The Healing Power of Drumming

It is a great gift to know Suzanne Tribe, and to be having her join us for our BE workshop in Italy. She’s an amazing person, with a special ability to teach, inspire and guide others to heightened states of consciousness.

We share here her thoughts on the power of drumming, its history on the planet, scientific validation of its healing effects and its place in modern culture and the Shamanic path.

Suzanne’s insights on drumming for health and vitality:

Drumming was at the core of community life and healing in most ancient cultures around the world—from the Tuvan shamans in Siberia to the Machis in Chile, the Anatolian culture in ancient Turkey to the Shuar in the Amazon Rainforest, the Inuit in Alaska, the West African Yoruba people and the First Nation’s people in America.

Drumming was a way to communicate from one village to the next; drumming expressed the joy of gathering in celebration; drumming was the fabric of connection, collaboration and healing. Shamanic drumming was, and is, a key component of creating sacred space, honoring the earth and its directions, and intentionally shifting states of consciousness to retrieve information for healing, wellbeing and survival.

In certain parts of the world, particularly more secluded areas, this is still a way of life. I witnessed this when I traveled to the Andes in 1997 to do fieldwork on pre-Columbian drumming and chanting. In the small and beautiful town of Iruya, high up in the Andes, at a time of the yearly festivity, people travelled for days from afar, on foot or by horse, to come together in ceremony. There was drumming, dancing and singing for celebration, reunion, healing and in their words “to connect with mother earth and the cosmos.”

I learnt from the Aymara and Quechua people in the Andes about the importance of the drum in everyday life and in ceremony. The drum is our connection to mother earth, Pacha Mama, our groundedness. The sound of our voices projected in singing or toning are our connection to the cosmos, to our dreams. And our heart is at the center, allowing the flow between earth and sky/cosmos. I have carried these teachings with me ever since and they are part of who I am as a music therapist, as teacher and performer, and overall as a being dreaming on this earth.

In the 60s and 70s, a return to drumming as a community experience took place. In the United States free form drum circles sprung up at beaches, in parks and at indoor facilities. Simultaneously culturally specific drum circles were generated, and soon to follow came the facilitated community drum circles. In the 80s, with the shift in health care to more complementary and integrative models, a growing interest in drumming as a holistic tool emerged. Nowadays, there is a growing focus on drumming for health purposes in clinical settings, hospitals, psychiatric facilities, schools, private practices, etc.

As a music therapist, I have experienced the healing power of rhythm and drumming in helping patients to relax or become more energized as needed; in supporting premature infants to stabilize their heart rate and breathing rate; and in promoting parent-infant bonding (with the ocean drum and toning), drumming for stress release, drumming for caregivers in ‘caring for the caregiver’ programs, and in other situations.

Research has been conducted on drumming effects on health. A groundbreaking study by Barry Bittman, M.D. published in 2001, found that one hour of group drumming according to a specific protocol called HealthRHYTHMS, boosted the immune system and showed an increase in NK (natural killer) cell activity in participants. Subsequent studies by Bittman showed evidence that group drumming can lower stress, improve mood states and reduce burnout. (For more information about these studies, see

The present trend shows that drumming for health and wellbeing seems to be making its way back into our culture. What about shamanic drumming?

Shamanic drumming for intentionally shifting one’s state of consciousness and journeying to other layers of awareness is a path I have been learning, practicing and guiding others along for the past 10 years. It includes creating sacred space, honoring the directions, setting intentions and journeying to non-ordinary states of consciousness and back, and includes the process of integrating the experience.

I’d like to conclude with these seven reflections on drumming:

  1. Drumming brings us into the here and now. Babatunde Olatunji, often considered to have inspired the return to the drum circle experience in North America, is quoted as saying: “Yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”
  2. Drumming is communication and expression without words.
  3. Drumming energizes us and can help us release tension.
  4. Drumming can intentionally shift our consciousness (assemblage point).
  5. Drumming with intention is powerful.
  6. Drumming can align us with our natural rhythms and the rhythms of nature.
  7. Drumming can align us with the rhythms of the universe.

Suzanne Tribe MA, MT-BC

Suzanne Tribe is a music therapist who conducts group empowerment drumming events for wellbeing and community building in the US and Argentina. Suzanne has performed extensively in a variety of world music genres, and at the University of Buenos Aires she taught dance majors the use of creative vocal expression. Her most recent CD with traditional songs from the Andes is Songs from Mother to Daughter.


Visit Suzanne on Facebook

Hear one of her songs:

Community Events

Freedom of Perception and Wonder: Our Time in the Yucatan

Energy can move in magical ways. It moved that way at last month’s BE workshop in Chichén Itzá.

We’ve been back in LA for a couple of weeks already, and we still feel it in our bodies and minds and spirits. We continue to dream it and see how that potent experience is creating something new. Undoubtedly, a liberating and fundamental change happened for all who were there with us.

What an honor and delight it was to share those four unforgettable days with our amazing workshop participants! Discovering a freedom of perception, and embodying it every day.

From specialized movements to discover and support our purpose, to the inspiring awe of being at this singular, powerful place on the planet, our time in the Yucatan nourished all of us.

What did we take home?

  • What it means to have purpose
  • Discovery of purpose
  • A vision of how purpose looks in our daily lives
  • A sense of humbleness and wonder
  • An understanding of reciprocity
  • The experience of silence
  • An opening of perception

What we remember:

  • A deep exploration, experience and sharing
  • Finding humbleness
  • Misty mornings in the silent city of the Maya
  • Hearts opening to the mystery of the singing pyramid
  • A strong feeling of the wisdom of the Maya and Toltec people
  • The experience of awe when gazing at Kukulcan pyramid
  • Resting our backs on the walls of the temple of the warriors[separator top=”20″]

Our appreciation for all of you who participated in this workshop is unbounded. We walk our path with fresh energy and the doors of perception opened wide.

Some of you are continuing the experience begun in the Chichén Itzá workshop in our online follow-up program. We look forward to our continued journey there, and in Being Energy’s other workshops and Being Energy classes, like our Path With Heart Series.

We’ll soon be in Italy, and we know that our Being Energy workshop setting there will flavor the teaching in a special, beautiful way.

With gratitude,
Aerin, Miles and Axel


My Encounter with Being Energy And With My Own Power

Dear Community,

Below, Crisologo, a Being Energy® teacher from Mexico is sharing his experience learning, practicing and teaching Being Energy. Enjoy it! Aerin

On the path

We are all travel companions.
No matter where we come from,
Or where we are going.
The end brings us together,
And it certainty frees us.
We are free to walk the trails,
We are free to make new trails.

My name is Crisólogo. I was born in a very small town of the Chontal people, in the Southern Sierra Madre, State of Oaxaca, Mexico. I grew up surrounded by traditions and beliefs—fear of sorcery among them. My family attributed the illnesses and deaths of several relatives to the actions of sorcerers who hired out their services.

In my town, I learned about “reciprocity”—sharing something without expecting anything in return. During town festivals, women dance to the tune of wind instruments in a ceremony called regada de frutas (spilling of fruits), where they toss seasonal fruits into the air for the attendants to grab all they can. The community also offers a meal to all the visitors and locals, with a sense of total humbleness. There is a practical teaching in the region about mutual support. There is even a word depicting it: guelaguesear, which means helping each other on even terms, without money exchange involved. It is full reciprocity as a social group.

When I was 11 years old, I moved away from my parents so that I could receive an education. I enrolled in a boarding school to study for three years, and then went to the university, coming back to my hometown only during the holidays.

Since 1990, I have worked in the financial office of an institution of the Mexican Government that manages loans for farmers. Interactions and routines carry a great deal of stress in the office and after some time, I developed digestive issues and high blood pressure. I started taking medications in 2003 to address chronic colitis, and in 2010 I had to see a doctor due to an imbalance in my blood pressure.

My path has been winding. Sometimes this means that I have walked in solitude, searching for my purpose, for my energy body.

My grandmother Tava has been an important teacher to me. She insisted that many illnesses are caused by ailments in our thoughts—by forgetting events in which our spirit got trapped in the ground, right in the place where the events occurred. The most harmful thoughts are sadness, anger and fright. To heal, one must recall the event clearly, and talk to the Earth to ask her to free our spirit. The Earth is our “big mother,” and she knows everything, my grandmother said. She pointed out that in order to recall an event of the past, one must pay attention to the dreams, because they let us know about it.

In 1994, I married Carmen. It happened that I did not invite a certain colleague from work to the ceremony, and when he and I met afterwards he confronted me and I had to come up with some excuse. He told me that, as a gift for the future, he would recommend two books to me that, according to him, would help me in the new stage in my life. Time passed and I did not do anything to get them, but he kept asking me if I had liked them. I told him that I did not have the chance to get them, even though in fact I hadn’t even tried looking for them.

One day, we went shopping in a supermarket. In our way out of the store, next to the cashiers, I saw some mirrors and walked closer to them to fix my hair. At that very moment, I saw two books on a shelf and I felt the impulse to check them out… they were the two books my friend had recommended, sitting there as if waiting for me.

In one of them, I found the quote: “A man has four natural enemies: fear, clarity, power, and old age. Fear, clarity, and power can be overcome, but not old age. Its effect can be postponed, but it can never be overcome.” I found out who the author was, and got the complete works of the Nagual Carlos Castaneda. I had started on my quest and taken a new path, a path with heart—even if just on a beginner’s level.

I learned about workshops of Carlos Castaneda’s movements in the year 2000, and attended them on a regular basis, keeping up an individual practice, but unable to maintain consistency through time.

In these circumstances, a fellow traveler invited me to a Being Energy workshop in 2013. I did attend and was pleased with the proposition of the Extended Teacher Training. I saw this as an opportunity to be consistent in my practice—something I had yet to achieve.

Before the Chichen Itza workshop in 2014, I found myself at a crossroads. My uncle, who had been as my brother when I was a child, died one day before the trip to the workshop. I needed to choose between going to his funeral or to the workshop. I arranged all the details with my family and went to the workshop. I gave myself completely to the practice, and during the silence exercise, in front of the pyramid, the feeling of reciprocity came to me: “attending the workshop should have a purpose”. And this purpose was teaching the knowledge that life had given me the chance to learn, as a selfless act and as an offering to the spirit, in thankfulness for what I have received, without waiting for the perfect condition of moment.

So in October 2014, I started teaching a group of approximately 10 people. Teaching them has taken me to new levels of commitment and responsibility towards them and towards myself as well. That same year, I also participated in the Being Energy Detox Program and the Nutrition classes.

In other words, I made two decisions: One “inwards” to heal my body; and the other one “outwards” to share what I have with others in the spirit of reciprocity, with great humbleness and with the mood to keep learning through teaching.

The Detox Program has made me learn new things about physical health, presented new views, and given me improved health. My blood pressure has stabilized, and the colitis is gone.

As part of my new view, I have learned to cook and I enjoy being able to prepare meals for my family. It hasn’t been easy. The monster of 1,000 heads–the ego—shows up continuously; but each time I have more defenses and it becomes easier to deal with it.

I am happy with the results. I feel stronger, with greater vitality.

After one year of treatment and intensity in my practices, I visited my family back in town and they were scared when they saw me. “What’s up with you? Are you sick?” they asked, “You look very thin.” One of them whispered in my ear, “I don’t want to think that you are sick. I think you are dieting or doing a lot of exercise.” “Both,” I told him. It reminded me of how the teachers struck me when I saw them for the first time during a workshop. “They either don’t eat or their whole life is exercising all day long,” I thought.

I am better acquainted with my body every day, and have become more aware that we harm ourselves the most, and that others cannot do that to us. The type of sorcery of which I was scared as a child is an issue of personal power, and we all have personal power. And that power should help us to give more, to commit, to share and enjoy this wonderful journey that is life itself.

I have been endeavoring to be more prepared in the context of the shamanistic knowledge: Handling energy, the freedom of my energy body as a purpose through unbending intent and with a greater awareness of it at all times, accruing inner silence.

I conceive knowledge as something systemic. That is how I see Being Energy—a comprehensive, integrative system that allows entrance to the warrior’s mood and to being on the path with heart, offering the best of us.

With affection,