Drums have been used since ancient times among different cultures and for different reasons. Both religious and cultural gatherings used drumming as a means of communication with people, with gods and goddesses, for healing, relieving frustrations, and for entertainment, among other purposes. But to what end? What are the benefits of drumming? Moreover, why has sacred drumming been a profound, and sacred practice for centuries? Read on for answers to these and other questions about the power of percussion.
Table of Contents
- A Bit of Background on Drumming
- The Benefits of Drumming for Healing, Spiritual Connection, and Meditation
- How Different Cultures Use Drumming in Ceremonies (and why)
- Different Drumming Ceremonies and Holidays
- How Drumming Can Inspire and Stimulate the Mind, Body and Spirit
- Tips on How to Approach Sacred Drumming
- What Kind of Drum is Best for Sacred Drumming or a Drumming Circle?
- Frequently Asked Questions About Sacred Drumming
- Final Thoughts About the Benefits of Drumming
A Bit of Background on Drumming
Drumming, therefore, comes with different benefits for various cultures since each culture has different beliefs about the power of drumming. Most cultures take drums as sacred instruments, and when played to produce certain rhythms, it induces a certain power that helps in relaxation, stress relief, and healing, among other functions.
Before different cultures adopted drumming for different purposes, other percussion instruments were used. Ancient drums dating back to 5500 B.C were made from alligator skin, and they first originated from Neolithic cultures from China before spreading to other parts of Asia and the rest of the world.
The Benefits of Drumming for Healing, Spiritual Connection, and Meditation
Drumming comes with a lot of benefits that cut across the different spheres of life. The benefits of drumming may differ according to intent, culture, purpose, event, and beliefs about drumming. That said, here are a few common benefits of drumming:
Drumming in the past and even today, as still practiced by different cultures, is believed to be sacred and researchers have found that most cultures used it to distract from the pain. Some rhythms, when played, would help release some endogenous opiates and endorphins and this brings some pain relief to the body.
Drumming was and is also used to communicate with the gods. Different cultures have different beliefs about drumming but most cultures take it as a sacred tool. Hence when played, it creates a connection between the heavens and the earth. Additionally, many spiritual leaders within indigenous cultures utilize drumming to connect with and/or summon spirits, deities, and ancestors.
For thousands of years, drums have been used for meditation as it has the power to bring about a relaxed mind and even reduce stress. Drumming rhythm has been found to be therapeutic, and therefore, the more consistent and stable the rhythm is, the more you connect your mind to the sounds hence triggering the release of mood-enhancing endorphins.
How Different Cultures Use Drumming in Ceremonies (and why)
Every tradition or culture uses drumming for particular reasons. In the past, some cultures used it as a form of communication, but drumming has deeper and more sacred uses across cultures.
The Ashanti of Ghana in West Africa used drumming for communication, entertainment, and mostly to connect with their gods. They believed that good drumming would make the gods come with more might or strength and that is the reason they used it in healing ceremonies.
Drums were among the tools of Shamanism and Shamans used them to induce trance in patients and to help patients heal. It was such a powerful tool and it was considered sacred hence the process was not for entertainment. Shamanic drums are still being used for healing purposes and for treating substance abuse patients.
For First Nations People-Native Americans, the drumming signifies the connection between cosmic power, nature, animals, and community. Each tribe is different, but overwhelmingly, drumming is considered a sacred way to join with the rhythm of life. Native drumming ceremonies are a way to celebrate deities, mother earth, oceans, animals, the heavens, etc. They are also meant to encourage bonding and harmony in the community.
Different Drumming Ceremonies and Holidays
Several holidays across the world are celebrated for different reasons. Some of them celebrate their holidays with drums and other percussion instruments for certain reasons depending on the occasion. Some of the holidays across the world where drumming is appropriate include the following:
Hug A Drummer Day
This holiday is normally observed on the 10th of October each year. The reason for this holiday is to celebrate drummers and the members of their band. During this day, everyone is encouraged to hug a drummer – as the name of the holiday puts it, and to show some appreciation to them.
This is an internationally-celebrated holiday that is observed mostly by parts of the African diaspora and African-Americans to celebrate African-American culture, their unity, and cultural heritage. Drumming is used to celebrate culture and for entertainment.
Grenada’s Carriacou Parang Festival
This holiday has always been observed since 1977 and its significance is to uphold the musical tradition. It is normally held with different bands and musicians presenting in organized groups resembling that of a music competition. Drums here are essential since it marks the culture and traditions of the evolution of musical instruments.
Chinese New Year
The drums and other musical instruments are usually played during the Chinese New Year holiday and the aim is to keep bad luck and monsters away. This holiday is observed on 22nd January every year and is an important day in the history of China.
National Drummer Day
This is celebrated on 15th November every year. And it is a celebration that is set aside to celebrate the drummers and everything about drumming.
How Drumming Can Inspire and Stimulate the Mind, Body and Spirit
Drumming stimulates the release of endorphin hormone which is useful in relieving pain and in reducing stress. It has also been discovered that the same hormone helps in triggering some positive feelings and an energizing life outlook.
Therefore, drumming has got physical and emotional benefits that help in fighting or reducing physical pain and induce emotional change that helps in relaxation and in keeping your spirit high and positive as it strips the mind of negative feelings.
Tips on How to Approach Sacred Drumming
If you are an absolute beginner in drumming, it may sound exciting but difficult to start without proper guidance on how you can approach this art. Another great idea is to have a practice schedule, and for this, you may need to purchase a drum for personal use, get a lesson plan, join a drumming circle, and play for fun.
Sacred drumming is more about connecting in a primal way. It’s not just about banging on a drum. That’s why it’s a great idea to wrap your mind around drumming in order to get the most out of your experience. Here are a few suggestions when you’re first starting your sacred drumming experience.
Set the Mood and Space
Choose a special place and set up that area in ways that are inspiring and invoke good vibes. Your sacred drumming space might be where you meditate. It could be your favorite outdoor spot. Light candles, burn incense, or maybe even have a smudging session to cleanse the area before drumming.
Wherever your drumming spot might be, please be mindful of others in the area. Drumming isn’t always appreciated by everybody. Try not to disturb others while drumming. The benefits of sacred drumming fall short if you’re neighbors are trying to enjoy peace and quiet.
Set an Intention
Before you begin drumming, consider setting an intention. Think of something that you would like to manifest in your life. Hold the memory of someone special in your life. We do this because the drum produces a vibration. When that vibration is connected with a positive thought, memory, or affirmation, it strengthens the intention.
Acknowledge that the beat of the dream mimics your heartbeat. That’s a powerful connection. Drumbeats can also represent the rhythm of life, the heartbeat of a community, the life pulsing through your animal guides or animal totems, etc. You get the idea. Rhythm is power. Percussion mirrors the pulse of life. With this in mind, try your best to tap into your drumming rhythm. Be mindful about the beat, pattern, rhythm, and timing of each drop of the drum mallet.
Join a Sacred Drumming Circle
This can be a great way to understand the art of sacred drumming while meeting like-minded people. You can start by doing an internet search for “drumming circle near me.” Or, you can inquire at your local spirit shop or mystical shop. If you can’t find a circle near you, perhaps you could find an online or virtual sacred drumming circle.
What Kind of Drum is Best for Sacred Drumming or a Drumming Circle?
The type of drum you choose for yourself and your spiritual purposes is completely up to you. There are a mind-blowing variety of different types of drums. From hand drums, to drums that require a mallet, small drums to big boomers – there’s a drum style for everyone.
Common types of drums in drum circles include tubanos, congas, doumbeks, bongos, djembes, and the list goes on. If you’re unsure which drum is best for you, I recommend going to a mystic shop that carries sacred drums and trying out a few. You might also get in touch with a sacred drum maker, who can guide you to a good choice and even allow you to play different types of drums.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sacred Drumming
Overwhelmingly, drums and drumming are synonymous with the heart. They represent the beating of blood and life pulsing through all living things. This is why sacred drumming is used in many different cultures. Drums and drumming are a way for humans to connect with the earth, the cosmos, animals, the ocean – our whole universe.
From celebrations to healing therapy, the purposes of drumming are varied and multitudinous. In almost every culture and every corner of the world drums have been used for celebrations, rituals, ceremonies, and special events. Drums have even been used to bolster soldiers and keep cadence during times of war. Drumming has also been utilized as a form of communication between different indigenous groups (hence the outdated and somewhat pejorative term “war drums”).
Drumming is known to reduce blood pressure, stress and anxiety. The act of drumming releases natural chemicals in the brain and body that reduce pain and help bring about a state of calmness. This is why drumming is used in many types of therapies today. The act of drumming over a long period of time is also shown to improve the structure and function of the brain. Drumming also provides a sense of connectedness, which brings about satisfaction and happiness.
Final Thoughts About the Benefits of Drumming
Drumming carries a lot of benefits and is a significant tool for different cultures and traditions. It carries power and is held sacred for religious, cultural, and traditional celebrations.
When played, drums carry power in their rhythmic consistency that can heal, relieve stress, and inspire positive feelings. It is also used to connect the world to the heavens, as on religious occasions.
In summary, if you want the powers and benefits of drumming, then begin to believe and appreciate the fact that drums have been effective in transforming lives and communities since ancient times.
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