Rhythm is Medicine for the Body

Rhythm is everywhere! We function on rhythm from our heartbeat to our respiration, from our sleep and wake cycles our bodies run on rhythm. We are incubated in rhythm, our mother’s heartbeat, pulse, and digestion; our first concert. The heartbeat is our own internal drum.

The Universe is made of rhythm, everything runs in cycles, the tides, the Sun Rising and Setting, the motion of the planets, wherever you turn, rhythm abounds.

The word itself brings to mind music and pulse and drum beats. Rhythm is defined as a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound. It is rhythm that keeps the music moving forward. It is rhythm that keeps live moving forward.

We even use Rhythmic language to describe how are life is going:

“Stella got her groove back”

“I am going with the flow”

“She dances to the beat of her own drum”

“Timing is everything”

“He didn’t skip a beat”

“Everyone was in synch”

Author and Musician Christine Stevens calls Rhythm medicine for the body. Rhythm is what makes your head bop, toe tap, booty shake. Our bodies instinctively respond to rhythm. In her book, Music Medicine, she describes the body as a “powerful rhythmic convergence of multiple beats working together in the groove of life.”

“We breathe, talk, eat, chew, sleep, wake and move to a rhythm. We are walking, talking, ticking, tocking polyrhythms of multiple beats. We embody rhythm in the pulmonary rhythm of breathing and waking. Brain rhythms are measured in electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns, neural rhythms occur in firing patterns and women’s hormonal rhythms follow their menstrual cycles.

We must marvel at the rhythmicity of the human body and recognize why our bodies are so driven by rhythm. Perhaps these rhythms are why we all have an innate sense of timing in our bodies. We may experience this timing when we wake up just before the alarm clock goes off. This rhythm is the primal basis of our biorhythmic human nature- our rhythmical intuition and is further evidence of our body’s innate musical knowledge.

The medicine of rhythm is as much what it undoes as what id does. Rhythm is a healing force that takes us out of our minds and into our bodies, tuning out cerebral thought and activating instinctive primal knowledge. We can become overthinkers, obsessing about the details of our lives and listening to the endless chatter of self-critique and wandering mental musings. We can get lost in the past or future, but rhythm takes us to the beat of the now, welcoming us into the rich aliveness of every new moment.”

Christine Stevens – Music Medicine

It is this rhythmic element of music that brings us home, grounding us in the primal now.

Stevens feels our society has a “Movement Deficit Disorder.” As we become more and more removed from the rhythms of the natural world, she says, our bodies begin to suffer. I have heard the phrase, “sitting is the new smoking,” to describe this epidemic. We sit at desks all day and lounge in front of our TVs at night. We get our meals from drive-through and our children are playing with electronics at the expense of outside time. Obesity is at an all-time high and the American Heart Association tells us that youth physical activity is at an all-time low. Our monotonous keyboard typing is boring and uninspired. Rhythm, says Stevens is the Medicine our bodies are yearning for.

If Movement Deficit is our epidemic than rhythm is the cure, over the next 8 weeks, I am going to deep dive into the medicine of rhythm. I will highlight relevant science and research and provide music to accompany what we are learning with my Daily Sonic Tonic Series. In the meantime, as you go about your day today, take notice of the rhythms that surround you. Be sure to come back and tell us about the interesting rhythms you discover in your life!

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