Oakland, California: Welcome to my portfolio of passions. The stories and images on this site come from the many countries I’ve been able to visit professionally and personally through the years. I’ve encountered a number of diverse, thriving cultures drawing on age-old wisdom to carry them through life. I’ve met hundreds of people fostering forward-looking change in their communities. This week I want to share with you an experience right here in Oakland, California, my home town. I joined a drum circle at the Attitudinal Healing Connection.
I walked into AHC’s center—the walls covered with colorful, hand-made masks. Co-founder Ayeesha Ababio-Clottey greeted me warmly. The circle had just begun. Fourteen people sat in front of beautifully carved djembes, West African hand drums. Kokomon Clottey, AHC’s executive director, led the circle, tapping into the ancient wisdom of his birthright among the indigenous Ga people of Ghana. Our purpose was not to show off drumming prowess. Our purpose was to set the intention to unleash our spirit through the drum while coming together in community.
Kokomon described how our focus on the rhythm and sound of the drum could ease us into a meditative state. Playing three beats followed by a clap, he initiated us into the practice of mindful drumming. We repeated the exercise for several minutes until it morphed into a new rhythm. By the end of two hours, which included time for each of us to spontaneously “solo,” I was moved by how deeply the participants had given themselves to the experience. Each one of us described a feeling of well-being. Every person embraced another. We had genuinely opened our hearts. Through this ancient medium, we had rather quickly transcended the barriers we unconsciously construct and carry around with us to protect ourselves.
I invite you to find something this week that draws on ancient wisdom or ritual and follow it wherever it takes you. Perhaps you’d like to begin with this poem, Floricimiento-Reflourishing, which I wrote about the Mayan healing ceremony of a special friend.