Connections & Pathways
Follow Life's lead to create connections and “channels of flow” to move, expand, and grow
Life depends on connections and “channels of flow” to move, expand, and grow into new forms of life. An idea, project, goal, or dream can come alive only if it is connected to what it needs and has room to move.
The importance of connections and pathways could fill a library, but the basic idea is very simple. When you are connected to all aspects of life, including nature, people, resources, as well as your body, mind, thoughts, and feelings—you thrive. When you are disconnected from these sources, your life can suffer, including poor physical and mental health.
HOW LIFE CONNECTS
How life connects is an incredibly important phenomenon that happens throughout all of life and is the key to so much of whatever you’re looking for in your life.
Consider the following examples:
Place two individual heart cells into a petri dish, and they’ll begin to pulse at the same time. The two cells aren’t directly connected, yet, somehow, their rhythms are able to match up.
An interesting phenomenon takes place with women living in the same home or college dorm—their monthly cycles will synchronize with each other. Again, no apparent connection, yet the rhythms connect.
So what’s going on here? How is this possible?
There are literally thousands of similar examples which are all caused by one underlying force that draws one rhythm or pattern into another. When rhythms connect, relationship and movement throughout the whole are created. Life communicates through connection.
BURY THE BEAT
It’s day one of “rock drumming” class at Los Angeles Music Academy. The door opens to my left, and I see a guy with yellow-spiked hair, piercings, and tattoos bouncing up the aisle.
He walks up to the front of the class, puts his sticks down, turns around, and looking right at me, says, “Dude, bury the beat.” He puts a metronome (”clicker”) on my desk, and turns it on.
Click, click, click …
“There’s your beat. Now, go ahead, clap with the clicker and try to match the two up. Since the clapping is louder, when you clap at the same time as the clicker, the click sound will disappear, and you’ll only hear your hands clapping (hence, ‘bury the beat’).”
So, I tried to clap at the same time as the click, but I found it pretty difficult. After watching me struggle for a while, he says, “Stop. Ok, dude, just relax, close your eyes, breath, stick-out your hands, and just let the sound of the click draw your hands together.”
I started clapping again, allowing the click do all the work. Eventually, my hands started clapping closer and closer to the click, and then … clap! I buried the beat! … and then another clap … and another. I buried the beat for thirty seconds straight! It felt as though my hands were doing the clapping on their own, and I just had to get out the way and let it happen.
“Dude! That’s it! You got it! You just demonstrated a force found in nature and science known as ENTRAINMENT.
Once you let it, your hands naturally entrained with the beat. It’s like when you tap your foot or move your body to the music. You don’t have to think about it, it just happens.”
That day changed my approach to music and my life forever. After more than twenty years of searching for solutions to the problems that have challenged me the most, including lack of flow, focus, and other cognitive “hiccups,” entrainment is the one thing that has provided more insight and movement than anything else for me, as well as the people I’ve worked with.
THE GRAND CONNECTOR
To ENTRAIN is to pull in and connect one rhythm or pattern with another. It’s what brings the different facets of life into harmony and synchrony.
The principle of entrainment is universal and has been in the background of our existence from the beginning, when African drummers used it to reach altered states of consciousness and gain access to the spiritual realm. Today, it’s a well-established principle found in chemistry, medicine, psychology, and many other areas.
Athletes use entrainment to get into “the zone.” Musicians use it to connect with the music and each other to find “the groove.”
But it’s not just the artists and athletes who use and benefit from entrainment. As a matter of fact, you use entrainment in many ways all the time!
Coordination – When you walk, your coordination is handled through entraining all the body parts together into one cohesive rhythm.
Fluency – When you talk, the fluency of your speech is determined by how well your mind entrains with your speaking.
Focus – When someone is listening to what you have to say, their mind is entraining with your words so that they can focus and pay attention.
Connection – People entrain in groups, like when you clap in unison to the music during a concert, or when you do “the wave” in a sports arena, standing up and down in sequence. Through entrainment we experience connection with people.
Health – And perhaps most importantly, your body synchronizes all of its internal rhythms to maintain its health and vitality by entraining with the 24-hour cycle of light from the sun. Interestingly, if isolated from light, we actually have a 25-hour cycle! Weird but true.
Habits – It’s also what locks those patterns we call habits—some “bad,” what we’d rather not be doing, probably have tried to stop doing, and most likely are still doing, and some “good,” like brushing your teeth, and getting to bed on time.
The list is endless, but hopefully you get the picture. Bottom line—the quality of your life depends on your ability to entrain on many levels.
Overall, when you’re feeling clumsy, scattered, or in a “duh-state,” your entrainment level with your surroundings is low, resulting in poor synchronizing of rhythms.
And when you’re coordinated, clear, creative, flowing, it means that, in the moment, you are highly entrained and, therefore, in sync and connected!
YOU ARE AMAZING
If you think that you can’t improve your ability to dance, play music, or sing, or you believe that you’re not creative, don’t have good rhythm, or anything of the sort—you’re mistaken! I can say this without knowing you for two reasons:
Your ability to entrain is within every cell of your body. Try this: Tap one hand on your desk, and then tap the other hand at the same time. If you just let it happen, your hands will entrain with each other and hit at the same time. You automatically connect and get in sync with the patterns around you.
The Capacity to Do What You Want is Built-in Your Body and Mind.
EVIDENCE OF OUR BUILT-IN ABILITIES
Think about the times you surprised yourself when you were able to do something without thinking or trying. You throw a crumpled piece of paper over your shoulder, and it goes into the waste basket, or you knock something over, and you stick your foot out and break the fall. My friend, Dave, once skipped a rock across a creek and hit a bottle from 40 feet away, and without thinking or trying, he skipped another over and hit the target again!
How about animals? If you look on YouTube, you can find an assortment of animals doing tricks, like a gorilla who can do piorettes when his cage is sprayed with water–never given a lesson, yet his body knew how to do it.
Untapped abilities found in the mind and body exist but can be easily blocked when pressure, doubts, and fears get in the way. Your ability to perform changes moment-to-moment according to what part of your story happens to be running in the background.
The moment you get a thought that questions your ability to perform a particular skill, it instantly shows up in your performance. If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you really can’t! If I question my ability to play a pattern on my drum, I’ll make a mistake every time!
What you normally can easily do like singing in the shower can be difficult in front of others. Why? The pressure to perform chokes the flow, the connection is lost, and you falter.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
A KEY TO CREATIVE EXPRESSION
Through entrainment, you become a “conduit” for better expressing your creativity. The more deeply entrained you become, the stronger the connection, the more you lock in to the flow, unaffected by over-thinking, distractions, or pressure.
A chameleon mimics its surroundings by entraining with the visual patterns around it. It acts as a conduit for the patterns to show up on its body. Drawing is the art of seeing, and seeing is the art of entraining. Like the chameleon’s body, entraining enables the details, subtleties, nuances—the “art”—to show up in your work.
My ability to draw transformed while doing Jeans & Guitar (shown below). With powder graphite rubbed into the paper, I began sketching in the highlights and shadows with a kneadable eraser and #5b pencil. If I squinted my eyes, I could envision the image superimposed on the paper, and as I filled in the details, it surfaced like a photo developing in a dark room.
When you lose yourself in what you’re doing, your work takes on a life of its own— and things move freely. Call it the zone, being in flow, in the groove or whatever—being there is the sweetest experience and is clearly when we’re at our best.
When you entrain, you get in flow, and will remain in flow unless there’s resistance, withdrawing, or something pulls you out of entrainment, breaking the connection.
Since we are already entrainers, experiencing flow more often is within our reach. But getting there and staying there can be tricky—the more you try, the harder it becomes; the more you want it, the more elusive it is—amazingly frustrating for those who tend to over-control or hold on too tightly.
You cannot force the flow, but it will show up on its own when you create the right environment for entrainment to take over. It goes beyond the scope of the guide, but there are specific steps you can take that will create this environment for flow.
To simply find yourself in “that place” more often, for longer periods of time—how cool would that be? Entrainment is most definitely the key!
You bring life in by entraining with its various elements, creating the connections and pathways it needs to move. When you’re entraining with what you desire, it moves through you, and there’s simply no better feeling or experience in the world than entraining with life—it’s when we feel the most alive, connected, and free.
Try it Out
Notice what you notice—The v-shape of the geese flying; planets and galaxies revolving, spiraling; resonant vibrations of strings and tuning forks; dancing, singing, making love …
Can you see, hear, feel life entraining in and around you?