D.I.Y. Listening Therapy ?

Well, not exactly.

Full and effective treatment can only be achieved through consultations and listening tests with a Listening Therapy-trained psychologist, followed by the individually prescribed sessions of music or Mother's Voice filtered by the Electronic Ear.

However, we are asked by so many clients and prospective clients for ideas as to how they can improve their listening abilities at home, that included here are a couple of points highlighted by the Listening Therapy  which one might consider on a day-to-day basis.

Firstly, protection of your ears:

Any loud noise is damaging to the ear, whether a pneumatic drill, or even a favourite orchestral piece on the hi-fi at home. Modern domestic or car stereo equipment is now sufficiently sophisticated to reproduce the same decibel levels as though an orchestra or band were actually in the listener's house. Even pleasant sounds can be damaging, if too loud!

Keep in mind a study published in the Lancet in 1994 which demonstrated that the average fifteen year old's hearing, once acute, is now no better than that of a person aged forty-five!

Secondly, the ability to Listen:

From professional communicators - teachers, performers, corporate trainers, counsellors - to any one of us as an active parent, spouse, partner or friend our ability to listen is imperative. Any improvement in that ability to listen, and in turn to be listened to, can only be of benefit not only to vocations and relationships, but ultimately to a greater sense of self-fulfilment and worth.

We have already established that the function of our ears is essential to health and well-being throughout our lives, and deserves to be protected, improved and stimulated. The following simple suggestions are recommended for use by everyone. All can easily slip into daily use without any great disruption.

LISTENING POSTURE:

Yes, there is a right and wrong way!

Just think of the natural change in posture of both humans and animals alike, the way in which they straighten or 'perk' up, when alerted by a noise. It can make all the difference between 'Hearing' and the all essential 'Listening'!

Sessions at a Listening Therapy Centre 'open up' the ears in order to gain a correct sense of this listening 'uprightness' or 'verticality', however there is an exercise to try at home:

1. Sit comfortably on a hard high seat, with your shoulders open and back straight, but not tense, and legs hanging if possible - the edge of a table would be perfect. Imagining that you are being pulled upright by a cord from the very top of your head might help.

 2. Close your eyes and let your head settle into its natural, balanced position. This is usually slightly forward, as the vestibule of the ear, which controls balance, searches out a horizontal plane for itself.

Fig. 1

CORRECT INCORRECT

LISTENING POSTURE POSTURES

You are now ready to

READ OUT LOUD:

Reading out loud is important for everyone, every day.

Firstly, consider the fact that we humans require a staggering 3 billion stimuli per second for 4 hours a day just to remain awake. The example of the elderly person, living alone, without any regular or substantial conversation, who becomes increasingly lethargic, forgetful and 'slow', has already been cited.

Reading out loud significantly improves the ability to memorise (a must for those preparing for examinations) and is sufficiently stimulating to the brain to give both mind and body a renewed energy and alertness.

Remember, the ear acts as a dynamo constantly charging and recharging the brain, and that it is estimated that the brain receives up to ninety percent of its sensory energy through the ear.

Secondly, boring voices! Think of those dreadful teachers at school, who seemed incapable of holding your attention or of actually imparting the slightest piece of information, for all their spouting. Or perhaps you, yourself, find that the minute you start to talk, everyone around switches off and you end up embarrassed or frustrated that no one listens to anything you have to say?

Well, remember that the voice we produce is a mirror of what we, as an individual, hear, therefore in order to develop a voice which is rich, vital and interesting, it is primarily our ears which we need to re-invigorate.

And it is so easy, you will find it hard to believe just how effective it can be!

1. Follow the guidelines for the Listening Posture: straight back, head erect but relaxed.

2. Gently clasp your right hand, as though holding a microphone, and raise it to about an inch away from your mouth 

3. Pout your lips, as though you are about to kiss.

4. Now speak! Read out loud your current book, a favourite novel, or the daily newspaper from a quarter to a full half an hour a day. If revising for exams, read whatever it is you need to retain.

This simple exercise will change the colour of your voice, introducing you and your listeners to a whole new vibrancy in your speech.

Why does it work?

Sitting up straight with head level opens the body and the ears in preparation for Listening.

Using the right hand directs the voice back to the right ear, which, as has already been discussed, has the most direct neurological pathway to the language centre, which is sited on the left side of the brain.

When we speak normally, we hear only the low frequencies of our voice; the high frequencies are lost into our surroundings. By placing the right hand in front of the mouth, we are effectively bouncing back those all essential high frequencies. You will immediately notice how different your voice sounds to you. The same effect is observed in the bathroom, or in the nave of a church, which is why singing in either location can be so exhilarating.

Pouting literally opens the ear because the facial muscles are directly connected to the muscles of the middle ear.

And why does reading out loud improve memory?

The auditory nerve from the right ear directly innervates the auditory centre in the temporal lobe of the left hemisphere of the brain. This auditory centre is divided into a further three very distinct centres:

1. Centre for the reception of sounds

2. Centre for the recognition of sounds

3. Centre for nominative memory

These centres are grouped very closely together.

It is significant that these two centres of sound reception and recognition are directly connected to the memory centre. It is, therefore, necessary for the two auditory centres to receive sufficient energy in order to activate the memory centre. Ideally, this energy should come through sound of sufficient (but not excessive) intensity via the right ear. Reading out loud in the manner described does exactly this.

 redjelly