I have some very exciting news. Ever since I started learning about echolocation I wanted a way to get started myself. I made contact with Justin at World Access for the Blind and he helped me on Skype before we did my amazing life-changing intensive. Still, we all agree that we need a way to easily teach the blind about echolocation, or at least give them enough information to get them started safely. We also need to prove to the skeptics that it really exists. Now someone named Tim Johnson has written the perfect book to get you started.
The large print version of the Beginner’s Guide to Echolocation: Learning to See with your Ears sells on Amazon, though as any blind person knows by now Amazon does not care about accessibility. Fortunately, he has also made an accessible version available, so long as you can read MSWord documents. The accessible version costs twenty-three dollars. He also has an audio version available for $37.00. It contains the complete text, plus demonstrations of the different types of tongue clicks, an essential point. This has become the more popular version, and with good reason.
Many colorful quotes decorate the book by such luminaries as W. B. Yeats and Albert Einstein. People who use echolocation pick these lofty heroes for a reason. This skill represents something truly amazing, something which will completely shift your sensory paradigm and move you into a better place psychologically.
He emphasizes the importance of meditation. Simply allowing yourself to listen to the sounds which surround you can help train your brain. I love meditating, and have begun writing a book about it myself. It seems that echolocation activists also share an interest in opening the third eye through meditation. This does not happen by accident. By the way, eating superfoods also helps.
I also liked how the book uses music as a reference. You can practice listening to music as a way to boost the range of your hearing. You use the same skill to sort out signals when doing echolocation. Music also uses a lot of reverberation, and these echoes have some similarities. Understanding how sound and music work will aide you in your understanding of how echolocation works.
The book presents many of the same exercises Justin had me do over Skype, as well as some of the things we did on our first night. As the book points out, everyone perceives echolocation differently, and will have to arrive at their own understanding and ways of explaining it. I liked how he had exercises to do individually, but also ones which require a partner. Having someone else holding the objects introduces an unknown element, something vital for your progress. Every blind person faces unique challenges. You need to push yourself just enough to make small mistakes so you can correct them and grow more confident.
I found it interesting that he suggested opening a car window and listening to the echoes to get a sense of echolocation. It does not give quite the detail of accuracy as a tongue click, but it most certainly works. A woman who taught me as a child reminded me that we would ride in her car with the windows down, and I could tell her about the passing telephone poles. Of course at such a young age I did not think of it as echolocation, but it makes perfect sense. Even a simple exercise such as this will prove its validity.
I felt most interested in the discussion of using the visual cortex of the brain to build non-visual imagery. This sounds like what I experience. When I say I see something with echolocation, I really mean it. I actually see the dark form of an object. For me it also has a strong synesthetic component. In other words, if I click against a glass surface, I will get a cool feeling that reminds me of glass. You have to learn to open yourself to these unique sensations to truly succeed.
The book ends with some recommendations of what to do next. Again, they strongly recommend the three-day intensive of which I’ve raved extensively. Along with World Access, they also list an organization in the UK called Visibility. If you have done everything up to this point, you will have a good background for approaching these organizations for further training. Now the excitement really begins!
If you’d like to see the potential of echolocation, then buy this book and try the exercises. Think about it, wouldn’t you pay twenty-three dollars to begin to learn how to see? THis book will show you just that. For the full experience you’ll need to do an intensive, but this will let you know if you should think about the more serious commitment. In my opinion you really can’t lose. If you can hear then you can see! Go for it!