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
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.”
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
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
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 Gore
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!
I run a regular drumming program for adults with disabilities and have had some of the participants coming regularly for over a year. Yesterday (April 11th) we had our first of a nine week session and I asked the group to tell me some of the reasons why they like the drum circle. Many great answers came up, one lady said she likes the drumming program because it helps her with her anxiety.
Another man said, “You guys are like my other family.” That one nearly brought tears to my eyes.
They feel equal, heard, valued, and respected in the one hour session we create together each week. As their facilitator, I focus on what is going well in the circle, and celebrate the things that are going right, instead of seeing the misbeats as mistakes. They all bring their best effort, and some of them never actually play on beat, but that is not why we are there!
At the beginning of the session, when I was signing everyone in, a lady arrived that did not have a disability, and she was not an aid either. She had paid for the program and was under the impression that is was just a drum circle! Well, I welcomed her! It was a risk! At about the half way point of the session I approached her to see what her thoughts were, as this is clearly an adapted program for adults with a disability. She said, “If you would let me stay I will, because I love drumming and this is such a great experience. This is bringing a smile to my face! You mentioned that everyone here is welcome and equal and I would like to keep coming.”
My heart was so pleased to hear her say that!!! A truly great day of drumming!
Why do you drum??
Most people do not have and answer to that question as it is their first time drumming let alone in a circle of people!
At the end of a drum circle my hope is that they have an answer to the question, and they decide to return to a drum circle again. The answers can be as varied as the people who show up. At the first drum circle a person experiences they may have one answer such as ‘this could be a fun time’! But if they choose to attend once again their answer may change. Drumming has the power to literally impact all areas of your life, especially in community. It is a way to bring about a sense of well being and harmony inside and out. Regular drumming can certainly become a practice for people to integrate into their life to bring balance, stress relief and even peace. Not to mention the original answer, pure fun!
On April 3rd I was able to bring people together for a drumming experience called the Rhythm Lodge. I asked people to introduce themselves and tell us what brought them to the event. Answers were so varied: for friendship, community, healing, and even to have an experience that would help to bring a sense of grounding and getting right into the body. It was a great experience to share with these people, and each of the participants was able to find what they were looking for, and maybe find some things they did not expect! It is always so special when people are surprised at what can happen.
A close friend of mine has found the drumming to be instrumental in his life. There are many individuals that find their way to a drum circle that have had their entire life affected in a positive way. The rhythm has rippled out to influence all aspects of their life, mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual. It will take a person as far as they would like to go!
So, Why do YOU drum?
Written by Jamie Gore
I had the honor of drumming with some Japanese students on their visit to Canada. Twelve drum circles over the course of three days. Intense! Each group was a class of 25 students all learning the English language. They were visiting Canada and came out to Canmore area to spend time in the Canadian Rockies. They spent one of their days out at Boundary Ranch and were able to participate in four amazing experiences. Dream catcher making, dog sledding, snow shoeing and a drum circle!
The drum circle was a highlight of their time, for both myself and them. Each group had their own gifts to bring to the circle, but as the workshops went on I began to notice and appreciate the culture of the Japanese people. Some of the things I noticed were, a deep respectful nature, a real focus on attention to detail, and getting the rhythms just right, and how the girls played so softly, and the boys played as loud as they could! By the end of the circles they were having so much fun and really getting into the synergy of drumming together.
On the last day the youth were clearly all needing some space to just relax, they had been having such a full week already. The first group to come through was practically falling asleep on their drums! I was thinking that the rest of the groups would be the same. But you can never really know what to expect, so I stayed open for the next group. To my surprise they were FULL of zest! This group absolutely loved the drum circle. They loved it so much that they asked to come back on their lunch break to have a spontaneous drum circle. I let them get into it on their own, without facilitation. This spontaneous drumming was so joyful and free, and it was exactly what any facilitator hopes to see. They were using all the skills I had shown them in their facilitated drum circle, and it drew a crowd of the other students to share in the joy.
Our drum circles are not specific to one culture, and it really shows that everyone in the human race can come together with the drum, it is a language all on its own. We overcame the boundary of language, and created true communication without words. We created such a memorable experience for these teens, that they will bring back and remember for the rest of their lives.
I am so excited to work with them again next year already!!
Written by, Jamie Gore
What an amazing life this is, to be able to bring people together with a drum circle! Each group I get to work with is SO different, there are so many reasons to drum together!
Here is a snapshot of the last week for me:
Drum circle one: A daughter and her father and mother have been attending a very special set of drum circles, at Wellspring, as her father is living with cancer. She knew how much her father has benefited from this drumming that she decided to surprise him with a birthday celebration circle. She got together with her brother and they rounded up all the people that are special to her father to surprise him. We were all ready and waiting for him to arrive. With tears in his eyes he realized that the circle was there for him. What a special experience for him to share with his loved ones!
Drum circle two: Later that day I came to the home base drum circle, the community drum circle that happens every Friday night. The energy and connection is amazing, and the folks that come bring me such joy! It truly is an anchor point in my week.
Drum circle three: Saturday arrives and it is time to facilitate the drum circle for people who are going through cancer and their caregivers at Wellspring. The circle was session five out of six and an absolutely deep and so healing.
Drum circle four: Sunday evening, Rhythm Lodge. This was the first time I was ever to facilitate our rhythm lodge. I was so excited to do so! The people that attend are able to experience drumming in a deeper healing intentional way. With focus and intention, the frame drums work their magic. A special evening for me. I absolutely loved to do this.
Drum circles five and six: A regular program, two drum circles back to back on Monday afternoon for adults with disabilities. These participants get to drum weekly for nine weeks. It is so special for me and I know it is for them as well. They get to come and be part of something greater than themselves, and they are seen for who they are, NOT THEIR DISABILITY. I asked them to tell me something that stresses them out, and one lady’s answer brought me to tears. “When someone sees me as my down syndrome, I feel like a total failure, that stresses me out.” I told her that I see her as who she is and not her as down syndrome. The drum circle is a place where they are seen and heard, equal and human.
Drum circle seven: Monday night I facilitated a drum circle at a women’s shelter called Sonshine. These women are coming out of a domestic violence situation. Drumming with these women is yet another gift for me. In the first round of drumming every time I stopped drumming they would all immediately stop as well. It took several times to encourage them it was okay to keep going even if I stood up! They were very timid and shy in the beginning. One participant was absolutely disconnected from the beat of the group. She was almost connected by the end of the session. It shows through the music, that with tenderness and support there will be healing. Giving a woman a drum to play and letting her know that it can be a way to communicate is very empowering for her. This was the first drum circle of a new monthly program that we have worked to create at Sonshine!
Drum circle eight: Tuesday afternoon, I was so excited to be able to facilitate a very special drum circle at the residence of Judy’s parents! Judy asked me to fill in for her as she is having a health issue, and what an honor to do so! The lodge had never had drumming before, and forty seniors showed up ready to give this new experience a go! They all had a super time, as did I! Judy’s parents got to see the person that Judy brought under her wing. As the eighth drum circle came to a close, I took a deep breath and noticed, Yes I am physically tired in this moment, but this work is so fulfilling and rewarding spiritually. NOW time to recharge!!
Judy has taught me so much, and she is always there to hear how things went after each circle. I feel very lucky to call this my vocation, and am truly grateful that Judy has brought me in to this work at Circles of Rhythm.
On a side note: This business is rhythmical and it has ebbs and flows. As I write this article I am happy to know that after a flow there is an ebb, and I have the chance to recharge before our next surge of drum circles! I take each day as it comes, and happily look forward to my next DRUM MARATHON!