“Resonance is a phenomenon that occurs when an object or system is subjected to an external force or vibration that matches its natural frequency.”
Also from Wikipedia:
“Limbic resonance is the idea that the capacity for sharing deep emotional states arises from the limbic system of the brain. These states include the dopamine circuit-promoted feelings of empathic harmony, and the norepinephrine circuit-originated emotional states of fear, anxiety and anger.”
So when someone says, “that resonates with me,” do they mean that particular something sounds good? Feels good? Somewhere in between—or the combination of—the two?
I think I generally use it to mean that an idea feels right or hits a particular note that I hadn’t thought about but that in letting it sit, feels appropriate.
Wait, I literally just used the phrase “hits a particular note.” As is, it literally resonates, at just the right pitch, with just the right tone, and on just the right beat. And as an Empath, the idea that how we connect on the level of vibes may literally involve, you know, vibrations, is somehow reassuring. All of this feels right at first blush, will it stay that way? I mean, music is known for its emotional power, right? Why else do people cry at concerts? Or find themselves swaying to a beat they’ve never heard before, swept along with the crowd at a festival?
Ideas as music, I like this line of thinking. Let’s see where it goes, shall we?
So if ideas are like music in that they travel and impact us on the level of literal energy wavelengths—
- what is it that makes one idea sit right today, but maybe a contrary thought will sound better tomorrow?
- Is it really related to how one day I might just have to listen to Rage Against The Machine, and the next it’s nothing but Miles Davis all day?
- Does it mean our brain waves shift and change pitch, matching up to one band one day and something diametrically opposed to that the next day?
- Or are these music styles, and human brainwave variations—when broken down to the wavelength level—not as different as they first seem?
Jack Kornfield, a leading western Buddhist scholar and teacher, says that this idea crosses cultures as it’s rooted in the very way our brains function:
“Each time we meet another human being and honor their dignity, we help those around us. Their hearts resonate with ours in exactly the same way the strings of an unplucked violin vibrate with the sounds of a violin played nearby. Western psychology has documented this phenomenon of ‘mood contagion’ or limbic resonance. If a person filled with panic or hatred walks into a room, we feel it immediately, and unless we are very mindful, that person’s negative state will begin to overtake our own. When a joyfully expressive person walks into a room, we can feel that state as well.” 1
The only thing I would add to that is that people’s receptivity to these vibrations can vary widely. As can their ability to discern what’s going on. The number of times I’ve had to explain why my mood just took a 180, while the person I’m talking too felt nothing…
I’m drawn to the idea that some people’s brains operate at a universal frequency…or are better equipped to shift frequency to better match up with that of a conversation partner, coworker, or coaching client. And does this have anything to do with something I’ve experienced more often recently than at any point in my life—people saying they feel closer to me, more able to talk openly, and just more comfortable in general, than with anyone else they’ve ever met.
Years ago, I grew weary of everyone and their friends wanting to unload their emotional baggage on me. I would say “Hi” to the barista and the next thing I know I’m hearing about their recent breakup and how their dog has cancer. Or I would enter a work meeting and before sitting down I’d be hearing about someone’s weekend binge and how they’re starting to think they might have a problem. I never knew what to do with all this, until it started weighing me down. I was unaware of my status as an Empath at this point, all I knew is that I needed it to stop—or to learn how to control it—before it dragged me under along with these poor folks.
This idea of Empaths being able to either generate a universal frequency, like how some people are universal blood donors—or to quickly and subconsciously adjust their own to match another person’s energy—explains how we can connect with anybody. Thinking a bit more, I realize that frequencies are each unique, so there’s not likely to be a universal one that would allow these nearly instant connections to so many other people.
So have I been quick-adjusting my brainwaves all my live without realizing it? And can I use this realization to help me more effectively block other people’s…stuff, say when I’m trying to work in a public place and find my brain being invaded by someone else’s FML energy?
I think that’ll be a topic for another essay, once I’ve time to let this whole line of thinking sit a while. Maybe some of these ideas will find the right frequency and start resonating with the right energy to help me figure it out. If you’ll excuse me, today’s a Miles Davis sort of day.
- Jack Kornfield (2008), The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology, Random House, Inc., p. 17, ISBN 978-0-553-80347-1 ↩