It seems to increase memory retention as well. Playing rhythms over time seems to exercise and establish a particular long-term memory skill that relies on audial cognitive processing. Add to this both visual and audial memory skills as well, especially when learning structured rhythms.
DISCOVERING THE SELF
“The drum can help you get to your Self, your centered Self” (Babatunde Olantunji. In Friedman, 2000).
“With the inner strength of pure music essence, we can be stimulated to express and articulate itself” (Klower, 1997).
Jung called the deepest part of an individual, the ‘Self’, using the term to refer to the true individualized essence of self. Some spiritual traditions call this part the ‘higher self’, centered in love, compassion, knowing & kindness. These terms attempt to describe a pure unique essence in each of us, thought to be concealed at the level of the soul. Most soul talk is intimately bound with a relationship to the creative source of all things. Connecting with this source happens in prayer, dreams, elevated consciousness, meditation, self-analysis and drumming.
Drumming inspires us to discover the deepest parts of ourselves: after the expression, emotional releasing and emotional processing are done, there is nothing but true expression of the Self. With increased drumming, consciousness can elevate to reveal a clear connection to the Self , the source and the creative energies that color life. Drumming invites the Self to breathe life into the rhythm revealing its authenticity, strength, uniqueness and truth. Revealing our deepest truth in this way opens us to witnessing our personal power as a creative force that connects us to the source.
“Physiological changes then occur in the brain and body and, as a result, participants enter a stage of relaxed, effortless energized clarity” (Katz, 1999).
Activating both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously is a rare experience. This can leave us all a little left-brain dominant and thus a little off balance. Drumming develops the right hemisphere of the brain, and over a specified period of time it can alter consciousness to invoke a state of trance wherein the brain is in balance… in hemispheric synchrony. This balance is very good for us, similar to the peace and tranquility of meditation, the high of a professional runner and the deepened awareness of a hypnotic trance. Balancing the brain can lead to transcendental consciousness wherein normal limitations and blockages can be transformed and transcended. In this state, awareness heightens and a synergy between body, mind and heart invites healing, revolutionary thinking and then peace.
TRANSCENDING THE DUALISTIC PARADIGM
“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there” (Rumi)
Initiated by Pluto, and later strengthened by Descartes, dualistic thinking has helped us understand the world through categorizing information and separating objects from their opposites. This dualistic paradigm explains the world through comparison: death/life, pain/pleasure, young/old, big/small, and the two favorites; good/bad and right/wrong. When our brain is in synchrony, our consciousness can transcend categories that normally appear to be opposed, fixed and definite. Categorically opposed ideas dissolve into complimentary wholeness, allowing a union between thought and feeling. With this kind of united thinking, we can enjoy the similarity between ‘opposites’ and open our minds to seeing the connections between things. Hemispheric synchrony is about complimentary wholeness and certain drumming styles can produce thoughts and feelings of wholeness that transcend oppositional, and often-destructive thinking patterns. We are liberated from narrow mindedness and fixed categorical thinking brought on by unilateral brain activity. The union between rational logic and non-rational experience introduces possibilities where there once were limitations.
Developing the ability to integrate polarities is considered a high level skill that solves most of life’s existential problems. By synchronizing the hemispheres and activating balance in the brain, a world beyond duality is revealed and there is harmony within the opposites in life. Evidencing this is the mental attitude of ‘non-judgment’ practiced by Buddhist monks. In a recent study measuring various mental qualities ‘non-judgment’ was found to one of the highest frequencies the brain can produce since it reflects the ability to hold two opposing concepts in the mind at once with full acceptance. This state of equanimity also allows feelings of compassion and deeper understanding to develop increasing therefor the emotional maturity of the person. Inspired by this, Aha Intelligence aims to develop this quality and to increase the brains potential to reach this integrated states of holistic acceptance. Aha Intelligence provides unique and intriguing sound and rhythm based tools like rhythmic entrainment and drumming practices with self-knowledge consultations to synchronize the brain, realize personal and universal truths and actualize ones fullest potential. This sacred and sophisticated technology promises to delivers a pathway to mastering life and actualizing inner excellence.
“Connection describes the universe. ..as humans, are an integral part of the universe, it also describes us. As all things are interconnected, so are we; it is our nature to be connected. If we do not feel connected it is because something has happened to us to rupture our awareness of the connection. We may sometimes lose our awareness that we are a part of the whole, but that separateness is just an illusion. We cannot not be connected” (Hendricks, 2008).
We live in a world with a growing paradox in the connection between people. Whilst technological devices are peaking in their ability to connect us worldwide, there is escalating isolation and breakdown of the nuclear family. This together with limited community based styles of living and learning, failing governance and legal structures and an overall decline in the integrity of society leads us to a disillusion of our fundamental connection to each other and a paradoxical frustration of this connection. We are so close but so far away from an ultimate global connection and oneness that manages to secure our kindness and respect for each other on the planet. Community based drumming activities help participants to experience this innate connection between all beings and sometimes can even heal the rupture. In fact, since drumming utilizes this fundamental connection between participants and relies upon it to make the musical journey happen, the mere connection between individuals becomes both conscious and deeply useful. Observing and enjoying this connecting principle whilst drumming can produce a profound emotional bond with others beyond words and helps to demonstrate the true power in group wholeness and the strength of common intent. After all, the consistent purpose of drumming worldwide, was to develop community.
SENSE OF COMMUNITY
“Drumming with others provides a simple yet profound interaction… Hitting a drum allows for …community team spirit” (Friedman, 2000).
“There is a universality in rhythm that transcends races, cultures and countries” (Friedman, 2000).
Drumming is communication without words; a non-verbal language that creates a connection and meaning all of its own. Individuals from diverse cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds who would normally struggle to interact due to their differences can bond through the rhythms. Drumming facilitates cross-cultural integration because it is independent of all the barriers that limit social interaction. Anybody can do it, anytime, almost anywhere. People from many nationalities have a connection to a particular drum that has or is still played in their country. The strong historical importance of the drum, and its vast travel around the globe, makes it a truly universal tool that connects and integrates a worldwide community.
Drumming encourages collaboration. Since drum circles require group participation, drumming teaches co-operation and equal participation to facilitate a complimentary group outcome. Making individually beautiful sounds harmonize, is teamwork: a lesson also in positioning our individuality as a part of the whole. A sense of belonging is also cultivated, which enriches group interactions and promotes social wellbeing. As a communal activity, drumming can become a catalyzing force in developing tolerance to procure a respectful world society.
“Playing the drum can help you build confidence and self-esteem”(Friedman, 2000).
“When we move according to our innate rhythm, our movements will be confident and efficient” (Friedman, 2000).
Drumming is above all, an exercise impersonal power. Aside from technical skill, we need conviction to express ourselves clearly. Conviction grows with drumming. As we strengthen our expression, we mirror our achievements of increased skill. This is deeply affirming and encourages us to learn more, play clearer and express more of who we are. The social dynamics of interactive drumming give us opportunity to communicate with others. Conversational drumming also helps to increase self-esteem by showing us that we have been heard by others -a necessary qualities to increasing self worth and value in relation to others. Drum circles can lead to feeling acknowledged by others. In this communion, our sense of belonging deepens and our connection to the world strengthens. Finally we feel accepted for who we are, acknowledged and affirmed…. and our actions become filled with confidence & self-belief.
“Drumming results in a physical vitality because it is an energetic activity. It gets the heart pounding and the blood flowing and releases endorphins similar to those associated with ‘runners’ high’ (Katz, 1999).
Drumming is a physical activity that combines body, mind and heart into an orchestra of sound and movement, a great way to connect mind & body. We use physical energy to play the drum – some call it a ‘physical therapy’-, which increases stamina, flexibility and vitality. Furthermore, venting stress and frustrations into the drum releases stored emotional & psychological energy. Sustained periods of drumming can result in feelings of elation, and even ecstasy, revitalizing and centering energy. African drummers believe that good posture while drumming is a full upper body workout; a cardiovascular exercise that also strengthens and tones arm and chest muscles.
PEACE & STILLNESS
“When the noise of our thoughts disappears, when there is no longer any desire, any sense of having to do something, any will, we are left in silence ” (Klower, 1997).
Silence is a rare experience, often fearsome and unfamiliar to many of us living in the noisy western world. Perhaps we fear a quiet pause because it reveals intense and confusing thoughts accompanied by displeasing emotion. The fear of silence is perhaps also a fear of nothingness, a distrust in the simple experience of living. Drumming stills the critical mind, silencing the internal voices that normally taunt us into self-doubt. When we free our mind, we can also experience an emotional. This calmed mood and mind helps us connect with the stillness within us free of fear, insecurity and judgment. A feeling of peace and tranquility transpires, allowing us to enjoy and appreciate the silence we all truly need. Trusting silence is a spiritual lesson. Silence creates a space free of desire or conflict, and provides a blissful stillness. When we are at peace we receive the gift of knowing that what we are and where we are, is enough.
STRESS RELEASE & RELAXATION
“As the body becomes comfortable with a pattern that has been repeated for an extended time, the conscious mind relaxes, and worries and fears, tensions and inhibitions, are let go” (Katz, 1999).
Harmonious drumming can providing a deep physical & mental relaxation, thanks to mind calming and therapeutic effects. Friedman and other researchers claim that drumming can even release even severe stress related symptoms caused by Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. The results of hemispheric synchrony, using coordinated drumming patterns, can send the brain into a state of balance that produces resounding feelings of peace and tranquility. To play the drum, we must learn to play. In the play we relinquish the seriousness to discover expression and let go of our stress and tension. Research affirms the value of both music and play as natural health enhancing choices that extend lifespan due to increased relaxation. Unmistakably, drumming is a fun adventure that releases stress and allows us to feel calmly enlivened.
SUMMARY OF THERAPEUTIC DRUMMING AND ITS BENEFITS
Drumming enhances cognitive development, emotional catharsis, self-discovery and personal growth. Using the drum as a projective tool, drum therapy is an enjoyable and powerful way to deal with psychological stress. It and increases creativity, self-worth and self-awareness. Unlike many other therapeutic modalities advancing individual awareness, drumming facilitates deeper communication with the one self and others. Furthermore, by naturally orchestrating individual energy to serve the collective rhythm, drumming encourages the healing quality needed to extend personal healing into community health and development. A healthy world community demands awareness of healthy living and respectful a action. Drumming also facilitates insight and experiential learning about these aspects. It raises consciousness about group strength& individual responsibility, drumming is the panacea for life lived in this millennium, an era aching for heart filled encounters; juice, soul food and community. Now, more than ever before, our world community needs to collect, communicate, connect &harmonize, to create heartfelt personal & communal relationships.
Some of these effects are confirmed research studies on the benefits of hand drumming, most of these findings can be traced on the World Wide Web. The heart-warming therapeutic effects of drumming can be experienced in the DrumInspire journeys, which heal, release, inspire and enhance body, mind, heart and soul.
The drum has “the extraordinary power to touch something deep and powerful within us” (Friedman, 2000).