People Hearing Without Listening…
Remember that line from Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence?” Now with the song’s resurrection in a cover brought to us by “Disturbed,” we are hearing these lines of this blog’s title again. How can we hear, yet not listen?
Consider the human ear — we so take it for granted because, unless we suffer from hearing disabilities, an ear infection or a head cold, this marvel of nature generally works very well for us, doesn’t it? The ear’s ability to receive sound waves is a physical phenomenon. Think of the way the various parts of the ear work together to not only receive, but also to transform and transmit the auditory signals they constantly receive. We HEAR with our ears. Hearing is the sense we rely on for its consistent ability to connect us to the invisible, all those amazing things we may not be able to perceive with our other senses.
It has been noted by communication experts that the ears do not lie. Through our ears, we are granted access to vibrations, which are found everywhere around us. Science writer Diane Ackerman notes in her book A Natural History of the Senses, that “sounds have to be located in space, identified by type, intensity and other features.” Without hearing, we are off-balanced. Without hearing, our perceptions are useless.
You will note the images of the sunflower, nautilus shell and human ear used on this page. What could these possibly share in common? Their shared spiral shape! Referred to as the “golden spiral,” this shape is derived from a mathematical formula that experts define as a logarithmic spiral that uses the Golden Ratio (Phi) as it grows incrementally. In math jargon, the spiral is known as the Fibonacci Sequence. This spiral shape of the outer ear is the perfect shape for collecting sound waves and then guiding them to the inner ear. Once inside the ear we find the cochlea, another snail-shaped, spiral structure, which helps signal the brain that we are “hearing” something. Amazing, isn’t it? We do not have to do a thing, except listen!
Listening, however, is not hearing. The two operate as two distinct functions, which are critical to interpersonal communication. How our brain receives and interprets stimuli brought to it through our sense of hearing is a very complex process.
It is this process that Listen Hear explores in its interactive sessions. The exploration of what each one of us us receives, filters out, focuses on, grasps, remembers, considers and responds to is a fascinating journey of discovery in human communication.
The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.
Rachel Naomi Remen