Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hearing Meditation to Increase Sound Sensitivity

Meditation has been used for thousands of years to increase awareness and can be used prior to echolocation practice to help open the mind and become more sensitive to intricacies of your “soundscape”, or the sounds around you. The goal is simply to listen intently to everything around you and process it all at one time. In essence, hear all the sounds around you as if they were all one sound. Essentially, they are. The vibrations that have come from each object, event or person making sounds all culminate in your ear drum as one finite amount of fluctuating pressure that is then registered by your brain. Your brain will work hard to process this one sound and break it up accordingly, based on where it knows the sounds to be coming from. The brain will break up the clock from the birds, from the wind, from people talking, your own breath, etc. Let’s give the brain a break for a moment and just experience the raw input of sound pressure coming into the ears.

First, sit in a comfortable place, in a position that suits your body – sitting, kneeling, lying down etc. Before “trying” anything, just take 10 deep, relaxed breaths and let your heart rate slow down as you relax and find comfort in your seat. Then start listening for all the sounds you can hear. It’s okay to focus on the sounds one at a time to start – in fact, focus on the loudest sound you can hear, and then find the second loudest. Count as many sounds as you can in the order that you notice them. Once you have found the next slightly quieter sound, listen to it for 20-30 seconds and then scan for something even quieter or more distant. This exercise will sensitize your ears and help you increase awareness of your environment.

After finding as many sounds as possible, now try listening to them all at once. Try to stop thinking “that’s the clock” or “there goes another car”, just be mindful and allow them all to congeal as one sound wave and listen to that sound wave. Once you have come to allow all of the sounds to come together, it should seem more like a song than each of these things individually. This song is a representation of the power of the current moment. By listening to this song you will start to realize the power in every moment throughout your day. Each moment is powerful in its own way, and it is up to you to realize that and make the absolute best of it. Don’t spend more than 5-10 minutes doing this as it is easy to lose focus unless you are accustomed to longer meditation. In addition to helping improve and sensitize your ears, hearing meditation can be otherwise very rewarding in that it can give you a sense of relaxation, focus and confidence. Being mindful of yourself and your surroundings can eliminate attachment to physical things and emotions that may be connected with people and things around you. Release all hatred, resentment, frustration, longing, pain and suffering and consider the beauty of the present moment and the “song” that describes it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hearing Exercises for Echolocation

Getting in tune with your senses, or becoming more aware of yourself and your surroundings will be important when learning echolocation as it relies heavily on the subtleties of sound.

Hearing with the Brain

As you likely know, our ears are simply a conduit for sounds, and they don’t do any processing in and of themselves. The sound waves affect the organs in the ear and mechanically transmit those waves to the brain. This is where noise filtering and all other sound processing occurs. So while you may have physical limitations to your hearing that are governed by your actual ear organs, there is still brain training you can do to improve how things are filtered and distinguished. Here are a few simple exercises you can do to improve your awareness of sounds.

Hearing Exercises

  1. Opposite Environment – If you generally live a in a noisy environment, make sure to allow yourself periods of silence. Consider getting a pair of noise cancelling head phones or just some ear plugs to enjoy listening to absolutely nothing for a little while. On the other hand, if you live in a generally quiet environment, spice it up a little by putting on some loud music for a little while. 
  2. Counting Sounds – Try to count the number of different sounds around you. For example, your refrigerator, a clock, birds chirping, neighbors talking. Can you hear yourself breathe? What about the wind outside? 
  3. Noise filtering – Start a conversation with someone in a regular speaking tone. Have someone else add in a distracting noise like relatively loud music and continue carrying on the conversation at the same level. After a while have them add in another distracting background noise and continue carrying on the same conversation. 
  4. Source Locating – Have a partner move around the room and make a short, distinct noise of some sort. As soon as you hear the noise, point to where you hear it coming from. Have your partner let you know if you got it, and if not, how close you came. Also try approximating how far away they are. This may require some distracting noise when they are moving around the room in order to disguise their footsteps. 
  5. Copying – Listen to talk radio, a news broadcast or podcast. Nothing in particular, but something that interests you. Listen intently for a moment and then begin to repeat all everything that is said, word for word. Keep up with the speaker, but vary the amount of time you leave between their words and your words. This is great exercise for the brain as well as the ears.
Do you have other hearing exercises you like to do?  Leave a comment and tell me about it!  Thanks!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Extraordinary People - A Documentary on Ben Underwood

The video above is a 47 minute documentary on Ben Underwood and his amazing capabilities with echolocation.  This is one of the first videos I saw on echolocation that inspired me to create this blog.

Take some time and watch this video for a good look at this unique individual.  Ben Underwood passed away in 2009 and his mother has created a website where you can learn more about him and show your support if you'd like to leave a comment.

Enjoy the documentary!

Free 10-Minute Audio Lesson: Learn the Echolocation Click

Learn echolocation clicks with a free audio lesson
Learning how to click is one of the first steps to becoming an effective echoloator. This lesson provides clicking samples of a variety of different clicks and descriptions of when they might be most useful. This lesson has been used by O&M instructors all over the world.

Despite popular belief, it's easy to make your clicking quite subtle or unnoticeable even in quiet settings. There are many different clicks for different situations. I explain all of these in great detail and give examples of where, why and when they can and should be used.

Get your free lesson now:

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