In a drum circle, one might study a specific rhythm, such as a Brazilian samba rhythm, or a Balinese or African rhythm, rather than work with specific rhythms, TaKeTiNa works with what are called, "rhythm archetypes", which are described as "movement images that are inherent in the senso-motoric system of every human being.
In our mother's womb, we have a very intense relationship with rhythm. Rhythm is the first information we receive. It is the bridge that guides us from the world before birth into this world when we are born. When you are in the mother's womb, you hear the heart beat and the flow of blood; you feel the mother's movement and you hear the rhythm of her speech. All of that is rhythm. You are not understanding what is happening, but you are feeling rhythm. As you grow, there are millions of brain cells that have to fire in a rhythmic synchronization in order for you to understand what is happening around you. Without the senso-motoric system, you could not move or think or make any sense of the world. That you can see or hear something is all based on rhythm.
In TaKeTiNa, the body is considered the instrument through which primal rhythmic images, not specific rhythm patterns, are accessed. Through the use of one's hands, feet and voice, the process involves the simultaneous incorporation of three contrasting rhythms. Standing in a circle, students first begin by moving their feet in a simple side to side motion. In the centre, a Brazilian surdo drum with a deep, booming bass is played to reinforce and anchor the steps. As students connect their steps with the repetitive sound of the drum, they are next instructed to clap in a pattern that is initially in sync, and then eventually, slightly out of sync, with their foot movements. Finally, the voice is added to create a third level of independent rhythm.
Other techniques involve the use of "call and response," where, while maintaining certain foot steps and hand claps, the leader sings one part, then students respond in turn. Sometimes what the leader sings will be in harmony with the footwork and the response of the students. Other times, however, what the leader sings will rhythmically conflict with the student's footwork and hand claps, thereby, creating a palpable tension, which eventually leads to students being unable to maintain the rhythm. At this point, everything will fall apart.
Like the ebb and flow of life, we go in and out of chaos and order, this process brings students out of the rhythm, and then back into the rhythm. In this alternation between losing rhythm and regaining rhythm, one falls into a state where, all of a sudden, his or her senso-motoric system is triggered and he or she just knows how to move. As a result, people who have never trained in music are finding themselves moving to very complex rhythms. No matter how complex the rhythm might be, they are in it with their voice, their steps and their claps. It's not that they have learned this rhythm; it's that they have become one with this rhythm and they are one with themselves in this moment.
When you fall into rhythm, you lose track of linear time, as well as of the past and future. You are just falling into the 'here and now.' The process brings people into a very relaxed state of presence. There are many ways to achieve this state, but rhythm is probably the most ancient and easiest way to access this state. At the same time, you are developing a real rhythmic competence, because what you have experienced in rhythm stays with you.
While most learning situations require students to be alert and focused, in TaKeTiNa, participants are encouraged to either be active, and engage in the exercises, or be passive and lie on the floor and just listen. For many people, lying down in the middle of a circle creates a reconnection to the time when they were in their mother's womb. There was nothing to do then but absorb rhythm. A person who is lying down in the center is entrained, meaning that all the information of the rhythm is subconsciously and unconsciously absorbed by that individual.
One word form that is frequently vocalized in TaKeTiNa is "Ga Ma La." While "Ga Ma La" has no real meaning, it is composed of three syllables, that have not just been randomly chosen. When you say 'Ga-Ma-La,' notice that the 'Ga' sound is created in the throat; 'Ma' is created in the lips; and the 'La' sound is created by moving one's tongue up in the mouth. You are describing a movement circle inside your mouth without knowing it.
This movement circle creates what is known as a rhythm entrainment. When our minds are entrained, our bodies have hypnotically adapted to the strongest pulse available. Rhythm entrainment is the basis for our senso-motoric system. With rhythm entrainment, you are not learning a specific rhythm pattern, of which there are a million random rhythmic patterns. Instead, you are going back to a rhythm archetype. An example of one rhythm archetype is a pulsation of two beats and a pulsation of three beats pulsating together.
According to Flatischler, the relationship of two beats pulsing in relationship to three beats occurs in the whole realm of nature. For instance, studies involving fish show that a fish's side fins and tail fins move in a two to three relationship to one another; one fin swishes back and forth three times in the same time period that the other fins swish back and forth two times.
Ga Ma La is composed of three syllables, so speaking 'Ga Ma La' in a rhythmic way entrains the three beat cycle in the body. At the same time, Ga Ma La is not associated with a known word, so it empties your mind. You just speak it again and again, and all you hear is sound and rhythm. It does not fill your mind, it empties your mind. As it empties your mind, you come into the present, into the silent state of here and now.