The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Drumming Meditation (Just Try To Keep A Smile Off Your Beautiful Face!)

My friend Yoleidy is a djembe drummer.
When she emailed me a few days ago with an invitation to join a drum circle Thursday night 5-7 p.m., I was so excited to RSVP "Of Course!"
Here in our little corner of the world, the rain has stopped for a day and the sun has come out...sort of amazing when you consider that this has been the rainiest Spring South Central PA has ever seen. Farmers can't plant seed, rivers have over run their banks times and time again, people are sick of being indoors. And in the bigger world, some folks are dancing in the streets and joyously celebrating the death of a terrorist, while others are rather sickened by the celebrations, but none the less, relieved that Bin Ladin is no longer living.
Surely there are those among us who feel a paradoxical swamp of sweet revenge, compassion for the loss of lives, awe and skepticism, all rolled into one.
The nuances and layers of reaction are bewildering.

But drumming!
This is about drumming.
This is about discovering a meditative practice of sound waves, rhythm and community.

So I was thrilled to have an opportunity to drum, but sad to say, it coincided with our Thursday Night Meditation.
Feeling a bit mischievous, I checked the weather report and noted the good weather coming our way, then emailed the Sangha and invited them to drum. I couldn't help but smile wondering how some might take the change of plans.
A few, I was sure, we're not going to make the leap from shikantaza to thumping on a goat skin hide, but I thought there might be some brave souls who would give it a try. And I was right.
C arrived with a big cookie tin filled with percussion instruments he probably had to wrestle from his children. M met me across the street and we walked to the circle together, where she grabbed maracas and went to town. D came to sit beside us, then found something with which to hammer out a beat.
By the time we were into our 2nd song, I looked over at my friends and had to smile--they were all grinning like
Animal from the Muppets!

That's pretty much what drumming does for me too.
I feel like Animal.
He's the guy with really long hair who wails away with utter abandon on the drum set and can't really stop himself when the song is over. He's the one who lives life fully, loves freely and gives completely.
Animal knows that drumming does something profound to the internal body beat, and when we are all drumming together, the whole world walks in rhythm.

We were drumming on the Plaza, as students came and went. The weather was warm and invited lingering. As folks passed by, some came to join the circle. Others swayed to the beat and clapped their hands. But smiles were everywhere!
There is only one day left of classes, finals begin on Sunday and papers will be due soon's been a loooonnnggggg semester. Drumming is the antidote to too much studying, too much seriousness, too much ego, too much work, too much solitude.

Next week we'll be back in Landis House for our Thursday Night Meditation, sitting in silence together, breathing together, attempting to tame the wild, wild horse of the mind. But there are so many ways to train that wild horse, and so many joyous ways to practice the Dharma together.
I expect we'll drum together again.

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