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Drum Therapy

Therapeutic Effects of Drumming

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Boys playing drums

Boys playing drums in Masango, Burundi

Buena Vista Images

Rhythm and resonance order the natural world. Dissonance and disharmony arise only when we limit our capacity to resonate totally and completely with the rhythms of life. The origin of the word rhythm is Greek meaning “to flow.” We can learn “to flow” with the rhythms of life by simply learning to feel the beat, pulse, or groove while drumming. It is a way of bringing the essential self into accord with the flow of a dynamic, interrelated universe, helping us feel connected rather than isolated and estranged. 7

Drumming Provides a Secular Approach to Accessing a Higher Power

Shamanic drumming directly supports the introduction of spiritual factors found significant in the healing process. Drumming and Shamanic activities produce a sense of connectedness and community, integrating body, mind and spirit. According to a recent study, “Shamanic activities bring people efficiently and directly into immediate encounters with spiritual forces, focusing the client on the whole body and integrating healing at physical and spiritual levels. This process allows them to connect with the power of the universe, to externalize their own knowledge, and to internalize their answers; it also enhances their sense of empowerment and responsibility. These experiences are healing, bringing the restorative powers of nature to clinical settings.” 8

Drumming Releases Negative Feelings, Blockages, and Emotional Trauma

Drumming can help people express and address emotional issues. Unexpressed feelings and emotions can form energy blockages. The physical stimulation of drumming removes blockages and produces emotional release. Sound vibrations resonate through every cell in the body, stimulating the release of negative cellular memories. “Drumming emphasizes self-expression, teaches how to rebuild emotional health, and addresses issues of violence and conflict through expression and integration of emotions,” says Music educator Ed Mikenas. Drumming can also address the needs of addicted populations by helping them learn to deal with their emotions in a therapeutic way without the use of drugs.

Drumming Places One in the Present Moment

Drumming helps alleviate stress that is created from hanging on to the past or worrying about the future. When one plays a drum, one is placed squarely in the here and now. One of the paradoxes of rhythm is that it has both the capacity to move your awareness out of your body into realms beyond time and space, and to ground you firmly in the present moment.

Drumming Provides a Medium for Individual Self-Realization

Drumming helps reconnect us to our core, enhancing our sense of empowerment and stimulating our creative expression. “The advantage of participating in a drumming group is that you develop an auditory feedback loop within yourself and among group members—a channel for self-expression and positive feedback—that is pre-verbal, emotion-based, and sound-mediated.” 9 Each person in a drum circle is expressing themselves through his or her drum and listening to the other drums at the same time. “Everyone is speaking, everyone is heard, and each person’s sound is an essential part of the whole.” 10 Each person can drum out their feelings without saying a word, without having to reveal their issues. Group drumming complements traditional talk therapy methods. It provides a means of exploring and developing the inner self. It serves as a vehicle for personal transformation, consciousness expansion, and community building. The primitive drumming circle is emerging as a significant therapeutic tool in the modern technological age.

References
1. Bittman, M.D., Barry, Karl T. Bruhn, Christine Stevens, MSW, MT-BC, James Westengard, Paul O Umbach, MA, “Recreational Music-Making, A Cost-Effective Group Interdisciplinary Strategy for Reducing Burnout and Improving Mood States in Long-Term Care Workers,” Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, Fall/Winter 2003, Vol. 19 No. 3/4.
2. Winkelman, Michael, Shamanism: The Neural Ecology of Consciousness and Healing. Westport, Conn: Bergin & Garvey; 2000.
3. Bittman, M.D., Barry, “Composite Effects of Group Drumming...,” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine; Volume 7, No. 1, pp. 38-47; January 2001.
4. Winkelman, Michael, Shamanism: The Neural Ecology of Consciousness and Healing. Westport, Conn: Bergin & Garvey; 2000.
5. Friedman, Robert Lawrence, The Healing Power of the Drum. Reno, NV: White Cliffs; 2000.
6. Mikenas, Edward, “Drums, Not Drugs,” Percussive Notes. April 1999:62-63. 7. Diamond, John, The Way of the Pulse – Drumming with Spirit, Enhancement Books, Bloomingdale IL. 1999.
8. Winkelman, Michael, “Complementary Therapy for Addiction: Drumming Out Drugs,” American Journal of Public Health; Apr 2003, Vol. 93 Issue 4, p647, 5p
9. Mikenas, Edward, “Drums, Not Drugs,” Percussive Notes. April 1999:62-63.
10. Friedman, Robert Lawrence, The Healing Power of the Drum. Reno, NV: White Cliffs; 2000.

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