“There is perhaps no stronger behavior to unite humans than coordinated rhythmic movement. This is possible because humans have the capacity to become entrained with one another or with an external stimulus. Entrainment can facilitate complex and interdependent coordination that can be seen in human activities including sport and play, verbal communication and emotional expression, and in the epitome of rhythmic entrainment: music and dance (McNeill, 1995). These kinds of activities are powerful, perhaps because they indicate a mutual perceptual and social experience originating from the sharing in time and space of embodied rhythm….
…It seems then that entrainment is rooted in physical, emotional and social aspects of the human experience, aspects that are quintessentially captured in music and dance.” According to a study by Phillips-Silver, et al published in the US Library of Medicine[i],
Neuroscience provides evidence that music and dance are powerful experiences which enable one to transcend self and be entrained with others. “When two people interact, numerous mechanisms are at play that create a connection between the individuals. For instance, without knowing it, people often tend to mimic each other’s postures and speech styles during discussion. Also, emotions are contagious…. This mimicking and contagion of emotions may rely in part on the putative human mirror neuron system: neurons that are active when you produce a certain movement but also when someone else does the same – neurons to which you and other people are the same person. A rich amount of emotional information is conveyed through movement, including prosody, posture and facial expressions.”[ii]
Sufi dance is a form of active meditation still practiced by the Sufi dervishes of the Mevlevi order. The essence of the Sufi Dance however is a communion with the divine and not just a blind imitation of the familiar whirling and spinning movements[iii]. It is quite normal to feel disorientated or dizzy and indeed it is said to be an essential part of learning the dance and preparing the dancer to enter the state of ecstasy known as mystical intoxication which varies in intensity from person to person. Perseverance and self-discipline are the pathway to enlightenment where spirit and body fall by the wayside in the liberation of the soul” The Sufi Dance creates a personal space in which the dancer is free to explore a more intimate journey experienced using the whirling and spinning technique.
The Buddhist Drum circles and the hypnotic shamanic drumming are other examples of old traditions of connecting to the rhythms of universe through drumming, chanting and dancing.
Each of us has a signature rhythm that puts us in harmony with the rhythm of the universe. Like our fingerprint, our heartbeat is unique, no one else has the same beat, not now, not before us nor after us, similarly, we have a unique pattern of neuronal firings or rhythm in our brains that gives rise to our personhood.
“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature” Joseph Campbell.
George Leonard in the introduction to his book The Silent Pulse, writes “At the root of all power and motion, at the burning center of existence itself, there is music and rhythm, the play of patterned frequencies against the matrix of time. More than 2,500 years ago, the philosopher Pythagoras told his followers that a stone is frozen music, an intuition fully validated by modern science; we now know that every particle in the physical universe takes its characteristics from the pitch and pattern and overtones of its particular frequencies, its singing. And the same thing is true of all radiation, all forces great and small, all information. Before we make music, music makes us. The blessed gift of hearing serves as a channel through which we can be reminded of our deepest origins. For music is a reflection in sound of the world’s structure, making explicit the rhythmic quality in all things, which otherwise we might only deduce or infer.” George Leonard. The Silent Pulse: A Search for the Perfect Rhythm that Exists in Each of Us (Kindle Locations 57-62). Kindle Edition.
Each of us has a unique rhythm, a beat that puts us in harmony with the universe. Our “spiritual” journey is about connecting to our silent pulse, our unique rhythm.
This I believe:
- Like our heartbeat or our fingerprint each of us has a unique signature in the universe, this signature is our unique rhythm which is in harmony with the universe. There never was nor will there ever be a perfect rhythm like ours.