Shamanic Drumming Blog

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Are We Undergoing the Kali Yuga?

The Kali Yuga
We live in a time of accelerated change and transformation. It isn't hard to recognize that even though we live on a planet that surrounds us with beauty, that there is a lot of darkness happening within humanity. Greed, poverty, violence, and injustice are predominant characteristics of our civilization. Many are asking the same question these days; "What is happening around us?" A growing number of voices in the international shamanic community are telling us that Mother Earth and her inhabitants are undergoing a fundamental, evolutionary change--a change that many of us will experience first-hand in this lifetime. Some call it the Kali Yuga, the age of darkness and ignorance that was foretold long, long ago.

Hindus believe that the civilization process evolves through four ages and degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Age because in it people are as far away as possible from God. Hinduism often symbolically represents morality (dharma) as an Indian bull. In Satya Yuga, the first stage of development, the bull has four legs, but in each age morality is reduced by one quarter. By the age of Kali, morality is reduced to only a quarter of that of the Golden Age, so that the bull of Dharma has only one leg. Even in the worst of times, the possibility to be well above it is always there for an individual human being. This is a time filled with unparalleled opportunities for spiritual growth and meaningful action. Read more.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Journey into Mongolian Shamanism

Mongolian Shaman
Mongolian shamanism, more broadly called the Mongolian folk religion, or occasionally Tengerism, refers to the animistic and shamanic system of belief that has been practiced in Mongolia and its surrounding areas (including Buryatia and Inner Mongolia) at least since the age of recorded history. For thousands of years, Mongolia has been a nexus of Eurasian shamanisms that competed, mixed, and meshed across our planet's largest continent. In the post-communist era shamanism is undergoing a dramatic revival in Mongolia. Harshly suppressed during Mongolia's long Soviet rule, shamanism is suddenly widely sought to fill the spiritual void of a newly democratic society. From storefronts in Ulan Bator, the nation's capital, to homes in rural Mongolia, shamanism has become a growth industry. The key to its viability seems to be the flexibility inherent in shamanism, where knowledge gained through ritual engagement with spirits in the landscape, rather than a strict cosmological doctrine, is seen as the core of shamanism. Mongolian shamanism evokes a rich and barely-tapped store of astrological, environmental, and geographic cultural knowledge. Read more.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Drumbeat of the Rainbow Fire

The drum has been the guiding force in my life for many years. My journey into rhythm began under the tutelage of Mongolian shaman Jade Wah'oo Grigori. Jade's ancient knowledge of drumming and healing rhythms was most influential in putting together my first book, The Shamanic Drum: A Guide to Sacred Drumming. I had a deep respect for the power of the ceremonial rhythms and drum ways of Jade's tradition, but I had to follow my own path of rhythm.

Though Jade was my mentor, the drum became my teacher and creative addiction. I developed an insatiable thirst for its rhythms. I became a rhythm seeker, learning new rhythms from other drummers, from nature, and from dreams and visions. I explored the rhythms of many of the world’s shamanic and spiritual traditions. It was only natural, at least from my perspective, that rhythm, as a path, would lead me to the rhythmic roots of all cultures.   

As I learned the drum ways of various world cultures, I found the same rhythmic qualities underlying all of them. Like the colors of the rainbow, each culture has its own hue or identity, yet each is a part of the whole. Although the focus or intent differs from culture to culture, rhythmic drumming invariably has the same power and effects in all traditions. The resonant qualities and attributes of these rhythmic phenomena are universal and come into play whenever we drum.          

The sound waves produced by the drum impart their energy to the resonating systems of the body, mind, and spirit, making them vibrate in sympathy. When we drum, our living flesh, brainwaves, and spiritual energy centers begin to vibrate in response. This sympathetic resonance leaves reverberating effects up to 72 hours after a drum session. These powerful effects can best be described in terms of their influence on the subtle energy centers known as chakras. Read more.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

10 Reasons to Add Drumming into Your Spiritual Practice

Drumming is perhaps the oldest form of active meditation known to humanity. It is a simple and effortless way to still the chatter of the mind, thereby inducing altered states of consciousness. It is one of the quickest and most powerful ways I know to open the heart and connect with a power greater than ourselves. Here are 10 good reasons why you should incorporate drumming into your spiritual practice:

1. To induce natural altered states of consciousness. Researchers have found that if a drum beat frequency of around 180 beats per minute is sustained for at least fifteen minutes, it will induce significant altered states in most people, even on their first attempt. This ease of induction contrasts significantly with the long periods of isolation and practice required by most meditative disciplines before inducing significant effects. Rhythmic stimulation is a simple and effective technique for affecting states of mind.   

2. To produce deeper self-awareness by inducing synchronous brain activity. Recent studies have demonstrated that the physical transmission of rhythmic energy to the brain synchronizes the two cerebral hemispheres, integrating conscious and unconscious awareness. The ability to access unconscious information through symbols and imagery facilitates psychological integration and a reintegration of self.

3. To experience being in resonance with the natural rhythms of life. Rhythm and resonance order the natural world. Dissonance and disharmony arise only when we limit our capacity to resonate totally and completely with the rhythms of life. The origin of the word rhythm is Greek meaning "to flow." We can learn to flow with the rhythms of life by simply learning to feel the beat, pulse, or groove while drumming. When drummers feel this rhythmic flow, especially at a slower, steady beat, they can shift into a state of deep relaxation and expanded awareness. It is a way of bringing the essential self into accord with the flow of a dynamic, interrelated universe, helping us feel connected rather than isolated and estranged.

4. To access a higher power. Drumming directly supports the introduction of spiritual factors found significant in the healing process. Drumming and Shamanic activities produce a sense of connectedness and community, integrating body, mind and spirit. According to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, "Shamanic activities bring people efficiently and directly into immediate encounters with spiritual forces, focusing the client on the whole body and integrating healing at physical and spiritual levels. This process allows them to connect with the power of the universe, to externalize their own knowledge, and to internalize their answers; it also enhances their sense of empowerment and responsibility. These experiences are healing, bringing the restorative powers of nature to clinical settings."

5. To release negative feelings, blockages, and emotional trauma. Drumming can help people express and address emotional issues. Unexpressed feelings and emotions can form energy blockages. The physical stimulation of drumming removes blockages and produces emotional release. Sound vibrations resonate through every cell in the body, stimulating the release of negative cellular memories.

6. To reduce tension, anxiety, and stress. Drumming induces deep relaxation, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress. Stress, according to current medical research, contributes to nearly all disease and is a primary cause of such life-threatening illnesses as heart attacks, strokes, and immune system breakdowns. A groundbreaking 2005 study demonstrated that group drumming not only reduces stress, but reverses genetic switches that turn on the stress response believed responsible in the development of common diseases.

7. To create sacred space. The drum is also a versatile instrument for creating sacred space. You can use it to summon the spirits into a ritual or ceremony. According to Wallace Black Elk, the renowned Lakota shaman, "When you pray with that drum, when the spirits hear that drum, it echoes. They hear this drum, and they hear your voice loud and clear." Conversely, a forceful beat of the drum can be used to drive away malevolent spirits or intrusive energies that cause confusion, disease, and disharmony. Used in this way, the drum facilitates the creation of a purified sacred space.

8. To reconnect with your inner or spirit self. Drumming heightens the ability of perception and enables you to see into the deeper realms of the self. The moment you bond with your spirit is the moment your heart opens. The first time you glimpse your spirit self, you gasp and cry. You know who you are. That is the moment you begin to heal.

9. To gain insight into an issue that you want to know more about. You can take concerns into a drum meditation in order to access personal revelation. Drumming stills the incessant chatter of the mind, allowing you to view life and life's problems from a detached, spiritual perspective, not easily achieved in a state of ordinary consciousness.

10. To clarify life purpose. When we are unaware of our soul's true purpose or simply not aligned in our actions, we often experience a malaise of the spirit. We can engage the blueprint of our soul path through the vehicle of drumming. Drumming is a time-tested medium for individual self-realization. We can go within to access wisdom and energies that can help awaken our soul calling and restore us to wholeness. Drumming reconnects us with our deepest core values and our highest vision of who we are and why we are here. It heightens our sense of mission and purpose, empowering our personal evolution.