Expressing gratitude for the blessings in life can be an uplifting experience for everyone who is involved. As we head toward the end of another year, and look to the holiday season that is filled with family, friends, food and more, it is a natural time of year to take the time to express a heartfelt thank you to those who have meant so much.
Whether at work, school or with friends and family, one fun way to get the ball rolling, so to speak, with expressing gratitude is with rhythm activities. These simple exercises can be accomplished with kids and adults, on drums like djembes and bongos, shakers, wood blocks or even just with clapping hands or stomping feet. Based on traditional rhythms and drum circle styles, the most important part of the activities is that everyone has a chance to participate.
For a circle of gratitude, let one person begin a simple rhythm that is steady and can be easily followed by the other participants. The rhythm will have a natural effect on the others in the group, and you’ll see toes start to tap, smiles start to spread and a feeling of gratitude begin to grow. From there, you can start sharing a personal reason you are thankful – even if you’re just happy to be drumming on your djembe. Once you demonstrate the idea, and people are ready to move forward, you can go around the circle and have everyone state why they are thankful, or, the rhythm can randomly inspire another person to say what’s in their heart.
If the gratitude drum circle is filled with people who know each other on a more intimate level, you can have each person pick another drummer in the group and express why he or she is grateful for that person. If that seems too intense, you can also pick a theme for the gratitude, like what a person is thankful for that day, or something similar.
Since drumming naturally inspires a feeling of community and connection between people in the circle, it is a natural setting for a session of “feel good” moments that express gratitude. With our busy lives and non-stop schedules, taking the time to express our gratitude is rarely a high priority, yet, everyone needs to know they have made a difference. With a djembe, a little shake of the maracas or the jingle of a tambourine, a gratitude circle may be just what is needed to keep the positive energy alive.