by Mark B Anstendig

1982 The Anstendig Institute



Man-made, mechanical vibrations have replaced the vibrations of nature as the determining influences in most of our lives. The vibrations and rhythms of nature are extraordinarily fine and follow natural patterns that take place as part of a steady, even, overall rhythm. Man-made vibrations, on the other hand, can very easily be erratic, uneven, and irregular.


Like a piano's sounding board, we vibrate in sympathy with the vibrations around us and absorb their patterns. Our bodies function best when our organs, which are separate, but interconnected machines, run smoothly and evenly, and most unpleasant states and diseases are essentially disturbances in this rhythm. It is therefore the quality of most vibrations (regularity, evenness, steadiness, etc.) that is potentially damaging and not how strong or loud they are (within normally encountered levels of intensity). To use an extreme example, an evenly running jack-hammer would not be harmful if one remained relaxed near it, but an erratic, irregularly-running refrigerator motor, even if relatively quiet, will definitely affect one's wellbeing. It is important to understand that, although it might be distracting, the loudness or intensity of vibrations is usually not dangerous in itself. With sound, the threshold of pain is approximately 132 decibels (approximately the loudness of a jet airplane engine at very close range), but the loudness of the sounds we deal with in everyday life does not even approach that. It is usually other irritating factors in most vibrations that cause negative effects and not their strength. Of course, these irritants will have a stronger effect the louder or stronger they are, but even relatively weak vibrations will affect us. In fact, the weaker they are the more dangerous they are. We are less apt to notice them and will tend to blame their insidious effects on other possible causes. There are situations, like those of some rock concerts, where all factors come together: extreme loudness; badly played, irregular rhythm; unequalized sound amplification, with frequency peaks in the range where we are most hypersensitive, etc. Those kinds of situations are particularly dangerous. But even music at normal or low volume levels is not necessarily beneficial. If the musicians are unrelaxed, nervous, ill at ease, or even lethargic, they put the hearer into the same physical state. Countless recordings suffer from these problems, and many hospitals and businesses use music therapeutically without understanding that they do.


Each aspect of the problem is complex enough for a full research paper, but the following simple precautions could make a big difference in the quality of your life:

Check that all machines run evenly. ANY irregularity is bad for you and for the machine.

Your car is particularly important because you actually sit in it and your whole body actually shakes in the car's rhythmic patterns. Your car should run perfectly evenly, without irregular shudders, shakes, or sputtering of any kind. If it doesn't, insist on it, since unevenness is technologically bad for the motor as well as for you. This should be checked at idle and under gas. Most cars are worse while idling but many do not smooth out under gas. It is easy to detect unevenness while standing still, but difficult while the car is rolling because the irregularities of the motor can be mistaken for unevenness in the road. Two methods should be used to observe whether or not the motor smoothes out under gas: one way is very slowly to apply gas while keeping one's foot firmly on the brake (only momentarily, as it is not the best thing for a car); the other way is to find a very smooth stretch of road and drive on it at various speeds. Both methods should be used together. Do not fall prey to the tendency to consider the way the motor idles unimportant. In city driving, the motor is idling whenever your foot is off the gas. Since that is the case much of the time while rolling and much time is spent standing still, the motor is idling for a substantial amount of the time one spends in the car.

Check refrigerators, air-conditioners, washers, dryers, ventilation systems, etc. If they run unevenly, either repair them, get rid of them, or put them in an isolated room. It is important that appliances like refrigerators, fans, kitchen appliances, and air-conditioners be isolated from the surfaces they are resting on by placing them on insulating material (rubber casters, etc.); otherwise, the whole building will vibrate. People involved in fine, delicate work that demands great concentration, and hypersensitive people who are particularly easily distracted by noise and other vibrational disturbances, whether or not they are physically harmful, will find this particularly helpful.

Avoid harsh, irritating colors and excessive contrast in color schemes. Avoid harsh contrast in your lighting. We react strongly to hard contrasts in colors and in lighting, but our physical reactions to them, such as tiredness, lack of repose, and irritability, are states that usually come upon us in such a slow manner that it is difficult to recognize that they are due to external irritation. Lighting should be on the soft side and a room should be as evenly lit as possible. Reduce the contrast between TV and room lighting by keeping the room lighting just a bit darker than your TV picture if you want to avoid eye fatigue and its resulting debilitating physical states.

Check the quality of your TV picture and reception. If it is not first rate, adjust the picture controls carefully just to the point where the picture has solid blacks, but is not harsh in contrast. If you cannot get this to your critical liking (and you should be very critical), check your antenna. If necessary, or if you have cable TV, have an expert adjust everything for you. This is very much worth the effort and usually results in significant improvement, particularly with antenna reception. In cities, especially those with tall buildings and in locations that are distant from the sender, there are many potential reception problems like ghost (double) images, overloading, etc., that can be easily eliminated by a trained technician familiar with the area. For those with cable TV, it is a fiction that cable quality is better than antenna reception; there are currently just as many technical problems with cable reception, many of them more difficult to solve (according to the Repair Service manager of Sony TV in our area).


We not only absorb vibrations, we also radiate them. For this reason, people in erratic physical states can affect others around them adversely. This may sound cruel, but whenever possible, one should avoid other people who are physically agitated or erratic in their movements. We all have had the experience of being affected by others who were upset, nervous, agitated, lethargic, listless, or in some other undesirable state, but we seldom realize that it is because we are actually being physically affected by the vibrational patterns these people are radiating. It is interesting to note that dentists, who spend the most time around people who are either strongly apprehensive and frightened or in great pain, have the highest rate of suicide among the professions. In this respect, wearing a suitable garment (undershirt, vest, or jacket, for instance) of reflective material, such as the silver material developed by NASA for astronauts, could be of help in isolating oneself from unsettling vibrations in one's immediate environment, especially vibrations from other people, when it would be cruel or professionally impossible to avoid them. We have tried various possibilities, among which are undershirts of reflective material and actual outer garments made of such material (there is an excellent reversible jacket made of the cloth developed by NASA available from Norm Thompson of Portland, Oregon). It is also possible to incorporate reflecting lining in garments such as jackets and vests. This has the distinct advantage of unobtrusiveness, but has many problems to overcome, not the least of which is finding a firm willing and able to work with this difficult-to-handle material (available at better fabric stores or most theater supply stores). The Anstendig Institute will gladly make our experience in this matter available to those interested in this possibility and would appreciate hearing impressions and experiences of others who investigate it. We have also found the use of mirrors or reflective silver foil (commercial aluminum foil, with the reflective, shiny side facing away from oneself) to be effective (on the walls, for instance, to isolate oneself from the influence of neighbors, etc.). Our Institute has found this particularly helpful, since the nature of our work demands observing and being sensitive to extraordinarily fine and delicate nuances that are easily degraded by the effects of outside influences on us.

Over the past few decades, the change from natural vibrational influences to mechanical ones has been so gradual and the machines that are the source of these influences have brought such phenomenal benefits in other ways that little attention has been paid to their effect on us physically. The public is beginning to become aware of external influences on its well-being, particularly those of sound (noise pollution). But noise is only the most noticeable. All the other influences are just as important, even though we might not be consciously aware of them.


Pertinent papers are available from The Anstendig Institute free of charge.


The Anstendig Institute is a non-profit, tax-exempt, research institute that was founded to investigate the 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 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.