Three Simple Exercises on the Power of Rhythm

Arthur Hull* in the publication “Endrummingment” talks about the pervasiveness of rhythms in everything and provides 3 exercises with our senses to become more aware of them.

Rhythm surrounds and permeates every aspect of our daily lives. It is in the patterns of our clothes, in the sounds of ripping faucets, and in the ticking of our inner body clocks. Rhythms exist in grains of wood, in the way branches grow, in the way the leaves grow on branches, in the songs of birds, the way we walk, the way we talk, and the way we interact in conversations, indeed, all our actions and interactions with the universe around us have rhythms.

I call this the dance of life. Your awareness of this rhythmic dance with life varies with each step of the dance. For example, how much of your own rhythm are you aware of when you stack the dishes, read a book, plant a flower bed, or arrange your clothes? You adjust your rhythmic dance to another person’s rhythm when you interact with them.

In the following three exercises, look, listen, and feel. Look without listening. Listen without looking, and feel without listening or looking. Doing this will help you remove labels so that you can see, hear, and feel the basic rhythms of life. As you do the exercises, eliminate judgments and names from your experience. What you learn goes deeper and lasts longer when you open your perceptions fully. These exercises are designed to inspire you to create your own teachers and teachings. Most important, remember to have fun. Look, listen, and feel.

  1. Exercise 1: Look

Look at patterns in life. Notice different horizons, manmade and natural, seeing their rhythmical constructions. Enjoy the rhythm of color, line, and form on cloth patterns and artwork.

Go to an ocean or lake shoreline. Watch the rhythms of the waves.

Look at the rhythm in a group of people standing in line.

  1. Exercise 2: Listen

Listen to a conversation between two people, but forget what the words mean and listen to the space in the song created by the exchange of words and ideas. Listen to the tone and pattern in the song. You may learn more about what they mean by how they’re singing than by what the words say.

Go out into the world and listen to rhythms: the rhythms of feet falling on the pavement, of snow chains traveling past, of a gardener raking leaves, of bird songs. Listen to the pattern of a dog barking or the rhythm of the copy machine running. Pay attention to the song the car sings as it rolls over the bumps in the freeway. Listen to the rhythm the rain makes dripping off a roof after a storm. Listen to your heartbeat.

  1. Exercise 3 Feel

Feel the pattern of a wicker chair or basket. Run your finger up a bamboo pole. Run your fingers down a venetian blind. Feel the curve of a sports car from the front to the back. Plug your ears with cotton, put your hand over the stereo speaker, and feel your favorite songs. You may find that you like them as much for how they feel as how they sound.

* Hull, Arthur. Guide to Endrummingment, pg 24. S.l.: Alfred Pub Co, 1994. Print

wikipedia patterns in nature


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