THE BODY AS MACHINE
WHY WE ARE AFFECTED BY VIBRATIONAL INFLUENCES
©2008 Mark B. Anstendig
The human body is a machine.
We are vibrating machines living in an environment, every part of which is vibrating.
Even things that seem to be still are vibrating.
Vibrating things affect each other.
Our bodies are affected by the vibrating of our environment.
Consciousness is inextricably linked to the body.
We experience only the vibrating of our own bodies.
We do not experience anything outside of our bodies.
WHAT IS PERCEIVED AS THE EXTERNAL WORLD IS IN REALITY THE EXPERIENCE OF OUR OWN BODIES STIMULATED BY VIBRATIONS FROM EXTERNAL VIBRATIONAL SOURCES!
Everything external that we see, hear, taste, touch, or feel is the vibrating of our own bodies.
The quality of the vibrating of our own bodies determines the quality of our sensory perceptions and emotional experiences (i.e., their delicacy, refinement, degree of exquisiteness, coarseness, etc.) as well as our ability to delineate those perceptions and experiences.
All the actions of our lives are controlled in their speed, rhythm, timing, and quality by the surrounding vibrational influences of our immediate environment.
It is the nature of human beings to want to refine their personal experiences.
Whether in sports, the arts, or the experiences of our daily lives, we crave greater refinement, intensity and beauty in our experiences.
Refinement of experience is not possible without refinement of the body.
I. THE HUMAN BODY ITSELF, SEPARATE FROM CONSCIOUSNESS, IS NOTHING MORE THAN A MACHINE, A COMPLEX MACHINE MADE UP OF MANY SEPARATE, INTERCONNECTED, INDIVIDUALLY VIBRATING MACHINES
Although it is our nature not to experience ourselves as machines, the reality is that our bodies are merely machines with all the mechanical limitations of machines! Understanding that fact is crucial to understanding the phenomena of life, and becoming aware of the mechanical nature of our bodies is crucial to self-improvement.
The human body is the most complex of all machines. Like most other machines such as automobiles, airplanes, and computers, it is in reality a compound machine made up of many separate, interconnected machines (heart, lungs, intestines, circulatory system, etc.). Each of these machines runs in its own manner, at its own individual speed in a specific, predetermined relationship to the others.
The body is also the most flexible of known machines. Unlike most man-made machines, those different speeds at which the various machines in our bodies vibrate are not in a rigid, inflexible, relationship to each other. The flywheels of a watch or the parts of an automobile transmission either function at a predetermined ratio, with little allowable tolerance, or they break. But with our bodies, although there is an optimal ratio/range at which the separate organs best function in relation to each other, the human body will still function and sustain life even when there are relatively great fluctuations, or aberrations, away from that optimal ratio.
But the point must be made that, although the body can still sustain life in spite of such variations, any deviations from the optimal range of interaction between the separate organs do affect the overall manner in which the individual functions. In fact, it is these variations in the various components of the body and their interaction with each other that determine not only our health, but also our different nuances of manner, the sensitivity of each individual’s sensory perceptions, as well as each individual’s general characteristics and feeling of well-being. Sciences such as Homeopathy teach that an optimally functioning body naturally contains the necessary means to resist or cure most common diseases. Even the subtlest deviations from the range of optimal interaction of the individual bodily organs will work itself out as noticeable physical attributes and mannerisms, as well as problems of health, both mental and physical. This fact is most important to comprehend, in order to understand the human being.
Life takes place as a rhythmic flow of space in time. Therefore, differences in the interrelation of the various rhythms of our bodies affect the quality of our sensory perceptions, which, in turn, determine the quality of our experiences. And those differences can be either those of the internal organs or those of the external musculature, or a combination of both. Of course these subtle differences also affect and determine our sense of well-being.
All physical states of being and general personal characteristics, such as sluggishness, irritability, nervousness, etc., have their roots in the quality/characteristics of the interaction of the various vibrating components of the body. The classical differences in temperament (sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic) and their myriad variations are examples of differences in the interaction of the various moving and vibrating complexes of the body. Temperament can, over time, be altered and undesirable personal characteristics can be changed through control of those reactive aspects of being that are accessible and various Eastern and Western disciplines, such as the many forms of Eastern yogas and the western Autogenic Training, etc., are based on doing just that. Examples of the reactive aspects of the body which can be successfully manipulated are the external muscle complexes of the body, which can be manipulated through control of rhythm, speed, and smoothness of our physical movements and, particularly, through the breathing mechanism, which is generally considered the most potent of all means of influencing our state of being. (Author’s note: because the breathing mechanism is crucial to good functioning of our bodies, it should be approached with utmost care so that one does nothing to in any way alter the functions of the breath that are needed for a healthy body. Especially disciplines of the breath should be approached with the utmost reticence and hesitation, as most breathing exercises and teachings, including even Lamaze, are thoroughly wrong and can as easily do harm and/or create bad or unsupportable breathing habits, as they can seem to help, and usually without the practitioner even suspecting the source of the harm.)
II. THE QUALITY OF THE MANNER IN WHICH THE BODY VIBRATES DETERMINES THE QUALITY OF OUR SENSORY PERCEPTIONS AS WELL AS OUR PHYSICAL WELL-BEING
A basic understanding of life in terms of time and space is essential to comprehending the role of the body in how we are affected by vibrational influences and in determining the quality of the results of those vibrational influences, i.e., in determining the quality of all our experiences, emotional, artistic, expressive, and so forth.
The smallest common denominators of everything are the classic polarities time and space. Therefore, life is space developing/changing in time: the body obviously is a space (it couldn’t be time). And like all space, that space, which is the body, is developing, i.e., changing, in time.
Rhythm is the patterns in the way space flows in time. It is the patterns in which changing space is organized1 in time. All movement in time necessarily involves some sort of rhythmic pattern.
From the point of view of rhythm, the body consists of four major complexes of moving parts, which move or vibrate at different speeds and rhythmic patterns, all synchronized to each other. These four major complexes are:
1) The heart and circulatory system;
2) The digestive system (stomach, small and large intestines);
3) The breathing mechanism;
4) The external musculature and its muscularly-propelled movements, both voluntary and involuntary, i.e., walking, talking, bending, blinking, twitching, etc.
(Note: There is an internal musculature of the body, which can be activated and is activated in some forms of advanced yoga-type disciplines. But that activation of the internal musculature of the body is generally static, not dynamically-moving, in nature in that the muscles are activated, i.e. tensed, and held steady in the activated position. Since there is no more movement than that, this use of muscles is, therefore, not rhythmic.)
As mentioned, the various moving components of the body can move or vibrate in a more or less finely-synchronized ratio to each other. Unsettled states (such as nervousness, jitteriness, sluggishness, hyper-activity, unsteadiness, or drunkenness, and all their variations) are the result of one or more of these interlinked components being abnormally faster, slower, unsteadier or otherwise more erratic in relation to the others, causing an erratic, uneven overall rhythm of the body. In fact, it must be pointed out and emphasized that this overall vibration of our bodies is what we are. It is what we experience, per se. Since it is the sum of all the separate vibrating parts of our bodies, including all sensing mechanisms, it determines the various changing qualities of our lives.
The quality and characteristics of that overriding rhythm of the body determine the quality and characteristics of our sensory experiences:
All external stimuli filter through it (and are mixed together with it) before they are consciously perceived. This vibrating of our bodies, which is a combination of all our vibrating parts, determines and shapes everything about us, including even the quality and tone of our thoughts and other internal mental experiences.
All experiences can only occur to or be experienced by us:
1) in rhythmic relationship to the overall rhythm of the vibrating of our bodies, and
2) in a degree of delicacy and refinement of experience equal to or less than the quality of the vibrating of our bodies.
The limits of the degree of fineness/refinement of our sense-related experiences are determined by how coarsely or finely our bodies are vibrating at the time of the experience. If, for example, finely played music is playing and the listener’s body is vibrating more coarsely than the music, the listener will not be able to hear/experience the fine nuances of the music. That is because the body itself has to physically reproduce the vibrations of the music before they can be heard. And if the body itself is vibrating more coarsely than the finer nuances of the music, the coarser vibrations of the body will necessarily coarsen and degrade the vibrations of the music before that person hears them. The listener will, of course, still hear the notes. But the expression will be a different expressive quality, not nearly as fine. In fact, the listener will actually be hearing a different expression from that of the performance. At best it will be a coarser form of the original expression. But more usually, the listener will experience a completely different expressive content when any of the original expressive quality is changed/coarsened by the body. For example, the exquisitely delicate, hushed, infinitely sweet, ever-so-slightly sad ending of the Bruckner Ninth Symphony in the Deutsche Gramophone Jochum/Berlin Philharmonic recording takes on a completely different, pompous, grand character, when the delicacy is compromised. That is a particularly delicate expressive passage. But the expression is compromised in any music if the body is vibrating less finely than the music’s performance. Similar falsifications of experience also occur with the other senses, even with visual images. Obviously most people have no idea of the most delicate and finest, and usually most moving and meaningful, of possible human experiences. Because the requisite refinement and delicacy of body and manner demand training, practice and experience handling oneself in the presence of such sources of experience and in the company of others with those attributes. Without such qualities, less accomplished people would disturb and not be invited to share such experiences. But even if they had access to such stimuli, the vibrating of their own bodies would destroy and change/coarsen their perception of it. And their coarser manner and movements, as well as the coarser vibrating of their bodies, would ruin the experience for others present.
Since our natural tendency is to assume that we are actually perceiving that which is outside of us, it is important to remember the fallacy of that tendency and keep in mind that it is not the sound, image, or feel of the source itself that we perceive, but that we actually only perceive the vibrations of our own bodies.2
With hearing, the sounds that we hear are created by the vibrations of our own bodies when the sound waves from the source hit our bodies, stimulating them and causing them to vibrate. With sight, we see the vibrational patterns on the retina that are caused by the vibrations from the objects that we see. (With sight we know very well that the capacity/state of the complete mechanisms of the eye determine what we can see and how we can see it.) With the lower senses, the sensations of our own bodies, not the object/source itself, are what we experience when we touch, taste or smell anything. For example, when we touch a stone, we do not feel the stone. We feel the vibrating of our fingers/hand caused by the stone, just as with sound we do not hear the sound of a bell. We hear the vibrations created in our own bodies when the vibrations from the bell hit them. Therefore perceptions of the same source necessarily vary among different people at the same time in the same circumstances, depending upon how each individual’s body is capable of vibrating at that time.
It is very important to an understanding of human perception to realize that the vibrating of our bodies changes over the course of even short periods of time and, therefore, that the perception of the very same source/thing can vary within the same individual at different periods of time or under different circumstances, depending upon the manner in which the body itself is vibrating at the given moment of perception. These variations in perception are not only caused by differences in the normal vibrating of our own bodies, but also by the external vibrational influences upon the body previous to and during the experience.
It should now have begun to be clear why it is crucial to comprehend the role of the body itself as that which is really perceived if we want to gain a practical, basic insight into how the senses are experienced and why the quality of our perceptions varies. We may be equal under the law. But we are not equal in the quality of our perceptions and experiences. Not only do people differ among each other, each person differs at different times of their lives and even at different times of the very same day, depending upon how their bodies are vibrating at the given times. So, not only is the quality of sensory stimuli the reason for differences in the perception of the stimuli, but the human being itself and its physical vibrational state is a main factor in differences in perception. And those differences vary within the same individual, depending upon the physical state of that individual at the time and the influences on that individual both before and during the experience of the stimulus.
Therefore, for example, all critical evaluation of the arts cannot address and include only the quality of the artwork and any reproduction of it (video, hi-fi system, visual repro, etc.). It must also include the state of and capacities of the viewer as an equally important factor. In our evaluating of any and all sensory experiences, the human being doing the experiencing is one of the variables that determine the results. Much that is generally considered to be a matter of opinion is really due to people not being able to experience that which is being evaluated, because their bodies are not able to adequately replicate the vibrations of the source being evaluated.
III. THERE ARE IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES IN COARSENESS AND FINENESS AMONG PEOPLE AND CORRESPONDING DIFFERENCES IN SENSITIVITY OF PERCEPTION
Since no two people are alike in person or in exact life circumstances, it follows that there are differences among people in sensitivity and perceptive powers. Modern social emancipations and technological achievements have blurred distinctions and it is even frowned upon to mention human differences in equal-rights societies like the U.S.4 But, in past centuries, it was recognized that, rather than being equal, there were great differences of physical sensitivity among people according to their upbringing and education, according to the disciplines available for them to learn, and according to their cultivated personal habits. It was also understood that these differences in sensitivity made it impossible for some to have certain experiences of a particularly fine nature, or even to participate in social events or in the experiences of others in general, without disturbing and wrecking those experiences. The concept of the Bourgeois Gentleman is a typical example of how someone without the requisite acquired delicacy of physical attributes can wreck the whole tone and experience of a fine gathering. It has long been recognized that, if those incapable of deporting themselves in a refined, delicate manner were allowed into an atmosphere of refinement and delicacy, the coarseness of their physical presence alone would destroy the mood and make it impossible for those capable of having them to enjoy refined, delicate, higher-level/quality experiences. The disturbance was caused not only by vulgar3 rhythm of that person’s movements and speech, but also by the less-fine vibrating of that person’s body itself.
Imagine a typical, unrefined, uncultivated worker of the mid-nineteenth century entering an intimate soiree in the Bayreuth home of the composer Richard Wagner, where even the decor was so exquisitely chosen that the right color scheme for the morning mood was supplied in the rooms receiving the morning sun and a correct/furthering/harmonious color scheme for the late afternoon was supplied in the room receiving the setting sun. The people invited to these surroundings were those who were known to be sensitive, refined and delicate enough (i.e., had a fine enough physical vibration) to “fit in” with the delicacy of both the surroundings and the fine levels of Wagner’s own experience. The worker would be like a bull in a china closet: not only would his manners, speech and deportment not fit in, but the coarseness of his vibrating body and his movements would be a dissonance to, and actually physically disturb, the fineness of the other people’s experience. Since his body would be vibrating too coarsely to experience the fineness around him, he would not realize what was happening. But the others would notice it, because it would immediately and obviously coarsen and disturb, and be a dissonance to their own experience.
That is generally what is happening socially when someone is a disturbance but the others cannot really put their finger on why. The reverse can also be true: it often happens that someone particularly fine is present and the others realize they are not experiencing on that person’s level. But in such a situation, it is usually uncomfortable for all because the others will usually affect and reduce the quality of the more refined person’s experience, unless the more refined person has a title or an especially commanding “presence”, either of which would cause others to quiet down and adjust themselves to his manner. Such a situation can be quite unproductive unless it is a teaching situation in which the less sensitive are systematically raised to a higher level through contact and interaction with a finer person.
There are natural differences and cultivated differences among people. Some natural differences are inherent in the differences between the sexes as well as between the various human types, i.e., sanguine, phlegmatic, etc.
An example of how a more finely vibrating body will be more perceptive may be seen in the comparative sensitivity of men and women to the delicate nuances of young children. Women, especially mothers, are usually more sensitive to the nuance of a child than men. They often recognize the child’s needs and desires through subtleties in the child’s expression that men do not notice. An equally high degree of sensitivity can, of course, also be purposely developed by men, but the makeup of a woman’s body, coupled with a greater emphasis on receptivity in the orientation of the female psyche, would seem to start out more naturally conducive to sensitivity than a male body. The main reasons are more relaxed muscle tensions in key areas of the body, generally more flexible bodies, a lower center of gravity, and a greater orientation towards receptivity to sensations. Due to the necessities of their sexual orientation, women are usually more experienced in sensing and flowing with whatever is happening around them, particularly in the realms of experiencing the senses and emotions.
The fact that, under similar conditions, women are generally more physically refined/sensitive than men plays a role in other phenomena, such as a usually greater sensitivity of women to high frequencies. Women, for example, are often disturbed by modern hi-fi systems with the high frequency controls in settings that seem normal to men. Since greater flexibility and delicacy is demanded of the body in order for it to vibrate more sympathetically with the faster high frequencies, the more relaxed a normal, well-balanced body is, the greater that person’s sensitivity to high frequencies will be. Certainly, in a modern society where men and women are brought up, live, and work under generally equal conditions, men also cultivate delicacy. But until recent times, men usually grew up and worked under coarser circumstances than women, due to the demands of their social roles and work. Thus their bodies were tighter, less relaxed, less flexible, and generally coarser. It was an unusual accomplishment for a man to be gentle and refined; this is why the word “gentleman”--a man who could be gentle--became the designation for a cultivated, evolved man. Most men were not by themselves inclined to gentleness and only learned of and experienced gentleness and delicacy through interaction with women or children.
IV. THE BODY CHANGES OVER THE COURSE OF A DAY
The quality and fineness of the way one’s body is vibrating varies over the course of a day, as well as over the course of a lifetime. Without going into detail, it can be said that most people usually wake up from sleep in a relatively unrefined state after the undirected body movements, unsymmetrical positions and free respiration during sleep, and that their bodies change constantly over the course of a day. The changes the body goes through over the course of a day are determined by its characteristic postures, the discipline consciously imposed upon it, and the rhythms imposed upon it by external sources, most of which are vibrational in character.
Generally, disciplined people become more and more sensitive over the course of the day, especially those whose occupation requires that they remain still, well-concentrated, and relaxed over periods of time. When key tension complexes of the body reorganize themselves and relax, one is not only able to perceive more finely but also hear louder and taste, smell, and feel more intensely, in the sense that the sensations experienced are stronger. The more our external muscular tensions relax, the more strongly the body can register and reproduce the external vibrational influences that stimulate those sensations. In most people, this process reaches a point of greatest sensitivity in the early evening and then subsides as they become tired, have ended all the important functions of the day that demand concentration, and relax their efforts at remaining alert. But people who retain their concentration and continue fine work up until they are ready to sleep will usually continue to become finer and finer and will generally be at their finest and most delicate late at night. (This is probably the main reason sex is often experienced most intensely in the evening or night.) What happens mechanically is that the interaction of the four major moving complexes of the body becomes smoother and more finely meshed as the muscle complexes of the body relax.
Posture plays an important role in how the body develops over the course of the day. The most perfect, i.e., rational, posture, the one which best allows the body to relax and wind down, is that in which the vertebrae are held erect and the shoulders balanced, using only the necessary muscular tension to keep them in place. (See our paper: “Posture and Walking”.) In such correct posture, the vertebrae, shoulders, pelvis and head are well balanced and, therefore, supported by the minimum amount of muscles and muscle tension needed to keep the body erect. They then most rationally act as a scaffolding from which all muscles that do not need to be tensed can hang down and relax. Such posture is most rational5 in that it utilizes the minimum possible amount of energy, i.e., muscular tension, wasting the least energy/effort. This is, of course, the foundation of traditional yoga posture and also the posture used when doing Autogenic Training in a sitting position. In fact, the most typical yoga discipline--sitting still in lotus-position while observing and following the breathing and certain other internal physical signs--is usually performed at the beginning of the day because, after sleep, it quickly brings the body back to a balanced, smoothly-functioning physical state conducive to finer experience and a greater feeling of well-being.
V. EXTERNAL VIBRATIONAL INFLUENCES DETERMINE OUR STATE OF BEING
The three factors that influence the vibrational changes our bodies undergo during the course of a day are l) posture, 2) discipline imposed on the body, and 3) rhythms imposed on the body by external sources. Of the three, the rhythms of external sources are the most important factor in determining the quality of the states the body goes through.
When the strings of a piano are struck, the sounding board is set vibrating by the vibrations of the strings. Every object reacts in that same manner to vibrations, although some more strongly than others. And every object has a certain frequency to which it is more sensitive. This frequency, which is usually the frequency that object would vibrate at when it itself is directly caused to vibrate, is determined mainly by the tensions within the object, but also the other characteristics of the materials that make up the object. If one uses the pedal to hold the dampers off the strings of a piano and strikes various notes on another instrument, the corresponding notes on the piano and their overtones, as well as the sounding board and even some other objects in the room, will vibrate in sympathy with the notes that are struck. The sounding board happens to be in a state of tension and of a shape that achieves a high sensitivity to most of the musical frequencies while the separate strings are of a specific size and tension which causes them to vibrate more specifically to tones of their own individual frequency.
The human body is constructed so that it acts like a sounding board (and strings), vibrating in sympathy with all tones, as well as many other vibrations, that strike it. Which tones or tonal combinations (harmonies) the body is most sensitive to at a given moment is determined by the particular state of tension it happens to be in at that time. The tones to which it is most sensitive can change over a period of time as the tensions of the body change. How long that takes depends on the rigidity or flexibility of the particular body. The perfectly erect relaxed posture mentioned above will enable the body to vibrate in sympathy with the greatest number of stimuli, like the well-designed and adjusted sounding board. A tight, tensed, less well-balanced body, on the other hand, or one with poor posture will react to the vibrations that correspond to the particular tensions and/or unsymmetries it happens to be in, like badly tuned or strung individual strings of the piano.
One’s internal moving organs are not rigidly held in position. They are delicately suspended within the body and are highly sensitive to, and indeed influenced in their movement by, external vibrating influences operating on them, to the point that they take on the vibrational characteristics of their immediate environment. To conceive of this, imagine a body sitting in a running automobile. That body is like a bowl of Jello on a vibrator and cannot help but take on the characteristics of the periodicity (rhythm) and intensity of the vibrations of the car. Essentially the same thing is happening to us all the time, the differences being that most vibrational influences around us are not as obvious to us when our bodies are firmly planted on the ground as they are when our whole bodies are suspended in a freely vibrating car. Nor are most vibrational influences on us as easily recognized as those of a car. We are ALWAYS in a strong vibrational environment. Even what is usually recognized as no vibrational influence on us is vibrating, i.e., even when we experience our environment as calm, peaceful, or very still. Those are usually situations where the vibrations at that moment are smaller, finer, steadier, and calmer. But they are still very much there. The whole Universe/Creation is vibrating.
A person in the presence of an unevenly and coarsely vibrating motor or machine will be strongly influenced by it. The internal organs will be affected by the unevenness of the vibrations and take on much of their characteristics, resulting in some sort of unsettled state of body. One’s state of mind cannot be finer or calmer than one’s physical state, so the affected person usually experiences this unsettled physical state of body as an unsettled state of mind, considering it to be mentally induced when it really was physically induced……as a mental aberration, when it really is physical. Similarly, when a body is in a very finely vibrating environment, as when one listens to very fine music, rides on smooth roads in a finely running automobile, or when one is undisturbed in nature, that body will take on the quality of that environment, becoming finer and more delicate in the vibrating of the individual organs and in the interaction of the organs with each other. The individual experiences this state as a calmer, more relaxed, more delicately sensitive feeling of well-being.
In the past, nature was the chief influence that regulated the qualities of our lives. The character of the vibrations in nature is usually extremely fine in quality and rhythm and keeps people in a calm, well-regulated state of being. In natural surroundings it is also relatively easy to recognize when something is causing a disturbance in vibrational quality. That is because we tend to stop noticing sight and sound impressions that remain similar in quality, even for short periods of time, but take notice of contrasts/dissonances. If people are always in a finely vibrating environment, they easily notice disturbances in it and a deterioration in the vibrational quality usually shows up as distinct, recognizable signs, such as uneasiness, agitation, edginess, etc. In modern civilization, however, most people no longer live in an environment where the phenomena of nature are the primary influences on their being. Instead, the primary influences on the lives of most people, especially city dwellers, are vibrations, both heard and unheard, from the various man-made machines that make up their mechanical environment, i.e., refrigerators, television sets, radios, cars and buses, water running in pipes, air-conditioning, etc. While there is a certain awareness among people that these things, particularly sounds, do influence us and that we can be negatively affected by them, most people’s concern is generally restricted to those vibrations that they are aware of or consciously disturbed by6 .
Presently, people are rightly concerned with considerations of how loud sounds should be, but they should also consider the quality of sounds and rhythms as well as other types of debilitating vibrational influences, such as unevenly vibrating machines or automobiles, or poor TV picture quality.
VI. IT IS MAINLY QUALITIES OF VIBRATIONS OTHER THAN THEIR STRENGTH THAT DETERMINE THEIR INFLUENCE ON US
Up to a given volume, beyond which their strength will be measurably too much for us to withstand, it is the OUALITY of vibrations7 that is most often the determining factor in whether or not vibrations are beneficial to us, and not their loudness or strength. Obviously, we each have a limit to the loudness or strength of vibrations that we can tolerate, beyond which we suffer real damage. Just as obviously, there are situations, particularly those involving amplified sound, that subject certain people to potentially dangerous volume levels. But most people’s everyday lives do not include substantial exposure to such strong vibrations (people who frequent places with exceptionally loud music or work in factories with heavy machinery, radiation, etc., are obvious exceptions). With sound, the point beyond which damage occurs is much louder than the sounds in most environments. Even most disco and rock music, which admittedly is usually dangerously loud, would be below the real danger point for most people if the amplified music were properly equalized (and, of course, impeccably played)8 . Proper equalization would tone down unnaturally loud high-frequencies and certain large peaks in volume at other frequencies. These peaks, which are usually more than two or three times louder than the rest of the sounds, make up the bulk of the measured volume level and account for most of the potential dangers due to loud sound reproduction. The unnaturally loud high frequencies are particularly dangerous because they occur in frequency ranges to which our bodies are especially sensitive. But, for most people, being subjected to such loud music is an unusual situation.
For most of us, there are many sounds and other types of vibrations that we either ignore or are not consciously aware of, the qualities of which nevertheless have a strong effect on us. Sounds we ignore are the constant ones such as those from refrigerators, fans, oil-burners, a car’s engine, or monotonous background music, which we stop noticing after being around them for a short time. There are other vibrational influences besides sound that play an important role in our lives, such as the vibrating of the body of a car (as opposed to the sound of the motor) and the movements, rhythms, and radiations of other people (it has long been known and studies have proved that people are similar to dynamos, in that they produce and radiate vibrational energy, not to mention they sometimes move erratically/unsymmetrically, as when sick or otherwise debilitated, etc.). Although they do not play a role that we are consciously aware of, these more insidious vibrational influences are the major determining factors in most modern people’s lives. That is because, due to our lack of awareness of or concern about their presence, we do nothing about eliminating them and they work on us continually for long periods of time.
Life takes place as a flow in time. A flow of space, which is what we are, in time. As mentioned, our bodies are not static, nor are our organs rigidly suspended in our bodies: they are flexibly suspended in a manner that allows them to elastically adapt their positions to each other in relation to our various changes of position (sitting, lying, standing, slouching, etc.). Because there is great leeway (tolerance) in the way the movements of the various organs of the body are synchronized to each other without our feeling sick, etc., we are seldom aware of changes in the overall vibration of our bodies that occur during the course of a day, changes that affect our sensory perceptions and other capabilities, such as our ability to concentrate, our balance, and our moods. There are many examples of the effects on our bodies of irregularity in the rhythms of the vibrations to which we are subjected. A few are carsickness, sea-sickness, and the way our bodies will continue in the gyrations of a horse, a carriage, or a train, long after we are off it. It follows that more subtle vibrational influences also affect us.
VII. THE EXTERNAL VIBRATIONAL INFLUENCES AROUND US PROFOUNDLY AFFECT THE REFINEMENT OF THE VIBRATING OF OUR BODIES, OUR PHYSICAL WELL-BEING, AND THE QUALITY OF OUR SENSORY PERCEPTIONS
It is well known that we are affected by sound, but it is seldom fully realized just how powerful a force sound is in our lives. We cannot close our ears as we can our eyes. We can only ignore, or not be aware of, sounds. But those sounds are still present and their vibrations, which are physically stronger than those of sight, still hit our bodies with measurable force, usually over an extended period of time. There is little that can cause a stronger or more immediate reaction in people than a sudden loud noise (think of car-brakes screeching, a tray of dishes falling in a restaurant, or any explosion, for example). But sound does not have to be loud to affect us: a sobbing voice, a laughing baby, a squeaking mouse, etc., are all very difficult to keep oneself from reacting to. In a room where music is playing, the music (especially its rhythmic pulse) determines everyone’s movements, even the movements of those people who are not paying attention to it or are consciously remaining aloof from it. It is only possible for someone to move with or against music. And, by definition, the music still determines the movements of those who move against it. Our bodies take on the qualities of the vibrating of our surroundings. If one listens to finely played music, the pulse and evenness of the vibrations influence the flow and timing of our movements (particularly our breathing, which controls most of the functions of our body) and affects the functioning of our internal organs, both directly and through the refining of our external musculature and our breathing. The vibrations of one’s body become finer, smoother, and more delicate as one listens (as long as there are not other, coarser influences in the vicinity). If one listens to badly played, coarse music one will not calm down. One will reflect the tone of the music, becoming agitated if the musicians are agitated, nervous if the musicians are nervous, unsettled if the rhythms are not steady, etc.
The following is a description of the ninety year old musician Pablo Casals:
“Upon rising in the morning,...Casals dressed with difficulty. He suffered from emphysema and apparent rheumatoid arthritis. “He was badly stooped. His head was pitched forward and he walked with a shuffle. His hands were swollen and his fingers were clenched. Then, playing Bach on the piano before breakfast, Casal’s fingers unlocked, his back straightened, and he seemed to breathe more freely. Next, playing Brahms, his fingers, now agile and powerful, raced across the keyboard with dazzling speed. His entire body seemed fused with the music; it was no longer stiff and shrunken, but supple and graceful and completely freed of its arthritic coils. Having finished at the keyboard, Casals stood up, straighter and taller than before. He walked to breakfast with no trace of a shuffle, ate heartily, talked animatedly, finished the meal, then went for a walk on the beach.”9
This passage is the perfect example of the influence of the finest musical vibrations (Casals was one of the greatest of great master musicians) and shows what a powerful influence sound vibrations can have on every part of one’s being. It bears some further explanation: it is significant that Casals, whose greatest proficiency was on the cello, used the piano in his therapeutic musical session. The physical effect would probably not have been so strong, if it had occurred at all, with the cello or a wind instrument, like the clarinet, for which the body already has to be in tip-top shape to produce a good quality sound. To have so therapeutic an effect, the sounds that transfigured Casals had to be of fine quality to begin with. Tentative, unsteady, and insecurely produced sounds would have tuned him to their own, lesser character. The actual sound of a piano is mechanically produced by its own action, and Casals certainly had an impeccable, superb instrument in perfect tune. It was to the sound of the piano itself that Casals tuned himself. The only other instrument that could have had an even more powerful effect would have been a good modern organ, because of the possible perfect mechanical steadiness of the sounds.
If the vibrations of music can have such a strong effect on us even though our bodies are supported by stable ground when listening to music, how much more strongly must the vibrations of an erratically-running automobile affect us, since our bodies are completely suspended in its vibrations. After riding in such an auto, if one tries to listen to a very fine piece of music that one knows well, one will find that one cannot perceive the fine details, especially the delicate/fine expressive content of that music the way one knows it to be. One will hear it more coarsely and will not be able to have that same fine quality of experience until one’s body has calmed down and the vibrational flow of the music has been able to work on it long enough for the body to absorb/take on the finer vibrational qualities and flow of the music, a process that may take longer than even the average piece of classical music, if the original erratic influence was extremely coarse. The example of a coarsely running car is one of the most obvious possibilities, but an erratically-running refrigerator or air-conditioner, or even another person in the room who is uneasy/unstill or upset about something...any of those things would be enough to disturb the way one hears that music. In other words, the erratic, coarse vibrational patterns of those things are affecting the listener by coarsening the way his body is vibrating. Music is an excellent means of noticing when one is being affected by extraneous influences and of noticing what vibrational state one is in at a given time (provided one is thoroughly familiar with the particular music and how one hears it under ideal circumstances). Of the five senses, the one most affected by the vibrational state of our bodies is our hearing. That is because the human body is capable of hearing and experiencing (distinguishing) nuances of the utmost delicacy and differentiation, nuances so fine that even the slightest influence in their flow in time can change/coarsen them.
VIII. THE ACT OF HEARING HAS TWO ASPECTS: THE EXPERIENTIAL AND THE INFORMATIONAL
The experiential aspect of hearing is the simple act of hearing (i.e., physically registering) the sounds themselves and the expressive, emotional content conveyed by the sounds. The informational aspect is the mental activity stimulated by the sound, such as recognizing it, naming it, understanding its contents, etc. It is obvious that the informational aspect of hearing is an embellishment in our minds of what we have already physically registered. Therefore it necessarily follows, and is dependent upon, the actual act of hearing.
It must be understood that it is the experiential aspect of sound that is affected and degraded (i.e., changed and falsified) if someone’s own body is vibrating more coarsely than the sounds he is listening to. His whole listening experience is therefore falsified, since the informational aspect is dependent upon his first experiencing the sounds and is really nothing more than a categorizing of what was experienced when the sounds were registered. The emotional content in particular is changed, and it is not just a matter of missing the finer nuances; it is a matter of experiencing A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT EMOTION THAN THAT CONVEYED BY THE SOUNDS. This is most often the case in listening to the very finest music, with its great range of subtle differentiation of emotional content. But the vibrational quality of one’s physical state plays a great role in all other forms of communication through sound, whether it be other types of music or a spoken dialogue between people. In the latter case, it can be the cause of much misunderstanding in that it can falsify the way one hears and interprets the “tone” of other people’s comments.
Along with our hearing, our voices, particularly correctly produced singing voices, are also hypersensitive to, and readily show the influences of, internal and external vibrational influences. The resonances of a well-trained voice will not fully open up and the tone will be unsteady if the body is not vibrating in a calm and regular (rhythmically even) manner. If, while riding in a car, one quietly sings a long sustained note in a relaxed manner, without forcing the tone, it will immediately become apparent how sensitively the voice responds to every little bump or other irregularity in the way the car is vibrating. This is a key to the interaction of performers and audiences because, in ways that are similar to the above example (though more subtle), the performers reflect and respond to the overriding “tone” or character of the audience. The great opera composers understood this well, placing relatively insignificant scenes, or music which is designed to help the audience to settle down, at the beginning of an opera before the principals are asked to do anything that is demanding on their voices.
IX. WE CANNOT SEPARATE OURSELVES FROM OUR VIBRATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
It is impossible for us to separate ourselves from our environment and our interaction with that environment. It is an old truism that we are not only our bodies, but everything surrounding and bordering on them as well. One can think of this concept in terms of a positive and a negative in the photographic sense of one being the reverse of the other. If someone drew an exact outline of your profile, the side of the outline which is you would be the positive, the other side of the outline would be the negative (the exact reverse of your own shape). It is obvious that the two cannot be separated. If you think of yourself naked and immersed in water, you are the positive, the water is the negative and it is impossible to separate yourself from that water as long as you are in it. So it is with everything around us. Since we are impressionable machines that are flowing rhythmically in time, we cannot separate ourselves from the qualities and rhythmical influences of the vibrations that surround us. Our bodies are even more sensitive than our conscious perceptions. Medicine can attest that the body is strongly affected by many influences that are too fine for our senses to perceive (obvious examples are micro-waves, x-rays, and even ultra-sonic sound. Some people cannot be in the same room with an ultra-sonic cleaner without becoming physically nervous, keyed up, or irritated).
We interact with everything around us, no matter what it is. If one enclosed oneself in a protective, reflective casing that kept away vibrations from extraneous sources, one still would absorb the vibrational character of the surface one was resting on, even if it were the earth itself, and one would be internally influenced by one‘s own body’s vibrations, which would also be reflected back at one. It is possible to control the vibrational influences that work upon one’s body by shielding it (with reflective, metallic cloth, for example). But that possibility is a two-edged sword: it can be effective in isolating oneself from erratic surroundings, but one could also end up shielding oneself from a positive influence if the surroundings were calm and fine, or, if one were agitated or otherwise physically erratic, one would be isolated in and affected by one’s own erratic state. The point to make is that shielding one’s body from one’s surroundings is only desirable if those surroundings are more erratic than one’s own body. In a finely vibrating environment one would want to interact with and be influenced by one’s surroundings. The Anstendig Institute, using reflective materials that were originally used to investigate how great a role the body itself plays in musical experience, has been able to investigate and confirm that there are various effects of isolating one’s body. We have, for example, observed that isolating the body hinders the physical experience of music, i.e., one does not experience the expressive content as readily as when the sounds hit the whole body.
It is interesting to note that some seemingly emotionally disturbed people, who feel that they are being influenced, controlled or persecuted by other people may simply be hypersensitive to external influences affecting them. But not recognizing that what they feel is only erratic vibrational influences on them, they personalize their perceptions and believe that the vibrations they are feeling are specifically directed at them.
It should not be forgotten that personal discipline is an effective means of refining the body and keeping it refined. Society, particularly in its behavioral strictures that we call “manners”, is replete with techniques and means of maintaining refinement and poise. Although the most direct and effective of these are techniques that directly utilize the breathing mechanism, every refined person has his own personal methods that have proven helpful in preserving a fine equilibrium and sensitivity. But the external influences around us are the overriding influences that determine the quality of even a disciplined person’s experience. They determine the quality of our existence in exactly the same way music determines the rhythmic flow and the quality of the experience of everyone in a room. They also limit the quality of our experience because it is all but impossible to be finer than one’s surroundings. Although one may be able, through various methods, to keep oneself somewhat physically aloof from one’s surroundings, one simply cannot have an experience that is substantially finer than the vibrational influences surrounding and affecting one. To use fine music once more as an illustration: one should always remember that one is only conscious of the vibrations of one’s own body, and that, if one’s body is vibrating more coarsely than the music one is listening to, the sounds one hears will be degraded and coarsened.
X. WHEN ONE UNDERSTANDS THE BODY AS A MACHINE, ONE CAN UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF INVESTIGATING THE VIBRATIONAL INFLUENCES ON IT AND TRYING TO IMPROVE THEM
If we are unaware of the vibrational influences on us, we will also be unaware of how we would feel and what our experiences could be if those influences were improved. Everyone should understand that the quality of the way our body functions mechanically and the manner in which the body is affected by the vibrational influences on it play an extraordinarily important, determining role in our lives. The importance of understanding that they do is difficult for anyone to comprehend who has never had it brought to his attention. In order to conceive of the possibilities, one should remember one or two of the finest and most moving experiences one has had (for example, listening to music, an ecstasy in church, a delicate exchange of fond feelings with another person, a moving novel or poem, etc.). One should then recognize that these experiences all happened at times when the body, for one reason or another, happened to be in a more delicate state. It should also be noticed that there was always some particularly fine vibrational influence at the time (the calm, reverent atmosphere of the church; the smooth vibrational flow of the music; the sweetness of manner in the fond exchange with the other person; etc.), which, by influencing the rhythms of one’s body, refined one to the point where the experience was possible. Since one is obviously capable of having such sensitive experiences, it should be possible for us to have them more regularly. And one should be able, most of the time, to sustain much of the delicacy and sensitivity of those experiences in one’s actions, even when one cannot take the time to initiate them purposely through external influences. If one is not able to sustain fine, sensitive experiences regularly and one is otherwise healthy and acceptably disciplined, the chances are that something coarse in one’s environment is an adverse influence. One would do well to begin thinking of one’s body as the machine that it is, to understand the body as a machine that is so sensitive and flexible that it even responds to, and is affected by, physically vibrating influences around it that one is either not consciously aware of or is used to ignoring. One should begin observing and investigating the vibrational influences in one’s environment, eliminating erratically running machines and other adverse influences, and one should otherwise cultivate for oneself an environment conducive to the finer possibilities of experience in life, an environment that will also improve one’s feeling of physical well-being.
The bottom line is that the body is what we are. It determines the qualities of everything we experience.
(Pertinent papers on how to investigate and improve the vibrational influences that affect one’s life are available from The Anstendig Institute upon request. These papers are available free of charge as a public service.)
The Anstendig Institute is a non-profit, tax-exempt, research institute that was founded to study the vibrational influences on our lives, including the fields of sight and sound; to provide material designed to help the public become aware of and understand those influences; to instruct the public in how to improve the quality of those influences in their lives; and to provide the research and explanations that are necessary for an understanding of how we see and hear.
1) An aside: rhythm infers pattern. It is conceivable that there could be a totally unsymmetrical progress of something in time (in music, for example) that follows and repeats absolutely no pattern. But it is beyond our abilities to be able to recognize such a phenomenon, because, in order to recognize it, we would have to be aware of and able to recognize every single possibility of creating a rhythmic pattern. Otherwise, that phenomenon might somewhere in its progress without our noticing it, happen to repeat itself, thus creating a pattern, in which case, it would, in fact, not be unsymmetrical. However, if the unsymmetrical were to exist, that would, itself, be just another form of pattern.
2) Ultimately, since science has proved that we are only vibrations, the question is whether we are, in fact, perceiving anything material. But that question lies in the realm of the metaphysical. It depends upon an understanding of causality and finality (see our paper “Hearing: The Informational and the Experiential”) and an answer to the following question: since that which is perceived is material and consciousness is, in fact, immaterial, at what point does that material thing we believe ourselves to be perceiving turn into that immaterial thing consciousness? A clue must lie in the fact that, as much as science may attempt to observe our consciousness and the workings of the brain, science can never find that point where the material turns into the immaterial without destroying the thing it is observing. Already any invasion of privacy destroys the conscious experience and obviously any invasion into the brain will destroy it.
3) Unrefined, indelicate, rough, as opposed to smooth. The real meaning of vulgar is allowing one’s body to rule one’s actions, as opposed to controlling them through discipline. The word vulgar came into existence because this was a characteristic of the vulgar (i.e., at that time the vast, mostly uneducated, usually physically unrefined public). The vulgar person allows the body to control his actions without disciplining it. Various dialects and accents that vary from accepted speech, are the result of the individual allowing his body to control the way he speaks, rather than training himself to speak correctly.
4) It is The Anstendig Institute’s belief that all people are ultimately equal, that all people can improve themselves, and that all people should have access to the opportunities to do so.
5) Rational in the literal sense, meaning the most efficient, i.e., the most effect for the least expenditure of effort and energy.
6) 0ne might argue that the strongest influences on us are mental, such as good or bad news, directives in our work, frustrations, etc. But these have their effect because our physical states are altered by them. We can be given upsetting news in a very calm way and be less upset than if it were conveyed to us in the usual excited way. The difference is that of the rhythmic, i.e., vibrational, quality with which it was delivered, and the state of agitation or calm of the person delivering it. We can be totally irritated by someone delivering wonderful news in an excited, hectic, unsettled manner. A person who knows disciplines of physical control can influence and even control the mental-emotional effects of these messages by using physical disciplines to control his body. But that process cannot be reversed: the mental-emotional effects cannot be controlled by mental processes alone. That is because emotions are a physical state. There are no abstract emotions. One cannot experience an emotion unless one’s body goes through the physical characteristics of that emotion, i.e., one cannot become happy or sad unless one’s body assumes the actual physical attitude and attendant rhythmical quality of happiness or sadness.
7) By the “quality of vibrations”, I am referring to their rhythm (whether it is regular or irregular), the steadiness and evenness of that rhythm, the speed of the vibrations, the character of the vibrations (are they energizing or enervating), their intensity, whether they are focused or diffused, lovingly sweet or aggressively dissonant, etc. Every reader can relate to at least some of these attributes without further elaboration. The purpose of naming them is to point out that vibrations are by no means alike and have various qualities (attributes) that affect us besides the usually first-considered aspect of how loud or strong they are.
8) These points do not refer to discos, rock concerts, etc. that amplify the music beyond peaks of 120 decibels, which is already borderline, although correct equalization would cut the peaks by at least 15 to 20 decibels, and the overall volume level equivalently. Equalization is explained in the paper “Equalization”, available from The Anstendig Institute.
9) From Norman Cousins’ book Anatomy of an Illness, quoted in Conversations With Arrau by Joseph Horowitz.
The Anstendig Institute is a non-profit, tax-exempt, research institute that was founded to investigate stress-producing vibrational influences in our lives and to pursue research in the fields of sight and sound; to provide material designed to help the public become aware of and understand stressful vibrational influences; to instruct the public in how to improve the quality of those influences in their lives; and to provide the research and explanations that are necessary for an understanding of how we see and hear.