Gayle Crosmaz says she had an “extremely violent” childhood that left her with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
She eventually went through five years of cognitive behavioural training, and says she earned ‘the courage to come back award’ from PTSD from the Canadian Mental Health Association.
A recent transplant to the Highlands, Crosmaz is offering therapeutic drumming for veterans experiencing PTSD at the Haliburton Legion.
“I understand and honour the veterans from across time,” Crosmaz says. “These people didn’t volunteer, most of the time, to go to war. Sometimes they were forced, or conned or coerced into it, so the blame is certainly not on them. They’re innocent bystanders in a manner of speaking.”
But from her own trauma, she says, “I understand the pain, I understand the suffering, I understand the war and the energies of the soldiers.”
She has offered two circles to date but without a lot of registrations. She added she would like to continue but more veterans need to register. She is also happy for them to bring their partners.
“It’s a group therapy circle,” she explains. “We don’t just drum. We share. Each drum vibration and intention we set will trigger an emotion. Then we share; did anybody feel anything? Do you feel comfortable talking about it?”
Crosmaz said former members of the military are often in a mode of fight or flight.
“Their bodies don’t remember how to feel joy… it doesn’t remember how to feel peace because it’s always in survival mode. With the drumming and the sharing, I had two participants say, ‘this isn’t going to work’ and within the hour, they were both grinning from ear to ear and felt peace for the first time in a long time. And it might have only been a microsecond of peace, but once the body starts to remember, we build on that. Just get a microsecond of peace and then the body remembers what that feels like and wants more of that.”
Crosmaz said the key is often finding the right drum, and beat, that resonates with the person’s vibration. This goes hand-in-hand with the setting of healing intentions.
In some cases, the veterans will work with other veterans, drumming for each other.
Haliburton Legion president Mike Waller took part in one of the sessions. He said he was leery at first, but by the end found the experience “amazing”
“There’s different therapeutic drum beats she uses with the rhythm of your body, your heartbeat. It was amazing to feel the vibration. I’ve done drum circle at the Rails End and that’s amazing too, but this was amazing because it was a different feeling. The way it made your body feel, made my body feel, the way it took you. It’s like a meditation, where you let your mind float too. Where it takes you is kind of really interesting. It was really good.”
Crosmaz offers her therapeutic drumming in seven countries. She’s already booking up from February to midMay of next year.
The Haliburton Legion sessions are free and held on Sundays. People interested in registering should contact the Haliburton Legion.