Disrhythmic Training

This is training that takes a pattern and breaks it on purpose. It often creates confusion which is perfect for generating and establishing new creative responses. Obviously the clashing, jarring asymmetry isn’t a comfortable feeling and needs to be used to find a new pathway. However the new pathway eventually takes precedence and accommodates the unpredictable. This can be thought of as an interpretation of living in the immediate moment, using the now as the foundation instead of past experiences or future hopes.

In practice I used this recently to bump a dog out of time when he was hooked up and fussing. It’s a great way to calm separation anxiety problems, where dogs use cues and triggers as a pattern for worry. This dog was hooked up and barking, and it was safe to let him continue. The disrhythmic training is simply to go and feed him every now and then, not in any context whatsoever, whether he’s barking or not, just whenever. The food can be fed with effort and straining on the dogs part to build energy. As the situation developed the dog began to attend to the new rhythm, and instead of being anxious and unsure became calmer and more focused.

In another example of disrhythm I took a dogs expectations and played it out over a longer time frame. This is a dog that’s rhythm is far more rapid than our own natural oscillation, so the pairing and syncing is generally haphazard, like trying to hit the button on a stop watch to give a row of zeroes. The trick here was to initially sync up with the high speed rhythm, getting up to speed with the fast pace, then delaying and stretching the rhythm to keep the dog guessing. The expectation of phase shift, from one thing to another, became more entrained. The dog was able to hold and delay instead of tumble through it’s own independent sequence.

One final example is the simple shift from stroking in a slow continual rhythmic pattern and then breaking that up into something more unpredictable. Putting in a pause, then starting again, chopping up the smoothness with taps and touches that can be slightly out of the blue, but expected too. Like tapping someone on the shoulder to get their attention, the slight surprise and arrhythmic interruption can jump start the dog into play so be ready for action.

The biggest and most spectacular demonstration of this shift from rhythm to disrhythm, the collapse into chaos from order, is the Icelandic “Viking clap” seen at football matches. The crowd are unable to accommodate the changing rhythm and collapse into a random cacophony of individual claps instead of the thunderous united single clap. The reverse is found when an impatient crowd unites and starts clapping in rhythm and synchrony to express their displeasure. The phase change is a collapse or emergence of a rhythm.

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