Rhythm: Calming ourselves
“ And the rhythm of life is a powerful beat,
Puts a tingle in your fingers and a tingle in your feet,
Rhythm in your bedroom, rhythm in the street,
Yes, the rhythm of life is a powerful beat.” (Rhythm of Life)
The rhythm is our bodies is something we ignore until something happens. We run, feel panic then hear the faster pounding of our heart. We grasp for breath, breathe faster grabbing for oxygen. Our heart and breathing slows, calms to our normal patterns & again we ignore them again. A part of our nervous system has come on line and calmed up & re-established our natural rhythms. Through neuroscience research we have began to understand how to tap into this system so we can help ourselves when we are feeling aroused, activated, panicked, ‘gone’.
Neuroscience research has found that one way to activate this system is through rhythm using sounds & movement. We would have first come across these rhythm as a baby. With our carers using their voice to sooth us, as well as rocking, swaying or patting us to a rhythm; even driving us around in a car until we were asleep. As adults we can look for new ways to provide us with these soothing rhythms with others ad when we are on our own.
Putting rhythm through movement into our lives can be easy as we already do it. There is rhythm when we walk but we may not notice this as we (our minds) are off somewhere else. So by just bringing our attention to walking (mindfulness) then we can take in the rhythm. Other ways of putting together movement & rhythm are: cycling; swimming; dancing; using a swing; sitting in a rocking chair; juggling; knitting; ballroom dancing.
When we listen we are taking in the rhythm of the sound being made. While some sounds may grate, irritate us, others are pleasant, joyful, calming. A piece of dance music can get our heart beating while another makes us smile. So you can start with the sounds that others make to find your calming rhythm. Sources are:
Audio books & poems: Do you have a favourite actor, newscaster, radio presenter? Find them reading a book or poem and see how it feels, the impact of them reading to you. You also might want to consider what they are reading as a horror story might increase your heart rate rather than calming you! Once you find you're voice, then you can download them or listen on line. Meaning you have access to them when ever your arousal levels start to increase.
Music: On various music sites you can search for ‘Calm’ music and they have play lists already for you to use. They also have calm sounds such rain and the sea. Of course you can put together your own ‘go to’ playlist.
Then there is the option of making sounds. While playing an instrument can be great for the beginner the learning process can have its own stresses. You might want to consider something simple like a drum - don't have access to a drum then you can make one or use something else to get a beat going on.
You can also use yourself to make sound, even if you don’t think you can sing. So let’s start with singing. Something you can do by yourself - in the car, the shower & just let yourself go - no one to judge you. Then there is singing with others, joining a group or just singing with friends and family. With your kids singing to them and with them nursery rhythms . There are plenty of on-line singing groups that welcome anyone; also groups that meet in person in your area.
Can't Sing or don't want others to notice you then you can try humming your favourite songs. This works as it involves the inner ear and vocal cord which create vibrations that can calm our nervous system. Have a go & notice the feel of the vibrations in your head, throat and even as far down as your chest. Notice how by playing with the hum can effect it's impact inside you.
Although I've not mentioned it yet but an aspect of making sounds with your voice is that you are using your breath. The breaths rhythm is impacted when we are getting aroused. So while we can indirectly impact with the suggestions already made we can also directly include it. So with Vocal Toning, we bring together breath and making one tone for each exhale. In fact you will already be doing vocal toning when you let out a sigh. So purposefully using vocal toning you can use the vowels A-E-I-O-U.
- Inhale (don't over stretch yourself)
- Hold the breath for a moment
- Exhale saying A-E-I-O-U
- Repeat the process between 5 - 1- times & then check in with yourself to see how
you are doing.
So in summary you can use the rhythm of movement and sound to calm you. So why not give it a go. Find out what works for you so you have it ready to deploy when you need it.