Drumming is perhaps the oldest form of active meditation known to humanity. It is a simple and effortless way to still the chatter of the mind, thereby inducing altered states of consciousness. It is one of the quickest and most powerful ways I know to open the heart and connect with a power greater than ourselves. Here are 10 good reasons why you should incorporate drumming into your spiritual practice:
1. To induce natural altered states of consciousness. Researchers have found that if a drum beat frequency of around 180 beats per minute is sustained for at least fifteen minutes, it will induce significant altered states in most people, even on their first attempt. This ease of induction contrasts significantly with the long periods of isolation and practice required by most meditative disciplines before inducing significant effects. Rhythmic stimulation is a simple and effective technique for affecting states of mind.
2. To produce deeper self-awareness by inducing synchronous brain activity. Recent studies have demonstrated that the physical transmission of rhythmic energy to the brain synchronizes the two cerebral hemispheres, integrating conscious and unconscious awareness. The ability to access unconscious information through symbols and imagery facilitates psychological integration and a reintegration of self.
3. To experience being in resonance with the natural rhythms of life. 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. When drummers feel this rhythmic flow, especially at a slower, steady beat, they can shift into a state of deep relaxation and expanded awareness. 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.
4. To access a higher power. 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 research published in the American Journal of Public Health, «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.»
5. To release 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.
6. To reduce tension, anxiety, and stress. Drumming induces deep relaxation, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress. Stress, according to current medical research, contributes to nearly all disease and is a primary cause of such life-threatening illnesses as heart attacks, strokes, and immune system breakdowns. A groundbreaking 2005 study demonstrated that group drumming not only reduces stress, but reverses genetic switches that turn on the stress response believed responsible in the development of common diseases.
7. To create sacred space. The drum is also a versatile instrument for creating sacred space. You can use it to summon the spirits into a ritual or ceremony. According to Wallace Black Elk, the renowned Lakota shaman, «When you pray with that drum, when the spirits hear that drum, it echoes. They hear this drum, and they hear your voice loud and clear.» Conversely, a forceful beat of the drum can be used to drive away malevolent spirits or intrusive energies that cause confusion, disease, and disharmony. Used in this way, the drum facilitates the creation of a purified sacred space.
8. To reconnect with your inner or spirit self. Drumming heightens the ability of perception and enables you to see into the deeper realms of the self. The moment you bond with your spirit is the moment your heart opens. The first time you glimpse your spirit self, you gasp and cry. You know who you are. That is the moment you begin to heal.
9. To gain insight into an issue that you want to know more about. You can take concerns into a drum meditation in order to access personal revelation. Drumming stills the incessant chatter of the mind, allowing you to view life and life’s problems from a detached, spiritual perspective, not easily achieved in a state of ordinary consciousness.
10. To clarify life purpose. When we are unaware of our soul’s true purpose or simply not aligned in our actions, we often experience a malaise of the spirit. We can engage the blueprint of our soul path through the vehicle of drumming. Drumming is a time-tested medium for individual self-realization. We can go within to access wisdom and energies that can help awaken our soul calling and restore us to wholeness. Drumming reconnects us with our deepest core values and our highest vision of who we are and why we are here. It heightens our sense of mission and purpose, empowering our personal evolution.