What Is Wellness?
In the past, wellness has been defined in many different ways. For a long time, wellness indicated a lack of illness or disease. But, what if someone is dealing with a diagnosis that is ongoing, like cancer? Can this individual experience “wellness” in a significant way? In recent years there has developed a general consensus that wellness is much more than a lack of illness. True wellness involves action. The individual is actively involved in a process that is a multi-dimensional approach to physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Looking at it this way, each individual is required to take positive actions towards his or her own overall wellness. These decisions affect all areas of our lives. Diet, exercise, mental/spiritual practices, and environment are all areas that these decisions must impact.
The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence. With this in mind, it is important to understand that a person's degree of "wellness" really has very little to do with any particular medical diagnosis. We have all had the experience of knowing someone with a terrible disease and a prognosis that just doesn't seem very good. Yet, they are extremely happy and content. They seem to be living life to the fullest...emotionally, physically, spiritually...this is the true manifestation of wellness.
It is important to point out that all of us, regardless of our individual circumstances, are capable of making the decision to be actively involved in our own wellness.
Where Do Drums Come In?
First, I want to let you in on a little secret...it isn't about the drums! The drums are the vehicle that I am comfortable with and the "entry fee" for participants is pretty low. We don't have to spend hours practicing to have fun with the drums or to use them in a way that is beneficial. We just need to give ourselves permission.
Recreational Music Making has been shown in many studies to have positive effects for individuals and groups. RMM is the playing of music, often in a group, for the sheer fun of it. A desire to master the instrument is not needed. We are just enjoying music while we connect with others in the group. Through these connections, we can begin to break down the walls that separate us from others. We can open lines of communication that were not possible beforehand. We can begin to build trust in others as we get to know each other in this very non-threatening activity. Trust and communication is absolutely necessary if we are to help others deal with the difficult situations they may be facing in their lives.
We all know the things we keep inside...the really ugly things...thoughts that make us worry, bring on guilt, and increase resentments. These are the things that, when we hold them in and are too afraid to express them, can lead us down the path to "UNwellness". Our minds, bodies and spirits must be aligned. If we don't allow ourselves to disclose these things, we can effectively undermine any attempts at wellness.
By utilizing group drumming activities in purposeful and creative ways, we can create safe spaces for our participants. This is not about teaching people to be drummers, but about creating an opportunity for participants to look deep inside of themselves, connect with others, and work in a collaborative fashion to help one another.
Using the HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming Protocol, we offer moments specifically designed for participants to disclose (either verbally or non-verbally) their inner-most feelings about the difficult situations in their lives. We give participants opportunities to be vulnerable, and to be empathetic to and supportive of others. The relationship that develops between participants can be beneficial on many levels. Research has shown significant reductions in stress, increased functionality of the immune system, and many other benefits associated with the HealthRHYTHMS protocol.
In this day and age, we need to look at all avenues to achieve the highest level of health & wellness that is possible. This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. While group drumming has been shown to be effective, some may say it is not for everyone. However, I believe most people could and would benefit from exploring this ancient activity as a fun part of an overall health & wellness strategy.