DANCING WITH THE WHOLE:
A THEORY OF CREATIVE ENTRAINMENT
By ©1997 Carlisle Bergquist, LCMFT, Ph.D.c.
|PART 1||PART 2|
The holistic theory models entrainment as a communicative occurrence. Examples are given from several disciplines and four stages of entrainment are delimited. The essay compares theoretical physicist David Bohm's notions of order with the realms of spirit, mind, and body. It proposes stages of entrainment operant throughout these realms and suggests that they perform cumulatively in the creative or unfolding process. The systems perspective develops the thesis that humankind is an iteration of a larger system and that entrainment is a central factor in the transduction of information between individuals and across system levels.
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the
But neither arrest nor movement. (T.S. Eliot, East Coker)
The 25 foot sloop turned leeward as I brought the helm under my control. Its sails billowed with the ocean's breath and the boat nested just below the crest of an advancing wave. With a surge the craft came to speed abducted by the wind and wave and in that moment there was "neither arrest nor movement." In that moment of exhilaration the vessel and I danced in unity with the wind and sea. We were captured "at the still point of the turning world."
To entrain is to draw after oneself. It is a simple principle that pervades a complex universe. So commonplace is it in our lives that it often takes unique encounters for us to recognize it. It permeates our very being and the synchrony we experience between ourselves and others, indeed between ourselves and the universe. The experience described above is an example of such a moment of recognition. The common dance in which, through the vehicle of the sailboat, I was drawn to unity, entrained with the wind and waves.
Entrainment refers to the coupling to two or more oscillators as they lock to a common frequency. Modern physicists (Bohm, 1980, Bohm and Peat, 1987, Zukav, 1979, Wilczec and Devine, 1987, Gleick, 1987, Davis, 1988, Talbot, 1991) describe the universe as constant interacting oscillations; one drawing another to interaction with itself. Yet it is not important which one draws the other, or if they draw one another: it is the dance that is important. It is the dance that is existence.
This is a theoretical essay. It will explore entrainment, the common dance, as a process operant throughout the spirit-mind1-body that subsumes us humans. In that way, this is a holistic theory. This essay will develop a thesis that entrainment is a communicative tool. Through entrainment we learn. Further, this essay will propose that entrainment is a critical tool in the creative process. Entrainment is a way through which order appears out of chaos. Conversely, this essay will discuss entrainment as a means by which we slip into a common trance. A way in which we limit our awareness and may draw chaos again from order. This exploration will draw from human development, biology, physics, psychology, and physiology as examples of entrainment - synchrony.
The supposition of this writing is holistic, and is in keeping with systems thinking. The author considers spirit, mind, and body an inseparable system but will deal with them individually, as iterations of that system. It further assumes that we are subsystems in this greater hierarchy and that similarities may exist between various iterations of the suprasystem. Ultimately it will discuss synchronicity as an example of entrainment whereby we may exchange information between iterations, the unique domains of spirit-mind-body. This essay will speculate about how this process might occur by connecting it to the notions of order and creativity, and by demarcating several stages of entrainment. The discussion will begin from an exploration of entrainment within our system level -- the empirical world -- and go on to higher iterations. First, it will briefly introduce the integral idea of order.
Order is the manner in which we categorize and arrange our experience of the world. Order can be individually derived as one would arrange their furniture or, it may represent a consensus through which we communicate as with the rules of a language. This thesis will use two classes of order. Orders that categorize within the same domain; e. g., furniture and language, and orders that are themselves domains with such a degree of difference that information in one is irrelevant in the others, ostensibly like spirit, mind and body.
David Bohm (1980. p. 115) says order is "to give attention to similar differences and different similarities." By noting how things are different or the same we have established one level of information about them. For example, a sidewalk is made up of segments one laid after the other. Each segment is identical to the one before it except for its location. Thus, a single "similar difference" defines the order. Now if the sidewalk curves, additional information, that is, a second similar difference also defines its course, angle. If the segments continue with the same angle two bits of information will determine each subsequent segment. This process may continue with additional bits of information as a system becomes more complex.
Bohm and Peat (1987, p. 121) refer to the number of pieces of information needed to describe something as the degrees of order. The more complex a system is, the higher its degrees of order. For example, Cartesian coordinates, the values of x (on the abscissa), and of y (on the ordinate) determine a point on a graph. Thus such a point has an order of second degree. If a z axis were also required to determine its properties, the point would have a third degree of order. Likewise if the point was moving through a dimensional plot, its vector would add another degree of order and so on as the amount of information needed to describe it increases. The higher the degrees of order the more complex the system and the more information required to define it. Systems that appear to be random or chaotic may have very high or infinite degrees of order. I suggest that information translation from systems with very high degrees of order may occur through a rudimentary entrainment process. I will now extend the notion of order or organizing information about a system to several examples of entrained systems.
Entrainment refers to the phase locking of oscillators. However, oscillations synchronize in other important ways. These stages of entrainment still involve a common rhythm and synchronization. Figures #1, #2, and #3 will show graphic representations of these variations using sinusoidal waves2. Each figure shows an "Entrainment Unit." I am defining such a unit as when all cycles have returned to their original relationships with each other in the plot and within which the characteristic phase relationship pattern completes one repeatable cycle. Examples using the metaphor of dance illustrate each form of entrainment along with representations various disciplines of how we experience these stages. The stages of entrainment may exist individually or together thus expressing higher degrees of order.
The degrees of order represent the bits of information needed to describe a system. I am extending degrees of order as a descriptor to entrained interactions between multiple systems or subsystems. I term this degrees of entrainment. Degrees of entrainment are the amount of information needed by multiple systems to maintain their phase relationships, or entrainment. This essay will apply such order to each of the stages of entrainment.
Synchrony is the simplest variety of entrainment shown in Figure #1. All cycles duplicate one another crossing the abscissa in the same direction at the same time. They are phase locked. In dance, this would be a simple movement performed in rhythm like a group of dancers all tapping their toes in time to the beat of the music. Synchrony is union. Figure #1, shows two wave forms that are equal in every aspect throughout the plot. Pulse axy = bxy at every point as do their vectors of movement av = bv. Thus, these oscillators in synchrony have three degrees of entrainment.
In human systems, synchrony is the earliest way in which we learn. Such learning may begin in the womb with the cycles of nutrition and rest shared between mother and neonate. After birth, Symbiosis (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 1975) between mother and infant continues this information exchange. The mirroring process entrains the mood of the infant with that of the mother. This may be the early development of one's capacity for empathy.
Another significant form of entrainment also begins at the early age with the mirroring, the interactional synchronization of muscular micromovements (Condon & Sander, 1974). From facial movement synchrony with adult speech, a child rapidly develops multiple micromovements throughout the body that effectively enhance adult communication. Micromovements continue in adult communication and an inability to synchronize with others is generally present in severe psychotic disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
The ability to synchronize self with other is an important survival
skill. The slime mold provides a dramatic example of how entrainment aids in physical
survival. The slime mold is a single cell amoebae that lives on the surface of stagnant
pools of water. It lives this solitary phase of its life as long as there is an adequate
food supply and life support system. However, if a reduced food supply threatens survival,
the single organism puts out a pulsing chemical signal that entrains a large colony. When
a sufficient cluster has joined in the common pulse, the individual cells dedifferentiate
merge and transform into "one differentiated animal" (Hooper &
1986). The cycle completes as the back of the new creature encrusts with spores in hard
cases. The spores break away, crack open, and release a new generation of single celled
organisms. Thus, an inability to join in synchrony with others of their species would mean
extinction for the slime mold. It seems that synchrony whether it be in the development of
humankind or the slime mold, is a primal communication and creative tool.
Cycles are in balanced opposition in Complementarity as shown in Figure #2. The cycles' movements through the coordinates are directly opposite on the ordinate but they remain synchronized on the abscissa. Synchrony is required to maintain this balance but union is fleeting unfolding only when the trajectories meet on the abscissa. Complementarity is like two dancers who dance face to face. Their movements synchronize but mirror each other. As one dances to the right, the other must dance to the left to maintain their form. They entrain to a generative synchronous rhythm.
In Figure #2 the relationship between a and b has changed. Now maintaining the phase relationship of entrainment requires more information. Thus, the relationship within the Entrainment Unit is represented as pulse axy = pulse bx(-y). Likewise complementarity has additional degrees of entrainment; e.g., the ratios of y to -y and v to -v.
Human development shows many areas of complementarity. During the sub-phases3 of the separation-individuation process an infant moves from symbiotic synchrony with its mother to its own psychologically differentiated sense of self. The child however remains in a state of complementarity with the mother moving away from, and back to, moments of closeness and support. The complementary entrainment learned as a toddler continues as an adult and forms as bases from which new relationships form. If a child performs the task of separation-individuation successfully they will be able to enter into complementary adult relationships with spouse and others without losing their individual boundaries.
Complementarity evokes several thoughts about the creative process: it is the balance of opposites that generates form. A balance like the Eastern notion of Yin/Yang, the dynamic cosmological forces that maintain existence. Western science is replete with opposing pairs; for example, the spin of paired electrons; the valence of subatomic, atomic, and molecular interactions; DNA; and of course the pairing of genders in most species. Complementarity entrainment generates and maintains form.
a (blue), b (red) and c (yellow) move in harmonics. The cycles of a = 2b = 3c.
b and c express intervals of a: the Octave and Perfect Fifth above the Octave respectively.
Figure #3 shows a more complicated form of entrainment. In this example three sine waves interact. Synchrony maintains entrainment but enfolds behind the various frequencies. Union unfolds only when waves a, b, and c cross the abscissa together completing each entrainment unit. Harmonics express a very high degree of entrainment. Using the example of dance, harmonic entrainment is like when dancers move simultaneously to several beats with different parts of their body; i.e., their arms may move on the quarternote, their hips on the halfnote (or 2 and 4 of the quarters) and so on. In pairs dancing complementarity may also exist adding further complexity.
In contrast to the stability of complementarity, harmonic entrainment is dynamic and complex. One rhythm source is driving other rhythms in a resonant pattern with itself. The resonant patterns are integers or the driving pulse as shown in Figure #3. The wave forms progress together along the abscissa but their cycles are in different stages of completion. Figure #3 shows that y for each of the wave forms fluctuates between positive and negative values at different frequencies. The relationship between the wave forms needs a more complex equation to describe. Harmonic relationships require much more information to define. Harmonic rhythm patterns are universally present in the natural world as they are in the above example of dance. Two further examples illustrate the dynamism of harmonic patterns.
If we assume the wave forms shown in Figure #3 are sound waves produced by a wind instrument wave a would be the prime tone or frequency with any fingering on the instrument. We will arbitrarily assume this one represents Middle C. If the instrumentalist keeps the same fingering but blows harder into the mouthpiece, the note will jump up one octave to the C above Middle C, the first harmonic. If the musician is able to apply more pressure, the tone will jump to the third harmonic or the G above the previous C. In this example, with no change other than the input of more energy, three states are enfolded in one finger position. The series of harmonics would continue as long as one adds additional energy to the system.
Similar harmonics exist in atomic structure in the electron orbits, or fields. In the 1920s a French graduate student Louis-Victor de Broglie proposed that these orbits were standing waves around the atom's nucleus. He proposed that each orbit radiating from the nucleus is a harmonic of the first orbit. Like the sound waves in the above example, when an atom receives more energy the electrons skip to the next orbit in discrete jumps. Erwin Schrodinger and Werner Heisenberg eventually wrote the equations for these matter waves that now form the basis of quantum physics (Goswami, pp. 31-35).
The harmonics entrained in the above examples are in fixed or standing waves. The wave length is captured in the instrument or around the nucleus of the atom. They are discrete steps. Thus, when energy is withdrawn they return to their previous lower tone or orbit. Harmonics series that appear in dynamically systems like human development or the electrical activity of the brain may be steps in a continuum of change. That is, unlike the previous examples, when a new frequency becomes the higher amplitude driver a new series of harmonics resonate. This may be an adaptive bifurcation that establishes new thoughts and moods, and thus broadens one's character. Conversely, it might also be a shift into more pathological states such as post traumatic stress reactions and perhaps the unfolding of alters in Multiple Personality Disorder.
Such adaptive patterns are present in the human infant along with the synchrony mentioned earlier. Ayensu and Whitefield (1981, p. 153) observe the following:
Within an hour of birth babies flex their limbs and move their heads in approximate time to the rhythm of the human speech they hear around them. If a different language is used the actual movements of the babies alter slightly but the rhythm of their movements changes to match the language that is being spoken...human babies begin learning language -- and with it culture -- from the moment of birth on, and they do so through the rhythms of movement.
Agnew and Brown (1989) propose that these patterns observed in infants compile signals out of the surrounding world. They resonate through this primed synchronization to form the basis of our perceptual/cognitive processes. Thus, harmonics embellish deep structural entrained rhythms as above to produce our understanding and experience of the world. Systems, including human systems, with very high degrees of entrainment may appear chaotic. Thus, like an infant overwhelmed by new stimuli who moves to the rhythm of speech, we may learn under conditions of information overload by reducing the complex harmonic patterns to a lower common denominator -- synchrony. In musical words, we try to find and follow the downbeat.
Harmonic structures are also found organizing mind/body interactions. Barbara Brown (1974) verified harmonic organization in electroencephalograms. She noted that just as with auditory tones, a harmonic series appears above a high amplitude theta wave (4 - 7 Hz.). The first harmonic would be in the alpha range (8- 13 Hz.), the next in beta and so on. Jurgens, Rosler, Henninghausen, and Heil (1995) implicate gamma oscillations in the harmonic series. Besides the harmonics within the brain an interesting entrainment occurs between the mind and body in the perineural cells.
The perineural glial cells that exist in the brain and spinal cord along with the peripheral Schwann cells are of immunological origin. Along with providing nutrition and support for neural cells, the perineural cells form a direct current (DC) electrical system that communicates information throughout the body with considerable sophistication. Becker (1962, 1977) and Pert, Ruff, Weber and Herkenham (1985) have explored the affect the DC current has on healing and regeneration in the body. The current generated by the constant signals of the perineural cells can be measured over the body in the electrodermal response (EDR) and forms the underlying baseline of the EEG. Mark Rider (1992) proposes that we can direct the DC current to areas of the body:
What I suggest here is that conscious mental activity can be used to lower the perineural DC potentials in specific body locations thus allowing healing to occur. (p.153)
Rider's thoughts suggest a harmonic entrainment of bodily processes by the conscious mind. Esoteric traditions also note the ability of the tuned mind to entrain energy in the body, as A.A. Bailey (1979, p.568) writes, "energy follows thought." It would appear that by imagery and directed thought energy changes do occur throughout the body.
Entrainment as discussed thus far relates to the communication and creativity in and between various subsets of the mind and body. Harmonic, complementary and synchronous relationships pervade the natural world. We observe them in the biological, physical, physiological, psychological and social interactions. Entrainment as it might occur with spirit provides a greater challenge. Insights into spiritual processes evade our empirical grasp as we must translate seemingly unrelated or irrelevant information between highly different domains; that is, from spirit to mind to body. Exploration of spiritual entrainment must then continue through metaphors and analogies drawn from the suprasystem as we are able to understand it. In that effort, thus this essay will now extend the notion of order to discuss these highly different domains.
2 Waves traveling in the same medium would in reality create a new, more complex wave by adding and subtracting from the combined slope and amplitude as the oscillate. They are represented here in parallel to more easily demonstrate their respective relationships.
|Continue to Part 2||References|
The Coyoté Oak: Burgeoning Wisdom
by Carlisle Bergquist ©2007
A modern-day parable for planet in transformation.
"The Coyoté Oak: Burgeoning Wisdom by Carlisle Bergquist lives up to its name. Like the trickster Coyoté, this fanciful read informs with unpredictable authority. The visionary novel weaves deep ecology, shamanism, quantum physics, Native American spirituality, Taoism, mysticism, and even Christianity into an engaging healing adventure. No small accomplishment as its wisdom rings loud and exquisitely clear. The author’s vivid descriptions engulf the senses; you can almost taste the pancakes, smell the moss, see the sunsets and you will certainly fall in love with the characters. Expect to be drawn in deep, transformed and left howling for more." Share Guide - San Francisco, CA
Published by Reality Press
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The holistic theory models entrainment as a communicative occurrence. Examples are given from several disciplines and four stages of entrainment are delimited. The essay compares theoretical quantum physicist David Bohm's notions of order with the realms of spirit, mind, and body. It proposes stages of entrainment operant throughout these realms and suggests that they perform cumulatively in the creative or unfolding process. The systems perspective develops the thesis that humankind is an iteration of a larger system and that entrainment is a central factor in the transduction of information between individuals and across system levels.
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by Paul Krumm
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by Coni Ciongoli-Koepfinger
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