Since I was in my teens, I’ve heard a high pitch sound in my left ear.
Like many of you, I was exposed to loud music from my rock band. Protecting ears wasn’t really a conversation anyone was having in the 60’s and 70’s. Still I wasn’t really bothered by it. That is until this past March of 2018. The sound seemed to suddenly explode. It sounded like someone just turned the volume up to 10+.
At first, I thought the sound was coming from external sources, so I started to walk around the building I was in. No matter where I went, the sound seemed to follow me and was still ringing very loud. I was scared.
After going to three different ENT doctors, I was diagnosed with Tinnitus, a medical term for auditory perceptions heard in the ear(s) or head, but not produced by external sound. I’m not alone. Approximately 50 million Americans experience ringing in the ear. My three ENT doctors told me there was no cure, no pill, no surgery. Nada. I was simply told not to pay attention to the sound. Easier said than done.
It was my audiologist who referred me to Dr. Jennifer Gans, a clinical psychologist who created an 8-week online program based on a Mindfulness meditation practice. http://www.mindfultinnitusrelief.com/
I’m not new to meditation. In 1973 my wife and I learned Transcendental Meditation and we practice it religiously. So, I was open, or more like desperate, to exploring a meditation practice to ease the pain of Tinnitus.
The practice of Mindfulness is a concept that is profoundly simple to understand. Where the awareness goes, so does the mind.
If you’re scratching your head, try this. Close your eyes and count to 20. Only think of the number that you are counting at the time. No extraneous thoughts. Bring all of your awareness to the count. If you’re like me and most people, a thought is going to creep in before you get to number 20. Or perhaps sooner. Maybe the thought is about your inventory. Maybe it’s about an employee who has been problematic. Or maybe the thought is why you are counting 1 to 20 in the first place. The point is, most of us have very little control over our mind. It seems like thoughts and stories come and go as they please.
Mindfulness is a practice-and I do mean practice- which promotes moment to moment awareness. The goal is this; if you are fully present in the moment, the Tinnitus sound while still there, is no longer bothersome. For me, the sound has been neutralized through this practice while I’m fully aware of the current moment.
I’m approaching my 8th week, with good results. Through the application of “Mindfulness Based Tinnitus Stress Reduction” or MBTSR, I’m able to more fully engage in all activities. In fact, all parts of my life have improved because my mind is not thinking about some event in the past, or wandering into the future. Whether I’m with my granddaughter, or playing guitar, I’m more focused on the here and now.
Physical and spiritual health is just as or more important than our financial health. If you are one of the 50 million who experience tinnitus, and it is bothersome, don’t give up hope. There are remedies to explore.