During the school year, my second grader studied Japan. He learned to eat with chop sticks, tie an obi on a kimono, write his name in Kanji and was basically electrified by the topic. The culmination was a visit to a Taiko Drumming exhibit where he not only got to listen but he also got to play one. His enthusiasm was contagious and probably raised my awareness to notice that our Wellness Community offered an evening drumming circle.
Knowing that the Wellness Community grounds their program offerings in research regarding health outcomes, I not only calendared the drumming circle but I also perused the medical studies that address recreational music making. Sure enough. One such study focused on drumming as a corporate wellness program. The results demonstrated enhanced mood, lower gene expression levels of the stress-induced cytokine interleukin-10, and higher Natural Killer cell activity amongst those who participated when compared to a control group that did not drum. The second study concluded that drumming is a complex composite intervention with the potential to modulate specific neuroendocrine and neuroimmune parameters. In other words, participation in a drumming circle can alleviate stress and strengthen the immune system.
These were reasons enough for me to pursue this but I had no idea what to expect. Frank Thompson, Founder of AZ Rhythm Connection leads this particular circle. In his van, he totes a modicum of percussion paraphernalia and it appears to bring him pleasure to share it with others. I sat in a circle of 20+ individuals none of whom I’d ever met. When Frank had us introduce ourselves by creating a personal drum roll, our reasons for being there were never duplicative. “I’m here to alleviate stress.” ”I come as part of my overall wellness routine.” ”I’m Native American and in my tribe, women are not allowed to play drums.” ”I have MS and believe this can be part of my healing.”
What followed was an awesome sychronization of rhythm and spirit. Within a short period of time, perfect strangers had attained perfect collaboration. Our individual drum beats fell into a shared rhythm that helped beat back illness and create natural killer cells. And, regardless of the rhythms, the joy that erupted on the face of each participant as they pounded out their stress was clearly evident. In one or two cases, a drummer let loose a howl of satisfaction.
I’m not certain how often my schedule will align with the opportunity to attend the drumming circle but am certain that when it can, I will benefit.
Have you tried anything new lately that gave you a different perspective?