AS WE DRUM . . .
. . . WE ARE ONE
By Feeny Lipscomb
The United Nations has declared 1994-2004 the "International Decade of
the World's Indigenous Peoples." Indigenous cultures have always drummed
in ritual at births, deaths, weddings, harvests and rites of passage.
These cultures, with their natural sense of Earth wisdom and awareness
of the sacred in all things, seem always to have known that human beings
are coded for ritual.
What does that mean? A writer friend of mine recently shared this
profound insight: "Dreams are the way the unconscious speaks to the
conscious mind. And ritual is the way the conscious mind speaks back."
In fact, many indigenous cultures believe that there is a deep,
pre-verbal part of us which understands only the language of ritual.
Modern society's loss of its rituals has caused psychic fragmentation
literally, the state of being disconnected from our deeper selves. The
result is a sort of soul-starvation - a deep, non-specific hunger which
we have tried desperately to feed with food, drugs, sex, alcohol,
shopping, gambling and work. Many healers believe that this psychic
fragmentation is at the root of stress.
We now know that stress either causes or exacerbates 98% of all disease.
Not only heart attacks, strokes, immune system breakdowns, but every
disease known - with the exception of two viruses - have now been linked
Interestingly, it now appears that the most accessible tool for
reconnecting with our deeper selves may be the drum, a gift from the
indigenous world. Recent biofeedback research indicates that drumming
along with our own heartbeats can alter the brainwave patterns and
"meditate" us, dramatically reducing stress.
A recent study by Barry Quinn, PhD, a clinical psychologist specializing
in neurobiofeedback (NBT) for stress management, indicates that drumming
works on even the highest-stress clients. Dr. Quinn operates a
neurobiofeedback clinic called the MindSpa Place in Colorado Springs,
CO, and for nearly nine years has been working with how a variety of
techniques affect the brainwaves.
One of Dr. Quinn's patients, a Viet Nam veteran who has long suffered
from high stress, hypervigilance, and chronic sleep problems, regularly
produced almost no Alpha in his brain-wave patterns. (Alpha is a mental
relaxation state missing in nearly 40% of the population.) During a
single 30-minute session of slow, gentle drumming using a one-sided
hand-drum and a beater, this patient nearly doubled his Alpha
No other technique used (including a sound and light 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
nine years of Dr. Quinn's NTB research had been able to bring a
significant return of this relaxation brainwave in any client. He calls
the effects of brief drumming sessions "by far the most amazing results
I have encountered thus far in my work."
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 growing drumming movement in this country suggests that people are
beginning to reclaim their rituals and to reconnect with themselves as
they drum. The drum is emerging as the transformational tool of our
time. And because the drumbeat is a universal, vibrational language
which communes with the Earth and all Her creatures, the drum has come
to symbolize our Unity as Earth-family citizens.
The non-profit All One Tribe Foundation is coordinating a global event
for world peace, which honors the world's indigenous peoples. Called
"Drumming in the Year 2000", the event will take place on December 31,
1999, when people in cities and villages around the world will drum
together as the midnight hour arrives in each time zone.
The event will be covered by satellite and broadcast worldwide. There is
a global prayer for Unity which will be repeated in many languages of
the world as we drum. Rituals for healing and for peace will also be
enacted in many locations.
The event's coordination is taking place on a grassroots level, with
local groups and individuals organizing in their cities and towns. Much
of the communication is taking place over the internet with All One
Tribe Foundation acting as a clearing house for queries.
The website describing how to participate is at
www.allonetribe-drum.com. The e-mail address is
firstname.lastname@example.org . Those without computer access may write
"Year 2000", All One Tribe, P.O. Drawer N, Taos, NM 87571 for more
Research into the healing effects of this ancient ritual practice are
ongoing. For some, the concept that the wisdom of the indigenous world
might offer relief from stress, the most pervasive and pernicious result
of late 20th-century "progress", is a fitting prospect just now, in the
midst of the "International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples".
Feeny Lipscomb is a drummer, writer, entrepreneur and founder of the All
One Tribe Foundation, which disseminates research on the physical,
psychological and spiritual benefits of drumming. The Foundation donates
half of its profits to indigenous world causes. She owns All One TribeŽ
Inc., a small Co-Op America Green Business which hand-makes Native
American drums and accessories.
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