Audio has all to do with listening. But how can we listen in a world increasingly filled with noise? Only the few lucky enough to live way out in the country can indulge themselves in an occasional bath of silence. Most of the Western world's population is now living in urban areas where noise is an intrinsic part of the scenery.

To cope with the cacophony around us, our body has its own remedy called selective listening. Selective listening can also be seen as selective deafness. The brain cancels out unwanted sounds and only processes those it thinks we should be aware of. We say "it" as the process is subconscious and there to protect us. That is, it was supposed to protect us in an environment not as industrialized as our current one. The brain now works overtime to filter out the aural spam that's constantly attacking us. As a result, we no longer hear what's really worthwhile. That gets filtered out as well.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the ears are called the flowers of the kidneys. This means that our hearing is influenced by the amount of kidney energy. Kidney energy is said to be the basis of our immune and reproductive systems and thus our whole health. From this perspective one can understand that when we grow older and our kidneys deteriorate, our hearing goes downhill along with the kidneys. Abusive intake of modern "foods" and alcohol even speed up this inevitable process.

With all the sound pollution around us to be cancelled, parts of our brain are busy filtering to cause stress to the rest of our bodies. Think of it as permanent parallel processing. Among other effects, this stress causes constriction of the kidney area. Hence the kidney's energy flow, so important for overall well being and the will to survive, diminishes. Because survival is always the body's first agenda, it tries to find ways to release the stress. Since the stress factor is incoming noise, what is easier for the body than to partially or even mostly shut down our hearing? That's a terrific forecast for looking into hifi hearing aids, don't you think?

Luckily there is a simple remedy that works in our modern age just as it did in the times it was invented. With a meditation exercise called "listening behind", a little practice can enhance your listening skills. In fact, you can return them to what they were in their natural state. Sit in a comfortable position and relax. You can do this anywhere you like but it is interesting to do the exercise in the sweet spot of your listening room. Just don't play any music yet. Once you have mastered the exercise, you can try it with music. Now close your eyes, concentrate on the middle of your brain and let all sound coming from behind you fill your head. Don't listen to the sounds or try to analyze them. Just let all the sounds enter your brain. After performing this Taoist meditation exercise a few minutes a day, you will notice your hearing has improved after a week or so.

If you find that this simple method works for you, you can add a form of self massage. For about a minute each, massage both pinnae and auricles tenderly between your thumb and forefinger. After massaging every single part of the ears, cover both ears with the palms of your hands. Now gently increase the pressure of your palms on the ears and then release the pressure. Taoists say you should repeat the gentle pumping action 81 times. The combination of massage and gentle pumping will increase the energy flow to the ears which is not only relaxing but will enhance your hearing as well.