Drumming…and other musical endeavors help us experience God’s presence!!!

Seemed to me that drumming was the best way to get close to God. —Lionel Hampton ([1] Lionel Hampton and James Haskins, Hamp: An Autobiography (Harper Collins: 1999, ©1989), 8.

I’ve found the same thing is true when I practice scales and rote exercises on my trumpet or trombone! I seem to almost immediately become aware of the constant presence of God and often hear very clearly from Him in those times. I write about that experience through the main character, Jack, In “Convertible Conversations.” ~Paul Gray

Following is an article posted by Richard Rohr today on this subject!

There are many forms of body prayer—for example, chant, walking meditation, dance, yoga, tai chi, pilgrimages, prayer beads, gestures, and breathing exercises. From time to time in Saturday’s “Practice” I’ll invite you into an embodied form of contemplative prayer.

Today I’d like to share with you the practice of drumming, which I have used a lot in men’s work over the years. Every human culture has developed some form of drumming, the repetition of a steady beat, to encourage and inspire what writer Barbara Ehrenreich calls “Collective Joy.” [2] While drumming often supports dancing and musical performance, it also has a long history as contemplative practice.

The mental and physical focus required to drum stills the mind and shifts the drummer’s state of consciousness. Barbara Holmes, one of our CONSPIRE 2018 presenters, writes:

There have been studies that link alpha brainwave states to drumming. The alpha state refers to a dreamlike detachment and physical relaxation. The pattern of drumbeats seems to calm and focus the mind. “When the mind fixates . . . a profound state of Silence ensues.” [3]

Silence is an odd word to use in the midst of the cacophony of many drums. Yet the stillness referenced is akin to the intense spiritual engagement that marks the contemplative experience. [4]

Native American pow-wow and shamanic traditions use relatively simple rhythms to evoke a unified state in players and listeners. For indigenous people, the drum represents the universal heartbeat of Mother Earth that inspires the community to dance, sing, socialize, heal, and honor their culture.

Throughout the continent of Africa, drumming uses complex rhythmic patterns for communication, healing, entertainment, and prayer. As ethicist Peter Paris writes:

African arts are to enhance the everyday life of the people, not primarily to change their conditions but to enable the people to see and hear and feel beauty. As long as the people enjoy beauty, they do not succumb to the tragic elements in their midst. Their spirits are uplifted, and in that way the arts preserve and promote the wellbeing of the community. [5]

Drumming helps us return to the wisdom of our natural rhythms, spontaneity, and joy. Even if you don’t think you “have rhythm,” I invite you to let go of your inhibitions, pick up an “instrument” (a pot, bucket, sticks, or a beautifully toned drum). Start with a simple rhythm and just continue the beat. Trust your body to move intuitively and playfully. Another wonderful way to drum is to join a drumming circle. There are many all over the world—look for one and don’t be shy!

Enjoy this short video from drumming teacher Christine Stevens. Christine talks about why drumming is a powerfully transformative experience for mind, body, and spirit.   https://youtu.be/tYt3WJZsW_M