No pain, much gain: using a simple sound and rhythm to overcome pain and walk with a lighter step.
Might help with opiate addiction
How does one deal with severe pain without opiates? How does one escape heroin addiction?
In June 2020, I commented on Frank Parlato’s article about drug addicts.
I wrote about a voice and rhythm system called TaKeTiNa for pain relief and to help people with health conditions and to avoid opiates.
One comment was: “Looks and sounds like a cult. Like the Chinese Falun Gong.”
I never replied. But, given the exploding crisis with Fentanyl, I think it’s worth taking up the issue again.
My first reaction to this “sounds like a cult” comment: Oh, here we go again – can any group of people do anything, anywhere, ever, without being called a cult?
My second thought was: TaKeTiNa is a kind of cult, using unique and specific sounds and movements, with, when taught in groups, everyone singing, stepping, and clapping in synchrony, and slipping into a distinctly trance-like state when they get it right.
Participants often talk glowingly about experiencing new realities and personal insights.
Reinhard Flatischler, originally a pianist, put the TaKeTiNa system together after exposure to drumming and rhythmic cultures. He worked with classical Indian musicians, Korean and Japanese shamans and priests, South American and Cuban percussion groups, West African drummers, and other practitioners.
The result is a logical, mathematical structure, free of any overt religious or symbolic connotations.
For example, counting to three in this system, you say: “Ga Ma La.”
This sequence is taken from Indian music. The Western “Do Re Mi Fa So” scale is vocalized as “Sa Ri <b>Ga Ma La</b>” in India.
This triad has a natural physical rhythm: back of tongue (Ga), lips (Ma), and tip of the tongue (La).
It begins with a guttural percussive, cut short by the lips closing, forming a precise “attack.”
The system has always worked for me personally and in my work, especially with preschool children, who have a strong rhythmic sense. It’s worked under time stress in the music studio, negotiating phrases with other musicians.
It also works while waiting in bank queues, a very different time stress.
However, a day after making my post on TaKeTiNa in 2020, a horrendous toothache struck me – a molar gone wrong. I tried all my pain meds, including the “good” Ibuprofen, codeine, paracetamol, and finally, aspirin.
Decades ago, a medical student showed me how to dose myself properly with aspirin. The first symptom of an overdose is ringing in the ears, so you pop the tablets until your ears start singing. I took a massive dose of aspirin. It’s always been the one thing that works for me. This time, nothing helped, and I tried to sleep with this severe pounding in my jaw and ringing in my ears.
So, how did TaKeTiNa help in this situation?
The pounding pain coincided with the heartbeat, so this is one of the first TaKeTiNa exercises: First, find your pulse and say “ta… ta” for each heartbeat. Then focus on the space between beats, and say “ki” there, so now it’s “ta ki ta ki.”
Then fade out the “ta,” so you’re just going “…ki…ki…ki…” between the heartbeats.
In class, everyone lies down and vocalizes this quietly, so that you can hear the people around you. Then everyone fades out, and you feel all the rhythms rising and pulsing inside you in the silence.
Trying this for the toothache, I immediately realized the off-beat was in sync with those moments when my jaw was not throbbing with pain.
I started pushing the “…KI…KI…KI…” in between heartbeats, and focusing on that off-beat with all my attention.
I can honestly say this was the only thing that helped with the pain that night. It took my mind off the agony for a while, helped me concentrate on the gaps in between, and finally got some sleep.
I made an emergency appointment with my dentist the following day. He was delighted to see my swollen face. He didn’t say hello. He said, “Extraction!”
Always happy to make my dentist smile.
Ten minutes later, I was on my way out, one tooth lighter and feeling much better. A really awful toothache is one of the worst pains you can endure so maybe I asked for it, writing that post boasting about pain relief.
This trick also helped me with a severe ankle injury that put me on crutches for three months. Again there was a pounding pain that coincided with the heartbeat, and I spent countless hours with my ankle on a raised cushion and off-beat rhythms going through my head.
To the best of my knowledge, there’s nothing secret about TaKeTiNa, except that being a teacher is very hard and demanding. You must keep the rhythms solid when everyone around you is lost, and when it’s all holding together too mechanically, you need to shake things up and introduce chaos.
It’s a fine line that requires experience and sensitivity. It can trigger the most profound emotional releases in people in a safe environment.
I’m not a trained TaKeTiNa teacher—I wrote to them about 20 years ago, saying I was using their system in my teaching and found it valuable, but I never received a reply.
But you don’t need to be a teacher. TaKeTiNa is accessible to anyone. it is inclusive, forgiving, robust, and transparent. It lets you access the inner machinery of music and rhythm.
Whatever depth of structure you reach, there are always new layers and spaces to explore.
To the best of my knowledge, no element of TaKeTiNa is not suitable for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.
Yet you can integrate severely challenged children into this system: If you can count to “One!” you can be cued to join, even be the focus of the action.
Try it yourself.
Next time you’re out walking, try saying “Ta” with each footfall, then “Ki” in between as your foot comes up. You can do it under your breath or entirely in your head if you’re in a crowd.
Without changing your gait, walking completely naturally (the most challenging part), start saying and stressing just the “Ki.”
You are now focusing on the upbeat, literally.
Try it. You will find that you feel lighter, almost floating. There will be a spring in your step. You may find you want to snap your fingers.
This also works well while you’re jogging, of course.
It is a literal antigravity “device” for your body that you can activate anywhere, at any time, with ease, and entirely for free.
And you can make it as complex as you like. I often do a 3:7 pattern when I walk. This is easier than you might think.
You start by saying “ga” with each footstep. Then say “ga ma la,” dividing each step into three.
When you get tired of saying “ga ma la, ga ma la, ga ma la” as you walk, you keep the same beat and say: “ga ma la ta ke ti na” – three plus four, i.e., seven. You can snap your fingers each time you say “ga.”
Now, 3 x 7 is the same as 7 x 3. So when you have gone through three “ga ma la ta ke ti na” cycles, snapping your finger three times, your feet will have counted out precisely seven “ga ma la” cycles. You will have shifted from your right to your left foot and covered quite a bit of sidewalk. And for two finger-snaps out of three, the rhythm is floating above your footsteps.
Before long, you subconsciously do this, leaving your mind free to wander as your feet do their thing.
What happens with TaKeTiNa is that both sides of your brain work independently, but are held together by a common “narrative” in the form of vocalization.
This is a higher level of functioning of the mind. It requires a special kind of focused relaxation, and the various effects on the brain, the hormones, and the vagus nerve are well documented. TaKeTiNa has been described as a kind of rhythmic yoga, and it’s a fair description.
I’m tempted to say there’s no single element of TaKeTiNa that I would remotely associate with anything “culty.”
If there were, I would not recommend it. I want to push TaKeTiNa. It should be taught in every school.
If you try some of these rhythmic exercises and achieve equilibrium between your left and right brains—your logical and intuitive selves—you will not just be doing yourself some good. You will be doing the whole universe some good. And you will feel this deep down as you walk the earth with a slighter, lighter step.