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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Native American Music: Indigenous Wisdom

“Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart.” Old Indian Saying. Native Americans believe that music was given to humans by the spirits as a way of communicating with the supernatural world; it is, primarily, a vocal art accompanied by drums, rattles, whistles and flutes. Native American music attuned to the Earth and the Spirit world is deeply spiritual music completely in harmony with Nature. Deriving its power from easy access to the spiritual realm, it is music that exerts a hypnotic influence on Native Indians who hear it from the heart, heartbeats in complete sync with the rhythm of the drums.

Seldom performed for its own sake, music for the Native Americans is a way of communing with the spirit world, used in courtship, healing, meditation, shamanic and spiritual rituals. Music is in the heart of the Indians who use it in prayer and chanting to heal the body, the mind and the soul. They believe that the drum carries the heartbeat of the Indian Nation and that of Mother Earth, and drumbeats bring together the physical / mental and spiritual / heart of the people, rejuvenating and balancing the person who participates in singing or dancing or simply listens to the drum (heart)beats.

Not only, scientists, psychiatrists too believe in the healing power of music. Carl Jung, celebrated psychiatrist testified that spirituality was essential for psychological health and only people with a spiritual perspective on life could be cured by him. Spirituality or the Latin “Spiritus” meaning “breath”, more likely refers to the “breath of life”. To be spiritual means to open out hearts, to see the sacred in the ordinary, to experience a passion for living, to feel the poignancy of life, to submit to a power that is greater than us. And, none knew that better than the First Nations of America. With their shamanic practices, chants, drumming, rain dances; they learnt compassion while enjoying good mental and physical health. Music heals as scientific studies prove almost every day.

A recent survey found a large number of doctors who believed music, meditation and other spiritual practices helped in medical treatment, incorporated these relaxation techniques in the treatment of stress, and other mind / body ailments. People and medical practitioners are increasingly turning to holistic healing for curing ailments when science fails to restore good health. Listening to spiritual music, chanting or beating a release of emotions on drums frees the demons, and initiates a healing that sustains.

The Native Americans with their respect for all living things and Mother Earth used music as part of important ceremonies and rituals from performing the rain dance for inducing rain, to battle dances, an imbuing of courage as Indian Warriors prepared for war to shamanic rituals consisting of chants and drums and songs that bring back physical and spiritual health by driving out the spirits that cause disease.

All music, spiritual and temporal is music therapy of the highest form, and "What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset." Crowfoot, Blackfoot Warrior / Orator. While, Dr. Julie Trudeau leaves you to chew on that bit of Native American wisdom, put on a digital music CD of rhythmic chants and drumming, the Native American version of the Gregorian Chants! You will have begun a journey of healing!


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