“Praise God with Drum and Dance!” -Psalm 150:4 (CEB)

All of Life is Rhythm

In December 2013, I took my first Djembe (African Drumming) lesson with Monette Marino and I was hooked! She loves drumming so much that she smiles the whole time and lights up the room with her rhythm and beauty.

I faithfully studied traditional West African rhythms with Monette for an entire year, attending weekly classes and even worked for her as a back-up drummer and singer at one of her private party performances. It was one of the most liberating experiences of my life to pick up a drum and learn to play it.

I started noticing that all of life is rhythm.

My body has two basic rhythms of heartbeat and breathing, as well as sleep cycle (sun cycle), hormonal cycle (moon cycle), seasonal changes in my physiology and annual cycles of emotion that I experience (revolution of the earth).

As I began studying the traditional West African Djembe rhythms, I became aware that the space in between the beats was just as important as the beat itself.

I had to concentrate to play the drum in the proper place with the correct hand position at the right time with the right volume. And I also had to learn to hear the position and length of the spaces in between.


A rhythm is not comprised of only beats, but it is also comprised of spaces in between.


It’s the beat and the space in between the beats that makes a rhythm.


Similarly, once you learn to look for the space between your breaths by practicing Relaxation Breathing, you can begin to notice the gaps and space available in all of your activities – such as in between your thoughts or in between your exercise repetitions.

I have taught Relaxation Breathing to all the Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants who have taken my continuing education courses. One colleague shared with me that after practicing Relaxation Breathing for about six months, she had developed a relaxed awareness of the space between her tasks and daily activities as an owner of a Home Health Agency.


She was able to find relaxation of her nervous system in the “space in between.”


I now focus on relaxing into the spaces between my activities, my thoughts and my breaths so that I can deeply relax my nervous system. And then I remember to laugh for the health of it, or I just breathe and smile to cultivate joy and peace in the moment.

I have now been able to integrate what I have learned into strategies for well-being for people suffering with episodic illnesses. It is my hope that we all can learn to notice the space in between our episodes of illness as well.

These days I am able to concentrate enough to enjoy the space in my life between migraines, and episodes of vertigo or pain. I call this practice “noticing the space” and I invite you to join me by noticing the space in between your activities, thoughts and breaths.


Let’s relax together in that space.


Gratitude to my Teacher and Mentor:


Monette Marino is a world percussionist. She spent the majority of the last 20 years studying under Master Drummer Mamady Keita from Guinea. In 1999 she received her Teaching Certificate from Mr. Keita and opened a branch of Tam Tam Mandingue USA in San Diego, California. From 2004–2012 she managed Mamady’s world tours, assisted him in teaching master classes, and performed with his ensemble, Sewa Kan. She received her diploma from Mamady Keita & Tam Tam Mandingue in 2011.

She has since branched out as a solo artist releasing her debut album “Coup d’Eclat” and also opened her own school of percussion called MO’RHYTHM. In addition, Monette Marino has created an iPhone App “Mo’Rhythm Africa – Play Along Djembe/Dunun App” now available on iTunes for iPhone/iPad/Apple TV. Prior to her involvement in West African percussion Monette studied folkloric and popular rhythms from Cuba, Brazil, and Korea.

To reach Monette directly, please visit her website.

This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Photos used with permission from monettemarino.com.