philosoraptor

How do deaf people think?

Viljandi Folk Music Festival

My hometown Viljandi hosts an annual international folk music festival. Each year the population of 20000 people doubles for 4 days. The festival is a nice step away from our daily lives and gives a lovely opportunity to listen to unique music that you do not encounter in the mundane world. People get a chance to let loose and let the music carry them throughout the days. Look it up from Viljandi Folk Music Festival homepage.

My band Angus at the festival this year. That's me behind the congas. Picture by Madis Reimund.

My band Angus at the festival this year. That’s me behind the congas. Picture by Madis Reimund.

The quiet stare

During one concert, a young boy, I’d say 2 years old, was sitting in the midst of some dancing festival goers and with a wondering face, stared into nothingness. He seemed to be in a state that we all find ourselves from time to time – the quiet glare into a non-existing horizon, the  face giving away that the mind is only aware of it’s own thoughts at that moment. Everything surrounding you at that state doesn’t penetrate the focus of your mind. Often you find yourself in a fierce inner discussion, but as often the mind is completely empty, not registering anything but a beacon of a concious thought.

How does our inner voice work?

That blond-headed boy struck me with that stare. It seemed so pure. I can’t comprehend how the world appeared to him at that moment. What are you thinking at that moment, when your  personality hasn’t fully developed and the society hasn’t yet wrecked you with things you need to worry about? How do you think at the time, when you can’t even fully talk, yet? It could be that our inner voice develops faster than our skill to use that language verbally. Then it means that we start to talk with ourselves consideraby earlier than to others. Or it could be that the means we have to communicate with ourselves are the same that we are able to use to interact with others. Meaning that we use fragments of language, non-verbal noises, and body language until we are able to fully speak.

How do deaf people think?

It seems like I'm not the only one that has caught up on this one..

It seems like I’m not the only one that has caught up on this one..

The mystery of that blond boy lead me to another conundrum – how do deaf people think? How can they do it if they don’t have „the voice in their head”. Do they use language to make sense of their thoughts? They can’t do it like most of us can. The way they speak to themselves must then involve sign language. We can think auditorily or visually, but are they the only means to understand our thoughts? Is there a way to make sense of your inner world without translating it to a language or visual image? If there is, do you think „faster”. Is there a way to know the answer without a question being asked? Maybe what we experience as a voice in our head is not the best way to think and we are overly attached to it.

Theory of meditation

My theory is that we know the thought in our minds from the very first moment we start communicating it to ourselves. Language is meant for communicating with others, but only as a complementary tool when communincating with ourselves. We have grown too attached to it. With that, we have made us vulnerable to miscommunication and gradually lost touch with ourselves. That’s why I like meditation as an excercise. Take time to clear your mind and, for even a short period of time, try to not think of anything. When you think of something try not to use your voice, but visual images. As a result, you relax your brain and come out with better understanding of yourself. A daily or weekly routine gives wonderful results. Try it!

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