Students relieve stress through the beat of the drum

Students participate in a drum circle on the Bayramian Hall Lawn at CSUN on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Photo credit: Melissa Fumbark/The Sundial.
Students participate in a drum circle on the Bayramian Hall Lawn at CSUN on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Photo credit: Melissa Fumbark/The Sundial.
Students participate in a drum circle on the Bayramian Hall Lawn at CSUN on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Photo credit: Melissa Fumbark/The Sundial.
Students participate in a drum circle on the Bayramian Hall Lawn at CSUN on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Photo credit: Priscilla Ross/The Sundial.

It’s not every day that students can get an opportunity to support a good cause while having fun and letting go of outside stress.

The Blues Project, a peer education program dedicated to raising awareness about depression and suicide, hosted a drum circle led by John Lacques from Drumtime, a business he’s had for 11 years serving a wide range of communities.

“Life is hard,” Lacques said. “There are a lot of external forces on us. So much stress in the world, so much pressure and a lot of unnecessary negativity, hate, anger … we need to manage it … so drumming is, for me, one of the better meditative things I can do.”

This was the third annual drum circle, which was set up on the Bayramian Hall lawn Monday evening.

“We really just promote wellness in every form we know,” said Samir Hamawe, instructor for the Blues Project. “What we do is educate different classrooms on signs and symptoms of depression, give them statistics, remove stigma and do things like this drum circle to support students and uplift their spirits.”

The drum circle was a way for students to learn about the organization while playing various types of drums to relax and enjoy themselves for a couple of hours.

“The drum circle was really nice. People really connected, not just with their stories, but with their rhythm,” Lacques said.

Andrea Garcia, a CSUN senior and drum circle participant, said she didn’t know about the event and had never joined a drum circle, but was walking by with a friend and was drawn in by the music.

When asked about her favorite part, Garcia said: “Just letting go. Even if you feel like you play wrong, it’s okay. You’re a part of the music.”

Although the event was social and pleasurable, the underlying theme is a serious one.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in 2012 that the second leading cause of death of 15 to 29 year olds was suicide, which is the age range into which most college students fall.

CSUN senior Joshua Khabushani, a drum circle participant and philosophy major, said the Blues Project reminds students to slow down and realize that life is precious.

“It doesn’t mean it’s going to take away the bad things … those are still there. But just to remind yourself that, at the very minimum, there’s love and people and connections,” said Khabushani.

Khabushani has personally been affected by depression and suicidal thoughts.

“You want to stick around because it gets better,” he said.

Other students and participants were touched by the cause of the event.

“Depression is a huge factor that really affects a lot of college students here at CSUN, and it’s incredible that we’re able to get together and do something in support,” said Luis Cervante, a College Counseling Student Services graduate student.

According to Hamawe, the drum circle is just one aspect of the Blues Project’s “Beat the Blues” week, which includes other events such as taco Tuesday and a candlelight vigil.  There will also be multiple mental health workshops throughout the week.

This year’s Beat the Blues Week is from Nov. 24 to 27.

“All of the pinwheels that you saw on the Oviatt lawn this morning,” explained Hamawe, “each one represents 10,000 completed suicides.”

Hamawe said there were 100 pinwheels, standing for 1 million suicides per year, worldwide.

For more information on Beat the Blues Week or the Blues Project email blues.project@csun.edu and for more information on Drumtime visit www.drumtime.net.