You don’t need me to tell you that sound and our sense of hearing play a big part in our everyday lives. But have you considered how influential it is to our sense-of-how-we-feel and affects the way we react to certain situations and people? Some sounds (often from nature) can calm and soothe us, our favourite music, a child’s whisper or the crackle of a log fire on a cold winters evening can fill us with a deep feeling of harmony and wellbeing. Others (usually man-made) can set our nerves on edge making us feel frustrated or even angry; the old finger nail scratched down a chalkboard syndrome! Of course many of the ‘disturbing’ sounds we hear are there to do exactly that. They warn us of dangers and/or the need to take action. Think of those shrill sounding fire, car and shop alarms; car horns and those seemingly ever-present emergency sirens echoing around every town and city both day and night. Sound is basically a form of communication (as are all of our senses), bird song is not made purely for our benefit but as an interaction between themselves.
By learning which sounds turn us on and make us feel good, and then using that awareness to fine tune our hearing we can begin to have that sensation of ‘feeling good’ for longer and longer periods throughout the day. As I’ve mentioned in past posts in this short series, our senses are the pathways to our brain, they carry the messages they pick up from the outside world into along our neural pathways via electro-chemicals and into the cognitive world of perception; memory, judgment, and reasoning which all combine to paint the world as we sense it, our own personal reality. In our hearings case you could say that we ‘Hear with our ears but Listen with our Brain!’ If we can tune into far more positive vibrations than we do negative ones the pictures our brain present to us as reality will also become more positive and create more of the Neuro-chemicals we need to improve our health and general sense of wellbeing. ~ So how do we do that?
Here is an example of how I have enhanced my own hearing experience as well as deepening my connection with nature simply by changing the way I listen. I expect most of you can identify the songs of the birds that frequent your garden or neighbourhood park, but how many of you can recognise the differing calls and understand their meaning. I’m not saying that I’m a Dr Doolittle and can speak ‘bird-ese’, but I have trained my hearing to differentiate between an alarm call, territorial warnings, feeding chirps and a few more besides. By spending time in the garden watching and listening to the antics of the birds that pass through it I have, over time, been able to associate each call with its appropriate action. Now I’m able to sit indoors and hear them without seeing them and know precisely where they are in the garden and what they’re getting up to. I have been able to tell people to, “Look up and you’ll see a Falcon or a Hawk,” without having looked up myself. Whenever there’s a bird of prey in the vicinity the local Gulls will mob it and give out a very distinctive cry. A case of hearing the Gull and seeing the Hawk. This simple but beneficial process of re-tuning my hearing, or hearing with my ears and seeing with my brain, has been one of my ways of feeling a part of the natural world that surrounds me. It makes me feel good and definitely gets my ‘happy’ neuro-chemicals kicking into action!
There are plenty of other existing posts here for you to check out how I heighten my sense of hearing both in nature and my garden so you can check them out later if you wish and of course you don’t need to be a nature lover to hone your hearing, you can do it pretty much anywhere. Even sitting quietly indoors and filtering out the everyday chatter that we’re usually tuned into. Our night-time hearing is enhanced by our visual sense being lessened in the darkness, more evidence that our senses are not just working independently of each other, but as a team. We notice all the groans and creaks our homes make in the silent world of the night. Outside sounds like the wind, rain or animals rummaging around the rubbish bins all get heightened as we sit and listen, undisturbed by noise of the day, to the sounds and vibrations that now reveal themselves to us in the silence. The more time we can spend listening-in to that hidden silence, whether that be whilst out and about in nature or anywhere else of our choosing the greater the range of sound frequencies we can tune into and develop our overall sensibility; of ourselves, others and the world around us.
Now let’s turn to how sound also impacts on our choices and preferences when it comes to food. I touched on this in my last post on ‘Taste’ where I shared an article with you and you’re welcome to go back and read it later. As I’ve previously told you I’m no expert in these matters so in a moment I will give you a couple more links to hopefully tickle your sound buds with, so it’s enough for me to say that during my own new-found love of experimenting with ‘healthy food’ I really find it fascinating that the ‘crunch’ factor has such a big part to play in our choice of food. Why we prefer ‘crisp’ to ‘soggy’ or even one taste against another …. or do we? I’ll leave you to read this interesting (but long) article, ‘Eating With Our Ears’ by Charles Spence on the BioMed Central Open Access platform then you can pop over to the Gastropod Website where you can play around with your own ‘Crunch, Crackle and Pop’ abilities; have fun, you might just amaze yourself!
Oh and by the way, there are certain foods that are said to improve your hearing, but that’s for another time …. maybe!