Level 7: Liberation
When I think back over the journey I have been on with tinnitus I am amazed how much my life has changed for the better. For me this condition has behaved like a spiritual guide because it is directly responsible for helping me find a genuine sense of health, well-being, and strength. I can honestly say I am happier now than I have ever been, and if you had told me this would happen when I was down at level one, I would have laughed at you incredulously and growled, “No way!”
As the resting daily focus has moved down from the head into my body, I have started feeling things that I would never have dreamt possible just a few years ago. Before I used to spend the whole time in my thoughts and with all my attention in and around my head. These days I feel centred around my heart a lot of the time and when I walk down the street, or sit with people nearby, I can feel a strong interaction happening between us, often with a focus in my heart area. It feels like a magnetic connection or a gentle push pull. It seems independent from my thought process and gives me valuable information that can be very different to what I think. In fact I rely on my felt sense much more than my thoughts these days if I need to make a decision. The felt sense is much more reliable than my neurotic mind!
All this work has opened up an awareness of the space beyond my physical body – the transpersonal space. Sitting with people I can feel resonance in the space between us, and that is inspiring. Tinnitus has led me into a way of being that is very different to living in a tight, thought-packed head. It is very comforting to get a sense of what the larger picture is like and the connectedness of everything. It fills you with awe and gratitude and lets you experience a deep sense that everything is alright.
I wish I could show you what this is like. Well, as a therapist I guess I can start to. In the meantime I encourage you to continue on your journey of finding peace inside your body. Tinnitus is such an obvious guide to help you along the way towards this goal. As soon as you listen to it in a positive way, you can move towards what is right for you. With support and encouragement the relationship with tinnitus will change from a horrible tyrant that seems to be in control, to a useful guide that is leading you into better health and awareness.
If you let tinnitus help you, slowly you will feel clearer and more aware inside. Deep, careful work like Core Process Psychotherapy or Craniosacral Therapy, or learning how to meditate and focus inside allows you to open up to a larger experience of an interconnected sense of self. Please know that with therapeutic support it is possible to drop into very deep states of calm. As you get in touch with what is going on behind the scenes you can really start to know stillness.
You can become aware of a vibrant state of peace and calm where you feel your centre really clearly, your mind is calm and focussed and you feel very connected to things around you. It is deeply inspiring to touch into these states of being because it can help us shift into a new level of awareness.
Ken Wilber’s books: “A Theory of Everything,” “No boundary,” and “One Taste” provide a very clear understanding of how our level of awareness can change dramatically as we progress through our lives. It is amazing what happens to our sense of self when we really do settle into a deeper stillness. “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching,” by Thich Nhat Hanh, gives us a clear insight into the notion of self and how Buddhism provides a path out of suffering back to well-being. Indeed any spiritual foundation provides invaluable support that helps us let go on a deep level. I personally would encourage anyone to find this kind of support.
I often think of tinnitus as a symptom which, if it could talk, it would say, “Listen to your body, listen to yourself, listen to what is going on inside. Pay attention to this.” That is what tinnitus is trying to do, isn’t it? It gets people listening to themselves like nothing else does. It gets you to focus inside. Once you do this properly, tinnitus changes.
Personally I don’t think this is any coincidence. As a craniosacral therapist myself, I have learnt to have a deep respect for symptoms. They are often a direct link back to health, because they are showing where the problem is. All we need to do is really pay attention to them and notice what they are trying to communicate to us. This is not such a far-fetched idea, if you think about it. If there is pain, then there’s something wrong. Owch! Not good. We need to focus on it. That is what the body is trying to achieve – get our attention in that one place. It does this effortlessly. Unfortunately we often do the opposite and try and blank out the pain with painkillers. Managing pain is one thing, but turning a blind eye to it and pretending that everything is OK is not healthy and is asking for more complicated trouble at a later stage.
The more we focus on how our body feels, the more we understand how well we are or what needs seeing to. Read Eugene Gendlin’s book “Focusing,” for a very readable and approachable way into this territory. I am grateful to my own tinnitus for showing me this challenging but rewarding path back to health. It really has made me change my diet, exercise, sleeping, social, and resting patterns enormously. It has been an incredibly accurate guide showing exactly what is right for me.
It is no exaggeration to say that tinnitus has been the best doctor, teacher, therapist, friend and guide that I have ever had. What makes it so good is that it is spot on for me, tailor-made for my own needs and nobody else’s.
Because tinnitus arises in your body, and is really just an auditory feed-back connecting you directly with the state of your nervous system, you are learning to work directly with what is best for your body. What could be better than that?
So while we are waiting for the magic pill to intervene and switch off this highly intelligent and useful mechanism, leaving us in silence (great), but also in the dark about what causes it in the first place (not so great), in the meantime I encourage you to start working on how you feel inside, and feel better! Its all here, right now inside your body.
My aim in writing this book is to show you a way which works. It makes sense. Many people go through this process of getting better all the time. The only thing that stops you going in the same direction is you! Keep an eye on the saboteur here. Become very suspicious of your own behaviour when you start thinking, “oh this worked for him, but it won’t for me, I can’t be bothered, I’m too tired, oh its too expensive, I’m waiting for the tinnitus pill to be invented, my doctor said nothing helps, maybe next week.” Look through these thoughts and ask yourself what you really want underneath. Maybe you have more choice than you think.
I sincerely wish researchers well. It will be very useful to know exactly which parts of the brain are involved. The work being done on the limbic system is very exciting. The more we know about the engine that we are all driving – ie our bodies, the better. Tinnitus usually arises because of the way the driver is driving the engine, rather than a problem with the engine itself. Drive too fast or put too much strain on it and the engine will flounder and make unhealthy noises. It is not sensible to put more sound-proofing over the engine to smother these noises out. This is not dealing with the problem. Surely it’s better to help the driver slow down and drive in a way that keeps the engine functional for the longest time with as few problems as possible. The good news is that there is one important difference between a car engine and a body: if we give our bodies space and our full attention, they repair themselves. Bodies are designed to work as well as possible and to do the best they can to function at maximum health. Healing happens when we rest, eat well, feel happy and well in ourselves and when we switch off and let go. Cars need mechanics.
At this level, you know yourself and your body well and you are aware how you drive it. The challenge here is to open to the larger picture and help others overcome their own suffering. As your tinnitus gets better and better you can share this approach with others. We need to be strong in the face of all the negativity, and lack of understanding surrounding tinnitus. When we hear people say, “There is nothing you can do about it,” we need to reply from our own experience, “Well actually there is masses you can do about tinnitus. I have got better and I know how this happened.”
I can only hope that health practitioners stop saying tinnitus cannot be cured. This is very harmful and does not help anyone. Please learn how to help tinnitus first before delivering devastating messages to disempowered people who cannot cope with them. This increases suffering. Send people with tinnitus to practitioners who can provide them with proper care and support, and who can bring their nervous system out of overwhelm and back towards ideal resting states. Keep it simple. Send people with tinnitus to practitioners who will help them discover well-being. This is already a huge step in the right direction.
The magic miracle cure for tinnitus is to help bring people out of red-alert mode back towards a neutral resting place. This involves bringing the parasympathetic nervous system back into balance with the sympathetic nervous symptom. This is simple physiology, and is something that alternative practitioners and body-based psychotherapists do everyday.