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Listening Deeply: Feeling a Connection with Sound

By Alanna Kaivalya

One of my favorite things to do when I was younger was go to air shows. There, I could feel the planes flying over me, even before I could see them. Having been born with a hearing impairment made me particularly sensitive to sound, and I had to figure out a way to do more with sound than just listen, because that was difficult. With this challenge, I discovered early on that sound could be felt, as well as heard. It was always clear to me that others didn't have this same relationship with sound; they were almost oblivious to it. Most people respond to music, and can dance to a beat, but beyond that hearing tends to be a lost art.

All people can relate to music; sound can soothe the soul. There seems to be something about the rhythm and beat that makes people stop and take notice - they can focus on the sound for a period of minutes, which is usually very hard to accomplish! Music may remind people of a time in their lives, or inspire a particular memory, or mark an occasion. Most people understand the power of music, at least on a superficial level. So what is it about sound that people are missing?

The missing piece is the feeling, the understanding of how ingrained sound is in all of us. Western society has become so dependent on sight that it's almost impossible to get people to look away from the TV, or a car crash, or the computer screen. Many people wear glasses to correct their vision, but only 1 in 10 people who needs a hearing aid will wear it. Why have our eyes taken over and left us unable to really listen?

I have a theory - it's one that I've been developing for a long time, but I think it's a sound one: The eyes disconnect us, while the ears connect us. Why is this important? The eyes see and filter information, and then the brain has to interpret it. The ears, however, have no filter, so although the brain is given all the data, it can interpret the information however it wants. No matter what we do, our eyes will distort and mask what is really possible, and our brains can mask and distort. This distortion makes us see things as apart from us; everything is "out there." Our ears, however, are open. Our ears give us an experience; we even can feel sound internally, if we practice, just as I did as a kid.

It's important to re-train our interpreter - the brain - to hear sounds more clearly and not rely so heavily on our eyes. Nada yoga, the yoga of deep listening, is a practice that can help us to hear and feel sound. Nada yoga encourages us to tune in to our world and to stop interpreting so much with our brains. When we take time to focus on a sound "a song, for instance - it can soothe our brains. When we tune into ambient noise and stop labeling everything as "good sound or "bad sound, our brains become trained to accept all sounds. When we listen to the people with whom we are in relationships, we also become more tuned in to our inter-connectedness, because they often say similar things to what we would say in a given situation.

Science tells us that all of us are vibration; the entire universe is composed most fundamentally of vibration - sound. If that's the case, it is clearly important to listen to the vibrations you can hear. That first crucial step eventually will lead you down a path of understanding everything as vibration. When you can feel that vibration, then you are connected with everything, because it's all vibration, including you. This vibration cannot be seen with the eyes; in fact, the eyes mask it and make us see things as different, separate, and not connected. Only the ears can allow us to hear, and eventually feel, our similarities - if we listen deeply enough.

Copyright 2006 Alanna Kaivalya

About The Author
Alanna Kaivalya is an Advanced Certified Jivamukti instructor who specializes in nada yoga and deep inner listening. Born with a hearing impairment, listening closely has allowed her to create a deep sense of connectedness with her world. To invite her to teach a workshop, download her podcasts or to invite her to teach, contact her via her website:

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