Understanding Rhythm. There is one overall thing I want people to get from reading my blogs..and that is... a better understanding of, awareness of, and respect for… rhythm. Rhythm must be one of the most under explored and misunderstood forces in the universe. Rhythm is essential for human and universal survival. It has been with us since the “big bang”, since the beginning of time. It is our constant companion on a daily basis, helping us organize and structure our time, movements, health, social and personal life, work and recreational life and of course our environmental and spiritual life. However, despite its importance and influence, rhythm is more often than not taken for granted. Perhaps this is partly because rhythm is extremely hard to define, and even harder to explain. How would you define rhythm? In my workshops, one of the first questions I ask is for people to tell me their “definition” of rhythm. Not easy is it? A noticeable thread when scanning the answers to this question is the inclusion of the word “music”. This is fine…there is of course rhythm in music, but it seems that the overall view of rhythm is that it is a “musical” term…that it applies to music only, and like melody and harmony is only significant when applied in a musical context. Nothing could be further from the truth…..rhythm is a vital component in every aspect of life on earth, and the universe.
We are all human rhythmical machines. Biologically our survival depends on the law of rhythm to co-ordinate our biological functions, as much as it does on our air supply. Our blood flow, breathing, brain waves, physical movements, thought patterns, digestive systems, emotional and intellectual well-being depend on the rhythmical entrainment of all our bodily workings, and if some aspect of this biological “engine” is out of sync…..then we are out of sorts. When we are ill, something somewhere in our biological makeup is out of rhythm with the natural healthy “pulse” or “timing” that would normally constitute a healthy state. This of course can be a physical, emotional, intellectual, psychological or even a spiritual “off” rhythm, and needs “rhythmical realignment” assessment as much as a clinical diagnosis. Not only biologically, but we also need rhythm on a personal level, a social level and a spiritual level. As mentioned earlier, rhythm is a very important component in music…but what is the purpose of rhythm in music? It’s simple really…rhythm injects “Order” “Structure” “Coordination” “Balance” into the music so that the listener can make sense of it. It gives the music a logical flow. If the musical notes were just played “nilly willy” by the musicians, we would have chaos…just a lot of nonsensical noise with no organization. So, rhythm creates order from chaos. Rhythm is the great organizer. Rhythm brings clarity to any situation or process, and thereby generates a “path” or “vision” for us to follow. Rhythm designs a structure of connectedness leading to a clearer vision of any situation or process by creating a methodical arrangement of the “flow” or “movement” of the main stimulus mechanism, be that a thought process, a biological or physical body movement, the inner workings of a clock, the changing of the seasons, the flow of city traffic, the flight of a bird, the swing of a golf club, the growth of a tree or the changing of our moods. Without such a rhythm there is no flow or connectedness to what came before or is about to come afterwards. Strange as it may seem, we need chaos and disorder in life to fully appreciate the power and effect of rhythm. Michael Taylor from The Holy Goat percussion Company says, “As with all things, rhythm (order) exists in some sort of balance with non-rhythm (chaos). Without chaos, order ceases to have meaning, and vice versa. Without balance, stability is but temporary or becomes stagnation” Rhythm shows the way…it defines boundaries, gives shape to, and designs physical and emotional architecture. No one can exist without rhythm. Nothing can exist without rhythm. Rhythm is shape, form, vibration, color, movement, sound. We can see rhythm, we can hear rhythm and we can feel rhythm…yet it still remains so hard to describe. We are rhythm, and as Morwen Two Feathers says in her online article entitled "What's a white girl to do? (good read) “Rhythm is the ecology of all that is…the rhythms of the sun moon and stars, the seasons, the rhythms of our heartbeat and breath, and the life and death of all living creatures, the rhythms of sound and light waves, and of electrons spinning around the nuclei of atoms. Each creature and thing in the Universe pulses’ with a rhythm, and these rhythms weave together into the complex polyrhythmic eco rhythm or the Universe itself” We totally rely on rhythm everyday in our personal and professional lives, and this is why I write about it and use it everyday in my coaching workshops to help people synchronize the various aspects of their lives in a coherent, structured and flowing way. Think Rhythm....not balance! More on this in my next article.