Suppression

Listening to beating sounds

Category: Actions

Type

Involuntary and voluntary

Introduction and description

As a growing baby in the womb, what was the one sound that you could hear continuously?  The answer is the gentle thrub thrub thrub of your mother’s heart beat.  Thus in our minds, any gentle beat at the pace of the heart is subconsciously associated with comfort, warmth and safety.  It has a relaxing hypnotic effect.  It is a sound we associate with lack of threats, thus it is ideal as a promoter of spiritual experience. 

And it has an effect after a while on our conscious state, so relaxed are we and at ease that we go into a ‘trance’ state, which means we are close to the dream state and from there we have spiritual experiences usually of a very benign gentle nature.

Faster rhythms serve to make us more alert, it signals ‘threat’ subconsciously and our sympathetic nervous system kicks in.  In the womb we will have learnt the association between the faster heart beat and the sudden rush of chemicals that would have accompanied it – a stressed mother produces a stressed baby.

 

But the slow very subdued rhythm of an unstressed mother where the parasympathetic nervous system is in operation will be associated subconsciously with peace and pleasure.  Thus by listening to this very gentle sound that simulates a heart beating at rest, we are calling into force some very instinctive subconscious early associations.

In healthy adults, there are two normal heart sounds often described as a lub and a dub (or dup), that occur in sequence with each heart beat. Thus a 2 beat rhythm is probably the most effective.

A four beat rhythm may work too – as we have often seen on very old fashioned TV programmes of ‘Cowboys and Indians’ when the beat of the tom-tom marked out a strong first beat followed  by three less strong beats.

Those whose mothers had heart problems may need a waltz! [sorry, bad joke].

Background

Drumming, [as an example of a beating sound], when studied scientifically, is shown to have an effect on brain waves.  Research into the spirit dances of the American Salish Indians by Jilek and Ormestad, for example, showed that drumming changed their brain wave activity.  Electroencephalograph (ECG) recordings showed brain wave activity in the theta range of 4 to 7 cycles per second.

Theta waves occur when we are mentally drowsy and unfocused, during deep calmness, most daydreaming, relaxation or tranquility, as for example we make the transitions from drowsiness to sleep or from sleep to the waking state. The frequency of theta waves is between 4–7 Hz (cycles per second) though some researchers regard theta to be 5 to 8 cps”.

In effect, we are very close to sleep.  We have succeeded, by using the repetitive nature of the sound, in invoking the state that is ideal for ‘lucid dreaming’ and other forms of spiritual experience. 

Method

It is highly unlikely that you will know what the rate of your Mum’s heart was whilst you were a baby, so the next best thing is your own heart beat.  Thus the ideal frequency of the sound must be as close as possible to your own heart rate.

A healthy resting heart rate in adults is 60–80 bpm, but fit athletes can have resting heart rates below 60 bpm. Cyclist Lance Armstrong had a resting HR around 32 bpm.  American marathon runner Ryan Hall had a resting heart beat of 29 bpm!  Mine is nearly 100 bpm but then I have a poorly heart!

In other words, heart rates differ between people, so being able to use a mechanism where you can choose your own frequency has its advantages. 

If you can’t manipulate the beat yourself, musical tempo terms reflect levels relative to resting heart rate; so you can often pick the right music:

  • Larghissimo — very, very slow (20 bpm and below)
  • Lento — very slow (40–60 bpm)
  • Largo — very slow (40–60 bpm), like lento
  • Larghetto — rather broadly (60–66 bpm)
  • Grave — slow and solemn
  • Adagio — slow and stately (literally, "at ease") (66–76 bpm)
  • Adagietto — rather slow (70–80 bpm)
  • Andante — at a walking pace (76–108 bpm)
  • Andante Moderato — a bit faster than andante
  • Andantino – slightly faster than andante
  • Moderato — moderately (101-110 bpm)
  • Allegretto — moderately fast (but less so than allegro)
  • Allegro moderato — moderately quick (112–124 bpm)
  • Allegro — fast, quickly and bright or "march tempo" (120–139 bpm)
  • Vivace — lively and fast (˜140 bpm) (quicker than allegro)
  • Vivacissimo — very fast and lively
  • Allegrissimo — very fast
  • Presto — very fast (168–200 bpm)
  • Prestissimo — extremely fast (more than 200bpm)

There are any number of sounds that come within the category of a prolonged but regular rhythmic possibly low throbbing or beating noise, each of these techniques and methods has produced spiritual experiences, described in the observation section, so we know they work, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t try other methods now you know the principle of how it works:

  • the ticking of a clock
  • being on a train- At one time British Rail used sections of rail of an equal length and the drum drum drum of a train at constant speed on the rails was very effective at sending people into semi-trance. 
  • the use of a rattle, maraca or similar - Another alternative to the drum as a percussive instrument is the rattle. When used, the patterns of rattling need to be tied to the frequency of the heart beat as they are with drums. Rattles can be not only held but also worn round the ankles. In the UK we have an old tradition of Morris dancing where the participants wear bells [rattles] round their ankles – although these days they don’t go into trance states, though their audience sometimes does 
  • the beat of a metronome – see Metronomes for some alternatives 
  • the beat of clapsticks
  • the low throb of an engine – cars these days are sound proofed and their noise is relatively even, but at one time, engines throbbed,  the roads were not as smooth and you often got a drumming noise.  The rocking and swaying of the vehicle also had its own added effect.  The throbbing engine still exists in some larger vehicles and produces some strange states in people. 
  • the drip drip drip of water – this is used extensively in Buddhism and Shinto, which is why Japanese gardens have numerous water features with dripping water.  As Ovid said “dripping water hollows out stone not through force but through persistence” 
  • listening to your heartbeat – this is a technique devised by Sylvan Muldoon in which you not only listen you slow it down 
  • biofeedback machines - the amplified sound of your own heart beat see Electrocardiagraph 
  • beeping machines – for example the machines in hospitals that monitor blood pressure and your heart rate are ideal!  See above entry for the ECG 
  • listening to rhymed verse – anything that rhymes and goes dah di, dah di, dah di, dah … is just as effective.  It is why rhymed verse is so soothing and why nursery rhymes to be read at bedtime follow this rhythm.  Milton Erickson used rhyme the whole time in his hypnotherapy sessions.  Many poems have a good rhythm intoned in a simple way e.g. Hiawatha by Longfellow
  • Drums and drumming - the insistent beat of a drum, perhaps the most frequently used method of all 
  • Downloaded music with a very very distinctive beat - One of the advantageous things about using tracks from the Internet is that software can be used to set the exact beat required. ‘Beatmatching’ is used by many DJs to speed up or slow down tracks. The software they use to change the tempo is called ‘time-stretching’ software 
  • Trance music - During raves, the most effective music to induce trance is – unsurprisingly - trance music. This is generally characterized by a tempo of between 130 and 160 bpm [beats per minute]. The very name ‘trance dance’ is linked to the perceived ability of a constant beat to induce “altered states of consciousness”.  The number of beats per minute may seem very high, but during the dancing your heartbeat will be raised, as such to synchronise with the raised heartbeat the drum beat needs to be a bit faster. So the principle changes slightly if we combine this activity with frenetic exercise.

The maximum heartbeat for anyone performing hugely strenuous exercise is around about 200-220 bpm. Even within a fit sports team, such as Olympic rowers in their 20s, maximum heart rates can vary from 160 to 220. These are the frequencies used during raves and by shamans during their [usually wild] dancing. So as we can see,  rave organisers and shamans were and are aware of the connection.

How it works

It may be helpful here to have the Model of the Mind to refer to and the generic description of How spiritual experience works.

Repetitive beating noises still the Emotions, thus we become calm and the emotions are suppressed.

The constant repetitive throbbing of a single note in a regular  rhythm also has an effect on the 5 senses, as a constant sound from the point of view of the 5 senses is much the same as no sound, thus there is the equivalent of partial sensory deprivation.  Whether we have total sensory deprivation is then dependent on whether we use other Relaxation or Sensory deprivation methods.

In addition, lower frequencies resonate the eyeball and if there is a beating or pulsing rhythm to it, are even more effective at simulating the action of REM sleep.  Thus there is a partial action obtained by Reverse REM. 

Furthermore a single monotonous beat has a suppressing effect on the intellect, there is both nothing to Learn and nothing to Reason about, so as long as we don’t try to read Plato’s Timaeus whilst we attempt this, the mind can relax too.

So prolonged repetitive low frequency low intensity pulsed sound works on a number of levels – it stills the 5 senses, stills the Reasoning function, stills the Learning system, stills the Emotions and overall is likely to be a very effective method.

Advantages

  • Benign as long as you do this in a context in which you can't be brain washed
  • Can be inexpensive
  • Relaxing in its own right
  • Effective

Disadvantages

Perhaps too effective in the wrong context.

References and further reading

A bit of fun - Top Secret drums

Related observations