I Ching drumming as a practice of expanding into your essential self


What is the essential self? Some say it is pure awareness – the awareness of being aware. We are not our thoughts or experiences – we are the awareness that is witnessing it happen.

How can we get into alignment with this essential self? How do we break free of these patterns in consciousness that have kept us focused on trauma, pain, lack, and just plain ignorance?

Some would say – eat psychedelics. Go to therapy. Sit in ceremony. Get bodywork or energy work from a practitioner. Prayer, forgiveness, change your diet, say your affirmations, breathe deep.

We live in a complex world, and with so many variations in options and needs and dispositions of individuals, how to choose what to do?

Some wise ones say that we already are our essential self, and there is nothing that needs to be fixed or changed. It is just self-realization, understanding we already are that.  A sustained spiritual practice is beneficial, and while we are still in the realm of cause and effect, embodied, trying to live and make sense of the world we are creating, it is a good idea.

I’m going to suggest pairing two ancient systems of transformation – I Ching and drumming.

Shamanic drumming patterns, when listened to in a sustained repetitive beat for over 10 minutes, has been used for thousands of years in indigenous societies to reach altered states of consciousness. This practice has been examined scientifically and it has been shown that it brings the brain waves of individuals listening to a state of deep meditation. 

The I Ching, an ancient divination system originating in China, has 8 trigrams representing 8 elements of nature – earth, wind, fire, water, thunder, lake, mountain, and heaven. Each of these trigrams can be configured into a hexagram (double trigram), 64 total possibilities,  representing a quality or essence. For example, Earth over Heaven is known as “Peace”.

Encoded within these symbols are drum patterns.  Drumming the I Ching is an incredibly powerful practice. It has the potential for mood enhancement, deep healing, transformation, alignment with the elements of nature, and connection with the essential self.

Here is how to find the drum pattern:
Pick an element or a hexagram from the I Ching. (“The Book of Changes” is the classic text, otherwise a simple Google search will do).

Each trigram has either a yin (feminine) or yang (masculine) principle, represented by double lines (feminine) or solid lines (masculine). The way to read it is simple – from the bottom up. Yin lines get a double beat, yang lines get a single beat.
To drum “Peace”…

Starting from the bottom up – 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 & 6 &. To use syllables, it would sound like “Fa-ther Sky, Mo-ther mo-ther mo-ther.”

Try it. If you have a drum, set your timer for 10 minutes and drum the pattern. Do you feel relaxed? Introspective? Connected with your essential self? 

The benefits of this can be enjoyed by listening to it in the background, too.

It works – and it connects us with our ancestors (and, since we know there is no time, we can bring our conscious awareness to beyond the space-time confines of what we think we are worried about today and into the space of timelessness, where they are drumming and dancing and praying right at this very moment with us). It awakens something still embedded within our physical and energetic DNA – while breaking us free from the attachment to thought patterns that are distractions from the truth of who we are.

Yup – all we need to do is sit still and chill out for long enough for the truth that is within us at all times to return to our conscious awareness. Listening to drumming will take us there. No need to process trauma intellectually. No need to sit upright on a cushion and battle the monkey mind of to-do’s and regrets and desires.

Time Out Apps has released an album of guided meditations set to I Ching Drumming. Visit www.timeoutapps.com and sign up for the email list to receive a free download of “Peace” meditation. The album is also available for download on iTunes.

I hope this drumming practice brings you back to your essential self.

Happy self discoveries…