DRUMMING AWAY DIS-EASE
Latest results of scientific research on drumming and its healing powers
In the beginning of all life there was sound and rhythm…
Every atom, particle, and molecule is in constant vibration, and therefore has a frequency. The whole universe, including all living creatures is in a state of vibration or in other words made of sound.
Sound is the first of our senses to develop and the last that leaves us when we die.
In the womb we are constantly bathed in our mother’s body sounds like her heartbeat, respiration, digestion, voice, to list only a few.
Every organ, cell, bone, tissue and liquid of the body, and also the electromagnetic fields which surround the body (aura), has a healthy vibratory frequency. If we are not resonating with some part of ourselves or our surroundings, we become dissonant and therefore unhealthy and “dis-ease” can manifest.
This century, the Western world has rediscovered and scientifically proven what ancient cultures and tribes already knew for thousands of years; sounds and music can heal us and the planet.
Since the dawn of time drums and their rhythms were the center of social and cultural activities all over the world.
In Africa, the continent of human origin and roots of all music, the drum was the primary form of communication. Beside that the drums and their rhythms were used for socialization, entertainment, dancing and healing.
An ancient Hindu text proclaims, "Creation arises from the drum". And the drum is played by Shiva, the Highest God, and the God of the Universe.1
There is evidence that skin-covered drums (membranophones) existed around 7500 B.C.2
Many mythologies speak about the drum as the shaman’s most important tool in healing rituals to induce a state of trance, which is the primarily key to eliminate any state of disease.
Psychologists have long studied rhythm’s effects on our psyches. Robert Assiogoli, Ph. D., who in 1908 founded Psychosynthesis, a holistic discipline in psychology, he notes that ancient people used the drum and rattle to increase the effectiveness of herbs and also used the instruments alone to promote healing.3
Furthermore, the drum is the most accessible musical instrument. No other instrument gets people as immediately involved in a successful music making experience as the drum. Through the drum, all kinds of goals can be addressed, be they physical, cognitive or emotional.
A variety of problems – including depression, stress, high blood pressure, addictions, asthma, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, paralysis, autism, Down Syndrome, William’s Syndrome and a range of physical disabilities – are currently treated with music and especially drumming.
Sound and rhythm interacts with our mind, body and soul on at least 4 levels:
• Psycho-acoustic effect on the brain
The brain can change from Beta waves (hard concentration and focused activity) to Alpha waves (calm and relaxed) to Theta (deep relaxation and visualization). During this process the logical left hemisphere of the brain is gradually switched off and the intuitive and creative right hemisphere is activated.
Drumming increases our Alpha brainwaves, those brainwaves associated with feelings of well-being and euphoria. Dr. Barry Quinn, a licensed clinical psychologist found out that especially his hypervigilant (highly stressed) patients benefited from drumming, as Alpha waves doubled after only 30 minutes, immediately after the first drumming session.3
The reason that rhythm and music is such a powerful tool is because it accesses the brain globally. Vision for instance is in one part of the brain, speech another, but music uses the whole brain.
• Physical effect on our body
Research revealed and confirmed that music therapy affects the production an release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones like melatonin, nor epinephrine, serotonin, and prolactin into the bloodstream…[such] increased levels may have contributed to patients relaxed and calm mood.4
Follow up research from other sources showed that drumming, especially in groups, alters neuro endocrine and immunologic measurements in the participants.
Cortisol level, normally increased under stress was down on all trials and blood pressure levels are reduced while drumming.
Natural killer cells, responsible to attack viruses etc, showed an increased activity after drumming sessions.5 Researchers suggest that drumming promotes the production of endorphins, the bodies own painkillers, and can thereby also help in the control of pain.1
• Psychological and spiritual effects
Sound vibrations resonate through every cell in your body, allowing the energy centers to realign and to release negative cellular memories.
Drums and their rhythms can align and balance mental, emotional and spiritual energy bodies, balance charkas and enable emotional blockages and imbalances to be shifted.
This also has a profound effect on our consciousness, raising our vibrational level and enabling us to access spiritual dimensions.
Through hitting the drum, unhealthy and toxic emotions can be released. The drum, then, becomes a tool of alchemy, altering that which is negative into something positive through an action as simple as a drum slap.
As many healers have taught since the time of Pythagoras, when we move with the flow of life, we reduce stress and help our minds and bodies function as they are intended to. When we go against that flow, life becomes difficult and we suffer, first emotionally and later physically. Learning to feel the rhythm, pulse or groove while drumming can help us to actually experience that flow in ourselves and in others.
Ultimately, to flow with the pulse, to be in groove activates our own natural desire for health, which is the most important step to achieving it.
The drum provides us with an ancient form of communication, one that does not rely on the articulation of words, but one that uses a much more basic language, our emotions expressed through sound. When people communicate verbally, they are limited to one way communication (one person speaking and others listening), and there is great room for miscommunication and misinterpretation.
When a group of people are drumming together, everyone is speaking through his or her drum and listening to the drums at the same time. Everyone is speaking, everyone is heard, and each person’s sound is an essential part of the whole.3
The drum seems to have the capacity to unite all individuals who choose to experience it together and creates an experience of wholeness and community. Despite race, religion, color, creed, background, or ideology, all are joined together through this ancient instrument’s calling.
The drum and its rhythms unlock some of the most positive qualities we have as human beings – the need to connect with others, the expression of our creative selves, the exhilaration of joy and play and the potential to heal.
1. John Diamond, M.D. The Way of the Pulse – Drumming with Spirit. Enhancement Books. Bloomingdale IL. US. 1999.
2. Mickey Hart. Planet Drum – A Celebration of Percussion and Rhythm. Harper Collins. New York. NY. US. 1991.
3. Robert Lawrence Friedman. The Healing Power of the Drum. White Cliffs. Reno .NV. US. 2000
4. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Vol. 5, No 6, November 1999.
5. Bittmann, Simonton. Simonton Cancer Center. CA. USA. 2001
Information supplied by:
Unban Tribe Drumming
For information on the healing powers of the drum and its transformational properties or if you want to experience them yourself and participate in our weekly African drumming classes and monthly Trance Drumming Nights in central London or our Tribal Music & Healing Arts Camp in Cornwall (May 20th – 23rd 2004) please contact us
Tel: +44 (0)20 7600 1541
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