Tao Of Health presents the Tomatis® Method

Tao of Health is now accredited to offer programs under the auspices of TOMATIS® Australia using the certified technology TalksUp® and bone conduction headsets.

The ear is the first organ of the foetus to be fully functional. Through it the foetus makes contact via sound: visceral, organic and especially vocal sound. The child hears the voice and extracts emotional essence from it; it is the only semantic he knows…Dr. A Tomatis

Dr Tomatis was a French neurologist and E.N.T. specialist who studied auditory processing and language development. He noticed that people diagnosed with ear trauma due to long term exposure to noisy professional environments also had voice issues. He then wondered if voice issues/changes were due to hearing deficiencies. Read more...

After successfully helping his father’s friends and colleagues who were lyric singers with their singing issues and children with language development issues he created the “electronic ear”, a device capable of producing air and bone conduction of specially engineered sounds; mainly Mozart and Gregorian chants.

In his book “Nine Months in Paradise” Dr. Tomatis pioneered the idea of a very intense mental and sensorial life of the foetus. The maternal voice being very important in the mental and physical development of the foetus through an emotional-acoustic bond.

The Tomatis method helps in optimising every individual’s capability to gently get back to a balanced state.

We have ears that hear, but do we really know how to listen?

Knowing how to listen is the first condition necessary when communicating; whether in relationships, learning, creativity, etc.

The ear is the conductor that triggers the body and all senses to pay attention!

According to Patrick Dumas in his book “L’ecoute c’est la vie” (“listening is life”), the ear is the listening, balance and energising organ of the brain.

To make an electrical analogy, the ear is an adapter between the external sound world and the brain which it floods with information in form of stimuli.

It is through the ear that most humans listen, learn, speak, and orient themselves in space. The ear is also very important in maintaining the physical balance and coordinating the motor muscles.

At birth the ear is capable of hearing frequencies between 16 to 20 000 hertz, but with time, lack of stimulation, or over stimulation depending on the environment, the muscles of the ear can become weak or “closed” to certain frequencies thus limiting the hearing, listening, balance and all the other functionalities of the ear.

For example English speakers use frequencies between 2000 and 14000 hertz when French speakers only use the frequencies between 1000 and 2000 hertz, which explains the difficulty the French have in losing their accent!

If the ear doesn’t function properly, its energising function will not power the brain properly causing slow learning, fatigue, emotional withdrawal, lack of motivation…

The ear has a major role in maintaining attention, concentration and memory. (Low stimulation of high-pitched sounds creates attention, posture and vocal fatigue issues.)

What is the Tomatis® method?

An auditory based program to improve the connection between hearing and listening. The inadequacy of this relationship is a common source of attention disorders and learning difficulties.

The Tomatis technique is sometimes called the “ear gym”.

We have two ways of hearing: bone conduction and air conduction.

The “electronic ear” are special headphones that are capable of producing both air and bone conduction; they are used to listen to specially engineered sounds that stimulate the ear and the brain in a way that enables the exercise of the hearing muscles, organs and a number of cranial nerves thus improving learning, balance, mood, energy levels, memory, stress reduction etc.

In practice, clients may attend our clinic for the full Tomatis® method or use the TalksUp® home program in the comfort of their own home for 2 intensive periods of 13 to 14 days each. They listen for two hours daily for the 13 days, take a 2 to 4 week break, and then complete the second period of 13 days, again for two hours each day.

The therapist will discuss the preferred activities during listening with each individual client.

The main applications of Tomatis technique are:

Preparation for child birth

According to Dr. Tomatis’ research, babies perceive their mother’s voice from their fourth month of pregnancy. He was the first one to say that the nine months in the womb is a crucial time not only for physiological development but also for psychological development.

Hearing is the first sense that develops in utero, as at 4 months the ear of the foetus is already adult-like in shape and size. Read more...

The perception of the mother’s voice is the very first bond of communication with the world. The quality of this bond will deeply influence our attitude toward life. Babies are “one” with their mother’s feelings and emotions, they feel every muscular tension of the mother, they share the hormonal secretions of the mother’s emotions, and most of all they are engulfed in the mother’s voice via bone conduction of sound. The mother’s voice fills the baby with a sense of wellbeing and provides a huge amount of stimulation to the brain and the nervous system. Indeed as mentioned above, the function of the ear is not limited to just hearing, the ears energise the brain and control posture, emotional wellbeing so that one can listen correctly.

Through his work, Dr. Tomatis developed a treatment which is simply based on listening to specific sounds through the “Electronic Listening Device”, filtered according to the individual needs of the client. These sounds (Mozart and Gregorian chants) are filtered in such a way that encourages the ears to listen properly. This method has been successfully helping women during their pregnancy in many Listening Centres around the world. Two French hospitals (Foch and Vesoul) use the Tomatis® Method as prenatal preparation. The method has helped not only to facilitate an easier birth but also to improve the quality of pregnancies.

Pregnant woman who experience the Listening Therapy sessions feel extremely relaxed – and approach the birth of their child with the same relaxed feeling. It releases back pain and gives the mother more energy. During the sessions themselves, mothers experience a great exchange with their baby who responds to the music. Read more...

A study conducted at Vesoul Hospital in France with 50 women on Listening Therapy Treatment compared with 50 women with no preparation whatsoever and a further 50 woman on the traditional method of preparation showed the following results.

  Without preparation Traditional Training Listening Therapy
Average time of labour 3 hours 30mins 4 hours 0 mins 2 hours 30mins
Caesareans 15% 13% 4%
Spontaneous Delivery 50% 46% 60%

Another study conducted in 1991 at the Foch Hospital in Surenes near Paris confirmed the results observed by the Vasuol study. Even though this group of women followed the programme less intensely, anxiety descreased significantly in the Tomatis group whilst it increased in the group following the more traditional preparation. Labour was also significiantly shorter by an average of 47 mins, mainly due to the fact that 17% of the woman in the Tomatis group gave birth to their babies in less than three hours (6% in the control group). The APGAR test, which rated the degree of adapation of each baby to their new environment showed that the Tomatis babies recovered better and faster.

Babies also benefit from the sessions, indeed they respond to their mother’s sense of well being and the improvement in their mother’s voice which becomes enriched in harmonics and modulations. “Tomatis babies” are known to be more aware, alert and “toned- up”.

We are all aware of the importance of these 9 months in the womb. Listening Therapy preparation provides the best chance to make birth a happy event and prepares future mothers to bring their babies into a world in happiness and serenity.

The Tomatis method will help women in their labour preparation and in stimulating the child to be born. During the 9 in utero months the child has intense psychological and physiological experiences: it is in permanent contact with the mother’s feelings, emotions and energy.

Professor Tomatis demonstrated that the foetus hears sounds from 4 ½ months into the pregnancy, especially the mother’s voice through bone conduction: it is an unconditional bond between mother and child that will follow the child for its entire life.

Tomatis used to say “if the emotional relationship between mother and child is not realised in utero, language risks not to be started or even sometimes not to exist” and he continues: “to help pregnant women to have a better pregnancy experience, there is nothing better than placing mother and child under the same wave length”

The traumas experienced during the pregnancy and labour can affect the physiological and psychological development of the new-born; hence the pregnant women’s wellbeing is immensely important for the child.

The Tomatis technique enables:

  • The pregnant woman to feel more energetic and less tired,
  • To produce a deep relaxation that impacts positively on sleep and muscle tonus,
  • Helps in dealing with the anxieties linked with this period of changes,
  • Encourages the child’s listening mainly in its relationship with its mother.

Read more...

In 1988 a study performed under the CRAM de Franche Comté at the maternity ward of the general hospital of Vesoul (under Dr Klopfenstein) obtained very conclusive results : 170 women divided in three groups (no preparation, traditional preparation and Tomatis technique preparation):

Hospital of Vesoul (1988) – 170 women Preparation
Traditional
Tomatis Technique Preparation
Average labour time 3h 30min 2h 22min reduced 32%
Average of spontaneous delivery 46% 60% increased 30%
Number of Caesareans 13% 4% reduced 69%
Absence of perineal tear 8% 24% increased 200%

A second study including all the births at the Foch hospital in Suresnes during 1991 showed that the Tomatis® method was beneficial by reducing the anxiety levels (the Hamilton anxiety scale was used).

Learning difficulty and language disorders

There is a wide array of learning difficulties and between 4% and 6% of children suffer from them.

These difficulties are not due to a lack of intelligence, or unfavorable socioeconomic circumstances, or to a psychoaffective problem. Many learning difficulties have a neurobiological origin because of prenatal developmental problems. Such conditions include dyslexia (reading difficulties), dysorthographia (the relation of sounds to written letters), dyspraxia (the use and coordination of learned gestures) dysphasia (for spoken language) and dyscalculia (concerning mathematical functions and numbers).

The Tomatis® Method utilises the natural plasticity of the neural circuits involved in the decoding and analysis of sounds, balance and coordination, to retrain the brain. The Tomatis® Method can help children develop compensatory strategies to deal with and manage their learning difficulties and language disorders. The Tomatis® Method does not eliminate these issues but helps the person with these problems manage them more effectively.

Attention disorders

Attention is the capacity to select and maintain awareness of an exterior event or a thought. It corresponds to the general waking state and to vigilance, which lets the nervous system be receptive to any form of information that comes to mind. Attention disorders affect children and adults who cannot sufficiently concentrate on work to be done over long periods, even if this work requires only a minimum of intellectual effort or has a routine or familiar character to it (such as revising or recopying). A specific modality of attention is the capacity to divide one’s attention among several sources of information or tasks to be done. A deficiency in this attentional modality is not only very costly in a cognitive sense, but is also a source of difficulty and even considerable suffering for a child in a school setting.

Beyond its general action of cerebral stimulation (i.e., cortical charging), the Tomatis® Method can also have a very positive action on selective attention. In effect, the Tomatis® procedure is based on the electronic gating that brings about a perceptual sound contrast meant to constantly surprise the brain so that it stays awake and attentive The goal is to help the brain develop automatic mechanisms for detecting changes, which will consequently reinforce selective attention.

Communication disorders

A deeply engrained listening distortion can even lead to the loss of desire to listen, which in turn will diminish the desire to communicate, either because the person suffering from this distortion lacks confidence, or simply “gives up” trying to communicate, resulting in difficulties communicating effectively. Read more...

Let’s recall that having well-tuned listening is not necessarily a consequence of having good hearing. Listening is characterized both by a real intention to communicate and by the quality of perception and of interpretation of the received sound message. Well-tuned listening is therefore not a function of how well we hear or of our ear’s sensitivity, but rather of how well we process what we hear, that is, of the quality of exploitation of our hearing.
Even though the phrase “communication disorders” has an undeniably general character, and although difficulties with communication may have diverse and varied causes, it is nevertheless the case that a considerable number of communication problems originate in known distortions of the listening function.

Difficulties in communication may take on a variety of different forms. For example, they may show up as an inability to perceive sounds in the environment without feeling aggressed by them: For some people with a communication disorder, the honking of a car horn, the slamming of a door, the noisy ambiance of a restaurant, and even the familiar voices of co-workers, parents or friends may be perceived as aggressive …. Others suffering from different communication disorders find it difficult, even impossible, to use their voice as a true tool of communication, due to a lack of mastery over its different melodic components—intonation, inflection, rhythm, intensity, etc.—and these peoples’ voices may consequently be perceived as aggressive, cold, or void of any power of expression by another interlocutor.

By specifically working on the reception and emission of sound, the Tomatis® Method acts effectively on communication.

Personal development and well being

Although the importance of movement for the upkeep of the body has been recognized, we don’t always realize that it is just as important for the well-being of the brain. The brain is stimulated when it is sent sensory messages, and in turn, it both energizes and relaxes us. Because the ear is the human body’s most important channel for sensory messages, we can easily understand why its role is likewise very important.
 This stimulation may be deficient when the brain triggers a protective mechanism, which may happen after a single traumatic event known as an emotional shock. The brain also tends to protect itself progressively when it perceives the external environment as aggressive. This may be the case with people whose rhythm of life has been suddenly disrupted and reorganized, or who face a sudden increase of responsibility, a loss of bearings, or social pressure.

The human ear ensures a function of “cortical charging”. It needs to be stimulated in order to energize the brain and the body. Sound is therefore necessary for our personal growth. The richer the sound is in harmonic highs, the more effective it is. Sounds rich in harmonic highs stimulate a vast neural network known as the “reticular formation” which controls the overall level of cerebral activity. The energizing action of the Tomatis® Method is complemented by a relaxing effect on the physical-bodily level, which has positive effects on the regulation of anxiety and stress.

Integration of foreign languages

During its development, a child has to learn to select the sound elements that are compatible with its linguistic environment, and at the same time ignore those elements that are absent from the phonetic structures that it perceives in its usual surroundings. The child will acquire a linguistic coding by adjusting to the sound structures of its own language. But because this coding is specific to each language, it will rapidly become a brake on the learning of a foreign language, insofar as the sounds of the foreign language do not conform to the sound patterns of its native language, which have been interiorized during infancy. A language is therefore first of all a kind of music, that is, an ensemble of specific rhythms and sounds. These rhythms and sounds constitute the fundamental sound substrate on which all other acquisitions will be based (for example, lexical, syntactical, and semantic acquisitions).

The goal of the Tomatis® Method is to give to anyone wishing to learn a foreign language the possibility of truly appropriating these rhythms and sounds by allowing the ear to adapt itself effectively to this foreign music, so that it may analyze and reproduce it. This requires that students free themselves from the usual rhythmic and sonorous habits of their native language, habits that often have a negative influence on learning a new language.

Improvement of voice and musicality

One of the historical areas of application for the Tomatis® Method concerns the improvement of musicality and of the speaking or singing voice. In effect, thanks to its direct action on the cerebral mechanisms that link perception and action, the fundamental principle of the Tomatis® Method is that any modification of the mechanisms concerning the reception and analysis of a sound message will have consequences on the reproduction of that message, be it spoken, sung, or mediated by a musical instrument.

Moreover, good quality vocalization does not merely require a well-tuned listening of an external sound message, but also and above all a well-tuned self-listening, that is, a well-honed capacity to use one’s own voice as a sound source to be analyzed and properly controlled in intensity and quality. This self-listening happens only when the perceived sound vibration is correctly regulated by bone conduction, which is the path of transmission for sound through all of the body’s bones, and in particular, the cranium.

Psychomotor difficulties

Psychomotor difficulties concern a delay in the acquisition, coordination, and execution of gestures that are not learned culturally or through an explicit education, but are instead acquired “naturally” over time (for example, walking, running, jumping, tapping out a rhythm with the foot or with the fingers). These are different from gestures related to dyspraxia, which are learned culturally (for example, eating with dinnerware). Read more...

Psychomotor disorders therefore concern the integration of gestures having a universal character into an individual bodily framework. For example, children who experience these difficulties may be unable to coordinate their arms and legs when they swim, may run in a disordered manner, may have difficulty balancing on one foot or going down stairs, etc. Disorders that affect proper coordination are also regularly correlated with dyslexia, albeit to differing degrees.

The Ear is not merely a sensory organ that captures sounds. It also plays an important role in motor function thanks to an internal organ known as the vestibule. The role of the vestibule is to manage the sense of balance. By means of its direct action on the vestibule, the Tomatis® Method acts directly on the regulation of muscular tone and thus on verticality, but also on the difficulties of laterality. Moreover, in conjunction with several other parts of the brain, the vestibular system plays an important role in the mechanisms controlling coordination and rhythm. As a result, the Tomatis® Method can effectively intervene on difficulties with rhythm and of coordination.

Finally, in conjunction with the cerebral cortex, the vestibule is highly involved in the capacity of spatial navigation and in the formation of the body schema. This is why Tomatis® Method’s fields of application also include difficulties of spatialization and of the body schema.

Affective and emotional disorders

While it is easy to understand the importance of exercise for the upkeep of the body, we do not always realize that exercise is also important for our brain. A brain stimulated with sensory messages both energizes and relaxes us. Since the ear is the main channel for the transmission of sensory messages from the human body, it plays a key role in all human functions. This stimulation may be impaired when the brain triggers a mechanism of inhibition or protection, which may occur following an isolated traumatic event known as emotional shock. The brain also tends to protect itself progressively when the external environment is perceived as aggressive. This may be true for people who are facing a reorganization of their routine, an increase of responsibility, the loss of familiar references, and social pressure.

The Tomatis® Method acts on the limbic system in the medial part of the brain, to which the auditory system is linked. Among other things, this part of the brain is responsible for the mechanisms of emotion, memory, and learning. Moreover, an organ in the middle ear known as the cochlea plays the role of a cortical charger. By acting on the limbic system and prefrontal cortex, the Tomatis® Method intervenes in the regulation of emotional disorders related to depression and anxiety. And it will also act effectively on the regulation of stress.

Summary

Someone may hear well, yet listen poorly.
  • The sound message is correctly heard in a physical sense, but poorly analyzed in an emotional framework.
  • The brain protects itself by constructing barriers that can result in the development of various disorders.
  • We say that “listening is disrupted”.
The TOMATIS Method stimulates the brain.
  • Listening sessions are completed using specially designed devices, software and music to stimulate the brain and progressively help it more effectively analyze the sensory message.
  • It is said that “the ear is learning to listen”.
Well-tuned listening can change a life.
  • The ear is not just for hearing, it also stimulates the brain and establishes balance.
  • Well-tuned listening is therefore an essential component for promoting personal development.

 

Links and Resources

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Mothers voice and heartbeat sounds elicit auditory plasticity. Download pdf now.

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