Like most of us these days, I need to relax.
2020 has been a bit challenging to say the least. A horrible virus is plaguing our fragile Earth, and for once I don't mean Tom Cruise. Friends of mine have gotten sick and a few of them unfortunately didn't get better. We all yearned for a COVID distraction, but none of us wanted the distraction to be a televised murder in Minnesota. People have taken to the streets in protest, and others have taken to the streets to protest the protestors. Somehow everything's become a political fight and our nation has never been more divided. Oh, and by the way, there's murder hornets, a Saharan dust storm, and bears roaming the Midwest countryside.
If there truly was ever a time for Calgon to take us away, it's right now.
The other night I found myself enjoying my latest 2020 hobby: insomnia. I've been fighting it occasionally for weeks now. I don't know if it's from the anger, the worry, the frustration, the caffeine, or just the pent-up energy of the day, but something about bedtime just hasn't been agreeing with me lately. The fastest way to get me sick is to mess up my sleep schedule, and "sick" is a heck of a lot scarier of a word now than it was six months ago.
I've been trying new ways to help fall asleep at night. This week, it backfired and took me down a rabbit hole that kept me up half the night in amazement.
I got the bright idea to check and see if there were any Youtube clips of sounds and videos to help you relax. I didn't just find a few clips. I found an entire cottage industry of so-called relaxation experts.
There's multitudes of traditional three-hours-of-a-babbling-brook nature videos. There's creepy homemade ASMR videos, where people film themselves whispering and doing things like eating raw fish on camera, all of which is supposed to fill you with a tingly relaxation — but I believe people here are confusing "tingly relaxation" with "the heebie-jeebies." There's even an app you can download where boring British voices read boring stories to you boringly, but it didn't help me sleep AND I had to suffer through, I kid you not, the history of lavender. No thanks.
But then I found a new age world I never knew existed: Solfeggio frequencies. Strap in, it's about to get weird.
Solfeggio frequencies are specific oscillating tones of sound that are purported to promote various aspects of body and mind health. They're based on a six-tone musical scale created by an 11th-century monk. In the 1970s, a "doctor" named Joseph Puleo began researching these tones. Supposedly Puleo found sacred numbers and codes in the Bible that, when deciphered using Pythagorean math, revealed specific numeric frequencies that corresponded to this 11th century scale. Puleo claimed that, for instance, listening to "Mi" (as in "do re mi") at precisely 528 Hz promotes healing and mental wellness. "Mi," in fact, is said to derive from the Latin phrase "MI-ra gestorum," or miracle. That's why 528 Hz is considered "the miracle frequency."
Okay, first off, this is fun — but also bonkers. I am NOT here to rain on anyone's new age parade. I love weird hocum-pocum, and I'm down to try anything. I once attended the annual Psychic & Paranormal Expo in Moline and paid $20 to sit motionless in the center of a crystal pyramid while a white-haired shaman blew a didjeridoo in my face to, you know, fix my chakras or whatever. I am keen on mystical mumbo-jumbo.
But if you ask me, this seems like an especially jumbo bunch of mumbo. Supposedly this ancient scale was used by Tibetan monks to tune their singing bowls — except the idea of frequencies didn't exist back then, but OK. The original Solfeggio scale was used in everything from Gregorian chants to Mozart's symphonies. After George Frideric Handel died, they found his original tuning fork that he used to compose, and for what it's worth, that tuning fork oscillated at 512 Hz, awfully close to the miracle frequency.
My favorite part of the story comes in 1988, when a biochemist conducted a study that supported the health benefits of the miracle frequency. How did he prove this? Easy. He took vials of human DNA, put them in front of speakers, and blasted them with music. The vials exposed to Gregorian and Sanskrit chants at the miracle frequency absorbed 5-9% more light than the DNA exposed to other musical genres. The DNA exposed to rock music actually deceased UV light absorption, proving once and for all that AC/DC really IS back in black.
I'm a firm believer that the right noise can soothe the savage beast. Anyone's who's been within a half-mile earshot of my car when My Bloody Valentine comes on the stereo can testify to that. Log onto Youtube right now and watch ANY live clip of the band Slowdive playing "Golden Hair" and then try to tell me the power of music can't alter your brainwaves. I once saw Slowdive in concert and had to grasp the railing after every song because it offset my equilibrium so much. They're as loud as a jet engine yet sublimely beautiful.
Youtube has hours of new age music composed at the miracle frequency, so I gave it a shot. Last night, I went to bed to a video of computer-generated seascapes with a soundtrack that went "wwwwwwwwuuuuuhhhhhhHHHHHHHhhhhHHHHHHhhhhh" for eight hours straight. After one minute, I was relaxed. After 20, I was pretty annoyed. After 30, I realized the most miraculous part of the miracle frequency was when you grabbed the remote control and shut it off.
So I dunno. My super scientific 30-minute test of the miracle frequency is thus far inconclusive, other than proving my working theory that owning a synthesizer and a Youtube channel does NOT make you a master new age musician. I'm still fighting insomnia now and again, but I figured out a trick. Every time I get stressed out, I stop, take a breath, and remember we live in a world where someone somewhere is earning a modest living by cutting up dead people and seeing what happens when you play Bon Jovi to their corpses. There's hope for us all, friends.
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