Did you know that our ears are fully developed by the time we are only 20 weeks old? I mean, as a fetus, in the womb, we can hear the sounds of our mother’s blood whooshing, the gurgling in her belly, the beat of her heart. We can also hear speech, laughter and singing. Indeed, the sound of our mother’s voice is the very first connection we have to that great world outside!
Our internal GPS
Moreover, our ears don’t just enable us to hear. In addition to our Auditory System, the complex workings of the inner ear also contain our Vestibular System—fully developed by the time the fetus reaches the venerable age of 14 weeks. The Vestibular System—of which our sound healing studio called The Vestibule is a humble namesake—is what’s in charge of orienting us in space and time, enabling us to stand upright, and know the difference between up and down, right and left, forward and backwards, et cetera.
Our lifetime companion
Our middle ear is no slacker, either. Here we can find the busiest muscles in our entire body - the tensor tympani and the tiny stapedius—whose function is to dampen vibration and reduce the amplitude of sound that enters the inner ear. These hard-working muscles never stop. In fact, just as our hearing is the first of our senses to become fully functional in the womb, the sounds we hear are also our last sensory experience as we pass from this life.
Our gateway to health Ever wonder why your acupuncturist insists on placing those pricky needles right inside your ear? That’s because, in the view of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the ear is a holograph of the entire human body, thus serving as a gateway to the health and harmony of our whole being. You can see in the drawing above how the ear even resembles a sleeping human fetus. Chinese Medicine also makes a correspondence between the ear and the Kidney, the life-gate of our being. Our kidneys are the storehouse of qi (or chi), our circulating life energy. Nourish our kidneys, and we nourish ourselves.
Our rechargeable battery
Our ears—those first cousins to the kidneys—provide nourishment as well. Dr. Alfred Tomatis, a renowned French physician widely regarded as the father of modern psycho-acoustics, made the discovery that the ear is the “Battery to the Brain.” In the early 1960‘s, Dr. Tomatis was asked to look into why monks in a Benedictine abbey were suddenly being overcome by fatigue, depression and illness. Many remedies proposed by other experts—such as changing their sleeping patterns and abandoning their regular vegetarian diet - only made the problem worse. It was Dr. Tomatis who recognized that when the new abbot of the monastery, a young reformist eager to adopt all the changes recommended by the Second Vatican Council, eliminated chanting from the monks’ daily routine, he was also taking away a vital nutrient - sound. By the time Dr. Tomatis visited he monastery he noted that “seventy of the ninety monks were slumped in their cells like wet dish rags.” Within a few months after Dr. Tomatis began a treatment for reawakening their ears, including reviving their practice of chanting for 6 - 8 hours a day, the monks were back to normal - devoting their lives to work and prayer, refreshed after sleeping their customary 3 - 4 hours per night.
Music to our ears
If all that is not enough to place our Ears in the Top Ten Coolest Things on the planet, here’s one more thing I can share with you: our ears are connected to virtually every organ in our body by means of the 10th cranial nerve. Our wandering “Vagus Nerve” is stimulated by sound in the outer ear. It carries incoming information from the nervous system to the brain and sends outgoing information to regulate heart beat, muscle movement, breathing, digestion and more. The Vagus Nerve carries 75% of all parasympathetic activity - the signals that tell our body it is okay to rest and digest. When it is stimulated by sound or music in the outer ear, it sends a message of calm and relaxation to every part of our body. Indeed, when something strikes us as music to our ears, it is actually so much more. It’s a massage for every organ we carry.
Please enjoy the video below for an inspiring insight into our musical ear.
Courtesy of Brandon Pletsch.
If you would like to know more about how sound and music can restore your balance, recharge your brain, and relax your body, please visit www.sound-living.com.