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The Drum Experience

I started playing the drum when I was 12 years old; this was in junior high school music class, where I learned how to play the snare drum, and enjoyed playing at home with drum sticks on table tops. I did not continue with the drum through school years, yet picked it up again in the early 1970's in the remote Sierra Madre mountains of central western Mexico, with don Jose and his family, during the Huichol Indian Drum (Harvest) Ceremony (1971 to 1977).  This was followed by an introduction to the water drum (1977) at a Native American Church all night prayer and song ceremony, in New Mexico, near Taos Pueblo, at the invitation of John Kimmy, Bhagavan Dass and Taos Elder Telas Goodmorning.

Journey of the Drums was an album I named. It was recorded in a studio in Emeryville California by Randy, an audio engineer. Muruga Booker played the Nada Drum and produced the album.  I suggested to Muruga and his wife Shakti, and Silve, what to do, play, and so forth for the creation of this recording. From there it was a collaboration of spontaneity for each song, with no written music and few cues. My idea was to create an album that could be used effectively with Holotropic breathing by psychotherapists: an album specifically designed to reach deep into the primal, primitive and primordial levels of the unconscious, employing deep breathing techniques, to help relieve traumas, pain and stress.

At the Santa Rosa (California) International Trans-personal Conference
(1988) we performed a concert, and almost all the Journey of the Drum cassettes sold (hundreds) plus our audience (health care professionals and students) was standing and applauding to the live concert.  Dreaming Drums (Sonando Tambores) and Ecstasy were directed and produced in this way, and thus became a new mode of drumming, and music, rather than simply facilitating psychotherapy breathe-work.

Chanting, combined with drumming, is an extraordinary experience that creates vibrations within the body and mind. Listening to this with stereo headphones, or on a stereo audio system that has optimal bass response can be amazing and entertaining. However, when you chant and drum there are magical sounds: resonances, standing waves, bin-aural beats, modulations and overtones. These occur within you and around you. You are the director and producer and can guide yourself to peak experiences, finding the combination to internal hidden locks, or blockages, and pour sound energies through them, then flow freely, like a river, or the clouds in the sky and the waves of the ocean.

There is a pulse to chanting which combines with drumming and is very effective at providing a tune up of one’s inner self. The chant can be various sound phonemes woven with fascinating, mystical, or religious words of power.  The logical, rational mind is left behind, for the duration, and cannot make sense of the chant. Pure awareness does ride along, exploring tierra incognito: new and ancient inner dimensions that open, in brief timeless moments, throughout the session.

It is very important to play drums and not disturb neighbors, and therefore use sound proof rooms and sessions limited to short periods of time. Outside the sound can carry quite far, and possibly disturb people nearby. Finding remote locations for playing drums is difficult and every courtesy must be given to those who seek peace and solitude in the countryside: careful planning and selection of location is required.

                                                 Traditional Drum Experience
The (Damaru) drum Shiva carries, indicates how important this instrument has been in ancient Indian history. Shiva is depicted in various examples of Hindu art, near Mt Kailas (Tibet) with drum, and is seated in a posture of meditation.  Here we see clues to connections with currents of healing power and songs of the earth. Furthermore, these artistic messages show combining meditation with drumming at a luminous place and very high elevation. One Hindu myth claims that Sanskrit and the sounds of language originated with the beats of Shivas drum.  In the high altitude Himalayas, Tibetans also practice the combination of chanting, drumming and meditation.

The Huichol Indians have an ancient tradition of playing the drum (
heated with fire) during the harvest celebration ceremony. The presiding shaman chants of the kakauyari (natural places of power), and via the power of the drum, sends all children (five years old and younger) on an astral journey to the holy land called Wiricuta. This journey includes the astral visiting of each kakauyari, chanting about them, continues following the actual geographical path, from one kakauyari to the next, then finally to their high altitude holy land in central Mexico. This is an initiation that all Huichol people receive, and through it learn about the spiritual journey that started, according to their myths, at the beginning, on the first pilgrimage, by the gods themselves.

The Native American Church, found in almost all states, performs, on a regular basis, an all night prayer service. This church was first organized by Quanah Parker in the late 1800's. The origins include Kiowa stories of travel into Mexico, where sacramental peyote cactus was discovered. Today the church integrates use of the sacrament with prayer, chanting, and a
water drum. Services are open to everyone, however it does require that the first entry is with a member (sponsor).

Water drums have been in use by various cultures worldwide, including ancient meso-America and Africa. The specific variety of water drum used in the NAC (Native American Church) is a cast iron kettle, half filled with water, with a buckskin tied over it. It is played with a drum stick. The water within the kettle keeps the deer hide wet, and it is periodically shaken. An extraordinary and powerful sound is create
d playing this drum: It can produce unique sounds that penetrate and resonate like no other drum. 

I played the water drum in three recorded albums: Journey of the Drums, Dreaming Drums, and Ecstasy. One full side of each album is dedicated to drumming, with the water drum providing a steady rhythm, and the Nada drum (a tune-able drum invented and played by Muruga) weaving variety with a spontaneous lead. The other side of each album is drumming plus an exploration into multi-cultural chanting (including a rich variety of phonemes and scagging), plus rattles and other instruments.

                           Schumann Resonance Frequencies:  A Mysterious Drum Beat

The Schumann resonance occurs the in a frequency band called ELF (extremely low frequency). A unique characteristic of this lightening generated global power, is that it can penetrate deep into water, including each and every cell in our body. From conception and throughout life this beat or vibe and been with us. Our brain, like all mammals utilizes this same primary frequency, called alpha waves, to orchestrate the synchronizing and cooperation of billions of cells. It is possible that the Schumann global frequency started processes, from the time of our conception, and maintains, via resonance -  particularly when we sleep or meditate, our alpha waves. A song to sing with!

Research into drumming has revealed resonance occurs between drum beats and our brain waves, especially in the alpha frequency band. Brain hemisphere synchronization with alpha waves is also indicated, and leads to greater levels of creative insight, relaxation, and pain relief. Bin-aural beats take this process a step further in the same directions and includes altered states of consciousness.

Our connection with the Schumann frequency is no longer what it was. There are high power transmitters operating in this same ELF band. Modern construction materials used in cities can block or distort the Schumann frequency. Furthermore, we are insulated from "ground" by our shoes, floors, asphalt and pavement.  This adds up to a loss of relationship with a natural support system, a referencing guide, and timing clock: The Schumann frequency. The result of this loss is probably seen in higher levels of anxiety, insomnia, immune system failures, lack of concentration, memory problems, confusion, poor will power, and some forms of mental illness. Our alpha waves are very important songs!

When the Schumann resonance frequency cannot be properly received by the brain, it (might)seek out alternative songs to sing with.  Walking, running, singing, drumming and meditation create pace, like a metronome for the inner self, the brain and body. Wilderness time, walking barefoot, swimming and luminous places also provide the connection, and "tune up". 

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