"Until recently, I had never found anything that increased Alpha waves in people that needed most to have more of them, and I am speaking specifically of the hypervigilant population. I tried biofeedback, but it tends only to enhance the theta waves of relaxation and didn't really affect Alpha much at all. I even had some hypervigilant patients who were transcendental meditators, a group which typically has a higher amplitude of Alpha than the general population, but these hypervigilent meditators had low to non-existent Alpha.
"It was suggested to me that I do some research with drums and Alpha waves. What first came to my mind were my hypervigilant patients. Not expecting anything really, I went ahead and took four or five people and did an experiment wherein I got an Alpha wave baseline from them, which was, of course, typically low (below 10 MV) and had them drum for half an hour. The instructions I gave them were to drum a soft slow heartbeat type of rhythm. Not everyone followed the instructions. A couple did some emotional expressive drumming, and one or two might have had too much pain or felt pain from holding the drum due to fibromyalgia, but I found that 50% of the ones I tested got a normal Alpha wave pattern after thirty minutes of drumming, which means that their Alpha waves doubled. They went from 10 microvolts average to 20 microvolts just in the course of one drumming session.
"One of the participants was a friend of mine. I had done 15 neurofeedback sessions with him and gotten him into theta waves but had never been able to get any Alpha waves from him. The drumming was the first and only thing that allowed him to produce Alpha waves. I was quite impressed. I was also impressed by the fact that the Alpha waves occurred in these hypervigilant, high stressed people after only 20-30 minutes. It wasn't after five sessions. It was immediately after the first drumming session."
Robert Lawrence Friedman, MA, Remo artist, is author of "The Healing Power of the Drum", psychotherapist, president of Stress Solutions, Inc www.stress-solutions.com. He has appeared on The Today Show in New York, Fox News and most recently on the Class of '75, a Discovery Health channel series, sharing his philosophy of drumming and wellness. The Healing Power of the Drum can be purchased at www.wc-media.com, www.amazon.com and www.bn.com.