These days the ancient sound of African djembe drums can be heard anywhere from outside office buildings to parks to the inside of school gymnasiums. People have discovered the amazing healing powers of drumming and are reaping the many benefits of “getting into the groove”.
The current proponents of drumming in community are no longer shamans, but more likely drum circle facilitators, music teachers, fitness instructors, psychotherapists and counselors – to name but a few. Indigenous peoples have always incorporated drumming into celebrations, rituals and healing; now this ancient wisdom is being cultivated and used to spread joy, create community, relieve stress, enhance spiritual, emotional and physical well-being and even to treat many modern illnesses.
It may seem unusual to think that one of the best antidotes to many of the pressures of our modern world comes in the form of a drum, but scientific studies - by renowned psychoneuroimmunologist Barry Bittmann, for example - have proven that aside from the spiritual and social benefits of rhythmic activity, drumming in a safe, encouraging circle actually enhances the immune system and increases the effectiveness of killer-T cells in the body, literally protecting us from many forms of cancer and other debilitating illnesses.
Drumming has a marked effect on brain wave patterns. When people with irregular or weak brain rhythms (such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s), or people who are stressed and consistently in their “left brain”, regularly participate in drumming activities, left-right brain integration is stronger and brainwaves become more organized while changing in frequency to a level where one feels more in tune, more balanced and more meditative.
Drumming as therapy can also be used in couple’s counseling, in prisons, in senior’s centres and in schools, where it has been especially effective with children presenting various learning challenges. But drumming is not only for specialized areas – it is for EVERYONE! The simple act of coming to a drumming class, participating in a local drum circle or exercising to the beat of a Drums Alive® event gives a person the opportunity to relieve stress, experience joy and communicate with others in stress-free, non-verbal, positive and healing way.
When drumming is combined with exercise as in a Drums Alive® session, where participants combine beating on fitness balls with dance and movement, it is a very powerful tool indeed. While drumming alone gives you all the usual benefits of a good workout – stress relief, improved self-confidence, muscle tone and health - drumming combined with dance/movement enhances all the usual physical and emotional effects of physical exercise. Integrating drumming into a fitness class is a total body, mind and spiritual approach to wellness.
We are born in rhythm, listening to our mother’s heartbeat in the womb. Our bodies are rhythmic – our blood flows, our heart beats and our lungs breathe in patterns. We change and move with the seasons – in short, we are surrounded by rhythms and thus it is no surprise that our bodies innately respond to the rhythms of drumming. So if you are feeling out of sync or stressed, or just looking for a way to joyfully connect with the primal energies of our world and with other like-minded folk, consider fitting drumming into your lifestyle and start moving to a whole new beat. There are only positive side-effects!