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The Uncanny Practice of Entrainment

This key tool is employed, often unwittingly, by exceptional teachers, health care practitioners, clergy, and devoted guardians or parents.

water color by Satsuki Shibuya

Side by Side by Satsuki Shibuya

“Can you breathe with me?” Nancy asks.She’s kneeling next to a large recliner as she calmly invites a cardiac patient in acute respiratory distress to change his breathing pattern. Meanwhile, two additional EMTs are setting up critical care equipment. This is a familiar call, and Nancy is the preferred first responder because of her “uncanny ability” to give other EMTs valuable time. Her unusually calm demeanor is said to have a magical effect. When I first heard about Nancy during a CPR certificate renewal, I realized that her “magic” is a traditional Eastern teaching technique known as entrainment. Entrainment is what happens when an individual gives up their independent breathing pattern to accept the rhythm of another individual or group. In Eastern spiritual traditions, entrainment is a pedagogical tool used to ready an individual or group to receive a teaching, to share experiences of certain states of consciousness, or to grant an aspirant the opportunity to stand in another’s shoes, thereby assisting with the teaching of forgiveness, love, and compassion. Perhaps the mos …

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