The interview with heroin addicts is a very sad story and unfortunately all too authentic.
There is one method of dealing with chronic pain and drug addiction that is worth mentioning here.
This has been clinically trialed in worst-case scenarios, people who were on daily morphine for pain relief; over 20 months, all their parameters improved and there was a 50% reduction in drug dosage, in stark contrast with a control group, who needed higher doses over time.
This is a rhythmic healing system called TaKeTiNa, which I have practiced every single day for the last 20 years.
Sometimes I do it for hours at a stretch. I was always a terribly impatient person, it was a real problem — standing in a bank queue would drive me nuts. These days, I simply zone out with TaKeTiNa, and often the person behind me has to jolt me out of my trance when the next teller is free.
This is not contrived, I assure you.
There is a lot of interest these days in “vagal tone”, mediated by the vagus nerve, which connects the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems –integrating the gut brain and the head brain. People suffering from certain conditions (especially gastric disorders) do all kinds of things to stimulate the vagus nerve, from diving into cold water to inducing the gag reflex. One of the most effective ways is singing and chanting, this has long been known:
Very sick people who do not have an episode of “vagal syncope” during the night are likely to be dead in the morning, so crucial is this mechanism. It’s the absolute key to a good night’s sleep, and this syncope is totally suppressed by sleeping pills, using them to knock yourself out is disastrous for getting real rest while you sleep.
German researchers have reported that the single most reliable and effective way they’ve ever found to stimulate the vagal response is TaKeTiNa, even with complete beginners to this system. You can read a bit about the research here:
TaKeTiNa was developed by Reinhard Flatischler, he has many videos up. The best workshop I’ve seen him give was unfortunately very badly filmed at an Australian festival, but the video quality gets better and it’s well worth watching.
At 44:14 in the presentation below, he goes into the healing properties of this system:
The Australian audience was also quite unreceptive, in my opinion, but it’s still a brilliant workshop.
You can try one very simple exercise in this system. In TaKeTiNa, counting to “one” is “Ta”. Counting to two is “Ta Ki”.
If you can count to one — if you can say “Ta” — you can do TaKeTiNa and be cued to join with the group as the rhythm cycles back to the “one”. I’ve successfully used this system with very severely challenged primary school children who literally could not count to two.
Trying walking in place, very gently, not banging your heel down on the ground, but softly, as if you’re treading water. You can even do it with your toes never leaving the ground. As you put your foot down, say “Ta” (in your head, if you’re in a bank queue). So your footsteps are “Ta, Ta, Ta, Ta”.
Then start marking the upward movement by saying “Ki”, so it’s now “Ta Ki Ta Ki”, where your footsteps are still on the “Ta” and as your knee comes up, you say “Ki”.
Then slowly fade out the “Ta”, so you are only emphasizing the up-beat: “… Ki … Ki … Ki …”
You will immediately begin to feel a bit lighter, as you are emphasizing the moment when your foot is raised. You can do this when you’re jogging or walking as well. You begin to float a bit.
You can then start clapping your hands (or snapping your fingers) on the “Ki”, making it strong. Flatischler sometimes really emphasizes this “KI!” with a powerful shout and handclap, you can put as much or as little energy into it as you want, given your situation.
Now, the very best part is this, and it’s an integral part of each TaKeTiNa exercise. After you’ve stepped like this for a while, even just a few minutes, slowly quieten it down, then stop and lie down on your back or side on a towel or yoga mat, and just relax and close your eyes.
You will feel the rhythm carrying on inside your body, and it will tingle and build in intensity as you lie there. This process is capable of triggering what they call “sonic rebirth”, basically taking you back into the womb, where for nine months your whole existence was permeated with the sound of your mother’s heartbeat, filling your entire consciousness with its rhythm. Bob Marley maintained that the whole of reggae was based on this beat of the mother’s heart.
You don’t have to be any kind of “musician” to feel these rhythms, I cannot overemphasize this. But this sonic rebirth is one of the deepest psychological states you can experience.
I guarantee you that this system provides the lowest-impact “runner’s high” that you will ever feel.
You’ll see in those links that vagus nerve activation stimulates the natural production by the pituitary gland of oxytocin, one of the ultimate feel-good hormones, particularly known for promoting social bonding and creating empathy, trust and contentment. This is NOT to be confused with the opiate Oxycontin, the drug so many of these people are desperately trying to buy on the streets. (Did any of you watch the series Nurse Jackie? That show really woke me up the the situation with opiates in America and taught me about “Oxy”.)
If you know of a simpler possible alternative than TaKeTiNa to using morphine, please tell me.
I often wake up in the morning with a TaKeTiNa rhythm absolutely roaring through my whole system, it happened just the other day. This is the most direct way (according to Dr. Rudolf Steiner) that you actually approach your experiences in dreamless sleep — this realm is permeated by sound, while your dream experiences are generally more visual.
You can make the rhythms as complex as you like. I do rhythms like four against five, three against seven, stepping the one and clapping the other. You can use your voice to do a third rhythm, or to provide a “narrative” that holds the other two rhythms together. I promise you, this is not as hard as it sounds. At the risk of losing you, just consider this, stepping 3 and clapping 4:
Walk in place again, slowly, saying “TA … TA … TA…” with each footstep. Then fill in the gaps by counting to 4, this is “TA Ke Ti Na TA Ke Ti Na TA Ke Ti Na Ta …”
Not too difficult, I hope. While keeping exactly the same rhythm with your voice and feet, now just change your syllables to count to three, in Flatischler’s system this is “Ga Ma La”. So now, your footsteps are going like this with your voice:
“GA Ma La Ga MA La Ga Ma LA Ga Ma La GA…”
Now look what your feet are counting out: “GA … MA … LA“. You’re just counting the three, it’s very easy. This is now the “narrative” holding the rhythm together. You’ll find the “GA” beat shifts from your right to your left foot, because you’re now counting an odd number. I really like the balance that this provides, it’s not one-sided, as even rhythms are, always on the one foot. Just doing the “Ga Ma La” step by itself is a very powerful exercise, Flatischler often starts a workshop with this rhythm.
Now, once you’ve got it going, clap your hands or snap your fingers every time you say “Ga”. You’ll find you do this four times in a cycle before you get back to the beginning again, where hand and foot coincide. You are simultaneously keeping a 3 rhythm on your feet, while your hands count 4.
Basically, 4 x 3 = 3 x 4: four “Ga Ma La” cycles equal three “Ta Ke Ti Na” cycles.
You can see Flatischler doing this toward the end of this short demo:
You’ll see when his feet are doing “Ga Ma La” he steps forward a bit each time he says “Ga”, first with the left foot, then with the right.
Boy, I’d love to get those percussion instruments, but you really don’t need them, your entire body becomes a musical instrument in this system.
Note how he separates right hand from left hand. Your entire brain is now cycling in this polyrhythm. This is integrating your entire consciousness. You are overcoming all the polarities in yourself to achieve a higher unity. This is not a joke or some fancy talk, you can see it in the brainwaves. And you can do this with little kids, I’ve taught kindergarten music using exactly this system, it’s beyond brilliant.
The famous physicist Richard Feynman was renowned for his drumming and cross-rhythms, his ability to count 11 on one hand and 12 on the other. It’s all done through tricks like this, mnemonics, little poems.
Many people have wondered at Feynman’s extraordinary intuition and ability to dive deep into his subconscious and pull an answer to a difficult question out of nowhere. He was always drumming on tables, chairs, doors, walls, wherever he went. He once spent an evening amazing Niels Bohr by playing percussion on tuned wineglasses. This integration of his left and right brain was surely the key to his extraordinary intuitive ability. Yet in all my experience of physicists, and I lectured physics at university level for many years, I’ve never seen a single one of them try to learn these percussion tricks.
Would I try a TaKeTiNa session with this exact group of addicts that Frank talked to? Absolutely, in the right setting, but I only feel confident after 20 years of using this system and a working lifetime of teaching experience, it’s extremely hard to show this stuff to people.
Simple as it may seem, there are many dimensions to this process. You’ll see Flatischler in that Australian workshop very deliberately acting to throw the participants off their rhythm. You step constantly from chaos into order. This is the absolute key. And it’s precisely when this “snap” happens, a true shift in gestalt, that vagal syncope kicks in, according to the researchers monitoring brainwaves and breathing patterns. So it’s important to constantly maintain this tension between chaos and order. This requires real experience and another kind of intuition.
The most common problem is this: if you’re working in a group, and you “click” into a rhythm, the experience can be so exhilarating and overwhelming that you immediately lose it again, just through excitement. I’ve experienced this so often — just as you get it, you lose it. Really, it requires another kind of patience.
But eventually, an absolutely overwhelming feeling rises in you, and you realize: you are not playing the rhythm. The rhythm is playing YOU. And you find yourself floating in a totally timeless space, an eternal present. Until someone taps your shoulder and tells you that bank teller 3 is free.
If you can find a book called “Entering the Circle” by the Russian psychiatrist Olga Kharitidi, who worked with both Siberian shamans and quantum physicists (she went into Kozyrev’s Mirrors, which I’ve mentioned before), you’ll see she has several psychic experiences where she’s plucked out of time to witness an ancient ritual that calls to her through the power of drumming. These rhythms transcend all space and time, this is the absolute truth. Just by practicing these simple exercises, you are engaging in deeper physics than they will ever achieve with their Large Hardon Colliders. No, that’s not a typo. You have no idea how macho the world of physics can be, these are the boys who build nuclear weapons. Even if you tell them about Feynman (who helped build the first atom bomb) and rhythms, they think you’re a flake.
One day, these rhythms will again become the common property of all humankind. When we get decent education systems. And there will be a lot more social bonding and empathy on the planet.
If you want to see how this all translates into actual music, here’s an interesting little promo for Flatischler’s Megadrums project. Seeing them live is one of the very few items in my bucket list:
For anyone suffering addiction and mental distress, you have all my sympathy. I know this stuff might sound a bit hokey, but watch a few videos and give it a try, it won’t cost you a penny, it’s easier than you think, and it might just be better than all the drugs and all the psychotherapy put together.