The Powerful Healing Benefits of a Drumming Circle
There are many healing benefits to a drum cirlce. Some are deep, personal healings, some are physical healings, and some are for the community. We'll discuess each of them below.
About.com has a great article that covers many of the positive effects of participating in a drumming circle. Here are a couple of them:
Drumming Releases 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. “Drumming emphasizes self-expression, teaches how to rebuild emotional health, and addresses issues of violence and conflict through expression and integration of emotions,” says Music educator Ed Mikenas. Drumming can also address the needs of addicted populations by helping them learn to deal with their emotions in a therapeutic way without the use of drugs.
Drumming Provides a Medium for Individual Self-Realization
Drumming helps reconnect us to our core, enhancing our sense of empowerment and stimulating our creative expression. “The advantage of participating in a drumming group is that you develop an auditory feedback loop within yourself and among group members—a channel for self-expression and positive feedback—that is pre-verbal, emotion-based, and sound-mediated.” 9 Each person in a drum circle is expressing themselves through his or her drum and listening to the other drums at the same time. “Everyone is speaking, everyone is heard, and each person’s sound is an essential part of the whole.” 10 Each person can drum out their feelings without saying a word, without having to reveal their issues. Group drumming complements traditional talk therapy methods. It provides a means of exploring and developing the inner self. It serves as a vehicle for personal transformation, consciousness expansion, and community building. The primitive drumming circle is emerging as a significant therapeutic tool in the modern technological age.
The DrumBus outlines some key areas that research has shown drumming can help with including these 3:
Drumming reduces stress, tension, and anxiety. Blood samples from participants of an hour-long drumming session revealed a reversal of the hormonal stress response and an increase in natural killer cell activity. (Bittman, Berk, Felten, Westengard, Simonton, Pappas, Ninehouser, 2001, Alternative Therapies, vol. 7, no. 1).
Drumming provides for natural pain control. Drumming promoted the production of endorphins and endogenous opiates, the bodies own morphine-like painkillers, allowing for alleviation from pain and grief. (Winkelman, Michael, Shamanism: the Neural Ecology of Consciousness and Healing).
Drumming fights depression. Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study with 30 depressed people over 80 years of age and found that participants in a weekly music therapy group were less anxious, less distressed and had higher self-esteem (Friedman, Healing Power of the Drum, 1994).
EearthLodgeCenter outlines many of the health benefits of a drumming circle and summarizes some of the detailed findings. Here's a few of the examples:
Subjects who participated in a clinical trial using the HealthRhythms cancer protocol showed an increase in natural killer cell activity and an enhanced immune system. While this does not indicate a cure for cancer, such results may be of benefit for those facing this disease. (Bittman, Berk, Felten, Westengard, Simonton, Pappas, Ninehouser, 2001, Alternative Therapies, vol. 7, no. 1).
According to Clair, Bernstein and Johnson (1995), Alzheimer’s patients who drum can connect better with loved ones. The predictability of rhythm may provide the framework for repetitive responses that make few cognitive demands on people with dementia.
Rhythmic cues can help retrain the brain after a stroke or other neurological impairment, according to Michael Thaurt, director of Colorado State University’s Center of Biomedical Research in Music. Researchers have also discovered that hearing slow, steady rhythms, such as drumbeats, helps Parkinson patients move more steadily (Friedman, Healing Power of the Drum, 1994).
XDrums talks about how drumming circles help foster a community:
Beyond the individual health and wellness benefits of drumming, a group of drummers provides its own benefits that enhance the healing properties of the drums and rhythms. Drumming with others can help establish community bonds and allow people to connect together on a level that does not require awkward small talk or allow other insecurities to surface that can inhibit interaction with new people.
Teamwork and cooperative skills that are needed in businesses and corporations, schools or other group organizations, are established naturally through drum circles. By participating in a drum circle, the community rhythms that are produced do not rely on only one other member, and each contributor has their own sound to add, creating a musical picture of the power of collaboration that can translate well into business environments.
Here's a video that outlines a drum circle experience.