December 12, 2012

seventh heaven

The painting above? It depicts the biblical tale of Mary visiting Elizabeth, and the child carried in Elizabeth's womb leaping for joy. As painted by many masters during the Renaissance, this represents perhaps the earliest account an unborn child's response to auditory stimulation. 

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished! - Luke 1:39-45

Tomatis was the first to write about it in the 50's, and of course, people thought he was nuts. However, science eventually caught up with him and confirmed that—yes—the child can hear its mother's voice in the womb. Tomatis also theorized that the sound of the mother's voice would sound highly filtered since it would be heard via bone conduction. This is what I was listening to at the Listening Centre one day when I had a highly unusual experience.

I was listening to the sound of a woman's voice speaking poetry, and was repeating back what I heard—not unlike as related in my last post. However, this time, there was no 'happy mistake' with my headphones.  So there I was, repeating what I heard for about 5 minutes, and then - all of sudden - my body started to tingle and vibrate oddly. The next thing I knew, the top of my head 'blew off'. There I was, sitting in a room in Toronto, repeating poetry, experiencing the most blissful state of mind you can imagine. And it seemed the most ordinary thing. 

You see, I'd been a meditator for many years, and had experienced altered states of consciousness  many times. But those states were only experienced when my eyes were closed and after an extended period of meditation. This was nothing like that. This happened suddenly and with my eyes wide open. The experience itself lasted about six hours. Colors seemed richer, and the my depth perception was subtly changed too. This too seemed quite ordinary. And I could not help thinking: is this how the child experiences the world of the womb? It is like this? It is seventh heaven?

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