Day 21: find your rhythm
Welcome to Day 21 of The Villa’s Confidence Boot Camp. They say if you’ve been practicing new behaviors for 21 days straight, you begin to form a habit. If you’ve been following along with us in Confidence Camp and practicing the tools and techniques we’ve shared, we hope you are seeing some changes in your own thinking, feeling and actions. Has anyone else in your life noticed? It may be subtle, but even if you’ve been practicing just one thing, like Power Posing, for example, you are building your core confidence and resilience.
Today’s topic comes from the Physical Confidence domain, and is one of our favorite practices of the entire month. It’s called, “Find Your Rhythm”, and we aren’t just talking about learning new dance moves or metaphorically marching to a different drummer (although these are also good things to consider). Finding your own rhythm is about tuning into your own body rhythms, and learning some techniques to help you keep them working for you so you feel calm, in control, and ultimately, more confident.
A little background: We are essentially “poly-rhythmic” beings. Our hearts beat in rhythm, our breathing is rhythmic, we speak in cadences that vary by language or region, and we walk with our own individual rhythm. Many of our body-rhythm functions are indicators for us of changes in our stress response or exertion or reactions in other body systems. If we feel nervous, for instance, our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes shallower, and we may speak faster or have difficulty focusing our thoughts. Nervousness or anxiety is simply the body deploying needed resources to the systems that may support a fight or flight response, and taking them from less important functions (at least in that moment). Conversely, heart rate and respiration rates slow when we rest or sleep, allowing other systems in the body to do their repair and restoration work.
But one of the things we may not always be aware of is that our body rhythms often “entrain” to other rhythms that are in our proximity. Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch mathematician and scientist from the 1600s, is credited with first describing the phenomenon of entrainment. If you place two pendulum clocks on the mantel side by side, after a very short period of time, the clocks will swing in cadence with each other. In this same way, we often “entrain” to other elements in our environments, whether we realize it or not.
For example, if you work in a fast-paced office with stress-inducing deadlines or demands, your internal rhythm is likely to entrain to the fast pace of the office. If your internal rhythm is naturally slower, you may go home at the end of the day feeling exhausted because your systems aligned with the environment, and drained your batteries faster (aka “a train wreck”). If you are naturally a more active, goal-focused person and you work in a quiet, slow-paced environment, your internal pendulum may get out of whack, and you wonder why you can’t feel excited or enthusiastic about a new project.
Everywhere we go, there is a rhythm, or a flow, to whatever is around us. Whenever I visit a new city, I like to take long walks and wander purposelessly, just to get a feel for the rhythm of the city and the culture. Entrainment to our environments isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless it causes us to feel unconsciously out of alignment and less in control of our thoughts, feelings and actions. And as we’ve learned previously, an important element of confidence is feeling more in control of ourselves and our experience.
HOW TO FIND YOUR RHYTHM
Today we have a special guest to teach us some techniques about managing our own internal rhythms. Gary Klein is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private practice in Salt Lake City, Utah. Gary is also a drummer, and has taught many young students to play both hand drums and full sets. He uses rhythm approaches with many of his clients to help them with managing anxiety, depression, ADHD and other life-disrupting conditions.
In the video above, Gary explains how he uses drums or smartphone apps to help people manage their symptoms by tuning in to their own rhythms, and then using one of these tools to either increase or decrease the tempo. He also demonstrates the technique with Meagan, and you can see how it works.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
This may sound like a testimonial, but I want to share with you my own personal experience with this technique from just a few weeks ago. Gary shares office space with us, and we’ve known each other a long time. (In fact, he’s my Best Guy Ever, if you must know.) One morning recently, I was in the office and had a lot to do, but very little focus or mental capacity to do it. You know when you have so many different things going on that it’s hard to practice mindfulness and do just the most important things? That was me on this particular day. I was going from one task to another without finishing the first, interrupting myself, and staring blankly when someone asked me a question. I was indecisive and misdirected, and I guess it was obvious to the others, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to realize that I was hanging upside down below the line with my Lizard holding on for dear life while having a hay day. (One of my Below-the-Line “Indicators” is that I become unfocused and indecisive. Duh.)
Gary took me by the elbow and sat me down in a nice comfy chair, turned on the metronome app on my smartphone, and increased the tempo until I said, “Right there.” He then turned it down about 10 beats per minute, turned the volume down so I could just barely hear it, and put it in my pocket. He told me to turn it down 10 BPMs every 10 minutes until I felt better.
If I was on a late-night infomercial trying to sell this technique, I could probably make the phones ring off the hook with my endorsement. I was stunned by the rapid response I had to the metronome. Within about 15 minutes, I felt calmer, I felt clearer about what I had to get done, and I became more decisive and directive. (“Bossy” might be the way my team members would describe it.) I ended up having a significantly more productive day than I had in a long time.
FREE IF YOU CALL NOW!
Actually, we’re not selling anything. You can get many free metronome apps wherever you get your apps. I use ProMetronome because I like the variety of instrument options and the big buttons that make it easy to use.
Gary also recommends a practice breathing app called My Calm Beat that uses animated lungs to help you train yourself to breathe more deeply in a paced rhythm. In just two or three minutes of training every day, you can quickly get better at “finding your rhythm”, and able to calm yourself.
1. Try a few of these exercises first to see if you can identify the various rhythms in your body:
- Sit quietly in a chair, and tune into your breathing. Don’t alter it in any way; just pay attention to it. Observe the pace of inhaling/exhaling, how deep or shallow each breath is, and whether there is anything affecting it—thoughts, worries, stressors, etc.
- Take your pulse with two fingers on your wrist or beside the carotid artery on either the right or left side of the front of your neck. Relax and pay attention until you find a consistent pulse. It’s not necessary to count; just tune in and see what your heart is doing.
- Take a walk outside on a flat sidewalk or walkway. Walk at your normal pace, and swing your arms as you might normally do. Pay attention to your gait; if you have a shadow, watch your shadow to get an “observer” view. What is the rhythm of your gait?
- Ask a friend or partner to walk with you. Intentionally walk together, with one of you mirroring the other’s gait. Then try to walk together while one of you intentionally disrupts the gait by walking faster, using shorter steps, or walking slowly. Notice what happens in your internal rhythm system in response to the misalignment.
2. If you have a smartphone, download a metronome app, and try the exercise as Gary and Meagan demonstrated in the video. If you don’t get instant results, don’t give up! Try it once or twice a day for a few days. Experiment with different tones and different tempos to find what fits for you.
3. Demonstrate the metronome practice to a friend, colleague or family member. (The best way to learn is to teach.) Then invite your friend to practice every day and share their experience and insights with you.
Practicing with the metronome or a breathing training app isn’t the only way to find and manage your rhythms, and it may not solve everything every time. Tuning into the rhythms around us and the rhythms inside us will, however, give us the edge when we need it, which may translate into yet another way to build that unshakeable confidence.
Thanks for staying with us today, and we can’t wait to share what’s in store for you tomorrow.
Cheers! Your Confidence Boot Camp Training Team
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