Last night I was talking with a few friends about what kind of contemplative activities we’d like to see offered in the Atlanta area. We talked about classes on prayer, the history of mysticism, studies of specific mystics, and then we talked about how neat it would be to have some of those classes in venues other than churches — like art centers, for example.
That reminded me of an idea I had years ago, and never really pursued. I thought it would be fascinating to explore the nexus between contemplative prayer and meditation on the one hand, and drumming on the other. On the surface this may seem counterintuitive: drumming is loud, percussive, energy-intensive, whereas contemplation is silent, relaxed, gently focussed. But while they may not be identical states of consciousness, they are both altered states – and that in itself makes for an interesting question for me. Would it be possible for people to gather together, do some drumming (whether slow/meditative/shamanic, or more energetic/trancey), and then follow the drumming with a time of silence? Or maybe it would work better the other way around: sit in silence for 20 – 30 minutes, and come out of the silence not into the ringing of a Tibetan gong, but rather the steady heartbeat of a frame drum… and each person joins in, wordlessly, until the drumming gains traction, growing steadily in intensity until it explodes in a riot of joyful sound?
Drumming and contemplation. Drumming and breathing. The entire day becomes a steady drumbeat, alternating periods of silence with periods of drumming.
Anyone interested in making this happen?