Healing Starts Here

There is so much pain in the First Nations Community. Addictions, trauma, and soul level hurting are so prevalent in their lives. The pain from the past still haunts them today. Where can healing even begin?

On Wednesday November 16th, I was asked to facilitate a group of First Nations who came together to drum for Wellness. It was incredible to watch the group connect with the ancient tool of the drum. The group was there for each other, with the purpose of bringing about change for their community, for their families, and most importantly, for themselves. They were there to fix and to mend the hurts. During the drum circle the participants were listening to one another, being totally present, and engaging in community music making. During the Rhythm Cradle one participant said, “Wow, that felt really good.” I said to her, “It felt good because you were able to relax your body. Your mind was able to be still. You felt safe emotionally. Most importantly, you knew in that moment that you are not alone spiritually. She began to cry, and frankly so did I, we had reached the truth together.

Drumming like this is meant to give and receive support and it has impact on every level of our being. The whole group is experiencing the sense of unity that drumming can bring. It is a true honor to share this gift. This is where healing begins. The drum circle can be a catalyst for positive steps toward a brighter future.

Written by Jamie Gore

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Enlightened by Darkenss

Enlightened  By Darkness

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Last night  I embraced my dark side.  Not to glorify pain or death, but to embody it, to dress and walk in the outer world as it,  for an evening.  In doing so, I began to know it more clearly.  And what a gift it was!

I had simply intended to dress up for Halloween, and invited a friend to bring over her costume stuff and dress me up.  I had no idea what would transpire from that simple playful request!

Although I might deny it, I have a dark side; a part of me that is mean, unkind and against love.  Although it might not have been intentional or conscious, it has expressed itself in various ways and at different times in my life.  I have inadvertently hurt others, said or done mean things, and, although I have let go of a lot of it  through self and other-forgiveness,  I still hold onto some guilt and resentment as a result.  Pointing fingers at others is a way to deflect  pain and guilt, but to own it, make amends and walk on with a lighter heart and soul feels so much better.

Beyond this, there is another part of my dark side which I have to contend with, the Angel of Death.  Whether it be tragic or graceful, painful or serene, long or short, young or old, death will come to me and to those I love.

Last night I dressed as the Angel of Death, walked out of my house into the world in a surprisingly different demeanor that felt as natural as my day to day Judy!  Although it was a very different external presentation of myself, it felt like I was still in my own skin. I felt strong and solemn, with a ‘don’t fuck with me , I will survive’ kind of attitude.  It was positive, powerful and as much a part of me as the ‘nice’ persona that I present most of the time.

In truth, the Angel of Death is hovering around my family right how.  It is a very difficult time.  I needed a way to honor her, to manage these rough waters, to deal with the potential death of loved ones.  By dressing as her, walking out into the world as her, strong, proud and courageous, I rediscovered that part of me.  I discovered that I am strong, courageous and proud; that I love life, I love many people deeply, and honor death as a natural and necessary part of it.

I discovered something remarkable and life changing; that this darkness is full of light! There is not a division between them; they both exist simultaneously in me at every moment. That the dark parts of life are just as natural and significant in life as are  the light.  The darkness of death is not here to do harm, to ruin lives or devastate us, but to help us through one of life’s most notoriously difficult transitions; from life to death. I also discovered that the mistakes I nave made and the hurt I have caused others and myself are part of the ongoing human learning journey; that they are forgivable, and indeed must be maturely forgiven before I can live a healthy peaceful life.

Although I was shocked at how natural it felt to dress and act as death and darkness,  I was also shocked at the reaction I got from both friends and strangers.  I definitely commanded attention.  For some this took the form of fear, for others rejection and even fascination or infatuation.  What struck me the most was the fact that I, Judy Atkinson affectionately known as ‘The Messenger as Joy’, was dressed in darkness, clothed in pain, and yet the light of my whole being shon through.

I have judged people who dress as Zombies, or Goths, seeing it as a glorification of death, cruelty and pain.  I still think that this may be the case for some, but for me, it was a deepening, broadening  and  enlightening experience.

I can now more clearly see that there is always light beneath the darkness, and darkness beneath the light, no matter what we are wearing on the outside. Last night normalized my pain and sadness.  It woke up my dark angel, a part of me that I need in order to navigate this human journey.  It lessened my judgement and self-righteousness, and  hopefully moving forward will soften the impact of all forms of difficulty in life with its strength and courage.

Today I discovered that I can call on the Angel of Darkness to hold my hand as I walk through tough times.  She assures me that it is appropriate to cry, to release my pain, and also to hold back the tears as needed.  She reminds me that love takes many forms, that pain is sometimes a teacher, that death is always hard but is also a friend and always a part of life. Finally she reminded me that love and light are always there to guide the way.  Be it in my faith, as a hug, a lit candle, a prayer or helping pay for a funeral, love is always present.

Thank you Angels of Death and Darkness, you shined some bright light on my life today!

 

Letting Go of Shame

Once a month a local women’s shelter has a therapeutic drum circle. This program has been gaining momentum and appreciation from the women who live there, and on Monday October 17th we had the largest turnout yet! The women who have been attending monthly are so excited and cannot wait for the next circle. 

Some women have just moved in to the shelter and are absolutely STRESSED to the max. The struggles that they are facing are huge. The drum circle is a safe welcoming place and they quickly realize that they can breathe a little deeper. Faces soften and smiles begin to appear.

 After about twenty minutes of drumming I suggested we create some rhythms and have some intentional rounds of drumming. For the first round I asked them if there was one thing they would like to let go of. After a pause, one woman suggested, “Shame.” Everyone unanimously agreed that would be something amazing to let go of. We created a rhythm, ‘Letting go of Shame.’ and drummed together with that phrase running through our minds. I suggested to entertain the question, “Who would you be without the shame?” 

We came to silence and it was time to create our second rhythm.”What would you like to drum up more of?” Again a pause, and the same woman said, “Love.” Another woman said, “You have to love yourself first.” Isn’t that the truth! We drummed for love with the phrase ‘drumming up the love’ in our minds.

At the end of the circle I was packing up the drums and a staff person came to me and said, “Every single woman that came out of that room was radiant and smiling! Not sure what you did in there but it was clearly remarkable.”

 

Written by
Jamie Gore

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Alberta Aphasia Camp, Drumming For Wellness

On Sunday September 18th, 2016,The Department of Sciences and Disorders from the University of Alberta held a summer camp for people living with a brain injury and surviving and thriving with a condition known as Aphasia. They asked Circles of Rhythm to attend and facilitate a drumming session. In years past one of our affiliates from the Edmonton area had done this for them, but he was not available this year. Upon arriving at the camp the day before I was met with much anticipation for the drum circle. Everyone was excited for the event, it was the highlight of the camp for most everyone. One individual in particular was very exuberant and ready to drum.

The morning arrived and the setting was amazing. Drumming in an enclosure with a view of the lake. Everyone began to drum and the sound was incredible. What a surprise! I have long ago let go of what to expect from people, and am always so amazed at the capacity of people when they listen and play together, no matter what struggles they face. I spoke about the harmony we were creating and the impact it has on the disease in the body. The music of the drum circle brings the body into a state of wellness and balance of heart and mind. At one point in our drum circle many participants were teary eyed with grattitude for the time they were sharing together.

At the end of the circle the man that let me know how excited he was about the drumming approached me. He asked me if I had read a certain book that he was reading. I said yes. His response was I KNEW IT! He proceeded to tell me that he had started to read the book before he had his stroke and the message did not mean anything to him. Now that he had this condition this book meant so much more to him. He had found the messages I delivered to be in alignment with the books meaning for him. The title of the book is ‘Conversations with God.’

He had been seeking the truth outside of himself for years. The stroke had changed his entire perspective on life, and he found that the truth was in him all along. The drum circle was a way for him to connect to that which he knew to be true.

Written by Jamie Gore

Women’s Shelter, Drumming Making a Difference

For the last year Circles of Rhythm has been offering a therapeutic drumming program at a local women’s shelter. The women are not obligated to attend, so at times there are only two participants. Even when two women show up we carry on and have a lovely evening. The circle in July was special because we had five women attend, some returning and some new ladies! A staff person is always present during these sessions, to be support, to witness and to be there in case of emotional crisis. On this particular circle it was this support person’s third drum session with me, so she had witnessed and grown accustomed to drumming, and could see that these circles were very beneficial for the women.
At the end of the session the following day I received this from her. With permission I am sharing this communication, she had sent this to her boss to speak about her experience in our drum circle:

I just have to let you know that drumming group last night was awesome!  It was everything a group should be and more!  We had 5 participants. I actually had to turn one lady away because she was a last minute sign up and we couldn’t accommodate anymore children in childcare.  

The group was asked to choose 2 words to think about while drumming , something to discard in their lives and something they would like to receive in their lives.   It was unanimous, the drumming themes were: “ getting rid of anger “ and “ bringing in the money”.   Following that,  each participant took a turn in being the “receiver”, in which one person sits in a chair and the rest of the group walks around them playing a drum or percussion instrument.  The idea is to receive healing from the group.   Afterwards each “receiver” spoke about what they felt.   At the end of the drumming class a drum stick was placed in the middle of the floor and used as a “talking stick”.   Each lady spoke about what they could do to bring more happiness into their lives.   Finally we all stood in a circle , held hands and choose one word to describe how we were feeling, the words spoken were, “happy, good, and….. like skipping”.

I cannot stress enough the positive and healing energy in the room.  I know each lady felt it because they expressed it verbally.  The group went 5 minutes over and the ladies still were not ready to leave.  They left on an emotional high and wanting more.  I feel deeply that the participation last night is evidence that our ladies can and will share in a group setting.   I know all of us are trying to educate the ladies to “buy in” on why we run groups as part of our program, how trauma affects the brain and how these groups can be incredibly healing and fun.

I also have to credit Jamie Gore our drumming group facilitator who demonstrated excellent skills in maintaining control and flow of the group throughout the evening.  Jamie was very creative, flexible and shared on a personal level, which created a safe and fun environment for our ladies.”

 

Written by Jamie Gore

Is Circles of Rhythm A Good Thing?

Judy received this incredible feedback from a gentleman. He was responding to her ensure that she is aware of the impact she and her team of facilitators and volunteers have had on his life. Sometimes in life we question if we are making a difference, and when we receive recognition like this, we can step back and say, “Thank-you, universe for giving me that chance to live my purpose here.”

I wanted to drop you a line regarding the comment you made last night concerning someone or some community of people suggesting that you were not providing a good or valued service. Perhaps it was that you were not in keeping with some drumming “standard” as you did not elaborate on the matter too much. I found the thought of this deeply disturbing as this attack could not be further from the truth both for the organization and for you personally. Given the above I would like to share with you what you and your program means to me as it is not anything like the feedback you experienced from those others.

I first encountered you and your drumming team at a workshop during the New Thought Conference in June and was amazed at how easily I was able to transform from a very anxious state to that of engagement with a group vibrating in energy as one. Not only did my anxiety subside to the point that I no longer wanted to “bolt” and leave the conference but I now felt a part of it and was much more comfortable with the entire group and individuals. The experience was transforming right in that moment and the lingering positive effects carried me through the entire 3 day conference. One of the other beautiful things was that there was a “knowing” positive energy between the participants of your drumming circle that shone in the eyes and sprit of those that experienced it along with me and that too was evident all weekend.

Further to that initial experience I sought out your organization and found your Friday Evening Circle of Rhythm held in Inglewood and promptly began going to these every available Friday. These have become an integral part of my spiritual growth, personal emotional enhancement, addiction recovery and perhaps the most significant….a sense of actually belonging and fitting in with others. Your 2 hour session of drumming mixed with meditation and spiritual concepts is the perfect blend of powerful healing and growth energy, action and thought and each time I participate I am renewed, restored and energized in a way like no other activity I know of. This has become such an important component in my life that I have encouraged several friends and family to join me on Fridays and each time I am so rewarded to see that they too are able to both give and receive the magnificent gift that your drumming circle provides.

Surely I speak the words of many souls in saying that you specifically and your team provide one of the most incredibly spiritually connective programs available. The evidence is so very clear to support this statement just by looking at ones neighbour while drumming or witnessing the deep moving energy of those in the healing circle, or the passion and sincerity of the drummers on the hand drums beating a rhythm of love and compassion for the benefit of others.

I implore you not to take council from anyone who believes that you, your organization or the format is not appropriate, beneficial, healing and a magnificent gift for all that participate. As I see it these negative thoughts must stem from complete ignorance of what you truly provide to a very large community. Please, keep doing what you are doing, continue to bestow this incredible experience on all that love and follow you.”

To all the drummers on the path of life, thank-you for being a part of the change we wish to bring about in this world.
Circles of Rhythm Team

Drumming with the First Nations

On June 15th and 16th I was asked to facilitate two drumming sessions for First Nations. The first circle was for all women and the second circle was for all men. The first day arrived and the women gathered to drum. There was apprehension at first but as the circle progressed the women became empowered and joyful. After each round of drumming there was such laughter and connection. It was playful and so present. The women really got to experience their community in a visceral way. At the end of the session we had a talking circle and the women really opened up about their personal stories, and how glad they were that they came. They all shared that the drumming was healing and a great stress reliever.

The next day was the men’s circle. The difference in the way the men approached it was incredible! Such strength and power in their drumming, and all in unison! They were able to see and understand first hand that the drum connects them to their past, to their ancestors, and gets them to be present. The drum also helped them to connect to their future by sending and intention to their children. The circle was to honor all of the Father’s who were present and who have walked before them. It was a powerful gathering.

Two very different circles, but the outcome was the same, people who come together to drum find exactly what they need!

Written by Jamie Gorewheel

What can I do?

I was given the opportunity to bring a group of women together to facilitate a rhythm cradle evening for them. Some had drummed before, some had not, and two women had even participated in the Rhythm Cradle before. There were eight ladies present for the event and it happens with three rounds of giving and receiving support healing and nurturing from the group. They were numbered off for the three rounds and I knew during the last round there would only be two women to receive. I had a plan for the empty chair for round three. Rounds one and two came and went and then it was time for round three. Instead of removing the empty chair I said lets keep it there. I asked them to drum over that chair to represent everyone affected by the devastating fires at Fort Mac. It gave them a chance to do something, like a prayer in action. We silenced the drumming and began the hands on giving of support. We all continued to send our intentions to that space on the empty chair. Our compassion as a group was there in its fullest not only for the women who were receiving, but also for the space we created to send our love to Fort Mac people. At the end of the drumming we had a sharing circle. One of the women said how precious the action of drumming over the empty chair was for her. She expressed how sad and heavy she had been feeling to see the loss and struggle of her fellow Albertans. The action of drumming gave her a way to process the feelings she had been having.

Find ways to take action!

Written by Jamie Gore

Teacher’s Drumming For Wellness

 

Teachers and staff came together at their Professional Development day with a drum circle.  Many of them had no idea what to expect when they came into it. How could drumming be a way to Wellness? Also how could drumming be an effective way to demonstrate a sense of team? As the time progressed the answers started to become clear. They were drumming so well together, listening to one another, playing together, speeding up and slowing down together, and recognizing that each of them had an important role to play in the group, even the tiniest egg shakers. Everyone’s ‘voice’ matters, and they needed to listen to one another to make their group song. All levels of musicality were respected, from the beginners, to the experienced drummers, and each person felt heard and valued. They were given an opportunity to lead one another, and this really demonstrated their unique personalities and approach to leadership. Not to mention that this was a great time, full of engagement and camaraderie. All of these elements are the same key elements that it takes to be a part of a successful team.
Here are some quotes from the teachers regarding their impressions of drumming before and after:

“To be quite honest I was quite skeptical. But shortly after everything got started we all really got into it. I was surprised that everyone was so involved!”
“It was great to see how people came in and seemed so reserved, and as it went on you could watch them open up and become very engaged.”

Many of the teachers were surprised that the experience was stress relieving as well. Here are some of the quotes directly from the teachers:

“I had no idea this would be so relaxing.”
“I did not realize how much stress I was holding onto, until I started drumming.”
“This experience really showed the balance of loud and soft, and the importance and value of silence. You could really feel how palpable silence is after a loud drumming round.”
“I normally like my classroom to be quiet, so it was interesting that I was okay with the noise in the drum circle.”

Find out what messages the drum circle has for your team, and how it could benefit them! If you have a workplace that would like to drum contact us today!
Written by
Jamie Gore

 

UK Study on Drumming and Depression

A new study in the UK lends credibility to the use of the Healing Drum Circle as a tool for reduction of anxiety, depression and social resilience and inflammatory immune response in mental health patients.

Read the Study

We are now offering training for this powerful therapeutic tool.  If you want to add  this to your professional tool belt, give us a call.

Training Program

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