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The Magic of Rhythm

Have you ever felt like the music is carrying you away? Or as if you are being animated by the rhythm of the song? Perhaps you are. Have you ever experienced feeling one level of energy, and then, when listening to a particular song with a particular rhythm, your entire energy level changes? We have all experienced and irresistible urge to tap our feet to a lively song.

In essence, our own energy systems including mind, body and emotions have become entrained to match the rhythm of the beats embedded within the music. This happens all the time, of course. This is why music can lift your spirits, wake you up and give you energy, or calm you depending on the rhythm of the music. Music and the use of rhythm in music can help a person who has bipolar, or mood swings gain a feeling of balance and can help to reset. Music can help us to move away from mental illness and toward mental health.  Music indeed can greatly improve our sense of well being and wellness.

Entrainment is a natural phenomenon and happens all the time in nature. Although we do not know how it happens, it does. An example that is commonly used when describing entrainment is that of pendulum clocks. Christian Huygens, A Dutch Physicist, observed the synchronization of clock pendulums when he placed them on a surface. Although initially, the pendulums were not synchronized”, over time, they became in sync with each other. This phenomenon occurs all over nature.

Consider this; our own circadian rhythms are synchronized in a manner to support our sleep wake cycle. Our sleep wake cycle can be directly correlated with bipolar manic and depressive episodes. Using entrainment to facilitate the process of resetting biological rhythmic cycles may be one non invasive, non chemical adjust intervention that can be used a part of an integrated mental health action plan. The idea is to use a modality where one is exposed to a rhythm that will facilitate the person to change their conscious state, and help to reset their biological rhythm. The idea is that by experiencing the repeated rhythm, the person’s physiological rhythm will become altered to match the applied rhythm. This rhythm can be experienced while embedded into music in a most pleasurable manner. When we put the desired rhythm to music with the intention of altering the biological rhythms, we call this music entrainment.

Currently, there is not enough scientifically sound research on the use of entrainment as an adjunct therapy to facilitate the regulation of mood. However, I certainly would not rule out the possibility that as an adjunct therapy, it can be very helpful. In future posts, we will discuss the use of adjunct therapy versus alternative therapies as part of an overall Personal Life Action Plan, or as part of your Wellness and Recovery Plan. If you have not already read my post on Brain Entrainment, you might want to. It is not directly related to Music Therapy, but the idea of binaural beats helping to alter states of consciousness is intuitively correlated to the idea of the rhythm in music synchronizing with one’s biological rhythms.