THE BODY AS MACHINE
WHY WE ARE AFFECTED BY VIBRATIONAL INFLUENCES
©1982 Mark B. Anstendig
We are vibrating bodies living in an environment, every part of which is vibrating. Even those things which seem to be still are vibrating. All the actions of our lives are controlled in their speed, rhythm, timing, and quality by the surrounding vibrational influences of our environment.
I. THE BODY IS A COMPLEX MACHINE CONSISTING OF MANY SEPARATE, INTERCONNECTED, INDIVIDUALLY VIBRATING MACHINES
Mankind in its search for explanations of the phenomena that affect our lives has, with the obvious exception of modern medicine, failed to confront the fact that the body is a machine. It is necessary to comprehend the implications of the mechanical nature of the body in order to understand the interrelation of the various components that make up human life, particularly the implications that involve the five senses and the way we perceive vibrations through them.
The human body is a machine consisting of many different, interconnected machines. Each machine (heart, lungs, intestines, etc.) runs at its own individual speed, but all function in a specific, predetermined relationship to each other. In this sense, the body is analogous to the most complicated man-made machines, such as automobiles, tape recorders, or space capsules, which consist of many separately functioning components that are mechanically linked together, each of which, in itself, is a complete machine. In fact, the body is the most complex of all such compound machines. But unlike man-made machines, the various machines that make up the body are not in a rigid, inflexible, unchanging interrelation to each other. The flywheels and cogwheels of a watch or the parts of a transmission system of an automobile are in rigid interrelationship to each other. They either function at a prescribed ratio to each other, with little allowable tolerance, or they break. Not so the human body. Even with relatively great aberrations from what would be considered normal, it is still possible for the body to function and sustain meaningful life. If the components of the body greatly exceed the normal tolerances, the aberrations become so disruptive that they are usually experienced as sickness. But there is relatively great leeway in the ratio to each other of the functioning of the various interrelated separate organs. While these possible variations do affect the functioning of our bodies, determine our general feeling of well-being (nervousness, sluggishness, etc.), and limit (in the sense of defining the limits of) our sensory perceptions, they must vary quite far from the norm before someone would be either incapacitated or considered sick. But it is the subtle ways in which bodies that are functioning normally differ from each other, and the effect these differences have on the way we experience our five senses, that determine the differing qualities of our experiences.
II. THE QUALITY OF THE VIBRATION1 OF OUR BODIES DETERMINES BOTH OUR FEELING OF PHYSICAL WELL-BEING AND THE QUALITY OF OUR PERCEPTIONS
The body consists of four major complexes of moving parts, all synchronized to each other, that move or vibrate at different speeds and rhythms. These four major complexes are:
1) The movements of the heart and circulatory system;
2) The movements of the digestive system (stomach, small and large intestines);
3) The rhythm of the breathing mechanism;
4) The overall muscularly-propelled movements of our bodies,i.e., walking, talking, bending, blinking, twitching, etc.--both voluntary and involuntary.
The various moving components (machines) that make up the body are linked together and can vibrate in a more fine or less fine ratio to each other. It is the quality of this interrelationship of the vibrating mechanisms of our bodies that determines the quality of our conscious experience of the senses. Unsettled states (such as nervousness, jitteriness, sluggishness, or drunkenness) are the result of one or more of these interlinked components being abnormally faster, slower, or unsteadier than the others, causing an unevenness in the overriding rhythmic state of the body. Although there is a wide range, from fine to coarse, within which these systems can be functioning together without the particular person noticing anything abnormal about himself, the coarseness or fineness with which one's body is vibrating sets the limit of the degree of fineness of that person's sense-related experiences. If, for example, a person is listening to something that is vibrating more finely than his body is vibrating at that moment, he will not be able to hear it as fine as it really is. Because his body has to reproduce the vibrations, he will hear them diluted and coarsened (degraded) by the vibrations of his own body. The same holds true for the other senses, but since hearing is the highest of our senses, and the points in this paper are most easily described in relation to how we hear, I will use our perception of sound for most examples.
To comprehend how one's perception of fine phenomena is degraded when one's body is vibrating coarsely, one must realize that one is not aware of the sound, image, or feel of the source itself; one is aware of the vibrations of one's own body. One hears the sound created by the vibrations of one's own body, particularly (but not only) that of the eardrum, when the sound waves from the source set it in motion; or one sees the vibrational patterns on one's retina caused by the vibrations from the object one is seeing; or one feels one's own body that has been affected by the thing one is touching and not the thing itself that one is touching. One does not hear the sound of a bell, for instance; one hears the sound caused by one's own body when it is caused to vibrate by the vibrations from a bell. It is crucial to comprehend this fact thoroughly if one is to gain any real insight into how we experience our senses or into the factors that determine the quality of our perceptions.
III. THERE ARE BIG DIFFERENCES IN COARSENESS AND FINENESS OF PEOPLE, WITH DIFFERENCES IN SENSITIVITY OF PERCEPTION
An example of how a more finely vibrating body is more perceptive can 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, to the point where they notice needs and subtleties in the child's expression that men are unable to notice (there are exceptions to every rule, i.e., more sensitive men and less sensitive women). Women are generally more physically sensitive than men, mainly due to more relaxed muscle tensions of the body in key areas such as the lower abdomen, generally more flexible bodies, and a greater orientation towards receptivity, i.e., allowing sensations to come to them to be experienced and evaluated, rather than initiating them. Due in no small measure to the necessities of their sexual orientation, women are more capable of, and experienced in, giving themselves up to and flowing with whatever is happening around them, particularly in the realms of the senses and emotional experience.
The little-understood fact that, under similar conditions, women are generally more physically fine than men accounts for many other phenomena, such as the 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 is demanded of the body in order for it to vibrate sympathetically with the faster high frequencies, the more relaxed an otherwise normal, well-balanced body is, the greater that person's sensitivity to high frequencies will be.) In modern society where men and women are brought up, live, and work under generally equal conditions, men can more easily cultivate delicacy than in previous eras. But until recent times, men usually grew up and worked under coarser circumstances than women, due to the demands of their social roles. 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 the meaning of the word "gentleman": a man who could be gentle. Most men were not capable of this by themselves and only learned of and experienced gentleness and delicacy through interaction with women or children.
Along with these differences in sensitivity in men and women, past generations clearly recognized that there were differences of sensitivity in the various classes of people according to their upbringing and to their cultivated personal habits. This was the root of the enforced separation of classes of people in past societies. Today it is possible for almost anyone to become aware of more refined things through the many easily available sources, but that was not possible centuries ago and still is not in some other societies. To understand why a division of society into clearly defined classes of refinement and behavior was necessary, we only need to imagine an average worker of the mid-nineteenth century entering an intimate soiree in the 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 the correct 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 sensitive, refined and delicate enough (i.e., had a fine enough physical vibration) to “fit in” to both the surroundings and the fine level of Wagner's experience. The worker would simply be like a bull in a china closet: he would not only not fit in, but the coarseness of his vibrating body would be a dissonance to, and physically disturb, the fineness of the other people's experience. Since his body would be vibrating too coarsely for him to experience the fineness around him, he would not be aware of what was happening, but the others would notice it even if they could not scientifically explain it, because it would immediately and obviously coarsen and disturb their own experience. This is generally what is happening socially when someone is a disturbance but the others cannot really put their finger on why. It can also happen the other way, where someone particularly fine is present and the others realize they are not experiencing on his level. But in such a situation, it is usually uncomfortable for all because the others are usually affecting the quality of the more refined person's experience. This is quite unproductive unless it is a teaching situation in which the less sensitive are raised to a higher level through contact and interaction with the finer person who has control of the situation.
IV. OUR BODIES CHANGE OVER THE COURSE OF A DAY
Not only do different people's bodies have differences of fineness in the interaction of their involuntary internal moving organs, with resultant differences in their sensitivity, but the overall quality and fineness of the way each individual's body is vibrating varies over the course of a day, as well as over the course of a lifetime as one ages. Without going into detail concerning the many possibilities of variation, one can say that most people essentially wake up in a relatively unrefined, wound-up state from the undirected body movements, unsymmetrical positions and free respiration during sleep and wind down over the course of a day. How the body winds down is determined by our characteristic posture, the discipline we consciously impose upon our body, and the rhythms imposed upon us by external sources, most of which are vibrational in character.2 As this happens, we become more and more sensitive, which is to say, we are not only able to perceive more finely but we are also able to hear louder and taste, smell, and feel more intensely, in the sense that the sensations we experience are stronger. This happens because, as mentioned above, the more our external muscular tensions relax, the more strongly the body can register and reproduce the external vibrational influences on it that stimulate those sensations. In most people, this reaches a point of greatest sensitivity in the early evening and then subsides when we begin to become tired, have ended all the important functions of the day that demand concentration, and relax our efforts at remaining alert. But people who are in the habit of retaining their concentration and doing fine work up until they are ready to sleep will continue to become finer and finer under normal circumstances and generally will be at their finest and most delicate late at night. (This is the main reason sex is often experienced most intensely late at night.) What happens mechanically is that the interaction of the four major moving complexes of the body become smoother and more finely meshed as the muscle complexes of the body relax. 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. In that posture, the vertebrae and shoulders act like a scaffolding from which the remaining muscles can hang down, totally relaxed. It is most rational in that it uses the minimum possible amount of energy, i.e., muscular tension. This is, of course, the traditional yoga posture and also the posture used when doing Autogenic Training in a sitting position.
We have mentioned the three factors that influence the vibrational changes our bodies undergo during the course of a day, with their resultant changes in our sensitivity. They are 1) our posture, 2) the discipline we impose on our bodies, and 3) the rhythms imposed on us by external sources. Of the three, the rhythms imposed on us by external sources are the most important factor in determining the quality of the states the body goes through. When one strikes the strings of a piano, the sounding board is set vibrating by the vibrations of the strings. Every object reacts in the same manner to vibrations, although some more so than others, and every object has a certain frequency to which it is more sensitive. This frequency is usually the frequency that it would vibrate at when it itself is directly caused to vibrate. 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, 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, vibrating in sympathy with all tones, as well as many other vibrations, that strike it. Which tones or tonal combinations (harmonies) it 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 vibrate in sympathy with the greatest number of stimuli, like the sounding board. A tight, tensed body, on the other hand, or one with poor posture will react to the vibrations that correspond to the particular tensions or unsymmetries it happens to be in, like the individually tuned 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 difference being that most vibrational influences around us are not as obvious and as easily recognized as that of a car. We are ALWAYS in a strong vibrational environment. Even what is usually recognized as a lack of vibrational influence on us (when we experience our environment as calm, peaceful, or very still) is really a matter of the vibrations at that moment being finer, steadier, and calmer. But they are still very much there. 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 its 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. Similarly, when a body is in a very finely vibrating environment, as when one listens to very fine music, rides 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 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 the 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. 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 by. Presently, people are rightly concerned with considerations of how loud sounds should be, but they should also consider the quality of sounds as well as other types of debilitating vibrational influences, such as unevenly vibrating machines or automobiles, or poor TV picture quality.
V. 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 too much for us to withstand, it is the QUALITY of vibrations 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. 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 (studies have proved that people are similar to dynamos, in that they produce and radiate vibrational energy). 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 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. Our bodies are not static; nor are our organs rigidly suspended in our bodies: they are flexibly suspended in a manner that elastically adapts their position to each other in relation to the various changes of position of our bodies (sitting, lying, standing, etc.). Because there is great leeway (tolerance) in the way the movements of the various organs of the body are synchronized to each other, 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 car-sickness, 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.
VI. THE EXTERNAL VIBRATIONAL INFLUENCES AROUND US PROFOUNDLY AFFECT THE REFINEMENT OF THE VIBRATING OF OUR BODIES, OUR PHYSICAL WELLBEING, 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 or who are consciously remaining aloof from it. It is only possible for someone to move with or against the music, and by definition, the music still determines the movements of those who move against it. 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, both directly and through the refining of our external musculature and our breathing, affects the functioning of our internal organs. 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 breath 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.”
This passage is obviously 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 character. The actual sound of a piano is mechanically produced by its own action, and Casals certainly had an impeccable 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 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 the vibrating auto. 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 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 it to absorb the finer vibrational quality and flow of the music, a process that may take longer than even the average piece of classical music. 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 struggling with a problem 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. Of the five senses, the one most affected by the vibrational state of our bodies is our hearing.
VII. 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 for their voices.
VIII. 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 and 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. Our 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 the various effects of isolating one's body. Using various protective casings, 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.
It is interesting to note that some 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 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.
IX. WHEN ONE UNDERSTANDS THE BODY AS A MACHINE, ONE CAN UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF INVESTIGATING THE VIBRATIONAL INFLUENCES ON IT
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 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 to sustain much of the delicacy and sensitivity of those experiences even when one cannot take the time to initiate them purposely. 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, far from being set in the way it functions, 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 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.
(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.)
1 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.
2 One 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.
3 a) 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 equivalently.
b) Equalization is explained in the paper “Equalization”, available from The Anstendig Institute.
4 From Norman Cousin’s 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.