Heal your body, sharpen your brain and relieve stress!
Drumming is a part of many cultures - African, Asian, Caribbean, South Asian, Latin, Middle Eastern and Native, to name a few. It is a component of religious ceremonies, cultural celebrations and various rituals. In the western world, the healing powers of drumming are less known and used. Beating a drum, with our hands, relieves tension, energises tired, aching bodies and heals the emotionally wounded. Drumming creates euphoria, induces a trance-like state, releases anger and promotes feelings of community, unity and well being.
Today drum therapy is being used, successfully, to release emotional pain, anger, and stress in:
- War veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- "At-risk" adolescents and those suffering from attention-deficit-hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
- Corporate employees under daily stress.
Other medical applications of drumming include helping :
- Alzheimer's patients, and those with dementia, to improve their short-term memory and increase social interaction
- Autistic children increase their attention spans
- Substance abusers to increase their communication skills and social interaction
- Mentally ill people (with manic depression and multiple personality disorder in particular), to enhance their self-esteem and create feelings of accomplishment.
- Parkinson's and stroke victims to regain the control of movement or improve their gait.
Why Drumming Heals.
Rhythm is an extremely powerful stimulus that creates some clear and easily perceivable time structures in our brain. Brain function is rhythmic: brain cells (neurons) fire at a certain tempo. Music calls to our soul. It calls to places that people have blocked and sometimes it calls to places that people can't block - and that's why drumming works.
Rhythm creates organisation, allowing people to relate to the music without having to relate directly to one another. You don't need to relate to other individuals verbally or deal with interpersonal relationships, and yet you are in an atmosphere of community. This is often the first step to more direct communication.
There are numerous psychological benefits associated with drumming. First is a sense of personal power. When hitting the drum, there is no time to think about tomorrow, yesterday or what's for dinner. Much of our stress stems from focusing on past hurts and regrets or from fears and worries about the future. Drumming puts us in the ‘here and now’. While hitting the drum our brain gets a break from worrying and, at the same time, we release unhealthy and toxic emotions that can make us ill. As drumming is a playful, fun pastime, it’s impossible to be simultaneously stressed while having so much fun!
Alpha Brain Waves and Relaxation
Drumming increases our alpha brainwaves, those brainwaves associated with feelings of well being and euphoria. Benefits associated with alpha waves are the ability to relax and keep the mind on a specific task. People with little or no alpha waves experience more mental stress, sleep disorders (and illness), than those with normal or high levels. In pain patients, the amount of alpha brainwaves a patient has is also an indicator of how well the patient is managing his or her pain.
Drumming is a vital tool for providing health benefits. On the most basic level, it is a physical activity that can be quite relaxing. As with any stress management vehicle, drumming can lower one's blood pressure thus reducing one’s risk of heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.
Drumming, Affirmation and Visualisation – make your dreams come true!
When the hypnotic power of the drum is combined with powerful, positive statements, the effects can be deep and long lasting. Through focusing on a rhythm that echoes an affirmative statement, the subconscious can internalise the positive statement thus allowing individuals to more quickly access the change of thought or behaviour that they desire.
Call a few friends or relatives, buy, borrow or make some drums and start your own drum circle today. If this proves too difficult, join Dina Ajlenberg’s drum circle!
This article is a modified version of that produced by St. Mary’s Health System, Evansville, IN. It was modified by Dr. Sandra Romano Anthony - www.nutritionandstressmanagement.com (416) 929-4909.