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Andrew Hodges
Category: Sound Healing

Mastering Chaos: "Entrainment"

The Tao never does anything,

yet through it all things are done.

If powerful men and women
could centre themselves in it,
the whole world would be transformed
by itself, in its natural rhythms.

~ Lao Tzu

"Surprise is the nature of the universe."  Words spoken by the character ‘Lu-Tze’, (the 'Sweeper') in ‘The Thief of Time’ by Terry Pratchett


Entrainment in the biomusicological sense refers to the synchronization of organisms to an external perceived rhythm such as human music and dance.

Examples are such behaviours as involuntary foot tapping to music, sympathetic resonance between two violin strings and finding oneself walking in rhythm to the background music played in a hotel or railway station.

Entrainment can happen when music takes us to 'another space' - we 'bliss out'.

We often talk about people blissfully living in their 'bubble'.  We talk about politicians living in their bubble of reality not necessarily aware of the lives of others. We run the risk of becoming entrained by our own 'bubbles'. Before you choose to believe that you don't have your own bubble just be aware that the likes of Google and Facebook know about your bubble. They like to feed your 'bubble'.  They think they know what you like.

More deeply, in certain circumstances we can become mesmerised by the charm and oratory of a speaker or leader. The risk in being mesmerised in this way is that we 'lose' both ourselves and our ability to discern truth from fiction.  Donald Trump has 'alternative facts'. His core voters seem to believe these 'facts'. One might question if they have in fact been 'entrained' by 'The Donald'.  If they are entrained then this is evidence of just how powerful the process of entrainment can be.

But as with many human activities there are two sides to them; one very much in the light and the other fostering states of darkness.  Being able to alter one's mind state is both very healthy and also potentially very destructive especially if one is unaware of being in the entraining process. 

Gaslighting is a form of entrainment. It is a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt her or himself, and ultimately lose her or his own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth. Gaslighting can occur in personal relationships, at the workplace, or over an entire society.

A lot can be learned about entrainment from the experience of playing and being involved in music. Entrainment is a fundamental principle of music itself. Whether you are listening to Mozart or experiencing a 'sound bath' if you lose yourself in the experience you are allowing or permitting the experience of entrainment.  This power to change one's mind-state through the use of sound processes, be they as tightly organised a piece of classical music or as free-form as a sound healing experience, is essentially very healthy. 

So we are all susceptible to entrainment both positive and negative. Even in music we can find ourselves in situations where we are all 'connected' and somehow the performance becomes raised beyond just the notes. It becomes greater than the sum of its parts. We are acutely aware of everything that's happening around us and our connections to each other. We feel as if we're each responding to the other in a way that transcends normal reality. These experiences are very well worthwhile and we value them when they occur.

On the other hand there are times when the music we are performing feels 'stuck' almost as if we're in a holding pattern. Everything feels routine. No-one seems to able to break the pattern. It's as if the notes have a stranglehold on us. We are in its grip. Sometimes, oddly we'd rather just leave things as they are. It's nice enough.  For some this feels 'safe'. We know where  we are. Let's just remain here. It almost feels too risky to let go.  But the music is dull...READ ON

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