Joined: Feb 21, 2012
No. 1 Posted on Feb 28, 2012 2:45 AM
Here is a curtailed version of the report I submitted for my first HealthRHYTHMS facilitation. Actually, I did two separate facilitations, one for a group of cancer survivors and support people, and one for people living with mental illness. Both groups seemed to enjoy themselves hugely.
1. Population description and number of participants
Circle 1: Adult cancer survivors and support people, 4
Circle 2: Adults living with mental illness, 9
Circle 1: Living with surprises
Circle 2: Belonging to a group; feeling valued as a group member
3. Event coordination: For each circle, I asked the activity/program director of each organization, for which I was already scheduled to give a drum circle if it would be all right to give the HealthRHYTHMS protocol instead.
4. Brief description of the event
Both events went quite well. Wellness exercises: For the cancer group, I used a modified exercise in breathing I remember from an Alexander Technique vocal workshop; for the mental health group, I used a Qi Gong body scan.
For the Ice-Breaking section, with the cancer patients we did the shaker pass twice—once with standardized eggs, and then again with other small shakers of different shapes and sizes. Everybody had a great time. The mental patients had difficulty NOT picking up the dropped eggs, but they even laughed about that.
For the Entrainment section, which was the most familiar to both groups, everybody caught on fast. There weren’t any train-wrecks, but I occasionally had to remind the mental patients of the easy variations they could do if they were getting tired of holding the pulse (leave sounds out, add sounds in, change sounds). The cancer patients had to be stop-cued; they could have gone on forever.
For the Inspirational Beats section, I asked the cancer patients to think of a time when ONE THING changed, to explain it on their drum, and to also drum the resolution. Two of the four very quickly chose to beat out how they felt at the time of their diagnosis, and then drummed the resolution they have arrived at from themselves. The other participants in the circle interpreted what they heard very easily. I asked the mental patients to think of a time when they felt especially good to be part of a group. The only person who chose to do so was the assistant program director of the group—but as soon as she started, the others seemed to understand. Special Note: It IS possible to improvise on the brushing sounds for more than 5 minutes!
5. Personal insights
Both groups seemed a little more reticent than usual to experiment with making different sounds on the drums, and waited until they were shown. Not sure why, maybe because it was a little more formal than usual.
The cancer patients absolutely loved the opportunity to express themselves on the drums. The mental patients, not so much, but that may be because they are so heavily medicated. In the circles for them that I have given in the past, they are most comfortable and inspired in their own way when we do the rhythms of the medicine wheel—probably because these give them an initial structure that is easy to pick up and copy at first. I tried to fit some of these in during the entrainment section for them, but they didn’t respond, and when I laid back, they did eventually find their own parts—and incidentally started appreciating each other’s parts more.