Balancing Tinnitus With Music and Other Loved Sounds and Activities

Tim sent me this message and said is was OK for me to respond for everyone’s benefit.

Here goes:

Greetings Dainis!

Thanks so much for your message on “What makes you feel GREAT!” And thank you for sharing some of things that make you feel great.

I think Julian is so right — at least in my case! — about the tendency of tinnitus people to get lost in our heads. (I know I do!) The problem for me has been that sometimes the T can drive me even further into my head!

I wanted to ask you specifically about music, because I’ve noticed several times that you mention musical composition and performance as very much a part of your life.

How do you balance the T and music? Back before my T spiked about a year ago, I was in and out of bands and playing music all the time. Even though I had mild T at that point, I could play our shows — even at clubs — and not even think about my ears. (We were an all acoustic band, which helped of course, but things still got pretty loud and it wouldn’t bother me.) Recently some friends asked me to throw in with a little ensemble they have playing Irish and other roots/folksy music. Here’s the rub: I love playing music in bands, but found that it was tough on the T — especially the accordion the the tin whistle. It seems that the T has robbed me of something that really makes me feel great!

So, I’m just wondering how you balanced/balance your obvious love of music and the T?



One thought on “Balancing Tinnitus With Music and Other Loved Sounds and Activities

  1. Profile photo of dainisdainis Post author


    Thanks for a great question. Again, as coordinator of this site and not the “tinnitus expert,” I can only answer from my perspective as an “advanced student,” and someone who certainly has reduced his T quite effectively.

    Here goes.

    My instinct is that it has to do with the state I go into when I make music. I go into a very wonderful space when I conduct a choir. I feel happy and I breathe really well. I’m waving my arms and sculpting the music. With hundreds of hours in front of a choir, I can honestly say that I’ve only even heard the tinnitus for a few minutes of that time…if that.

    And I can even put together the emotional circumstances behind those instances. For example, I had a very aggressive and mean choir member who was acting up. He’d had surgery recently and he was just being really mean and his voice was sticking out, and he was yelling at me, and he was just not going along with the joyful environment I foster.

    Such energetic “power struggles” have caused my tinnitus to act up. Or rather, when I feel hopeless or despondent or defeated or attacked without a way to “clear the air,” that’s when I’ve had spikes.

    What’s happening for me is that I’m starting to reverse cause and effect. For example, “Tinnitus is making me feel stressed out” turns into “I have tinnitus because I feel stressed out.”

    So, you write “T has robbed me of something that really makes me feel great.” Really?

    “T has robbed me of X, which gave me joy”

    Now how can I look at the roles and responsibilities there? How can I find taking responsibility for my own health within that statement?

    So let’s assume that tinnitus is doing you a favor, and let’s assume that T really has robbed you of X.

    We can look at things differently as well, and we can move these components around.

    So, T took away X.

    How important is X to you?
    How well have you treated X?
    Do you cherish X?
    Would you say that you handle X with love?

    What is coming into perspective for you about X?
    Where does X belong in your life?
    Is there any stress associated with X, even though you do love it?
    Do you approach X with balance and harmony?

    So, “the tin whistle aggravates me” becomes “I am aggravated, so when I hear a tin whistle, it brings my inner aggravation to the forefront.”

    Leads to: What are you aggravated about?

    Which is a great question to talk with a psychotherapist or really really good friend or kind relative about.

    Sure, play with ear protection. No doubt about that. Protect your ears from loud volumes, and certainly the tin whistle is loud. Too much exposure to an accordion…hey…makes sense on a very practical level.

    We aren’t designed to take that much sound stress. Makes perfect sense on a simple, on the ground, practical level.

    But then, what about the persistent tinnitus?

    That’s where the network of support, professional body work, and professional emotional/mental help (like that of a psychotherapist) comes into play.

    In my opinion, it’s interesting to watch what we can allow ourselves to believe. For example, could you “allow” yourself to believe “you know, as long as I use my new $99 ear plugs that fit my ears and still allow me to hear, I can play music all night long, have a blast, and my tinnitus will actually be less the next day.”

    That might be something worth experimenting with.

    Of course, you might not want to do “all night long” on the first attempt.

    So, I balance tinnitus with my love of music by entering into a deep state of peace when I play music. Also, I do my biomental training (self hypnosis exercises), which significantly increase the blood flow to my ears and also help me achieve a state of alert calmness…but for the last few years I don’t really even need to do that anymore.

    And well…because I’ve focused on reducing the tinnitus itself…I just don’t hear it.

    It took me a while to get here and this explains a bit about my route. I also realize that all this THINKING kind of gets into the way.

    What does your body say about playing music and the T?

    What does your body need right now?

    What do you need right now in order to feel calm, loved, and peaceful?

    If you have things come to mind that are “impossible,” then that’s perfect territory for counseling or psychotherapy. Of course there are things that are possible that can make us feel calm, loved, and peaceful, we just sometimes insist on how, when, where, or from whom we want whatever it is.

    Insistence makes my tinnitus worse. That I know. Persistent “letting go” and peace move me into a state where tinnitus cannot exist.

    Also, I do have to say that music played from that state just simply sounds AMAZING.

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