The Shamanic Drum is one of the most important tools of our practice. A guide, a teacher, a healer, a friend; the drum is important to so many on the shamanic path. Here is a list of seven reasons why.
Second only to the voice, the drum is the oldest instrument. Ever since our ancestors beat on hollowed out logs and stretched animal skins over wooden hoops, these instruments have been a major part of cultures. From the Sami to the Siberian shaman, the Irish bodhran to the Indian dhol, the Native Americans to the Australian Aborigines, the drumbeat has led us into song, dance and into journeys through the worlds.
Shamanic drumming, as distinguished from other types of drumming, usually refers to the use of sustained, repetitive drumming rhythms. These drum rhythms have a number of physiological effects on the body, but of particular importance to shamanic practitioners is its effectiveness in altering your state of consciousness. These sustained rhythms act as sonic drivers, creating a shift in your brain rhythms from a busy Beta state to a trance like Theta state, optimal for shamanic journeying.
The drum has been the must-have in every community all around the world and was the best thing until sliced bread. Nowadays, there is a revival in the use of the drum, as many are experiencing the benefits of this wonderful instrument. Here are just a few:
1. Drumming allows self-expression
Shamanic drumming allows individuals to express themselves in a non-verbal way to others. For many, speaking about feelings is still tough. It’s a shame and I wish we were a society where people felt safe to discuss their feelings in front of others. Give them a drum, however, and people begin to express themselves creatively and passionately. I have seen this holding drumming groups with young children, college aged students, learning disabled adults and other groups who have found a means of expressing themselves through the drum rhythm, and loved it. With the college students, who I see regularly, I see big changes in their self-expression outside of the drumming sessions, as well as a big shift in their self-awareness.
2. Drumming allows for deeper self-awareness
One of the things I love about drumming is that you are outwardly so active, but can be inwardly so still. Drumming creates a synchronisation of brain function, and gets the left and right side working more harmoniously together. Time drumming is good quality you-time, feeling relaxed and happy and with opportunity for reflection and thinking about your current situation from a slightly different viewpoint. In this more relaxed and deeper theta state, you are able to see things from a slightly different perspective than normal and can help you see life in a different light.
3. Drumming is good for your health
Aside from the obvious exercise you get from playing a drum for however many hours you are lucky enough to be playing, shamanic drumming has some great documented health benefits.
Beating depression, addiction, anxiety and stress and helping the management of pain, blood pressure, immune function and recovery from stroke, surely the drum should be in every medicine cabinet, right next to the aspirin and the Calpol.
4. Drumming brings communities together
Gathering a number of you together with drums and playing a rhythm together breaks down barriers between people, promotes social cohesion within that group, encourages listening to one another, interchanging responsibilities of leading and following the rhythm, and provides an activity where you are all focused creatively on one thing, together. Unsurprisingly, drumming is becoming more common in team-building events with businesses as it helps a group bond, be more involved and communicate better.
5. Drumming is accessible to everyone
No matter how old or young you are, how able bodied you are, or whether it is your first time with a drum or whether you have been playing forever, everyone can join in. I have drummed in circles with little ones under the age of two and with people well into their eighties – there’s no stopping anyone who wants to drum. First time drummers quickly get over the doubt and the worry about keeping rhythm once they start. Everyone has a drum beat beating in their chest, and with drum in hand, you all can keep a sustained rhythm with a group and feel good for it.
6. Drumming assists spiritual growth and insight
Whether drumming in a group, or journeying to the rhythm of someone else drumming, the beat can drive you into a deep meditation like state where you are physically very relaxed by consciously very aware. Riding the sacred rhythm of the drum into the shaman’s cosmos, drumming allows you to journey to connect with the timeless wisdom and medicine that is available. As well as connecting you spiritually, the drum rhythm is extremely grounding and brings you firmly in the now.
7. Drumming is fun
And last, but not least, drumming is fun. There’s nothing that gets those endorphins surging around the bloodstream than joining together in circle with others, joining together with a drum rhythm, singing and dancing, with smiles on all of your faces.
So what’s stopping you getting together and drumming those sacred rhythms? JW