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What is Meditative Drumming?

How to teach children meditative drumming

What is meditative drumming?

Meditative drumming is a form of meditation where the drum’s rhythm, sound, and feeling are the objects of focus. Similar to other forms of focus meditation, meditative drumming brings awareness and attention to the present moment. 

Can kids meditate with drums?

Like other forms of meditation, kids can greatly benefit from meditative drumming. Drumming is a beneficial way to encourage kids to meditate through sound and movement. Many kids naturally love making music, whether that is a musical instrument or an object of their choice, making meditative drumming a developmentally appropriate practice.

Focus

According to Christine Stevens, musician, author, music therapist, and creator of Upbeat Drum Circles, drumming is especially good for kids because it is an active meditation. For many kids with ADHD or autism, meditating while sitting still is very difficult. But when children drum, they are moving AND meditating, and this helps keep them interested and engaged. Stevens says drumming changes the brain from the self-absorbed network to the experiencing network.   

What this means is that when kids are drumming, they aren’t focusing on anxiety, negative self-talk, or maybe even feelings of inadequacy or illness. Drumming takes their mind off of themselves, and they begin to experience the music, the beat, the rhythm of drumming, and this is quite healing. 

Neural connections

Jim Donovan is a multi-platinum recording artist, trainer, Assistant Professor and Director of Music and Wellness at Saint Francis University and TEDx speaker. 

Donovan says that another good reason for kids to meditate with drums is that drumming helps them build coordination and new neural connections.  

When kids learn a new skill, like meditative drumming, their neural connections become stronger. This means that their brains grow and it is easier for them to learn new things, especially when they do the activity over and over again.  

Relaxation

Drumming, like meditation, should be practiced often. Because little ones like drumming so much, they really don’t need much encouragement. What they do need, however, is guidance on how to make drumming meditative, so it isn’t just play time. 

In meditation, the object of focus can be many things, including the breath, an object, or a mantra. When a child drums, the beat or rhythm of the drum can become the mantra, or can be used to enhance the mantra, to hold their attention. Drumming helps bring children quickly into the moment, and out of thoughts which may be intrusive, or filled with worries, or negativity.

With each beat of the drum children fall into a peaceful state that is calming and beneficial for their mind and body.

How to practice meditative drumming with kids

1. You don’t need a drum, but you can certainly use one. Children can drum with their hands, or a mallet, on a drum, on their laps, or even just clap. Kids also like “drumming” with little egg shakers. They are tiny and fit nicely in little hands. 

2. Invite kids to make their drumming space sacred, and special. Some ways to do this include: 

  • Drumming in their designated meditation or relaxation space.
  • Diffusing an essential oil while they drum to enhance relaxation.
  • Placing their hand over their heart, and then on the drum, to connect with the sacredness of the practice.
  • Gently rubbing the drum and putting their intention for the session into the drum (I will feel more calm after drumming, I will feel less pain after drumming, etc.)
  • Taking a few slow, deep breaths before beginning.

3. Begin drumming. Kids can drum to the beat of the music, to the beat of their heart, or follow whatever rhythm they like. If at all possible, encourage them to drum for at least four minutes. This is the duration that researchers and experts like Stevens and Donovan say, it takes for a relaxation effect to occur.  

4. Kids can drum to a favorite song, to the sound of their name or to a favorite nursery rhyme. 

 5. Donovan says it’s really person-specific, but even as little as 10 minutes of drumming can start to make a real difference. This doesn’t need to be all at once. What helps the most is regular repetition at least 2-3 times per week or more. Drumming over and over again is key to helping kids build those new neural connections and coordination.

6. When your child is ready to end their drumming, invite them to slowly stop, and take a few breaths in the silence.

Wee Meditate

If your little one would like to explore drumming along with Dragon and his friends, a subscription to Wee Meditate offers them drumming music to meditate with and our mini meditations, “The Rhythm of the Drum” and “Heart Beats.”

Sign up today to give your child access to a storybook world filled with meditations, music, bedtime stories, and more.