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Friday, 07 August 2009 11:44
A few years ago, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen and his wife Lauren Monroe decided to use their own experiences with healing and major life transformation to help and inspire others. Today, their Raven Drum Foundation is helping other people in crisis one person at a time.
Allen and Monroe founded the Raven Drum Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Malibu, Calif., in 2001 to provide free educational programs and to inspire personal growth during times of adversity.
“The raven is a symbol of healing and transformation so it was a perfect name for the foundation,” Monroe said. “We are using Rick’s journey and my knowledge of the healing arts to help other people. It started out as a personal thing between the two of us. We began drumming together and it grew from there.”
The Raven Foundation educates and empowers individuals and communities in crisis through healing arts programs, community drumming events and collaborative partnerships.
“(Def Leppard) played in Denver and a friend of mine brought out some kids for a visit,” Allen said.“There was a kid who had been traumatized by war, losing his arm from a mine. I put him on my drum set and saw the joy it created. Afterwards, (Lauren) and I said we should do this more often because we saw how it helped people and inspired them. It also helped and inspired us.”
Allen and Monroe chose to dedicate their lives to helping people overcome the emotional and physical pain resulting from traumatic events, with a special focus on veterans of war.
“We went to Walter Reed (Army Medical Center) and that visit had a lot of impact on us,” Monroe said. “We saw what was going on not only with people who had prosthetics but their personal trauma. Through Rick’s experience and my healing background, we realized that we could help.”
Drum circles (symbolic of the “circle” of the drum), where several people play the drum together, and healing workshops have been provided at military bases, hospitals, juvenile detention centers, and various community organizations.
“It is open to anyone in crisis, from people with cancer or are terminally ill to kids in the penitentiary,” Allen said.
Allen and Monroe will be in St. Louis on July 20, promoting their foundation when Def Leppard (along with Cheap Trick and Poison) performs at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Maryland Heights. Allen became the drummer for Def Leppard at 15 but in 1984, he had a car accident that changed his life when he lost an arm. However, he turned his personal tragedy into spiritual transformation and continued his musical career. His intention with Raven Drum is to share his journey and help others to discover their own paths to healing.
Monroe, who also is a vocalist, songwriter and musician, has been a practitioner and teacher of energy healing and massage. She uses her M.A. in dance choreography, B.A. in education, and advanced certification in massage therapy, and her healing arts background to work with incarcerated teens, hospice care, and crisis healing. Through the Raven Drum Foundation, she teaches and facilitates healing drum and empowerment circles.
While the foundation serves anyone of any age or background who is in crisis, an outreach of their foundation, the Resiliency Program, was developed to help heal military veterans, active duty military members and their families.
“It is our way to give back to these young men and women who are giving so much to our country,” Allen said. “We have worked with hundreds of veterans and their families. We have seen Vietnam Veterans and we go to the VA facilities. More and more, we are seeing the amount of hurt and trauma surrounding the veterans returning from the Middle East.”
“We also work with the wives and the children who are at home who need care,” Monroe said. “We have a team of people we work with through the VA, the Wounded Warriors Project and Salute Our Heroes. We also work with the psychotherapists at the VA facilities so that the work can continue after we leave. We might do a workshop on one day but we want the work to continue so we teach them while we are there how to continue the program.”
The programs use self-care modalities to aid in healing post-traumatic stress disorder, combat-related trauma, and the everyday stress anxiety, and depression that service men and women and their families experience. Their program provides participants with self-help and self-healing tools to be incorporated into their daily lives to help cope with their emotional, physical and psychological wounds.
According to the foundation’s Web site, research shows that the primary impact of traumatic experience is a bodily impact. The body stores the memory of traumatic experience implicitly, and these memories permeate thoughts, feelings and actions. The drum circles incorporate drumming, rhythm, movement, dance, yoga, breathing techniques and the practice of mindfulness and meditation.
“The roots of what we do is through rhythm,” Monroe said. “It creates a deeper awareness of the body. We teach them how to use these techniques when they are alone to calm their anxiety. It helps promote healing.”
Allen said that the love and support of people around him helped him heal after his accident. Now, he is happy that he is able to pass on his experiences to others in need.
“Def Leppard and celebrity are a fantastic vehicle for us to do this,” Allen said. “If I don’t do anything with my own life experience, what is the purpose? All we have is our life experience and if we are able to share it and help someone else, it gives it all meaning and purpose. When you see the human spirit wake up in someone else, to see their spirit and passion revived, it is all worth it. It is a two-way street because I get as much inspiration and support from the people we meet as they get from us.”
Monroe said that she and Allen also have created the "Oneness Chant" and want to share with people going through crisis. The chant is available on iTunes and is intended to help people who have trouble sleeping or are anxious.
Def Leppard has donated 100 tickets to each show, including the one on July 20, for veterans.
“We wanted to give them to opportunity to come out and know that they are supported by us,” Allen said. “We want our troops to know that their country supports them and we hope that ultimately we can heal their hearts.”
Military personnel and veterans with a military ID are eligible to receive two tickets to the show. Tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis. Raven Drum Foundation’s partners, Wounded Warrior Project and Salute America's Heroes, are handling the distribution of the tickets.
Visit the Wounded Warrior Project for more information.
For more information about the foundation, visit the Raven Drum Foundation.