“Everything has rhythm. Everything dances.” ~ Maya Angelou
The world is vibration—nothing in nature is at absolute rest. Everything is in a state of movement and in all movement a rhythm is found. As rhythm pervades the universe, so it does the human body. The grace of universal rhythms is expressed in the phases of the moon, the ebb and flow of the ties, the earth’s rotation, and the changing of the seasons. The human body has observable rhythms. It’s natural for the heart to open and close rhythmically thousands of times throughout the day. Other rhythms are expressed in the pulsing of blood as it flows through our veins, and the very act of breathing.
Our internal body clock governs our daily or “circadian” rhythm. It’s the master timekeeper of when things should happen. Years ago it was thought that there was one timekeeper—the brain—which controlled the body’s many functions. We now know that the brain is the conductor of a large time-keeping orchestra of peripheral clocks that are widespread throughout the body. One of which is located in each ovary, governing the cycle of women throughout the ages; the same women who once were—and for some, still are—drummers. In her book, “When Women Were Drummers,” Layne Redmond talks about the healing effects from the energetic vibration of drums.
Used across a multitude of cultures for thousands of years, drums have been part of the healing process as well as used ceremonially for occasions such as births, deaths, and marriages. This expression of instinctual rhythm is, in part, what has made drumming circles popular across the globe. The simultaneous but varying tones cause the mind to focus on the rhythmic beats. This quiets the mind and eases it into a somewhat dreamlike, meditative state.
Our body temple is like a drum; each one having a unique sound and being home to sacred rhythms—singing, dancing, changing, and making love—all life affirming. The most life affirming rhythm that we take part in is breathing. In Latin, the word for breath and spirit is the same, “spirare.” About 16 times per minute we invite Spirit in and say “yes” to continuing our life here on earth and take another breath. Our breath is quite literally our life force. Mindful breathing fosters a relaxed and focused state of mind. Its rhythm calms the emotions and slows the heart rate, allowing the body to make peace with the tension harbored within.
In Tonglen Buddhist meditation we practice breathing in the suffering of all beings around us. On the exhale we release and send the joy we “Just as a pebble thrown into a pond creates ripples that travel outward, so does our personal rhythm.”have. Rhythm is a carrier of intention and information. Audible rhythms such as speech are expressions of vibration. Vibration is what triggers and gives momentum to earthquakes, tidal waves, and avalanches. Through the sound of our voice we have the power to manifest things—to speak them into being. For instance, the word “Om” is the single most important mantra in Yoga. It represents primordial vibration—the heartbeat of the earth. When spoken it means unleashed, unlimited potential and possibility.
Just as a pebble thrown into a pond creates ripples that travel outward, so does our personal rhythm. The vibration of everything we do and think affects the people in our lives. Their reaction, in turn, affects others. Our personal rhythm is powerful. With it we have the capacity to change the world in a variety of ways for better or worse. What is the ripple effect of your personal rhythm?