Shamanic Drumming Blog

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thanksgiving in all Things

Celebrating a bountiful harvest once a year is a wonderful tradition. But giving thanks should be more than just a yearly event. Rather, the expression of gratitude ought to be a daily practice. Giving thanks and being in a state of gratitude opens our heart, allowing our indwelling presence of being, our Spirit, to rise forth unimpeded. Gratitude, like any other spiritual practice, is something we do, not just something we feel. And it's something we need to practice.

Try to cultivate a spirit of gratitude in all things. Even in situations that seem difficult to give thanks for, just remember that you are on the Earth to experience, learn and grow. An "attitude of gratitude" in all things helps connect us to our core values and purpose for being here. Foster a reciprocal relationship of meaning to the Earth. Take time to honor and respect the reciprocal cycle of give and take, for Mother Earth provides everything we need to live and flourish. Express your gratitude through prayer and offerings. Give thanks also for the things you are praying for. Giving thanks before needs are met is a way of making space to receive them. Expressing gratitude for something before it actually appears in your life develops trust and confidence in your ability to create. In this season of gathering in, let us bring forth the spiritual fruit of thanksgiving in all things.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Drumming the Tree of Life

My Rolling Thunder Drum
In the shaman's world, the drum is a most sacred instrument. The double-headed drum is believed to embody the sacred forces of the cosmos through its sounds, structural features, contents, and connection to shamanic trance. The various parts of the drum also symbolize the structures of the world. Cosmologically, the drum depicts a microcosm of the universe with its three zones -- the Upper (sky), Middle (human or social realm), and Lower Worlds (earth). The two drumheads symbolize the Upper and Lower Worlds.

The rim of the drum symbolizes the Middle World and is connected to the Tree of Life (World Tree) through the wood of the frame and its association through all trees back to the First Tree. Like the Tree of Life, which links the earth and sky, the rim links the two sides of the drum -- the yin and the yang. A double-headed drum unites the sacred feminine and masculine aspects of the universe within itself. It restores the balance of these polar, yet co-creative elements.

The two drumheads also symbolize the two states of existence -- unmanifest and manifest. When a double-headed drum is vibrated, it produces dissimilar sounds which are fused together by resonance to create one sound. The drumbeat is the tuner sound, the sound that fuses the unmanifest and manifest aspects of vibration into one resonance. The sound thus produced symbolizes Nada, the cosmic sound of AUM, which can be heard during deep meditation. 

From a shamanic perspective, caretaking the drum and playing it properly during ritual fulfills the destiny of the human spirit -- to sustain the order of existence. In the rapture of ritual drumming, the shaman brings the Tree of Life into existence, opening a path of communication with the world above and the world below. Materialized in the drum, the trunk of the tree goes through the Middle World; its roots plunge to the nadir in the Lower World, and its branches soar to the zenith in the highest layer of the Upper World. The drum becomes the axis mundi or central axis through which the shaman maintains the world's equilibrium. To learn more look inside my book The Shamanic Drum.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Drumming for Mindfulness and Healing

Chöd Practitioners
A significant number of research studies have documented both drumming and mindfulness meditation as effective therapy for everything from stress to depression to supportive cancer treatment. This is not new science. Since the time of Buddha (about 2,600 years ago), we have known about the stress-reducing benefits of both drumming and mindfulness meditation, which focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings, and state of mind. Combining these two ancient practices -- drumming and mindfulness -- can be life-altering. Even one session of meditation, focused on a drum's beat demonstrates how powerful this meditation method can be in our stressful modern lives. The powerful and compelling rhythm of drums can still and focus the mind -- the quick path to mindfulness and well-being! Read more.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Buffalo/Bison Medicine

Buffalo/Bison symbolizes prayer, manifestation, and abundance. Buffalo's medicine includes creativity, feminine courage, abundance, knowledge, generosity, hospitality, sharing work, protection, strength, challenge, survival, and giving for the greater good. In Lakota Native American spirituality, Tatanka, the Buffalo, is seen as a living prayer and manifestation of the wisdom and generosity of Wakan Tanka (Great Mystery). Buffalo shows us the importance of prayer and gratitude for all we have. An "attitude of gratitude" in all things opens our heart and helps connect us to our core values and purpose for being here.

Buffalo teaches us to foster a reciprocal relationship of meaning to the Earth. Take time to honor and respect the reciprocal cycle of give and take, for Mother Earth provides everything we need to live and flourish. Express your gratitude through prayer and offerings. Give thanks also for the things you are praying for. Giving thanks before needs are met is a way of making space to receive them. Expressing gratitude for something before it actually appears in your life develops trust and confidence in your ability to create. To manifest abundance through prayer, you must eliminate all doubt, detach yourself from the outcome, and trust in the creative power of the universe to provide what is needed. To connect with Buffalo, listen to my recording of the "Buffalo Chant."