Recently I was talking with a colleague in New Jersey and we were discussing her excitement over drumming for an upcoming shamanic journey at an assisted care facility. As with many conversations, this one led us on a trail of discussing the healing power of the drum.
Through many years of drumming and hosting circles, Gary and I have been witness to the not only the calming and stress relief benefits of drumming, but the power that the vibrations have to shift the energy body to release pain and to heal deep physical and emotional disorders. Studies have shown that drumming stimulates the immune system and promotes the production of endorphins and the body’s own morphine-like painkillers helping to control pain.
The reason rhythm is such a powerful tool is that it permeates the entire brain. The sound of drumming generates neuronal connections in all parts of the brain, even if there is significant damage or impairment such as with stroke and Parkinson’s patients, and with Alzheimer’s and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
My colleague then told me of an article she had read many years back.(I tried to find it, but it must be lost in cyberspace somewhere.) It was about a care facility that held weekly drum circles for its residents. Also in this care facility was a man who had been in a coma for some time. One day, he got out of bed and walked out into the middle of the drum circle. The drumming had helped him out of his comatose state!
From my experience working with coma and Alzheimer’s patients, I have frequently found them in The Otherworld. Sometimes they were lost in their own past or simply wandering aimlessly and others simply stuck and not knowing how to return.
Then came my “Ah-Ha moment”… Of course! We use drumming for shamanic journeys to help us access the altered state of consciousness. But, in doing so, we also use it as what I call “the trail of breadcrumbs” to follow and return home when our journey is complete. So, medical studies aside, this simply made sense. The drumming that the patient had been hearing week in and week out had reached him in The Otherworld and he was then able to find and follow the “trail of breadcrumbs” home.
This awareness opened up a new path of treatment for my colleague as she routinely works with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients in her healing practice. If you are working with clients with focus difficulties, adding drumming, whether through a drumming circle or simply playing a drumming CD during a client’s healing session may be helpful to strengthen their awareness and focus.
Until next time –
Mitakuye Oyasin (A Lakota prayer reminding us we are all related),Debbie