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Is Your iPod Too Loud?

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Is Your iPod Too Loud?

Find your healing decibel.
Jonathan  Goldman
Jonathan Goldman More by this author
Dec 19, 2011 at 09:00 AM

In many countries, 85 decibels is considered to be the maximum permissible volume allowed for the duration of a working day. Continued exposure to sounds above this level, particular those of 100 decibels or higher, can lead to hearing loss.

Sadly, we seem to be raising a generation (or perhaps we’re even part of that generation) in which profound hearing loss has already occurred due to excessive volume levels coming from various sound sources. Such hearing loss is of great concern.

When you buy headphones for your iPod or whatever playback system you may be using, a warning about the dangers of excessive volume comes with the instructions. Many years ago, I was on a train and there was a young man with headphones listening to music several feet away from me. Despite the noise level of the moving train, I could clearly hear the song. I approached him and tapped him on the shoulder.

He looked up at me. “You know that loud sounds can make you deaf?” I shouted. He nodded and then turned away. Recently, I had a similar experience on an airplane with someone sitting several seats away from me who was using headphones.

As is the case in other aspects of life, we have many choices. Our hearing is precious and, if possible, we should attempt to preserve it as much as we can. Thankfully, the effects of exposure to loud sounds are commonly known. I trust, therefore, that it’s not necessary to delve too deeply into this. However, to repeat what should be common knowledge: Loud sounds are hazardous and ultimately will cause permanent hearing loss.

I’d also like to consider another question that’s less commonly asked: Can loud sounds also have other detrimental effects besides hearing loss?

Shattering a Glass

A singer’s voice can shatter glass if it matches the resonant frequency of that glass. However, shattering glass only occurs when too much amplitude, or sound intensity, is applied. Alfred Tomatis, M.D., a physician and pioneer in the field of sound, found that well-trained opera singers were capable of reaching 150 decibels inside their own heads when singing at full strength. This, incidentally, is loud enough for them to destroy their own hearing.

In the 1950s, there were reports from France of a Professor Gavreau, an engineer who’d become interested in the effects of frequencies on the human body. Gavreau built a six-foot version of the whistle used by French police, which was powered by compressed air. Unfortunately, after Gavreau’s lab assistants turned this giant whistle on, they died almost immediately from the rupturing of their internal organs due to the extremely high volume of sound—which could apparently also split concrete. The giant whistle and various other devices, as well as all blueprints and photographs of them, were confiscated by the French government and have yet to be released. As a footnote, I add, “Understandably so.”

Thus, using the glass as a metaphor for the body, if we apply this principle to the human body and take into account the story of Professor Gavreau and his giant whistle, we ought to be cautious about how much sound we project into an organ, for example. No doubt if these amplitudes could split concrete, Professor Gavreau was working with tremendous decibel levels. Therefore, it’s probably good to err on the side of caution in this regard. Many sound-healing and subtle-energy practitioners, in fact, feel that less is better—that the body and its associated fields actually respond more effectively to the application of gentle energy. Robert O. Becker, M.D., in his book The Body Electric (with Gary Selden), investigates the effects of electricity on the human body. He found that it was actually the more subtle electrical charges that have the greatest influence over the human cellular structure.

The same may be true with respect to sound. Few realize that in the East masters of energy-healing techniques such as qigong were often also trained martial artists. There are stories of these masters being able to immobilize an opponent from across the room with a loud sound. This, however, isn’t the same level of intensity that these masters would use for healing, where the volume would be much less . . . and, of course, their intention would be very different. 

About Author
Jonathan  Goldman
A student of Kabbalah, Jonathan has been working for many years on the relationship between the Hebrew consonants of the Tetragrammaton and vowel sounds. Continue reading