People ask me all the time, “How did you get into doing what you do?” I was recently on HayHouse Radio on John Holland’s Show and it came up again so I’d like to share with you a bit of my story…I call it…
What Zombies Taught Me About Transformational Drumming
Toby Christensen, here. In 1999, I had the privilege of traveling to Africa and living for a month with the Dagara tribe. I immersed myself in their culture and cosmology, experiencing both profound rituals and their realities of day- to-day living. It was an amazing experience.
Malaria Times Two
Returning home was pure culture shock. I arrived in the U.S. with two strains of Malaria, so I was going in and out of 105- degree fevers twice a day for about ten days. It was a very difficult time. As I began to recover, I started to have a recurring dream.
Before describing the dream, I’d like to share that when I was a young child, I used to have nightmares about zombies coming to get me in the night. I’d scream at the top of my lungs for my parents to come and save me. These were horrifying dreams, and they happened many times.
Lucid Dreaming Nightmare?
OK, back to 1999. As I recovered from Malaria, I began to have a recurring dream. I was standing in the middle of a grass-covered football field surrounded by a huge but deserted sports stadium. It was nighttime, but the arena’s overhead lights illuminated the field. I was lucid, knowing who I was and that I was dreaming.
As I stood in middle of the field, I began to wonder what I was doing there. I became aware that I had my djembe strapped on. All of a sudden, the grass before me began to push up to form a small hill. Then the newly created mounds of earth began to tear apart and these filthy, rotting hands clawed out of the soil. A monster crawled out of the hole, stood, and stared at me. It was just like the zombies in my childhood nightmares.
I Stood Over the Zombie and Began to Drum
The zombie flailed toward me, his arms outstretched. As he got closer, I could see that his right eye was decomposed, hanging out of his skull. He stumbled right up to me…but instead of me feeling any fear, screaming, and running away, I instinctively started to drum. As soon as he heard the drum, he laid down on his back in front of me. Somehow I knew to stand over him and begin to drum. The rhythms I played weren’t of any specific form; just intense, intuitive patterns that arose in my dreaming. As I drummed, he began to be restored. After a spell, he jumped up, looked me in the eyes—his eyes clear and filled with life—and said, “thank you.” Then he ran off, vibrant and transformed.
As I stood on that football field, the scene continued to repeat. These mounds would push up from the surface, boney fingers would tear open the green grass, and the zombie would run toward me. Paradoxically, I remained relaxed and centered. When they arrived, they would lay down and I would restore them to perfect health by playing rhythms on my djembe. They’d jump up, connect with me in gratitude, and run off. The scene would repeat until I awoke.
Just Another Pizza Dream?
Rousing from my dream state, I sat up in bed and said aloud, “What the heck?!” After pondering for a minute or so, I assumed I must have eaten something strange for dinner. (I sometimes refer to that kind of experience as a “pizza dream.”) Well, the following night I drifted off to sleep and once again became lucid. I had the exact same dream. When I awoke, I began to sense that I must have been receiving some kind of message.
“The Ancestors Are Giving You…”
The third night I had the same dream. When I woke up, I decided to call one of my trusted African teachers. At that time, was working with Malidoma Somé. I called and reached him looking for direction and sympathy, sharing my dream of drumming over zombies and watching them be fully restored.
My teacher, in their African way, said, “I can’t believe it! You don’t get it! You are being shown exactly what you are to do!” they took a deep breath and continued. “Toby, the ancestors are giving you clear instructions. You are being shone one of the gifts that you can bring to the world. You are being given an aspect of your life’s purpose.” They paused, and then said in an even stronger voice, “And I don’t want to talk to you again until you are doing it!” Then they slammed the phone down and a dial tone met my ear.
We Can Take Action Without Knowing All The Details
I trusted My teacher’s potent advice and decided to take action. I didn’t know what I was doing, but that was OK. What I did know was that in the dream I drummed over people…well, zombies…and they would get better. During that time, I was taking a shamanic training course. On my lunch breaks I would ask people, “Could you lay down and let me drum over you and afterward tell me if you feel anything?” Most people agreed and I stood over them, playing on my djembe whatever rhythms somehow felt correct. I was surprised when people began to share stories of powerful transformations. I had no mental frame of reference about what I was doing. I was simply drumming as the dreams had shown me.
He Was Dying of AIDS
A woman who reported a profound breakthrough from one of these early sessions referred a friend to me who was dying of AIDS and had been told he had a very short time to live. When we met, he shared that his viral count was over 40 million and his T cell count was virtually undetectable. He could only get out of bed a day or two a week, and then, for only short periods of time.
We did a drum session, and afterward he was energized, sensing that some of his health had already been restored. We ended up doing a series of sessions, connecting every week for a month, every two weeks for three months, and then once per month for a total treatment time of six months. After our drumming work together, his medical tests showed his viral count was zero and his T cell count was 870. We were amazed and profoundly grateful for the healing that occurred. I still hear from him regularly, and his healing status is always stable.
Those early sessions opened the door and the phone started ringing with people wanting to experience the transformational, healing power of the drum. I worked in my local region throughout the rest of 1999 and 2000, began traveling part-time in 2001 to 2003, and then sold my restaurant and coffee shops in 2004 and began to travel full-time. In 2009 I traveled three hundred days, sharing the Healing Drummer work far and wide.
I’m humbled by the enthusiastic response to Healing Drummer Private Sessions. I can’t tell you how great it is to connect with so many people and be of service by doing what I love.
Over the years, I’ve enjoyed answering a number of questions about the Healing Drummer Private Session work. I hope you find the information helpful, and please let me know if you have any questions. My contact info is at the end of this special report. I’ll be delighted to provide any information you need in order to decide if you would like to schedule a time to work together.
Stay tuned for Part II there is more to come.