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Tuning In Tuning Out

Dad practiced Transcendental Meditation over thirty years ago. Typically of Dad he approached it whole heartedly and became quite the spokesperson for mindfulness and learning to switch off. On meeting him you wouldn’t expect him to be a spiritual man but he was in his own way and trained his mind to ease the pain of his inner demons.

Dad and I both suffered from Tinnitus – I still do, of course as it is a chronic condition. I believe mine started when a friend at school screamed in my ear when we were on our way to the local swimming pool. She was a good friend, and it was just one of the things that everyone was doing and so I didn’t tell on her. But I do remember feeling very strange and light headed when I had to dive to fetch a rubber brick from the bottom of the pool. I was twelve the time and in my final year of primary school.

My tinnitus became more pronounced during puberty and would often keep me awake at night. Dad taught me to imagine I had a huge stereo-type volume button that I could turn down. It took months of practice but I was able to gain some control of the constant high pitched ringing in my ears, and in fact became so accomplished at this that I hardly noticed the tinnitus for years. It wasn’t until I was getting my hearing tested 6 years ago that I happened to mention it. There is some debate as to what tinnitus actually is but I like the theory that if you suffer some hearing loss the brain continues to instruct the ears to tune in and so the sounds of the body become the focus and are translated into various levels of high pitched ringing. I am quite deaf in my left ear so this theory is entirely possible. It was my left ear that my friend screamed in.

I have adapted the method of using mind over matter to control external noises at times and even successfully manage certain types of pain. The brain is extraordinary and I do worry that in this busy chaotic hectic world of ours we forget just what it can achieve.

In her final few months Emma focussed on ‘being in the now’, and it afforded her a sense of freedom from the fear of what cancer was doing to her body.  Inspirational.

Tuning In Tuning Out – a poem

be quiet now

be still

breathe deep and let go

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