Synesthesia

Synesthesia – the crossing and merging of two senses, like color and sounds, is an interesting phenomenon. Some manifestations are more common or others[1]; these are essentially a breakdown of what would normally be subconscious processing. This isn’t that rare; some forms of synesthesia are in ~2% of the population. So far 54 different types have been identified. 

Most synesthetic individuals describe this extra information as unhelpful, even if it sounds cool. I imagine it might be a little like tripping; it might be hard to go grocery shopping. Studies show it slows reaction times -maybe from needing to sift the extraneous details. (People who’ve grown up with this extra detail naturally don’t know they are different until someone points it out to them.)

Normally we wouldn’t be aware of these correlations – whether by natural proximity, if not mapping and continuum, between the senses– unless by genetics or drugs. Though it can be enhanced by fatigue and stress in those who try to suppress it and can be increased by those who wish to, by meditative processes. (I wonder if this is like “The Giver” though, when everyone else agreed to ‘forget’- instead experiencing the world in all grays.)

Specifically, I was musing about the frequency 432 Hz that’s associated with the Schumann frequency.

Some refer to it as the “heartbeat” of the earth, but on the NASA website, it’s from an atmospheric summation of all the lightening in the air (apparently the around 2000 storms at any given moment- mostly over Asia, Africa, and South America[2]) that creates the energy of a standing wave, vibrating at the frequency ring(s) relating to multiples of earth’s circumference- 7.8hz. 

So I guess it’s more the heartbeat of the sky, at least from that perspective, since it varies with presence or absence of solar radiation and according to seasons (both processes affect the ionosphere’s thickness and density). Though whether it’s the sky or the earth’s heartbeat, may prove to be a classic chicken or egg question.

On PubMed, from the National Library of Medicine, there are a several studies of well-designed double blind placebo-controlled trials measuring the effect of 432, vs 440 tuned music.

Compared to music tuned to 440hs, music tuned to 432 resulted in significant lowering of pulse and respiratory rate, with trends to lower blood pressure (systolic and diastolic); another study showed significant improvements in sleep scores in a (small) study of para- and quadriplegics on a spinal trauma unit.

It is said, for those with chromesthesia, that when they hear the note of A, tuned to 432 they might see a particular shade[3]of a color which tends to be consistent over time or was, until the music industry switched to using A=440. This essentially makes each note sharper, I wonder, does this consequently shift their experienced color scale to the left, just a smidge? 

Now I have nothing against 440, but just suppose the 432 is significant- being in accordance to the natural resonance of earth and all. When exposed to 432, the senses will each in their way, be harmonically stimulated- along with each note’s particular overtones and undertones.

Like chords in music with their intervals, some color combinations are calming, and others stimulating. Do these patterns get re-imagined all over the brain…just we don’t “know” it normally?

People with chromesthesia listening to rock music often describe lots of reds and blacks in their color portrait of the sound; with classical there are blues and greens. With ease, there’s more flow; with agitation there is driving. Over time you create facilitation and it’s harder to switch (emotional) gears.

It doesn’t seem too surprising (to me) that top 40 music is so limited in range, compared to alternative. Driving, dissonant music keeps everyone ‘seeing red’ and angry, at least subconsciously[4].

This serves those who wish to control those with thinner skin and poor moods- even if that momentary dopamine surge feels good, don’t do it!

As we merge more with technology, are we detraining our senses from the natural continuous spectrum by our continuous exposure to the (artificial) digital? Is this why so many have become more “sensitive” to their (work and home) environments? Have we become over-exposed to ‘edges’ previously unseen[5]?

For these reasons, it seems quite wise not to promote western top 40s music, in places where there’s already cultural unrest brewing.

Like listening to live (analog) music has been shown to improve moods and sense of well being, we now “know” that going out into nature will stimulate the brain (and body) to have the similar effect of lowered vital signs- meaning we objectively feel and are calmer.

Outside in the natural environment, the colors we see are natural hues and variants of jewel-tones, presented on a continuous spectrum and vary with diurnal lighting and season. Sounds we hear, we’ve ‘learned’ to sense and in many cases describe well, especially as they relate to predators and safety.

The fine-tuning of the spectrum seems related to being female, as women on the whole, see more colors than men.

So three direct benefits of being outside (while not wearing earplugs): one is exposed to the continuous spectrum of natural colors- instead of clipped and packaged digital frequency packets. Stepping on the ground is immediately anti-static; (as in grounding) and we can physically be more in the experience of this Shumann frequency that seems to be physiologically good!

That said, if you have a big effect going outside, you’re probably living in a lot of dissonance. (You might want to take a look at that.)

[When my spouse asked for a divorce, I hoped that my leaving would bring him outside more (to do the yard work that I was doing no longer for him) his lifestyle was unhealthy, at least in my opinion, though his ‘doctors’ never queried. He did, and you know what, he IS really enjoying that!]

Sure, many of us might not notice a thing, but the facts are your body evolved in accordance to your lineages’ natural surroundings for thousands of years. Maybe that’s another reason holding and gazing at (natural) crystals are soothing?!

Just thought I’d mention this- me, the harp that keeps on singing.

Mashallah Habibi, though he (still) drives me crazy!


[1]So far well documented and studied: grapheme – color synesthesia (words have color); chromesthesia (sounds evoke specific colors, shapes, or movements), spatial sequence synesthesia (ordinal sequences like numbers, months, or letters have an idiosyncratic map orientation- ie. not evenly spaced on a number line but are “seen” either in the mind’s eye or externally in space – maybe this is the mechanism by which ‘seers’ can ‘find’ lost items when they ask you for a random number after you’ve described the loss!), number form (having a fixed idiosyncratic spatial mapping of numbers), Auditory Tactile (strong sensations from sounds – I used to get this with particular music), ordinal linguistic personification (natural association of a personality to individual letters, numbers, days), Misophonia (unusual emotional response to sounds), Mirror-touch synesthesia (feeling in your body when someone else touches theirs-good and bad, not necessarily enhancing empathy), lexical –gustatory (tasty words), kinesthetic synesthesia (your body thinks its doing what it sees another is doing..even if you’re just sitting) for starters. 

[2]Maybe their land formations connect more directly to earth’s magnetic core beckoning the energy?

[3]The actual color assignments were idiosyncratic- they varied between observers but stayed the same with each participant over time.

[4]Some rock consciously makes me edgy. Then add being in an assigned chair where you can’t move… no wonder it’s so easy to sell alcohol at concerts!

[5]After a few (3) days of trying to sort my son’s Legos (I was being a control freak…I know), I became strongly sensitized to the particular sound of clicking they make when they bump together. Now that clicking sound just about drives me batty – like hearing nails on chalk, I get a weird gnawing sensation in my head just thinking about them. This is an example of misophonia.

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