Rhythm is contagious. It isn't hard to imagine why. Our earliest life experiences are linked to the comforting beat of our mother's hearts.
The word rhythm comes from a Greek word, rhythmos, meaning movement and flow - that which creates order, shape and symmetry to our lives. Every culture has its own way to articulate this flow, and to express it in ways that bring the community together. Drum circles are one ancient tradition that is becoming increasingly popular in our modern world.
If you've never participated in a drum circle, the idea may seem foreign, or even uncomfortable. It turns out, though, there are powerful physical and emotional benefits to creating rhythm together. So, if you're tempted to write group drumming off as an activity meant for idealistic countercultural types, consider a few recent research findings:
- Activates Natural Killer cells - These white blood cells are an integral part of the immune system designed to target viruses and cancer cells.
- Releases Natural Endorphins — Endorphins are the body's way of addressing pain. These natural opiates are the substances that create a "runner's high". Drumming has been found to increase our pain threshold by stimulating endorphin release.
- Decreases inflammation - Drumming positively affects several hormones (like cortisol) and other substances in the body (like cytokines and chemokines) in ways that that create an anti-inflammatory action.
- Improves depression - Since depression has been linked to inflammation, is not surprising that drumming also has been found to have a positive effect on mood disorders.
- Increases pro-social behavior — Drumming has been found to stimulate reward centers in the brain related to our willingness to be helpful to others.
There are many scientific reasons that drumming feels good and is good for you. If you'd like to learn more about drumming, you can usually find local drum circles online or through Meetup.com. In addition to being healthy, it's a great way to make new friends!
If you'd like to learn about how group drumming can strengthen your ability to listen purposefully, please contact me about my Art of Powerful Listening workshops.
What about you? What experiences have you had with group drumming? Please share your stories in the comments below!