The reason rhythm is such a powerful tool is that it permeates the entire brain. Vision, for example, is in one part of the brain, speech another, but drumming accesses the whole brain. The sound of drumming generates dynamic neuronal connections in all parts of the brain even where there is significant damage or impairment such as in Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). According to Michael Thaut, director of Colorado State University’s Center for Biomedical Research in Music, “Rhythmic cues can help retrain the brain after a stroke or other neurological impairment, as with Parkinson’s patients…” The more connections that can be made within the brain, the more integrated our experiences become.
Synchronizing the right and left hemispheres have many wide ranging benefits. When the logical left hemisphere and the intuitive right hemisphere start working together and communicating with each other there is a marked and measurable change in the quality of consciousness. Intuition increases. Insights increase. The ability to access unconscious information through symbols and imagery facilitates psychological integration and a reintegration of self.
Michael Harner, an anthropologist and founder of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, did pioneering work in studying the effects of drumming in the 1960s and ’70s, outlined in his book, The Way of The Shaman (Harper; San Francisco; 1990).
According to Harner, the beat of the drum, as used to transport native peoples into shamanic states of consciousness, closely approximates the base resonant frequency of the Earth, which can be measured scientifically.
In recent years, Gregg Braden, a geophysicist and author of such works as Walking Between the Worlds: The Science of Compassion (Radio Bookstore Press; Bellevue, Wash.; 1997), has continuously measured this frequency, which has led to his hypothesis that the Earth is going through great changes, with profound implications for its inhabitants.