A drum nerd's take on the shamanic journeying experience (and the Bee Gees)


It seems appropriate to address this topic just after examining how psychedelic research can give insight into the workings of the human brain and how alterations to the brain, whether chemical, energetic, or spiritual, affect consciousness. So how does performing CPR to the beat of the BeeGees “Stayin’ Alive” link with the drum beat used during a shamanic journeying session, which connects with EFT tapping on meridians on the body, which, as all things in my universe, leads to past life explorations? Start with this video: here’s a rare funny public service advertisement that describes how to perform CPR properly while waiting for the EMT’s to arrive-


 I apologize for the fact that you'll be hearing that song for the rest of the day. The takeaway is that this iconic BeeGees song that most people are familiar with from being used to choreograph John Travolta’s walk down a Brooklyn street (which happens to be Bay Ridge, where I lived for 7 years before moving to Asheville) just happens to be approximately 100 beats per minute (BPM for short). So if you need to restart and maintain a heartbeat for someone who’s had a heart attack, pushing hard on the center of the chest rhythmically at 100 BPM is ideal. As a former drummer and current drum nerd, recognizing beats per minute is something my brain attuned to at an early age. “Stayin’ Alive” was so ubiquitous in the 1970’s (the first time disco music put live musicians out of work) that everyone knows it, so its easy to sing or hum the song in your head while performing CPR. Also the song is called Staying Alive, which extends the metaphor.


This alerted me to the power that a simple drum beat can have on the body and made me wonder how drum beats could affect consciousness. So when this drum nerd attended a shamanic journeying session, I heard the drummer playing a simple steady rhythm on a single drum and couldn’t believe how powerful it was. Since I’ve been trained to remember tempos since I was 14, when I left the session I took out the metronome app on my phone (ProMetronome by EUMLabs in the Apple store) and tapped in the beat. It was 255 beats per minute, which is just over 4 beats per second (4 beats per second times 60 seconds = 240 beats per minute), which translates to slightly more than 4 Hertz*, which, in terms of brainwaves, is theta. 

In theta (3-8 Hz or 180-480 beats per second), our senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused on signals originating from within…In theta we are in a dream; vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond our normal conscious awareness.” **(https://brainworksneurotherapy.com/what-are-brainwaves)

That simple repetitive drum beat was integral to setting and maintaining the brain in theta, which gives our brain access to the vivid imagery that is the hallmark of a good shamanic journey. I heard a recording of the famous shamanic practitioner Sandra Ingerman and, again with my metronome app, determined that she was drumming at 230 BPM, which is just under 4 Hz (which would be 240 BPM) but still in theta range (180-320 beats per minute). I went looking for a popular song in that range and the closest I found was “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, which is 118 BPM. Why is that important to a drum nerd? Because once you know how a song sounds you can tap along with it. When I began drumming at my weekly shamanic journeying group here in Asheville, I could  “hear” Billie Jean in my head and tap on all 4 beats which doubles that 118 BPM to 236 beats per minute, which is solidly in Theta. I could establish a tempo in-between Sandra Ingerman’s and the previous drummer at my session and move the group towards theta. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my other enthusiasms is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which is tapping on meridian points on the body for emotional relief. I listened to a recording of a session where the tapping sounds were audible, compared them to the tempo that I was tapping at, and measured them on my trusty metronome app. Incredibly, the tempo was in the range of 240 beats per minute, actually a bit faster @250 BPM, but once again, THETA! One of the characteristics of EFT tapping is how it calms the body and helps you to tune in to your emotional state. Recall the quote above: “In theta, our senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused on signals originating from within.” So instinctively the tapping tends towards a tempo that induces the calm focus of theta. 

Since everything in my worldview angles back to past lives explorations, I have been experimenting with inducing theta by both rhythmic tapping and drumming in the 240 beats per minute range. But the goal isn’t getting to theta or any other brainwave state, it is directing consciousness to a previous body in a past life and seeing through those eyes and hearing through those ears. I'm avoiding making a "Staying Alive" pun here to wrap this up, you can thank me later. 


*Beats per minute (BPM) is a unit typically used as either a measure of tempo in music, or a measure of one's heart rate. A rate of 60 bpm means that one beat will occur every second. One bpm is equal to 1/60 Hz. -https://www.convertworld.com/en/frequency/beats-per-minute/bpm-to-hz.html

** Some sites put theta at 4 - 8 Hertz, but I have found the range to be more like 3.5 - 8, which includes Sandra Ingerman's slightly slower beat (230 beats per minute) which is very effective, widely used and is @3.8 Hertz.