Drumming up Wellness at AHS, Written by Julien Lepage

She walked into the room with her head down; unaware of her surroundings. Consumed by the physical pain and a swelling of the soul, that depression often brings any person who is experiencing the sting of mental illness. Her friend had dragged her out of her home to drum… “You need to experience this” she said with a deep respect and understanding of her pain.

The rhythm was soft at first; the vibration ran through her entire body. “What is this that I feel?”, she thought. No one spoke, no instructions were given at first; however she was able to join in the gentle rhythms seamlessly – immediately feeling successful. Soon a deep sense of oneness with the larger group came over her. She closed her eyes…

It was as though her spirit came alive. The pain and suffering that, moments before had consumed her entire body were no longer present. Looking around the room, she felt a deep mutual respect with all those who surrounded her. Suddenly, she became aware that she was not alone.

This story is one that is shared with me time and again after the Friday afternoon Drumming-Up Wellness program – a Rhythm Project initiative. Drumming has been a therapeutic tool for me personally and professionally. I am so pleased to be able to share it with others- due to the innovative support of Alberta Health Services, REMO, the drum manufacturer, and Judy Atkinson from Circles of Rhythm.

The Rhythm Project has a vision to connect people through Community Drumming Circles; a place where everyone can experience hope and healing throughout their journeys towards physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness.

The stigma associated with mental illness is debilitating. It is in the shadows of isolation that the problem thrives. I know it to be true that when one breaks apart from themSELF and joins a commUNITY Drum Circle, the weight of mental illness slips away. Shifting perspectives from the ME to the WE, one can experience -if only for a moment- reprieve from the weight of life’s challenges.

This program is not only for patients. As health care providers, we take on the stress and anxieties of our own personal lives and those of whom we serve. We cannot care for others until we can care for ourselves. This is an invitation for EVERYONE: staff, physicians, patients, and the surrounding communities, to join in with the Rhythm. A place where you can release, recover, and renew your energies so that you are prepared for the next learning opportunity that life has in store for you.pfh-drumming-up-wellness