National Yoga Month: The Art of Listening: Sound Psychology
Hearing is a special sense. Sound waves hit the tympanic membrane > the tympanic membrane vibrates and moves the ossicles of the ear (the incus, malleus and stapes) > which transmits the sound to the basilar membrane > this vibration causes the stereocilia hairs to move > causing an action potential which travels to the cerebral cortex > which translates into what we hear.
I am in a profession where I am constantly listening. People have a situation they need to explan and I must be able to listen carefully to them. Listening is important in order to pick up not just what they are literally saying, but having the ability to listen to their subtle nuances in their inflection and tone can help to determine the situation they are trying to convey, but may not be expressing.
Communicating is both verbal and non-verbal through body language and intonation. A large part of communications is listening. What commonly gets in the way of good communication is when someone is more interested in pushing their own particular point of view rather than hearing what the other person has to say.
Giving someone our full attention is very important to communication. We should truly want to understand the other person's views, feelings, and the meaning of what's being communicated.
Great conversation can best happen when we are listening. It is certainly a joy to share our point of view, but our life is made so much more enlightened when we choose to listen to all that is around us!
The Throat Chakra represents the eloquence of expression. The Throat chakra rules the faculty of speech, being midway between the heart and the tongue. There is also a listening component to this Chakra. It is associated with clairaudience (hearing spiritual voices), and with hearing sounds, words, and music. Another function associated with this chakra is taking in and assimilating of physical and emotional nourishment. Experiencing taste and smell including the sensuous desire and enjoyment for food.
Here we experience the world symbolically through vibration, such as the vibration of sound representing language. We experience the incredible gift of music and it is this Chakra where creativity comes to full terms and can be expressed outright. The "spark" of creativity occurs in the Sacral Chakra, but finally manifests here in the Throat Chakra.
As ether is the elemental association to this Chakra, in Vedic tradition, the ancient sages explained this element as lighter than air. Often referred to as "space", it is the essence of emptiness. It is the space the other elements fill. These qualities are based more upon the absence of its opposing quality than on the actual quality itself. That which is the most subtle and difficult to perceive is a function of the element ether.
When our Throat Chakra is out of balance, we can feel arrogant and self-righteous or scared, quiet and inconsistent. Holding tension in the Throat Chakra is often due to lack of support in the early years regarding self-expression and freedom of speech.
I have a friend who does not stop talking! He must hear himself speaking constantly. When he does not, he feels uncomfortable. After a half hour of speaking, he may ask, "so how are you?" The minute someone speaks more than a sentence of two, he interupts and brings the conversation right back to himself.
The yin side of sound is silence. Someone who talks without listening, interrupts or talks over someone's conversation is speaking from a place of imposing his or her power. Instead of listening to the silence between the words, the space (ether) between breathes, the fearful and ungrounded person can babble annoyingly and incessantly. The self absorbed, egotistical personality of this Chakra out of balance, is a person with Solar Plexus (ego) imbalance as well.
I have a patient who uses food as an emotional crutch. Her lack of self esteem and self loathing is expressed in her bing eating and then going to the extreme of bring the food back up.
When there is an insufficient flow of love or emotional nourishment to the Heart Chakra, the person may try to compensate by desire for physical nourishment through the Throat Chakra. Problems with gluttony or compulsive eating would then result. When there is also a negative functioning in the Throat Chakra the result could be bulimia or anorexia.
When this Chakra is in balance, we find it easy to express ourselves and one's speech is clear and smooth. We listen as well as speak at appropriate times. We fearlessly express our truth and hear the sound of the universe. We make sure to be heard and understood, as well as transmit and receive the Truth. When in balance, we are content, centered, creative and expressive, lives in present. With a healthy Throat Chakra, one's words are kind, thoughtful, clear, and truthful. The voice is strong and alive with many tones of expression. Usually there is ease with writing, speaking, and sharing thoughts with others. A healthy Throat Chakra cannot sustain lies, coercion, or manipulation.
The Throat Chakra also connects to the hand charkas, where we express creative works and manifest symbolically, as well as literally.
The lesson of the Throat Chakra is being able to speak our truths from a place of honesty and integrity. Learn to master the art of listening as well as the eloquent expression of speaking. True communication comes from understanding this balance, not dictating it.
Tools for Better Communcation
1. The key to good listening to know where to focus. Learn to discern between the words and the emotions of a situation.
2. Good listening also involves getting the message so we know what the other person is feeling and thinking.
3. Good listening skills minimize misunderstandings. If we're really paying attention we'll know immediately when a misunderstanding occurs. Clarification follows and keeps the communication flowing.
4. Paraphrase in your own words. This lets the other person know you understand what's being said and that you're not merely repeating.
5. Mirror back their sense of the facts, their evaluations, and what they desire and expect. Let them know you recognize their feelings.
6. Let someone see when you appreciate what was just said.
7. Know when to speak up and give your message. Get a sense of the rhythm of the give and take.
8. Avoid long stretches of muteness without some feedback on your part. Often the speaker may feel some unease that their message is not being heard.
9. If you're confused by what the other person is saying, speak up and ask for clarification or say it in another way so you'll have a clearer understanding.
10. Be accepting and empathetic with the person. Be respectful of their viewpoint even if you still hold yours and it is different from theirs.
Music is a magical medium and a very powerful tool. Music can delight all the senses and inspire every fiber of our being. Music has the power to soothe and relax, bring us comfort and embracing joy! Music subtly bypasses the intellectual stimulus in the brain and moves directly to our subconscious. There is music for every mood and for every occasion. Music Therapy is incorporated in a number of areas of medicine. Some of these include labor and delivery, oncology, pain management, physical rehabilitation, and good study habits. Music Therapy has been shown to have influences on the immune system, blood pressure, heart and respiratory rates, and concentration. Take the opportunity to listen to some music right now!
Absolute silence is also a form of sound therapy and can be very effective in helping someone to learn how to focus and pay attention to details of what they are working on. This type of "silence therapy" often works best for those who are often distracted by the slightest noise or have attention deficeit issues. This is where meditation is a good tool for listening.
Meditation can transform our lives. As we meditate and expand our consciousness we open ourselves up to love and light. We begin to see things from a more loving, spiritual view. We become more tolerant of others. We find more inner peace and joy...that inner peace touches everyone we come in contact with.
Yoga gives us the opportunity to listen to our teacher and then repeat back through our bodies what we heard. It also gives us the ability to "just be" with our intention, in silent contemplate. All aspects of mind, body and spirit are engaged in our yoga practice. It is here that we can truly learn to listen, pay attention and become more conscious of our surroundings, our teachings and ourselves. Nadanusandhana or to hear our "inner sound" is considered the practice of listening. Listening is one of the four divisions or limbs of Hatha yoga.
Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit
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