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  • Writer's picturePenny Muller

Synaesthesia as a Spiritual Gift

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

Learning to interpret frequency can enhance our spiritual development.

A few months ago, I saw a news headline flashing at me - something about singer/songwriter Lorde having synaesthesia. I had never heard the word and being my normal curious self, I had to find out what it meant.

Synesthesia (American English) or synaesthesia (British English) is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway - Wikipedia

As mentioned in the articles below, Lorde's synaesthesia means that she perceives colours when she hears sounds. To her, each sound has a matching colour. As mentioned in the article - The bizarre brain disorder that colours Lorde's music | The New Daily - and I can't believe that they have called it a disorder - musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Tori Amos, Mozart, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Duke Ellington and Leonard Bernstein all reported having this 'condition'. Synaesthesia can present in a number of ways in which a sensory response occurs simultaneously with another sensory response. It is thought that between 1% and 4% of people have this ability.

The concept of synaesthesia sounds more complex than it is, so just to clarify, you might ask yourself questions like this:

What colour is the number 4?

What colour is the letter M?

What texture is a baritone voice?

I was quite surprised when I read about this concept, as I've been seeing things in this way my whole life - and I definitely don't have a disorder! Why must we label and pathologize things just because we have not experienced them? I didn't know that this was unusual, and thought it was natural to me because I tend to think imaginatively and creatively.

A couple of years ago, I was teaching a little girl to sing. In our lessons, we would take turns choosing a colour, and singing it. These colours would be anything from from navy to sky blue, gold and silver, black and brown, and fluro orange. We would vocalise in whichever way these colours prompted us to, and we would most often be pretty much on the same page with the types of sounds we would make. I sensed that this child would enjoy this experience as she was very imaginative and was instinctively able to communicate on a creative level. She never questioned the concept, and just dived in. They say that children (and adults) are all creative, and although on some level I agree with this, I have worked with many children over the years, and some tend to think in a way that is very literal. Yes, we are all creative, but we also have innate personality preferences for either concrete or imaginative thinking. In my kindergarten years, I would often dress up and initiate imaginative scenarios for the children. I might dress as an old lady and approach the children in the playground with a basket of 'poisoned apples'. Either they would gleefully jump in and play along with the fantasy, or they would roll their eyes at me inside and say, ''You just got those apples out of the kitchen. I saw you''.

I used to model descriptive language as much as possible with the children during art or sensory activities to develop their artistic and scientific language. This is just part of children's normal language development in preparation for writing. Having written poetry since I was a young child, I was cognizant that writing does not happen without a broad vocabulary which enables us to be artists with language - to paint with words. Although I'm not much of an artist, I loved to mix the paint colours in preparation for the day, especially if I could mix colours with white to make pastels. The trick is to provide children with access to colours that mix well together so that no matter which colours they mix, the painting will still look pretty. If left to their own devices, and I often trusted them to pour paint from the cupboard on their own, many paintings would come out as various murky shades of brown, which of course is perfectly okay too. But, you can probably imagine the kinds of words that they typically would use to describe those murky brown mixtures.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that language and art are not opposites. In fact, they pair beautifully. In my mind, so do colours and music, and painting music is a commonly offered early childhood experience too. This morning, a podcast popped up on my YouTube feed, which reminded me of the concept of synaesthesia and prompted this blog post - Kathy Rose Maverick Podcast - Synesthesia - YouTube. Kathy Rose and Pam Gregory discussed their view of synaesthesia as being a spiritual ability which enables us to understand frequency. In spiritual terms, frequency is something subjective and somewhat intangible. I often talk about vibration - a high vibration being a state of joy or wellbeing and a low vibration being feelings of sadness or negativity. Frequency is a similar thing. People, objects and even otherworldly entities all omit different frequencies, some positive and some negative. We sense a positive frequency in a person who is good, happy or loving, or a negative frequency in someone who has bad intentions or desires.

This is our ability to associate the tangible with the intangible, which is imperative if we want to see beyond the concrete and begin to interpret the infinite. Without the podcast that I listened to this morning, it wouldn't have occurred to me to connect this idea to spirituality, and I'm excited about the possibilities for learning that this opens up. Everything about our spiritual connection is intangible. If we are too literal, we will struggle to perceive those things that we cannot see, touch or taste. We cannot see, touch or taste God or the universe or love, we just choose to believe that they are there. Through understanding frequency, we can make these connections between the actual and the ethereal. For example, we might be walking in nature and sense the greater universe. Or, we might look at a beautiful object, or read inspirational words, or hold a newborn baby in our arms, and we might feel the frequency of love.

Pam and Kathy believe that synaesthesia is accessible to anyone and can be taught. Perhaps it is not nearly as uncommon as the media suggests. There are many spiritual abilities that can be developed and we might already be using a number of them. These can include our ability to feel things, to sense things, and to know things without having them scientifically spelled out. This is not something unusual or magical. As we existed in spiritual form before we entered this lifetime, this is who we are. It's just that we have forgotten that we have these capabilities. And, from what I am understanding, our spiritual capabilities are quite reliant on our imaginative abilities. We have to be able to imagine things that we can't see and believe things that can't be proven. So, connecting colours with sounds and numbers with textures will help us to develop our imaginative abilities, to tap into the intangible. Our sensory capabilities are multidimensional, in more ways than one. I'm looking forward to discovering more about this, but in the meantime, let's explore and experiment with our multifaceted powers.

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