The Centrality of Rhythm
Updated: Jan 23
I believe that rhythmic entrainment is key to understanding how cannabis and peyote affect people. This first occurred to me in 2016, when Adam Safron from Indiana University Bloomington published: What is orgasm? A model of sexual trance and climax via rhythmic entrainment. The article explains the parallels between the biomechanics controlling orgasm and the biomechanics controlling seizures. It does not reference cannabis or psychedelics at all, but it was transformative for my work. Because some of the things that cannabis/peyote are best known for are their ability to treat seizures, enhance music, as well as improve sex and creativity, I speculated that what these all have in common is rhythm.
"Orgasm is one of the most intense pleasures attainable to an organism, yet its underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. On the basis of existing literatures, this article introduces a novel mechanistic model of sexual stimulation and orgasm. In doing so, it characterizes the neurophenomenology of sexual trance and climax, describes parallels in dynamics between orgasms and seizures" "a model is introduced wherein sexual stimulation induces entrainment of coupling mechanical and neuronal oscillatory systems, thus creating synchronized functional networks within which multiple positive feedback processes intersect synergistically to contribute to sexual experience. These processes generate states of deepening sensory absorption and trance, potentially culminating in climax if critical thresholds are surpassed. The centrality of rhythmic stimulation (and its modulation by salience) for surpassing these thresholds suggests ways in which differential orgasmic responding between individuals—or with different partners—may serve as a mechanism for ensuring adaptive mate choice."
For people with seizure disorders, certain rhythms of flashing lights are often all it takes to induce a seizure. Other forms of rhythm, including sound and touch, can also induce seizures. It’s not well understood why CBD and other cannabinoids can be so effective at controlling seizures. My research suggests that the explanation also centers around rhythm. In the brain, seizures often originate in small, localized areas where neurons abnormally fire in unison. This rhythmic activity can have a cascading effect, disrupting proper brain functions and causing seizures.
The biomechanics of this phenomenon is called rhythmic entrainment. Rhythmic entrainment generates states of deepening sensory absorption and trance, These deepening states of trance can potentially culminate in a seizure, but only if critical thresholds are surpassed.
Rhythmic entrainment goes far beyond seizure disorders; it affects a lot of human behavior. It refers to any time a person experiences a trance-like state through rhythmic stimuli. When I say ‘trance-like state’ I don't mean being hypnotized by a creepy guy swinging a watch. It can often be a subtle type of trance, like the feeling of listening to great music with a group of friends.
In order to understand how cannabis and peyote affect rhythm, it’s helpful to consider how humans came to be so affected by rhythm in the first place. Scientists believe music originated as a human fighting behavior. Have you ever noticed that every time soldiers go into battle they bring music? It’s a military best practice because humans feel connected by a shared rhythm and it helps them work together.
The combination of cannabis/peyote, rhythm and fighting goes back to our early ancestors. Humans have probably always used music when they felt threatened. Rhythmic Entrainment is a primal mechanism to support fighting as a team. That feeling of connectedness that comes from a group hearing the same rhythmic beat is how our ancestors were able to work together to fend off large predators.
The capacity for cannabis and peyote to enhance our sense of rhythm is likely what attracted our ancestors to these plants in the first place. Music is an example of rhythmic entrainment that originates from another more primal example: sex. Just as with seizures, with sex, rhythmic entrainment generates states of deepening sensory absorption and trance. These deepening states can potentially culminate in a climax, but only if critical thresholds are surpassed. The threshold points are not static, so they can be challenging to recognize.
The key to getting the most from cannabis and peyote is understanding how they can help you modulate these threshold points in the rhythmic entrainment processes. That’s what I mean when I say you can hack your body’s response to peyote and cannabis.
The human mind has limits to how much information it can process at once. When we focus our attention, like aiming a spotlight at something, the spotlight is not pointed elsewhere. When cannabis/peyote enhances the sense of emersion in an activity, think of it as increasing the brightness and focus of this spotlight. Intensely focusing on "in the moment" sensations such as those produced by rhythmic stimulation reduces the amount of mental capacity available for other things. The types of brain functions that get crowded out include the ability to model the self in the past or future. This is often experienced as a pleasurable trance-like state. If this trance-like state is experienced in the presence of others who are also experiencing trance-like states, it tends to lead to an experience of connectedness.
Peyote seems to have a particularly powerful impact on rhythmic entrainment. People unfamiliar with peyote often focus on the descriptions of visual hallucinations/visions. Those with experience nearly always feel that while the visions are beautiful, they are insignificant compared to the profound sense of connectedness. Reports of an increased sense of connectedness are fairly common among all psychedelics, as well as with cannabis. This is particularly pronounced with peyote, so much so that I believe it makes peyote uniquely valuable for studying this phenomenon. When people do experience life-changing insights from peyote, this sense of connectedness is, more often than not, at the core of their insight.
If you have questions about cannabis and peyote, check out the FAQ and use the search tool to find the answers you are looking for. If you are considering trying mesearch, Mesearch 101 is the place to get started. If you are interested in purchasing peyote or participating in future research, visit www.PeyoteAcution.com for more information.
I want to again remind everyone that I am not a doctor, and this is not intended to be medical advice. For those of you who are going to be using peyote and cannabis anyway, I hope that you are inspired to take a more scientific approach. Always talk to your health care professional before attempting any mesearch experiments.