Rhythm – In and Around Us

Rhythm in Movement

Movements / postures are like the notes of a melody. There is an endless number of combinations you can use to create different songs – flowing movement sequences.

The timing of each movement creates the rhythm – this being the rhythm of the movement and/or the rhythm of the breath. The rhythm of breath influences the movement, and vice versa. In the same way, our form affects our movement, and vice versa. Our heart also plays along in this rhythm, having an intricate connection with our breath.

Seeing movement in this way allows us to take any movement or posture and make our own music. Our song can be fast, slow, uplifting, calming, energising… or any combination. When we decide what song we want to play, we take into consideration how we feel on the inside, with awareness of what is going on around us – matching our inner nature, with our natural surroundings.

Rhythm & Balance

Our natural world is always seeking balance – light / dark, fast / slow, movement / stillness, hot / cold – as is our inner world. This is beautifully depicted by the yin yang symbol.

Our world of dynamic balance is further broken down into 5 Elements of nature, creating everything within and around us. Each of these elements still encompassing the dynamic balance of opposites (yin/yang). These elements differ slightly depending on different traditions, but essentially their essence remains the same. I will be using the the 5 Elements of Oriental Medicine:

Water => Wood => Fire => Earth => Metal

Just as there is a dynamic balance between yin and yang, which is constantly moving and flowing, so there is a dynamic balance between these 5 Elements. By understanding yin / yang and the 5 Elements, we better understand our nature and that of our surroundings. Through this awareness and acceptance of the way things are, we can choose the practices to create the movement sequence (song) we need at that particular time to bring balance within and with our surroundings. Finding the rhythm within to connect with the rhythms around us.

Rhythm & Water

Of the 5 Elements, the base element of all life is water. Our planet consists of around 70% water and so do our bodies – that is no coincidence! If we nurture and balance our water, within and without, we are 70% there in terms of balancing the whole!

Just as with our bodies, where our form affects our movement and our movement affects our form, so it is with water. Think of how the movement of the ocean changes the shape of the sand, and then the shape of the sand affects how the water moves. Another correlation between the dynamic balance within as it is without.

The fascia in our bodies has the biggest percentage of water. Consisting of mainly of water with collagen, it is really conductive to energy and has recently been considered to correlate to the meridians (energy channels) of the body. This would make sense if we consider water on our planet being the ‘connective’ tissue – oceans, rivers, streams, aquifers, clouds, rain – this flow of water on our planet sustains life!

There is a strong correlation between the characteristics of healthy water and that of healthy humans – both need movement / rhythm, both metabolise substances and both ‘sense’ their surroundings. A malfunction in any of these 3 areas leads to illness and ultimately death. This would mean that to remain healthy, we need to move, consume healthy air/food/drinks (also minimising toxins) and nurture our senses.

Looking at movement first, let’s consider the movement of water with regards to waves. There is a rhythm that moves along the ocean that, when reaching the shore, interacts with wind (air) and culminates in the energy of a wave. In the same way, our breath (air) and it’s rhythm interacts with our internal rhythms, creating a wave of energy within us.

Rhythm & Our Heart

Another organ central to our internal rhythms is our heart. This organ is formed within our mothers womb in a spiral-like way, curling over itself in a rhythmic way and then becoming our central rhythm for our entire lives. Our hearts, created from water-rhythm, become the rhythm keepers of a big element of our water channels throughout our body – our blood.

There is a strong connection between our breath and our heart rhythms – a change in one creates a change in the other. Once again, if we look at the 3 characteristics of water: to move rhythmically, to metabolise and to sense – we can add our spines to the beautiful synergy of our organs to create our energised human form. Our central energy channel, the Bladder Meridian (the central meridian that accesses all our essential organs) runs along our spine, the Chakras (vortexes of energy at different frequencies) vibrates at different points along our spine and our physical nerves run from our central spinal column to our limbs and organs. The cerebro-spinal fluid is considered to be the third interconnected rhythm in our body – thus connecting the breath (Metal) – heart (fire) – spine (water). The spine is thus central to our water-like characteristic of ‘sensing’ and also the home of our “Breath of Life” – the deep rhythm within us, keeping us alive. Not surprisingly there is an interplay between our breath, hearts and spines – spinal movement affects our breath and heartbeat, which affects our central nervous systems and spinal fluid rhythms. Similarly, our breathing rhythm also affects our heartbeat and cerebro-spinal fluid.

In Oriental Medicine, our ‘minds’ are said to reside in our hearts, flowing throughout our bodies via the blood. This would explain the ‘intelligence’ throughout our bodies. Interestingly, the same word used for ‘mind’, being the word ‘shen’, is also used for ‘spirit’. Our mind/spirit thus residing in our hearts. This ‘heart-intelligence’ is only now being recognised in Western science, however, we are all aware of ‘listening to our hearts’ to find our ‘truth’. In Oriental Medicine and Taoism they speak of the ‘Essence’ residing in our Dantien (the area between our Kidneys) – this relating to our Water element in the 5 Element system. Our Essence contains our ‘Purpose’ or ‘Destiny’. Our hearts connect with this ‘Essence’ and, when we can silence the ‘head-chatter’, we can allow this heart-intelligence to guide us along a path that aligns our inner rhythms with those around us, allowing us to attain our ‘purpose’ in this lifetime. It then becomes clear how important nurturing the characteristics of water will allow us to better align with our destined paths that will make us happy.

In Oriental Medicine there is reference to the 3 Treasures:

Essence -> Qi -> Shen.

‘Essence’ being more ‘material’ and ‘shen’ more ‘spiritual’ and ‘Qi’ being the movement between to the 2. When ‘Qi’ is blocked, we can become stuck at either extreme, neither being ideal for our earthly journey. Keeping our ‘shen’ (spirit) aligned with our ‘Essence’ (purpose/destiny) keeps us on our path for this lifetime which will guide us to our “truth” and “happiness”. By embodying the nature of flowing water, we keep our Qi moving freely within our bodies to keep an open flow between our Essence and Shen. Using practices that allow us to move and breathe, feeling our inner rhythms align with those around us, help with this free-flowing alignment – bringing optimum health and fulfilment in this lifetime.

The infinity symbol is a beautiful depiction of this rhythm, finding a balance between movement and stillness – the stillness being the central point at the middle, just as our physical heart is at the centre of our bodies, keeping its rhythm and whose ‘intelligence’ we can best tap into when we find “stillness”, but also finding that dynamic balance between “movement” and “stillness”.

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