By Jim Greiner
– Latin Percussion Education Magazine, 1995
Drumming affects us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually in profoundly uplifting ways. This is why people all over the earth have drummed in some manner throughout history. In the past few years, studies conducted in hospitals and universities (some commissioned by the US Senate and the Veteran’s Administration) have documented the health and healing aspects of drumming. Playing drums, whether solo or with a group of people, relieves stress, increases vitality and puts us in the transcendent state of clarity and heightened awareness that athletes sometimes call the Zone.
In fact, drumming is very much like the athletics, and martial arts. In all these activities we practice repetitive movements until they become effortless, powerful and intuitive.
In drumming, these movements result in patterns of sounds, that is rhythms. This repetitive movement and sound relaxes our conscious minds and allows the subconscious mind to guide our movements spontaneously, unencumbered by the conscious mind’s tendency to analyze and control our movements. One result of this state is the release of stress.
Our modern culture is full of many minor and some not so minor, fears and angers. From the inconsiderate drivers who annoy us or put our lives at risk on the highway, to the possibility of being “downsized” out of a job, we are bombarded by a constant barrage of “fight of flight” stimuli.
Our evolution has provided us with the ability to deal with the major, life-threatening conflicts found in nature by putting ourselves through mental and physiological changes that gives us occasional short bursts of super-charged energy.
Unfortunately, the constant stream of stresses in today’s modern world leaves us in an almost continuous low-level state of stress. This state saps our energy and normal self-healing reserves and leaves us vulnerable to physical and mental unwell-being. Drumming, by putting us in an alert, relaxed and powerful state, counteracts this fear and anger.
Drumming also gives us physical vitality because it is a very physical activity. It gets our hearts pounding, our blood flowing and releases the endorphins (the pleasure hormones) that are associated with “runner’s high”. It is a great way to use our bodies, to simply work up a sweat! Our bodies need, and love, to be used. When we use our bodies properly (relaxing, breathing with the diaphragm, using efficient, natural movements) we are rewarded with increased stamina, strength and flexibility.
Finally, drumming is fun! It’s a great way to feel the pure joy of being alive!
Drumming by ourselves allows us to go deeply into our true natures by eliminating distractions and societal constraints. Drumming with others is a universally time-honored way to create a feeling of community and trust.
Drumming is simply one of life’s many great gifts!
For additional information please refer to Jim Greiner’s video/DVD, “Community Drumming for Health and Happiness” distributed by LP Music Group and Warner Bros. Publications.