Drumming has been used for centuries by the world's indigenous peoples, who have always drummed in ceremony at weddings, births, deaths, harvests, and rites of passage. In recent years, major articles describing the healing effects of this ancient practice have appeared in newspapers and magazines such as the New York Times, The Yoga Journal and Newsweek.
These and other articles have reported results of studies demonstrating the calming, focusing effect of group drumming sessions upon Alzheimer's patients, emotionally disturbed teens, autistic children and prison and homeless populations. Major corporations such as Motorola, AT&T and Levi Strauss have used drumming with middle management to promote team spirit building.
A recent cover of Newsweek, entitled "Your Child's Brain", presented hard evidence for the brain's fundamental need for rhythm. The article described the stress produced when the brain is deprived of this basic need. The effect of stress upon the human system has now been incontrovertibly established: stress contributes to all disease and is a primary cause of a myriad of life-threatening illnesses, such as heart attacks, strokes, immune system breakdowns, etc. Many people in alternative medicine believe that stress is a result of psychic fragmentation, literally of being disconnected from our deeper selves.
A new study by Barry Quinn, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist specializing in neurobiofeedback for stress management, indicates that drumming for brief periods can actually change a person's brainwave patterns, dramatically reducing stress. Dr. Quinn operates a neurobiofeedback (NBT) clinic called the MindSpa Place in Colorado Springs, CO, and for more than eight years has been working with how a variety of techniques affect the brainwaves. He calls the results of 30 to 40 minutes of drumming on the highest-stress clients "by far the most amazing results I have encountered thus far in my research".
One of Dr. Quinn's patients, a Viet Nam veteran who has long suffered from high stress, hyper-vigilance and chronic sleep problems, regularly produced almost no Alpha in his brainwave patterns. (Alpha is a mental relaxation state missing in nearly 40% of the population) During a single 40-minute session of slow, gentle drumming using a one-sided All One TribeŽ hand drum and a beater, this patient nearly doubled his Alpha brainwaves.
No other technique used (including a light and sound machine) in a series of 15 stress-reduction sessions had been able to produce any Alpha in this client. Until drumming, in fact, no technique used in the eight years of Dr. Quinn's NBT research had been able to bring a significant return of this relaxation brainwave in any client.
Music therapist, Barry Bernstein, whose use of the drum with Alzheimer's patients and in corporate settings has been widely publicized, believes strongly that drumming is "the healthiest, most accessible and fastest way to reconnect with ourselves. Bernstein's Kansas City-based company, "Healthy Sounds", offers a variety of programs for schools, care centers and corporations, all using the drum as a tool.
The research into the healing effects of this ancient practice are ongoing. For some, the concept that the wisdom of the indigenous world might offer relief from the most pervasive and pernicious result of late twentieth-century "prog-ress" is a fitting prospect just now, in what the United Nations has declared the "International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples.
For more information, contact the All One Tribe Foundation, P.O. Drawer N, Taos, NM 87571, or call (800) 442-DRUM.
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