Rhythm Entrainment

An Integrative (Body-Mind-Spirit) Transdisciplinary Theory



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Rhythm Entrainment: An Integrative Theory of Interconnectedness

Dept. of East-West Psychology, California Institute of Integral Studies, 2018


J. K. Norris, Ph.D.


Committee: Jorge Ferrer, Ph.D.; Silvia Nakkach, M.A., M.M.T.; John Beaulieu, N.D., Ph.D.




Entrainment is the phenomenon whereby 2 or more independent rhythmic systems synchronize and become bound together. Entrainment can happen with a variety of vibrations, such as sound, light, temperature, atoms, molecules, cells, and moving bodies. It acts as a calibration mechanism that influences perception, attention, and learning. It may relate to the lived sense of interconnectedness and belonging. As a means of knowing rooted in participatory relationship, rhythm entrainment has social, cultural, environmental, behavioral, cognitive, developmental, and transpersonal implications related to consciousness transformation and eco-social sustainability. Many disciplines have researched entrainment, yet investigation reveals little efforts at developing an integrative theory bringing these fields into a transdisciplinary whole. This dissertation articulates rhythm entrainment as a relational means of knowing that includes physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions. From an integral perspective, rhythm entrainment serves as a fundamental force in nature, an archetypal organizing principle of the psyche, and an absorptive state of experiential flow. It encompasses the theory of harmonic evolution within the natural sciences, the attunement dynamics of intersubjective communication, and the human capability of spiritual union within the realm of mystical experience. A transdisciplinary, integrative theoretical approach is used. To this end, this study: (a) develops an integrative theory of entrainment as the foundation for a transdisciplinary field of applied rhythm studies; (b) challenges the assumption that entrainment is limited to psychophysical processes and observable, spatiotemporal perceptions; and (c) explores rhythm as an entry point toward the design of an embodied, participatory model of consciousness transformation in everyday life. [KEYWORDS: absorption, attunement, entrainment, flow, rhythm, synchronization]