The Principle of Rhythm- Entrainment

In June, I introduced you to the principles of rhythm and entrainment. For the next two months, we are going to explore these principles much more thoroughly.

Have you ever felt in synch with someone? When rhythms line up together in moments of perfect timing we call this synchronicity. We often use this term in fact, to describe life’s moment’ when they match up perfectly, seemingly out of nowhere, we feel life as serendipitous, when we are living in the pocket. In music, the groove is that feeling that makes us move effortlessly to music. The word synchronicity comes from the Greek Chronos, literally meaning timing.

When a drummer is feeling the groove, it is often described as being “in the pocket.” Runners call this “runners high,” its that feeling that everything is flowing just the way it is intended and life becomes effortless.

When was the last time you felt like you were in the groove?

In 1956, Scientist Christian Huygens observed how pendulums naturally fell into synch over time. In physics, we call this principle: entrainment, the synchronizing of separate rhythms. According to this principle, a dominant oscillator will draw surrounding rhythms into its sway, ultimately, causing things to move together.

According to Sound Healer Christine Stevens, Author of the Book, Music Medicine, rhythm is innate to us and so is entrainment. We already know we are wired for sound. We have explored the rhythm of our pulse, breath, and movements. But, even our circadian rhythms that regulate our sleep and wake cycles, as their name implies, are rhythmic. “Rhythm,” Stevens says, “speaks to our bodies and expresses our innate groove. It is a deep biological, neurological pathway that we can access for healing, growth, and development.”

At Colorado State University, at the Center for Biomedical Research in Music, Dr Michael Thaut and his team created a neurological model of music therapy built upon sonic entrainment mechanisms linked to the human body’s natural rhythms. Rhythm it seems can stimulate damaged areas of the brain that are unreachable by other mechanisms. Using a metronome, researches found they could improve the gait of a test subject in three areas, cadence, velocity and stride length. This finding can be used to enhance real-world physical therapy treatments.

The team also developed a therapeutic intervention called Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation, or RAS, which is used with Parkinson’s’ patients to immediately improve walking patterns, restoring a sense of timing and slowly increasing the rhythm in order to improve their gait. It seems giving the patients a rhythm to concentrate on allowing the brain to re-engage these rhythmic functions naturally. What a miraculous finding this is which certainly deserves further exploration.

The team found that the cerebellum, or the ancient reptilian brain is the key to entrainment. This indicates rhythm is sub-conscious and innate, just like our breathing and pulse.

If you have ever watched babies or animals respond to rhythm, this certainly feels true. They just can’t help themselves when the rhythm takes over.

Our body, mind and brains are naturally part of rhythmic processes. Tuning into our own innate rhythms helps to remind us that we are energetic beings, born to move!

When was the last time you allowed the rhythm to get you? Have you allowed the rhythm to move you, without thought or mental reservation? Turn on something that moves you and allow yourself to be moved!

For more information on Dr. Thaut’s research, check out his book Rhythm, Music and The Brain, Scientific Foundations and clinical applications.

Stay with us for the next 8 weeks as we dive deep into the Medicine of Rhythm.

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