The Rhythmical Beat of a Spiritual Heart
by Heather Frahn
How amazing it is that the human heart has a continuous pulse and beat. Every day of our lives the human heart beats approximately 100,000 times. And not only does the physical heart beat, our spiritual heart beats as well. The spiritual union between heart and rhythm can occur powerfully through the sound of a drum.
Percussion Instruments are of the first musical instruments known, apart from the human voice. All other instrument families came after percussion, being wind, and string families. Frame drums are some of the earliest drums. They are wider than they are long, and have an animal hyde stretched across the wooden frame creating a diaphragm. Frame drums are seen in several cultures including the Bodhrán in traditional Irish folk music, the native Indian shamanic frame drum, and the daf Middle Eastern hand drum with metal rings inside it. Deriving from Africa is one of the most popular drum in the world today - the African djembe drum.
With many types of drums from across the world and throughout history, one thing remains a constant - the human spirit is lifted, energised, cleansed and healed, through playing drums, or listening and dancing to drum rhythms.
A wonderful way to experience the power of the drum is through a “drumming circle”. Groups of like minded people gather in a circle shape with drums to unite their spiritual connection through rhythm. Circle shapes invite everyone to come together as a unified sound; like one massive drum! Intentional prayers may be set for the group to focus on whilst playing their drums collectively, or celebrations of story and narrative may be practiced with song and dance.
Conscious music inspires unity, peace and positive social change - a way of achieving this is through groups of drummers synchronising their rhythms, creating a powerful consolidation of individual energies coming together as one sonic force. Drumming circles also create opportunity for social connection, meditation and spiritual connection, brain hemisphere balancing, and inclusion beyond musical skill, race, gender, disability, or age.
Drumming circles are facilitated by offering different rhythms and tempos to copy and explore. Facilitators of drum circles assist each individual to get the most out of it, and can help people to learn valuable listening and creativity skills. But it is not only this “rhythmical union of many” that holds appeal for drumming groups, it is also about brainwave entrainment. Neuroscience proves what ancient shamanic and tribal drumming cultures have always known about the human brain - that it enters into different brainwave states conducive for meditation and deep healing, and when a drum is played at 3 beats per second or more, the players brain entrains to a beneficial and deep meditative trance like state similar to Theta and Alpha.
Coming together in rhythmical energy with drumming is an ancient shamanic healing practice used for thousands of years, and it is no different today. So next time you hear of a drumming circle being held in a community near you, I encourage you to join in and play the rhythmical beat of your spiritual heart!