Have you seen ocean/river? Waves? The sailors daily see waves. In our Hindi literature we have many names for sailors. Naakhuda, Maazi etc. Today I want to write about a specific sailor. Many of us know him. All of us are using his contribution in our day to day life, unknowingly, while talking over mobile, watching VCD/DVD/TV. Any guess? No? Let me tell you.
He is Joseph Fourier. He was a French mathematician and physicist best known for initiating the investigation of Fourier series and Fourier transform. Yes he was sailor. He was daily looking at waves in ocean. May be, that is why, he came up with Fourier transform, a mathematical method, that we learnt in engineering. The Fourier transform decomposes any function into oscillatory functions. This algorithm is core of all modern digital wireless communication equipments including mobile, WiFi router, TV setup box etc.
Let me give you a simple example to explain Fourier transform. You must have seen those dancing vertical bars, (along with music), in your stereo system. It is called spectrum analyzer. Have you observed them? The left most bars will move along with drums beats/bass, middle ones, with human voice or other musical instruments. The right most will jump along with strings/KHANJARI/MANJIRA/ Jankar beats/treble sound. These jumping bars are result of Fourier transform! Basically it identifies and segregates human voice, drums, Jankar beats, and other instruments to animate spectrum analyzer. Music has rhythm. This spectrum analyzer conveys you rhythm of different instruments. I am sure, now you got what Fourier transform is and appreciate it.
OK? What else has rhythm? Look at the Sun. So punctual ! Seasons. Moon phase. Ocean tides. So it seems like the nature has in-built rhythm. What about our own body. Yes it has biological rhythm. And Mind? Most of the time, it wanders. Does it have any rhythm? Probably not. Can we analyze mind? How nice it would be if we have spectrum analyzer for mind! Anger, love, smile, happiness, joy, jealousy all these different feelings, we can see as different vertical bars. The height of bar will be proportional to intensity of that feeling. Does our mood remain constant forever? No. so this mind spectrum analyzer should also have jumping bars. Sometimes, happiness will more :) and sometimes sadness :( .
Let’s think like an expert. We just tapped audio signal which goes to speaker, with spectrum analyzer. How about mind? We cannot even see it. Then how to capture it? Simple. Very simple. If mind is a kite then breath is a string that controls it. Yes. Consider breath as time domain signal. Apply Fourier transform to it to convert it to frequency domain, and what you get is mind! Mind is like aggregation of different feelings. This Fourier transform is also summation of different harmonics. At any moment, one harmonics will be dominating. At spectrum analyzer, any one vertical bar will have highest peak. Same way, one feeling will dominate at any instance of time, corresponding rhythm will be there in breath. Is not it?
Now how about inverse Fourier transform? It is like, draw an animating spectrum analyzer and get music out of it. Yes musicians do that. They describe chord of music that we hear as musical notes being played. Each key of keyboard/piano/harmonium will generate a harmonics with specific frequency. How about mind? If we change rhythm of breathing then will emotion change? May be... Next time, when you become angry just start taking deep breath inhale and continue to remain angry. Possible? Try it out. Mind is compared with monkey, but controlled mind is as powerful as the Lord Hanuman. Makes sense? May be…
By the way, I came across Art of Living Foundation – a largest NGO of the world. They teach how to breathe! Sounds funny? But tell me. Are you breathing? Are you aware about it? Sudarshan Kriya is a powerful breathing technique that impact, health, body, mind and all seven layers of our existence. This breathing rhythm in time domain will impact your mind in frequency domain. It is worth to learn those Art of Living techniques to operate on your own mind. I think, the mind and breath both are linked with Fourier transform. Mind will start wondering from wandering and you will start your journey back towards the source.
Let me end here, with a thought provoking question. Fourier transform is applied on time domain samples, collected over a small period of time. An instantaneous time domain signal cannot be transformed to frequency domain. Same way, if a person is completely in present moment - neither past, nor future - then where is mind?
Notes: I am thankful to Prof. A.K.Patel of my DDIT college (now DDU), who taught me Fourier Transform and my friends for their valuable comments. All the thoughts and ideas presented in articles are author’s own.