Immersion in music as a form of therapy, healing and spiritual connection is something I am beginning to explore and enjoy, and for that I must give thanks to my hosts of the drumming circle. I have listened to music before with the intentions of healing, and experienced how it can uplift my mood or help in meditation. But I've never taken part in the creation of music, which is mostly because I am not musically inclined and therefore felt frustrated over my lack of ability. Piano lessons at a young age where far from spiritual experiences, instead feeling more like weekly hours of torture for me and the piano teacher. I am now seeing that there's this whole other world available to me, and it's perhaps the greatest discovery I've made in a long time.
To be a part of the drumming circle is always such a mystical feeling for me. It's the embodiment of letting go and embracing spontaneity, inspiration, intuition and your Higher Self. There are always aspects of our lives we're trying to control, and during different periods, we may be trying to exert more control than usual. The thing about a drum circle is you can't control it. It constantly flows in tempo, style and sound, and this in itself creates so much deep, inner healing and release. I would say it's a far more opening and expansive feeling than in traditional meditation. I even love it as much as traditional meditation because it IS meditation, but combined with action. You could also say this about yoga, but again, that has an element of control to it. You are usually following with a routine or an instructor, and rarely do you do spontaneous yoga poses, moving about as you feel inspired to. To be able to go into the open and free feelings of meditation, while feeling my body move, feeling the vibration of the music, in my body, is something I wish I had better words for.
I hesitated to use the word "sacred" in the title of this post because I associate the word sacred with something serious. Spirituality, connecting with the divine, letting go, those are not serious things, but fun, joyous and free things. So the drumming circle is sacred... but it's also playful and full of joy and spontaneity (at least the way we do it - I know some drumming circles like to do chants and have planned drumming beats. I tried that way once with a different circle and I found I prefer the unplanned way).
The feeling of a group of people drumming together without any specific plan or direction is one that vibrates in you and through you. It's almost as if our Higher Selves weave together over us, guiding us in creating harmony as we drum our own beats, and yet, make a divine sound together. The feeling of the drum vibrating as you strike it goes through you, out of you and out into the cosmos. It truly feels like you are drumming with the whole Universe. As our energies meld the tempo goes up and down, the intensity rises and falls, we feel our individual selves and we feel ourselves as part of the whole. In our group we also have lots of noise makers, and so people pick up bells, shakers, rain sticks, and even spoons as they feel called to. I love this aspect as it really enhances the variety and opens us up even further to totally letting go and surrendering to the musical free flow.
There is a feeling that this harmony, which seems to constantly verge on chaos, is a reflection of life and the creation of everything itself. It's the perfect middle point of allowing things to unfold while taking part in that unfolding. It makes no difference who we are, what we want or what we do. All that matters is that we have come together for this shared experience, which can only be accomplished through trust and a desire to simply let go...
The best thing about the drumming for me was it opened me up to my own control issues. It's always surprising to me how I will be so deeply entrenched in a set of beliefs or way of living and totally unaware of it. I had no idea how big my own needs of control were until I started drumming. The more I let go the more I realized I had A LOT of limitations and self imposed barriers in my life. Walls and limits I put up so that I could feel safe. Most of it stemmed from my writing journey. After years of experiencing rejections, set backs, and some really uncomfortable and painful moments, I'd started to close down. I did it bit by bit, feeling more and more vulnerable with each criticism and feeling of failure. Because it wasn't an instant shut down, but a gradual process, I wasn't even aware I was doing it. There was a sense that I was blocked, and I was definitely wrestling with the angst of being blocked, but I couldn't put my finger on the source of it. And in many ways, I didn't want to know the source. I wasn't ready because I was scared and unwilling to trust that things would be okay if I allowed myself to be open again.
But once I drummed and let go there was no denying the difference in feeling. I felt so light and free in the drum circle. And when I got home, I would feel heavy and like I needed to guard myself. Each time we would gather I'd say, "I've been looking forward to this so much." It was obvious which I wanted to feel all the time, and the only question was what was I going to do about it. I've learned a lot from this and it is unfolding in a new and beautiful path for me.
I know now I can't shut down, I can't hide my work or myself for fear of being criticized or hurt. I also know that it's okay that I did spend time shut down, because that's exactly what I needed while it was happening. I learned to center myself, focus on those that do love what I do, trust I am loved and guided, and continue to embrace the ever unfolding, ever growing journey that is my life. And if things go awry again, I can rest in the reassurance that the healing powers of the drum will always be there.