Drumming for healing and meditation is an ancient practice. In tribal cultures the power of sound over the body and spirit is well known, and now in the western world there is research supporting this – making this ancient wisdom more palatable to modern minds. Research suggests that brain activity can actually be affected by drumming, and there are studies showing how the sounds of a drum can help with illness and emotional trauma. Group drumming has been linked with improving the immune system, helping Alzheimer’s patients, building self esteem, and supporting recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. These studies are hinting at what has been known by shamanic practitioners over the ages, and shamans today still know as they practice what is often known as medicine drumming.
Led by well-known researcher, author, and cancer expert Barry Bittman, MD, who is the CEO of Meadville Medical Center’s Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, PA, the study shows that group drumming actually increases cancer-killing (NK) cells, which help the body combat not only cancer but also viruses including AIDS.
According to Dr. Bittman, “Group drumming tunes our biology, orchestrates our immunity, and enables healing to begin . . . When our hands connect with a drum that vibrates with our energy, vitality . . . and unity, we become whole again.” Dr. Bittman’s weekly radio program, Mind-Body Matters, is syndicated nationwide on NPR. For more on Dr. Bittman, visit www.mind-body.org/bittman.html
Drumming has also been used successfully with Alzheimer’s patients to focus attention, with war veterans to end trauma, with addicts in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, and with prison and homeless populations to enhance self-esteem. Progressive corporations like Motorola, AT&T, and Levi-Strauss have drummed with middle management to promote team-spirit building.
Widely published research also indicates that playing musical instruments increases children’s learning abilities. This appears especially true of those instruments that can be played intuitively like the drum. Studies indicate that drumming enhances right-brain functions such as intuition and creativity.
James Gordon, MD, of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington D.C. states “Oncologists should be open to group drumming if their patients are interested in it. Drumming can put people in a state of relaxation. It was used as a healing technique 1,000 years ago. Why not now?” (MAMM Magazine, July/August, 2001)
Noel John M. Carrasco, MD, has the following to say about Reiki and therapeutic drumming:
As a medical doctor, with a focus on blending complementary and holistic modalities with allopathic medicine, I incorporate Reiki into my practice.
Over the past year I have become an Usui Tibetan, and a Karuna Reiki® Master, as well as a practitioner of Reiki drumming and Reiki Crystal Healing through the ICRT and Infinite Light Healing Studies Center in Sedona.
In Reiki drumming, I find that the drum acts as liaison between the drummer and Reiki energy. It swiftly brings about a deep sense of relaxation.
One of my patients is a gentleman in his sixties who is in the process of healing from prostate cancer that has metastasized. He is also a scientist and is participating in traditional allopathic treatment as well as complementary therapies.
I have been able to incorporate Reiki drumming into his healing sessions with encouraging and intriguing results.
The drumbeat has a quickening effect, which helps direct the intent, ceremoniously calling us (practitioner and patient) to focus our attention. This patient has gone through chemotherapy and other aggressive treatments, which has placed extreme stress on his body. During our first Reiki drumming session, I observed him deeply relax for the first time since we had been working together. He seemed to experience deep emotional release, and as he did so, he relaxed even more.
He responded well physiologically also. First he had an awareness of a decrease in the pain he was experiencing, and he had noticeably more energy after each session. He also reported being able to sleep better. Clinical results indicated that some of his marker levels decreased, suggesting a health improvement as a result of his full treatment program.
Through combining Reiki and drumming, we are blending two specific frequencies, that of Reiki and that of sound. This brings about entrainment of consciousness and the heartbeat, both of which often become synchronized with the beat of the drum. The rhythm appears to move through the emotion and the intellect, connecting us with our natural rhythm, our spirit. This experience often enables the body to come into contact with its own innate ability to heal.
The sound of the drum becomes a carrier of the Reiki energy. This method assists in focusing attention into areas of awareness that are difficult to reach in normal consciousness. This allows the patient to feel the energy somatically. It is as if one is “hearing” with the entire body at the systemic and cellular level.
Drumming with Reiki connects with us deeply, bringing about an entrainment on all levels of being—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Reiki drumming is an additional tool that allows me to assist my patients as they learn to connect with and activate their inner healing power.
Joan Hoffman, Reiki Master and talk therapist, uses Reiki drumming in her practice:
When I receive a Reiki drumming session from another or myself, I feel I can revisit previous situations in my life where I felt “stuck.” There is a soothing element, which comes into play when I can feel the vibration, the rhythm, and the beat of the drum being guided into my physical being. A sense of safety accompanies me when I hear the rhythmic drum beat in the distance as I work through the feelings and memories I am exploring. This constant rhythm has the ability to center me quickly and painlessly in each moment. Yet, at the same time, a sense of endurance prevails as the drumbeat keeps me moving forward in a steady manner.
When I become the Reiki drummer, I am often amazed at how quickly the drumming creates a sense of sacred space and purpose in the most mundane places. This, in turn, facilitates an instant connection to the drum and the type of healing the client needs. I am a counselor trained in “talk therapy,” and I find that others surrender and trust this process with very little preparation, which is gratifying. Clients benefit most from the self-discovery that takes place during the drumming session. Some of their responses and stories of how they are being healed have created a sense of marvel at how brilliant Reiki drumming can be. Reiki drumming is a very powerful tool for transformation. I’ve experienced it both as a receiver and a practitioner, and I know it works.
As medical research is beginning to validate much of what the ancients have known, Reiki practitioners around the world are beginning to combine Reiki and drumming.
Drumming is for anyone who was ever told they were not musical, or who has ever felt they are not talented enough. Drumming is for anyone who has ever been silenced by another. Drumming is for anyone who wants to feel healthier, stronger, and more alive.
Drumming has been practiced throughout the ages. It is an excellent vehicle for creative expression, while simultaneously relieving stress through movement and improving one’s mental clarity and emotional and physical state.