Good Vibes: The What, When, Where, and How of Humanity’s Favorite Mantra

It’s a Monday. Manic as society suggests. It’s the start of the week. A co-worker comes into the office with a coffee in hand, smilingly greets everyone “Good vibes, people!”

It’s a breakup story. Heartbreaking. A friend who has offered to listen and give advice wraps it all up with a hug and “Good vibes!”

It’s a weekend. It’s an open-air street party. Woohoo! Partaaayyy!!! The DJ plays a common jam, somebody throws up their hands in the air saying “Good vibes!” then dances and everyone follows.

Please tell me you have been in either one of those situations. Otherwise it would be very awkward. Well, if you haven’t, you have not yet witnessed one of mankind’s massive campaigns (and you missed half…no…maybe just a quarter…of your life). GOOD VIBES!

good vibes

Timely and (quite ironically), before I began writing this article, I went through a time of emotional and physical depression myself. Emotionally depressed, of course that is easily understood. Physically depressed that I got really sick and affected my children with it. I told myself ‘Wow!’ I don’t even have the energy to pull myself together and start the article. But it was the research of what varied disciplines propose ‘good vibes’ to be that helped me. Not to mention, I am lucky to have friends who always offer ‘good vibes’. But until now, I have merely seen the phrase as words of comfort (and joy) (comfort and joy) (ooh tidings of comfort and joy). (Sorry it’s almost Christmas). Going back…the reason why I am writing this article is because the opportunity presented itself. A couple of weeks back, in melancholy, I googled ‘good vibes’ and unfortunately, there is no top site, or a top article, or a top writer that wrote about it. Though there may be pockets of information strewn in a forum, or a research study, and inspirational quotes and imagery – I was hoping to see one place that brought all the ideas together. This is what I hope this article will achieve.

WHAT is Good Vibes?

Although the Beach Boys introduced us to “Good Vibrations”, the phrase “Good Vibes” is a relatively new phrase and we can rely on Urban Dictionary to tell us more about it.

a “green light, go for it” type of decision and described synchronicities, beneficial encounters, and sensations of protection and grace.

Speaking of Beach Boys, while their song may be a clear ode to a beguiling muse, it does give us an idea about what good vibrations or good vibes feel.

I, I love the colorful clothes she wears
And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
I hear the sound of a gentle word
On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
She’s giving me excitations

But that’s it, isn’t it? It is a feeling. According to Urban Dictionary and the song, it is not really tangible and it is rather related to parts of ourselves that may or may not be measurable. To us who have grown up on results, scientific and mathematical, measurement is important, because it validates the verity of a concept. That is why, we do not let anything pass us by without having to study and dissect it. So yes, scientists have discovered that our thoughts give off vibrations so much so that Mattel came up with a toy in 2009 called Mindflex.

mindflex game

Mindflex is a game set, which is said to use brain waves to steer a ball through an obstacle course. Experts have been skeptic whether the included EEG headset is really working with brain vibrations or if the ball merely moves at random, letting on the illusion of control. With mixed emotions comes mixed market sales and that’s what happened to Mindflex. Some people were too excited and easily got discouraged when it didn’t work for them, some were just curious and easily got bored, and some who gave it fairly good reviews were too few to keep it on sales. But what does this have to do with good vibes?

It has a lot to do because according to quantum physics, everything is but mere vibrating energies. This is not new, in fact, it was discovered at the turn of the nineteenth century when physicists found atoms to be tiny and constantly moving vortices. But now that we bring it together with the idea of good vibrations, it makes a lot of new sense. Rightly so and thanks to the brilliant mind of Nikola Tesla:

If you want to know the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.

This way of thinking was embraced by pioneering physicist Sir James Hopwood Jeans:

the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.

Plainly, these notable gentlemen have primed us for our concept on mind over matter. As in the famous movie The Matrix, we are told that “consciousness creates reality“. In so doing, we have come full circle with the past, as modern science has been catching up on ancient practices on energies and vibrations. What the universe is and what we are, according to what I have gathered so far, are truly vibrations. It is up to us to focus on the good frequencies we want to project as reality. So if we want good vibrations, we have to vibrate positively.

WHEN & WHERE was it discovered?

It is clear when mankind made a leap in quantum physics. The question is when was good vibrations discovered? Although a handful might agree that it is a mantra for hippies passed on to the generation of highly technological version of Woodstock, it was found a little earlier back, in a book.

Thanks to a forum on Ask Quora. [] Jon Pennington, a “spoilsport to false folk etymologies”, answers that the earliest reference he found from Google books is by Frank Earl Ormsby “The Law and the Prophets: A Scientific Work on the Physical Bodies, Vegetable, Animal, Human, and Planetary”, along the lines of

Receive all of the good vibrations that spirits can give you, but do something for yourself, if you expect results.

The book was published in 1893 under Occult Sciences.  A little early on the quantum particle discovery, as seen on a Quantum Theory Timeline. Mr. Pennington, on Ask Quora, observes that Frank Earl Ormsby sounds more like a spiritualist than a scientist, and he may well be because he is identified on his book as a “magician mystic”. The next reference comes naturally from the Beach Boys song released in 1966. The song was written by the co-founder of the band, Brian Wilson, who admitted that to him, growing up, “vibrations” began as an entirely alien concept from his mother.

It scared me, the word ‘vibrations’ – to think that invisible feelings existed. She also told me about dogs that would bark at some people, but wouldn’t bark at others, and so it came to pass that we talked about good vibrations.

In fact, it was the last No.1 song that he wrote before he was taken over by drugs and depression. There is an alternative account of the origin of the song, according to Mr. Pennington and it is credited to an inspiration that came to the young Brian Wilson by his interactions with a neighbor who was a practicing psychic. This was Jo Ann Marks, the mother of would then be Beach Boy, David Marks.

So HOW do we give and get good vibes?

Still from Ask Quora, I found a forum on [”] where a William Ranger, who presents himself as a sculptor says:

Be secure in your mind-heart.
Base yourself on what is valid, and verifiable any time, place, circumstance.

He has a point, but it seems rather too abstract to apply. We are told that if we were to have a goal, it needs to be S.M.A.R.T. This is a mnemonic acronym all too familiar to us, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Why does it matter? Because we want to really see how we are affected by good vibes and how we can afford others with it.

Let’s try the more scientific approach. How about NASA? Although it speaks of vibration in a different aspect, there is a promise that vibrations have an effect, whether controversial or unexpected. In this case, anatomically. Astronauts who are sent out to space experience muscle atrophy and bone mass loss at a quite alarming pace. To address this issue, NASA scientists suggested for astronauts to stand on a lightly vibrating plate between 10 to 20 minutes. They said that this may also help reduce or totally eradicated the number of cases in osteoporosis here on Earth.

This concept on vibrating platforms was also used as an alternative and additional approach in curing ADHD. This study on Whole Body Vibration was done on 83 healthy individuals and 15 diagnosed with ADHD, who were seated on a chair placed on a vibrating platform for two minutes. The result was seen to improve cognitive performance on both healthy individuals and those diagnosed with ADHD with little to no difference.

The University of Southampton has exploited “good vibrations” in the field of Electronics and Computer Science by harvesting readily available ambient energy. Such energies include vibrations, which are converted to electrical power. This concept of Energy Harvesting or EH, is seen to be a solution in the future, when it can power autonomous electronic systems and wireless sensor networks. This is heavily backed up by research studies and may very well provide less expensive alternative to power from stray heat, electromagnetic fields, or even mechanical sources.

You might be saying, that is not the good vibes you know and expect to read. Good vibes has become so easily linked to the spiritual disciplines, more so than the scientific ones. Well, why not? Before there was science, there was magic and alchemy. Both heavily based on some supernatural school of thought. As time proceeds, it is only natural how good vibrations has touched and affected science and technology. But let us examine the rather popular practices.

  • There is the well-known mantra in Buddhism and Hinduism. To them, it is a sacred utterance. It is a vibration created and repeated by the mouth. In fact, early religions like Christianity, believed in the power of sacred utterance. Believing that everything was made with the sacred utterance of God, as Him, being the word. Referring to John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In the case of the Buddhist and Hindu mantra, it is a manner of vibrating the “delicate cells of the elaborate bundles of nerves”. In studies done to prove the effect of mantra on the body, where ultrasound and imaging were used, it was seen that musical exercises rewire and strengthen nerve connections. Both observations saw how mantra recitation activates and affects the physical nervous system.

Moreover, group chanting or recitation of mantra can synchronize the brainwaves between the participants, achieving yet another level of collective effect, as has been shown between musicians, which can help to understand the functional basis for group chanting in many of the world’s wisdom traditions.

  • There is vibration through touch. Massage. I am sure you are familiar with this especially if you enjoy a good, relaxing Swedish Massage (or those huge expensive massage chairs that can provide such joy). There are numerous benefits achieved from this technique in the massage process. Both stimulation of the circulation and relaxation of the muscles are only some of the few. When not manually given, massage chairs help alleviate back muscles and lower back pain through mechanical vibration.

If you ask me…

I recall when I was younger, when I was in martial arts. Judo to be specific. In one of the exercises, I miscalculated my landing, unknowingly pinched a nerve on my back that affected the movement on my whole right leg. It was later, finding it difficult to walk, I visited a physical therapist that I found out I had a herniated disk. You can guess what one of my treatments were. Yes, vibrations. I was subjected to electronic buzzing on my lower back, which was said to slowly return the bulged disk in its place. It took time (and money) but it got better. Not to mention, the good vibes I got from my mother and my therapist who kept me in good spirits during my time of recovery.

Having said this, if vibrations can be received from fellow human beings, surrounding ambient energies, mechanical and electrical sources, then it is up to us to channel the positivity we can get from it, wherever and whenever it is needed.

Image Credits:

  1. Featured Image – Party in the Air By Kim on Flickr 
  2. Happy Colors by Kevin Dooley
  3. Meghan Mindflex by Andy Smith 
  4. Hippies by Gustavo Verissimo 
  5. Music Makes You Lose Control by Crhis Gilmore
  6. WP_20140830_21_10_31_Pro By Nicola