Meditation Articles Series


Late last year I began to learn how to drum. Itís taken me years to do it. I took some African dance lessons a long time ago, which inspired me to take up drumming as well. I havenít been to many lessons yet, but already with a few basic rhythms as well as practising in a group I have started to experience a state, which I can only describe as meditative. Not only that I feel a seamless part of the group as though I am no longer an individual but merged in the percussive sounds of each drum and drummer.

Physiological Effects of Drumming

On doing some research I found out that there are distinct physiological effects when people drum. It would seem that if I drum in a group my heartbeat entrains with others to the pulse of the drum. Entrainment means in this case that there is synchronization between peoplesí heartbeats and the drum pulse.

When I drum I feel connected to an ancient past where my ancestors would have drummed, danced, and passed on their history through story telling. Even though my rhythm is still a little tentative I know that I have always drummed for I can sense the dust beneath my feet, the smell of the fire, and myself drumming with my tribal sisters in ecstatic trance.

The use of the drum to attain spiritual states, meditative states, and access knowledge is both ancient and widespread. Drums are found in just about every culture in every part of the world.

Drumming Relieves Stress

I also discovered in reading about drumming that when Alzheimerís patients are given drums to play they could maintain a steady rhythm and stay focused. For some hours afterwards they remain much calmer and less fretful. In patients with heart arrhythmia it has been discovered that if they drum they can establish a steady heart beat. Apparently the drum works as a sort of external pacemaker.

There is no doubt that drumming is definitely a one pointed focus activity, which is the same with most meditation techniques. I find when I am drumming that it requires such intense focusing that my mind lets go of any worries, or concerns I may have. I am fully present in each moment.

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