Clockwork: Principle of Rhythm

Consider old-fashioned clockwork to better understand the Principle of Rhythm. A pendulum

swings. This back and forth motion supplies power to the many gears within the clock. When

you wind the clock, you empower this pendulum to continue its steady swing. Many gears

interact with one another to manifest the circular movement of the hands on the clock and the

circular movements of the date wheel and the moon wheel if there is one. But all of them rely

on the back and forth movement of the pendulum. Both sides of the pendulum are vital. The

yin and yang are vital.

The inhale and exhale are vital. Most of the challenges of human existence come from a lack of

awareness concerning which elements belong with the motion of the pendulum and which

belong with the gears. The swing of the pendulum in a clock causes the turning of the gears,

so whatever we allow to swing back and forth is a cause in our life. Everything else is an effect,

spinning passively according to size and position, mostly under the surface.

The most important question we can ask, if we use this analogy, is what makes up the bob at

the end of my pendulum? What directs the clockwork of my life? Rather than answer this

question philosophically, let’s examine where we experience a regular back-and-forth or riseand-

fall motion in life. The most obvious places are the breath and the cycle of sleeping and

waking. Day and night only experience equal stage-time on earth twice a year. Perhaps this is

why it’s important to include a Sabbath in our reckoning of time. Our breath is something we

can directly control, but observation over any period of time will likely reveal irregularities of

breath as well. Winding our clock by taking a Sabbath is something I’m passionate about.

Likewise, winding our clock by consciously practicing regular breathing is vital.

By setting our cycles of breath and rest in order, we allow ourselves to become more aware of

the other rhythms in our life. We notice emotional, mental, and physical phenomena that swing

back and forth. Perhaps we also notice that the times when our breathing becomes most

irregular and our work/rest cycles become most irregular are when we attempt to hold one of

these other phenomena in place. It shows also on our face when we try to hold one of the

troublesome aspects of our life in a certain position or when we try to hold onto an emotional

or mental state. Halting movement in one area of life affects all others. But perhaps we can

learn to employ the movement instead of halting it.

Galileo discovered that pendulums swung regularly long before sophisticated clockwork was

invented. When we notice a swing happening that we don’t like, the first and most important

thing to do is observe. Take the time to watch the pendulum swing. Be a scientist. Take notes

on the effects of different frequencies along the path from yin to yang. Once you have a

working understanding of how a mood, thought pattern or behavior swings, and how the

swings affect other aspects of life, you are ready for an experiment.

Choose where, along the scale of change, you wish to spend most of your time. And instead of

trying to hold the bob there, give it a push so that it spins at an angle consistent with the

frequency you wish it to hold. Return to the back-and-forth flow of rest and breath and invite

the emotional, behavioral, or thought pattern to join the dance of your life in a place where it

supports the overall rhythm.

One way to give a pattern a horizontal push is to respond to it as though it consistently

maintained the frequency you want it to have. Behavioral research with dogs suggests that the

best way to modify behavior is to give the animal attention and support when it does what you

want it to do, and to simply ignore it when it fails to do so. Our brains are not so different from

dogs. It’s easy to spend time talking, thinking, and feeling about things we don’t want or that

we want to change. But if we still think we can punish our dogs, children, or selves into

harmony with Life, we are allowing aspects of our lives to be causal, when they would serve us

far better as effects.

Try this. Try offering gratitude and attention to aspects of life that are moving in ways you enjoy,

and simply observing the spaces that feel out of balance—until they appear in the state you

want them. When they do, offer the same gratitude and attention that you offer people, places,

feelings and things that consistently move in ways you enjoy. Offer the same amount—not

more. By using this technique in your habits and relationships, you build your personal power.

You rebalance the pendulum of your life and tune your gears so that it becomes easier and

more effective to wind your clock with rest and regular breath.

Our reason for surrendering various aspects of our lives to the pendulum truly is to learn. Until

we know what we want an aspect of Self to do, we cannot wisely “push” that aspect into orbit

within the dance of Life. Much better for it to vacillate back and forth than to smash into

another element of Self. But when we know, it is time to be brave and to release control.

Inhale. Exhale. Wake. Sleep. Thrive.