In 1993 I first encountered a book written by Alfred Tomatis, a French otolaryngologist – an ear, nose and throat doctor. While I’d never heard of him, in France he was known as “the Einstein of the ear.” His book, The Conscious Ear, essentially put forth a very compelling argument that shortly after conception, hearing is the primary driver of neural development – that it’s not an accident that hearing is the first sense we gain and the last one we lose in the dying process. Since then there has been a lot of research that confirms that not only is hearing acutely developed in newborns, but that it is exquisitely attuned to mother’s voice. Mother’s voice is goddess-like and seemingly descends from the Heavens for many newborns.
Consider that one central driver of subsequent neural growth and development is secure attachment, and that the primary support for secure attachment is collaborative or contingent communication. If we consider further that the first requirement of contingent communication is skillfully listening and accurately receiving the messages others send, we might begin to see why I’ve researched and written five books on the subject! I think it’s that important.
Teaching What We Most Want to Learn
Inspired by Tomatis’ work I continued to research and teach about the benefits of listening, which are considerable. Many accomplished clinicians who have taken a course in Deep Listening with me invariably ended up surprised at the end by how poorly they truly listened even as paid professionals. They were mostly surprised to discover just how much they didn’t know about what they didn’t know.
I continue to be deeply interested and fascinated by the subject of listening. Shortly before Christmas I came across this five minute TED talk by British musician and sound expert Julian Treasure. His short presentation tells us as much about sound and listening as attending my graduate classes for ten weeks did. I wholeheartedly encourage you to take the five minutes to listen carefully to what he has to say. Click on this link and you will be informed, inspired and delighted: