This time I would like to write about an integral part of my journey through adulthood.
For 28 years now I have Tinnitus.
If you Google for pictures under the heading tinnitus, you’ll find lots of suffering, scrunched up faces, holding their head, closing off their ears. This is the common picture we have of people suffering from this condition.
I would like to write something that might open a door to a different approach for a fellow human being with tinnitus.
It is not easy to explain how it feels. It is hard to understand if you have not had the experience yourself. Even the people conducting the hearing tests never really understood, that I couldn’t pin point a single tinnitus sound, as I live with a constant ringing, beeping and hooting, pulsing or continuous streaming of multiple, changing frequencies.
It started in spring 1990. I had just moved to Cologne to continue my singing training, when I had my first sudden loss of hearing event. My right side hearing shut right down and luckily came back after treatment (infusions and tablets) than the left went and came back after treatment, then the right went again and has not properly recovered since.
The tinnitus is stronger perceived on the right side, which by now is nearly deaf.
10 years later I experienced heavy vertigo attacks, taking me off work for close to a month, in which I mainly walked touching walls, not being able to get out of the house much and falling from chairs on the odd occasion. The attacks diminished over time.
In addition, there was this occasional, wrapped in cotton wool, sensation and the feeling of having a constant noisy brain.
All this led the doctors to diagnose me with “Menière’s disease”.
I have a label for something that is not really treatable by the established medical profession and has a deteriorating prognosis. Apparently my right ear is “burnt out”, meaning I can hardly hear with it and my balance organ should not properly function, which to the surprise of the doctors it does, even though I am more challenged with balance with closed eyes than the average person. I think my constant training helps keeping my sense of balance.
I have a hearing aid system now, which is called a cross. The one on the right side is like a sound transmitter transferring wireless to the left. That one is mainly a receiver. I only have about 7% hearing loss on the left side if it is not down, which it has been ever so often unfortunately too. In that case this system is completely useless, or was.
I had to deal with despair a lot. The heavy cycles have been terrible, shutting me off, making it incredible intense to work, therefore taking all my energy, raising stress levels, which is the worst for my tinnitus and hearing capacity.
So basically I got into this viscous circle, where the fight against the condition took all my energy.
I started to look into alternative healing approaches, starting with Spatial Medicine. Practice what you teach (or preach). Early on in my journey, it seemed to be obvious, that my tightness and stress around my hearing was related to the fascial tissue that is inclusive of the lateral side of the body, the Lateral Line in Anatomy Trains speak.
I always had a rather tightly held Lateral Line; it tended to be overly active in certain places keeping me off a balanced tone. I have been able to relax and let go of a lot of these centres of tightness in the last 4 years. It is an ongoing process that was very slow in the beginning needing a lot of discipline and resistance to failure.
It has had and still has tremendous positive effects. It has enabled me to connect to my inner being more which we call the Deep Front Line. It in turn started supporting me more, allowing the lateral tissue to loosen their grip. The journey has been incredibly intense and rewarding, and led to spiritual enquiry.
It didn’t help that I was avoiding the last strong period of hardly being able to hear. This lasted from about September 2015 to about May 2016. I was upset, frustrated and in tears most of the time, trying to keep up the front for work as best as I could.
This last cycle included my wedding. I wasn’t able to hear what the registrar said and only got about a third of what was going on during the amazing party we had.
Shortly afterwards I had enough of this condition and was tired of fighting with myself, using all my strength to function reasonably well.
My first step was acknowledging, accepting and surrendering to the situation. I started to experiment with teaching in silence just by touch, and informing my clients directly about my struggles and stresses. This took the edge of things as clients where very supportive and the trial sessions in silence where honing my non-verbal skills.
So I started letting go of wanting something different and allowing it to be as it was. This helped improving my condition to a certain extent.
If one questions the reasons for hearing troubles and searches on the internet, one of the main themes is, that one does not want to hear certain things or to speak one’s truth. I gave it a try and started questioning what it was that I didn’t want to hear or say.
I quickly came to the main decision I needed to take, which I had been avoiding for at least two years. I had to get out of the working environment I was in and get into my own working space. This meant leaving a situation that has been incredible helpful and supportive at the start but had reversed in its impact on me in the last few years.
As soon as I had taken that decision, virtually an hour after I had talked to my colleague, my hearing improved to nearly normal level, and went back to what I consider my normal within days.
In addition, I suddenly could access and loosen all my diaphragms (hyoid system, diaphragm and pelvic floor) with great ease. My singing improved, my movement became easy, and I did not have any tightness in my breath again. My whole body started to move differently and my experiences took my teaching to a further depth.
Though I could hear again, the tinnitus remained and remains a constant companion.
As the spiritual journey of my life took me further into meditation, energy healing approaches and research, I had an eye opener one day.
If you search on YouTube you come across healing sounds. These are sounds of certain frequencies that have the potential to heal.
Listening to these, I realized that the sounds in my head pretty much match those frequencies.
Which led me to approach my tinnitus completely different.
By now I believe, that my system provides me with sounds for healing. When it gets stronger, I need more healing.
As long as I need it, I will have tinnitus.
It is now a journey into the sound. If it is really strong I try to sit down as soon as I can and meditate listening in.
I have the impression, that some of the sounds are the seed sounds of the chakras. I am pretty sure I can hear Aum very often, but the other seed sounds appear too. Especially when I meditate on the chakras, one after the other, the dominant sounds in my ear change relevant to the chakra I am tuning in.
I must admit that I am still worried that I can’t keep the positive attitude if my system shuts me off from the world again for a longer period. And I avoid noisy places that could set me off, prefer to work in silence rather than with music, and often have to ask a second and a third time to hear what people tell me, especially in crowded settings.
Saying that, I am getting to a place of peace with my ringing and pulsing and piping. Those sounds are for me not against me. They are here to help me on my journey. They will be here as long as I have need of them. They are actually quite amazing. Imagine having your own church bells ringing in the morning. Having snippets of easy melody playing out, once you tune in; having birds and crickets playing their tune for you inside your head, having changing rhythms that are with you along your path.
I am grateful that my journey into Pilates and fascia led to spiritual enquiry and heightened states of awareness. It is a blessing to work and teach and grow within this environment and the Centre for Spatial Medicine community.
Joachim Schultz January 2018