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Drum circle pounds away stress

Hudson Gardens venue is monthly meeting place

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Seated around a fire, the drummers pounded away on animal skin drums, filling the air with a driving rhythm that seemed to synchronize heartbeats as well as hands. The scene was not an ancient cave or campsite, but the Inn at Hudson Gardens, where a drum circle group meets monthly to beat away the stresses of life.

“When you’re drumming, you just focus on the music and nothing else,” said Clara, 13, the group’s youngest regular attendee. “You don’t even think about your other problems.”

Scientists call drum circles “rhythm therapy,” and say they’re useful for people with autism and PTSD, said organizer Bob Shiflet.

“Studies show that 20 minutes of consistent drumming can alter your body chemistry,” said Shiflet, who is also Hudson Gardens’ head beekeeper. “Dopamine is released, T-cells are encouraged.”

Beyond the science, though, you feel a drum circle in your bones and soul.

“The drums vibrate your whole body,” said Lyn Bach, who’s been attending the circle for about five years. “Across time and cultures, people have used music, dance and rhythm to heal. That’s what it does for me.”

The next drum circle will be held at 6:15 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the Inn at Hudson Gardens. Attendance costs $4. Go to hudsongardens.org for more information.

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