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  1. #1

    ears ringing

    I've noticed while sitting that my ears ring loudly--maybe just in relation to the quietness of the zazen. I'm partially hard of hearing, and usually try to sit in the morning without my hearing aids--I don't like the artificial amplification any more than necessary (like for meetings I need it). During the day, of course, I have them during the 'insta-zazen' moments.

    It's not a big deal, or too much of a distraction, but I just wondered if it happened to anyone else.

    G, Ann

  2. #2
    Hello !

    Glad to see i'm not alone. I have tinnitus too, and the very strange thing is that it comes and goes, even during zazen. During zazen sometimes it gets really loud, and sometimes it disappears completely. I also first noticed it a few years ago during zazen.

    It's also, for me at least, linked to stress and anxiety. For example when i'm in a rush and under a lot of pressure, as was the case recently, i don't hear it cause i just run around and do stuff. Now that i'm back to a calmer place, wham, it comes back with a vengeance.

    I don't know how you guys deal with that. Trying not to pay attention does not really work (like trying not to think about a pink elephant). Paying full attention makes it louder. So i just let it be, and when i hear it, i hear it, and when i don't, i don't. The problem seems to be when you begin to associate negative feelings to it, and wanting to get rid of it, which is easy to do when you are under stress -> so it leads to more stress, and more tinnitus, and more stress... The more you want to get rid of it, the more it rings. Zazen helps cause there is peace in this moment, tinnitus or not.

    I also found during zazen that i could also send love to it. It's not an enemy, it's your body doing what it should do given the circumstances. So don't hate it, love it ? Easier said than done.

    I know there are a lot of theories about tinnitus, all very interesting. Most common, classic one is that it is damage to the inner ear cells. The most recent ones tend to see it as a combination of neurological and psychological effect (i find this much interesting) : your hearing system automatically selects which noises are important for survival, and it does so according to your limbic (emotional system). So if you fear a sound in particular, your auditory system will select it more and more in the mass of ambient sounds, to make you aware of it, again for survival purposes. So the more you fear the tinnitus, the more you hear it : just your system doing it's job of keeping you alive at all cost. This is also a model of thinking that explains most of anxiety symptoms and their durability.

    There have been experiments that showed that 90% of the population, put in a soundproof room, would hear whistling, buzzing, etc. The difference between a tinnitus sufferer and someone who does not suffer is not in the noise they hear : it's in their relationship to that noise ! So very buddhist teaching here !

    There is also a more psychoanalytical theory, which is that tinnitus is used by your mindbody system as a distraction from difficult thoughts or problems in your life that you refuse to face head on, for example ; the child in you (id) wanting to do and think stuff that your social persona (ego) cannot accept, or simply being really annoyed by some strong life changes.

    I guess the truth lies at the crossroads between all these approaches, which are not incompatible...

    Would love to have your thoughts on this and how you deal with it !

    Gassho,

    Uggy,

    Sat today in a crowded FSR, with nice people, a hangover, and Tin Nitus.
    Last edited by Ugrok; 09-29-2017 at 08:10 AM.

  3. #3
    Hi Uggy,

    Not sure I can be much help. It sounds like you have a good approach to it and an awareness of how pushing it away can set up a negative spiral whereby it gets worse.

    I also have tinnitus. Sometimes I don't notice it for ages, and then other times, like after reading your post this morning, I notice it and it seems louder. For me I think there is damage to the ear (mine was originally much louder and had a medical cause, but was left for so long before anyone took me seriously that now I have constant mild tinnitus).

    The only thing I would say is that as well as not pushing the tinnitus away, maybe also try not to push your emotional response to it away...so if annoyance comes up, stress, whatever, just let that be there too - the more you react to stress the worse it gets. So just be there with the ringing, the annoyance about the ringing, and include it all. I think sending love to it is a good idea. It's so much not about the thing, but about your reaction to the thing, if you know what I mean. I find the same when dealing with pain.

    I'm personally not keen on the purely psychological explanations for illnesses. Yes, in some cases maybe they are right, and often there may be a psychological component to illness whether causative or a symptom, but I think you have to be really really careful not to just blame someone who is already suffering when actually it doesn't help because the illness really is physical and there is nothing they can do.

    Just some ideas...don't know if it's helpful.

    May you make friends with the ringing.

    Gassho
    Lucy
    ST/LAH
    華開世界起 - けかいせかいき - kekai-sekai-ki

    "the opening of flowers is the occurrence of the world"

    - (Master Prajnatara, p168, Shobogenzo.)

  4. #4
    Thanks for the wise words (and sorry about the tinnitus reminder) !

    I do believe that body and mind are one, so i'm not separating one from the other. There are a whole lot of psychosomatic disorders that are real physical, painful stuff happening because of emotional turmoil (i've been through a lot of those things myself hahaha)...

    Not saying it's always the case, nor that one should always assume that it is, but i find it an interesting approach, because it makes it possible to act and work with the psychological stuff and have a healing effect on the body too. The problem is, of course and as you said, when people use this approach to deny the seriousness of the suffering of someone and make them feel guilty, just because they equal "psychological" with "it's in his head and he should stop acting like a child". This is totally a wrong way of seeing this, of course.

    Gassho,

    Sat today (with you and toby i believe !)

    Uggy

  5. #5
    Hi Uggy,

    You have tinnitus and this is wonderful! Instead of attaching Shikantaza to posture, breathing or spacious awareness you can anchor to tinnitus. I am very lucky like you as I have back pain and tend to anchor Shizantaza to posture.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    治 healing
    心 mind

  6. #6
    Perhaps sit with a white noise generator. Something that with ensure there is no our silence that will allow the it to creep in?

    Prior to my recent move I could hear a lot of street noise when the TV was off. It was always a pleasure to sit with the soundtrack of life.

    Cars passing, horns blowing, children laughing, and even people arguing. Beautiful music.

    Jim
    SAT

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    Hi Uggy,

    I don't know how you guys deal with that. Trying not to pay attention does not really work (like trying not to think about a pink elephant). Paying full attention makes it louder. So i just let it be, and when i hear it, i hear it, and when i don't, i don't. The problem seems to be when you begin to associate negative feelings to it, and wanting to get rid of it, which is easy to do when you are under stress -> so it leads to more stress, and more tinnitus, and more stress... The more you want to get rid of it, the more it rings. Zazen helps cause there is peace in this moment, tinnitus or not.
    I have various whistles in the ear too. Just let them whistle. When they are loud, let them be loud, When they are "annoying", it is only you who is annoyed. Just don't be annoyed. Drop judgments, just resistance, drop the wish that it were some other way than what is.

    Problem solved.

    To try to decrease the noises is not Shikantaza. To let the noises be the noises, and just what they are, is Shikantaza.

    As Jim said, all the music of life. Lucy said it so nicely ...

    The only thing I would say is that as well as not pushing the tinnitus away, maybe also try not to push your emotional response to it away...so if annoyance comes up, stress, whatever, just let that be there too - the more you react to stress the worse it gets. So just be there with the ringing, the annoyance about the ringing, and include it all.
    Jishin's advice as using the ringing as the center of focus, instead of breath/posture/open awareness, is interesting too. Give it a shot.

    Time again to post Suzuki Roshi and the difference between "sound" and "noise" (spoiler alert: the difference is between your own ears, in your own judgments) ...



    I bet that you find lots of stuff in life disturbing and annoying, not just this. Most human beings do. We are very judgmental, often displeased creatures. Zazen is the medicine for that.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I have various whistles in the ear too. Just let them whistle. When they are loud, let them be loud, When they are "annoying", it is only you who is annoyed. Just don't be annoyed. Drop judgments, just resistance, drop the wish that it were some other way than what is.

    Problem solved.
    Hey Uggy,

    I too have tinnitus and have had it for many years. I was born deaf and had surgery as a young lad. Now I hear, but I hear everything. Sometimes the whistle is load, sometimes not so much. Sometimes it is not even there, even though it is there. What I do for myself is recognize that it is there and let it go ... the more attention I give the whistle the loader it gets. This takes time a practice ... but as Jundo has mentioned, if you judge and resist it will become a problem - if you don't judge and resist, no problem. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    SatToday/LAH
    Last edited by Shingen; 10-02-2017 at 01:41 PM.
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  9. #9
    Ps - Let me add this on disturbing noises in general ...

    At our Zendo in Tsukuba, for our Saturday morning Zazenkai, birds can usually be heard chirping prettily in the surrounding trees ...

    ... but also, a truck or cars will frequently be heard rushing down the nearby road, carpenters banging fixing a neighbors roof, or a military helicopter passing overhead (I do not know why, but our house must be on some route they use to one of the nearby bases).

    It has become one of the most powerful teaching tools I have for new students. I tell them that it is not to think "Oh, the birds are very lovely and peaceful ... but the trucks and helicopters disturb my nice Zazen". Rather, "the birds are singing as birds ... the trucks are trucks ... the copter just copters. Do not think one pleasant but the other ugly or detracting from the atmosphere. Then, there is a certain quiet and stillness that one can come hear behind and sounding right through all the sounds and noise."

    I learned this sitting many a morning at Nishijima Roshi's old Zendo ... located right next to a NOISY child's playground and a highway. At Taisoji temple, it was traffic sounds from the street outside and the train passing every few minutes. There has never been perfect quiet until the heart is quiet amid any noise.

    By the way, I was not sure why Suzuki Roshi found the Blue Jay's cry so intrusive, so I found this ...

    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Member Seishin-Do's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    La Croix-Avranchin, Basse Normandie, France
    Ringa ding ding. Same here folks but all self inflicted. A life of loud motorcycles and louder music which continues to this day, especially when playing my guitars (headphones on). I try to just let it be and give no heed. In fact at times after reading Will Johnson "Posture" I sometime make a conscious awareness of it when sitting and it helps the mind quieten. No difference to being aware of sensations on the scalp or feet, knees or hands in mudra. But for most of the time I'll leave to its own devices, just a constant friend and companion.

    STMIZ
    Gassho

    Toby



  11. #11
    Okay, hmmm, well, i'm a bit ashamed there... I went to my gp today, and it turns out i have a massive earwax plug (ewww) in my right ear (the one ringing). This explains that, apparently...

    Gassho,

    Uggy
    Sat today with his wax f(r)iend

  12. #12
    Great that you've got a solution!

    Gassho
    Lucy
    ST/LAH
    華開世界起 - けかいせかいき - kekai-sekai-ki

    "the opening of flowers is the occurrence of the world"

    - (Master Prajnatara, p168, Shobogenzo.)

  13. #13
    Yeah, still have to wait til wednesday to get it properly removed, but well, i'll try to make that my practice.

    Still, i'm so scared by myself... I mean, if something so benign like this puts me in an anxious state, what will it be when i'll be seriously ill (which will probably happen one day) ?
    I have to find a way to end those fears, damn !

    Gassho,

    Uggy
    Sat today
    LAH

  14. #14
    it turns out i have a massive earwax plug (ewww) in my right ear
    Ah, this is what the Buddha meant by "removing obstructions"! The Heart Sutra says "no eye, ear, nose", but sometimes one needs to consult an Ear Nose and Throat specialist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ugrok View Post
    Yeah, still have to wait til wednesday to get it properly removed, but well, i'll try to make that my practice.

    Still, i'm so scared by myself... I mean, if something so benign like this puts me in an anxious state, what will it be when i'll be seriously ill (which will probably happen one day) ?
    So, you are worried now about someday worrying later?

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    It only SOUNDS dumb but in fact it is really really intelligent.

    Hum.

    Not.

    Gassho,

    Uggy,

    Sat Today

  16. #16
    Uggy, it's not a bad thing to have a wake up call, however small. I started sitting Zazen daily 2 years ago in the middle of a health scare when I was really overwhelmed and scared; before that it had been a bit on and off. After 6 weeks of tests it luckily turned out to be nothing serious but it motivated me.

    Enjoy your ear syringing! You'll be able to hear everything after - it can be a bit much until your ear starts to compensate.

    Gassho
    Lucy
    ST/LAH
    華開世界起 - けかいせかいき - kekai-sekai-ki

    "the opening of flowers is the occurrence of the world"

    - (Master Prajnatara, p168, Shobogenzo.)

  17. #17
    If it seems like I am not sympathetic ... just this morning, I was at the the Ear Nose and Throat doctor (Otolaryngologist) with something very similar.

    Now, I have to consider some surgery where they drill a hole in the sinuses, a few days in the hospital. All good.

    By the way, what happened to the Buddha after his ear cleaning ...



    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-02-2017 at 12:37 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    His forehead exploded ? Damn ! I hope not !

    For me, especially when tired, the smallest thing sends me flying high in the hypochondriac stratosphere (and the oh so great world of what ifs)...

    Hope it will end up okay for both of us, Jundo !

    Gassho, my thoughts are with you !

    Uggy

    Sat today

  19. #19
    the smallest thing sends me flying high in the hypochondriac stratosphere (and the oh so great world of what ifs)...
    Ugrok, the first step in Buddhist Practice is to recognize our mind games. Now, at least, you are aware of what you do. You can just witness the game without playing.

    Me? I am fine. I just need to get a Third Eye transplant. (Just kidding. Merely some dull but pesky sinus thing).

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Well, i'm aware of it, of course, and have been for a long time... So i don't act on it anymore, for example, and i refuse to let stupid stuff ruin my life. But still, the game is playing, and still, it makes me suffer, because i never really know if i should worry or not, for example. How can you know for sure that this little itch is not something really bad ?

    Good example with that ear thing : i assumed that it was my hypochondriac side creating the whistling, when in fact this time there apparently was "real" waxy stuff going on... So i can never trust what i feel, and that leads to doubt and fear of course ! It's not the first time that i did not go immediately to the doc because i was almost sure that all of this was bullshitty mind games...

    So the game plays but i cannot help but get involved in it, cause sometimes the game tells the truth, sometimes not...

    Well, enough whining, back to work !

    Gassho

    Uggy
    Sat today

  21. #21
    I did a rotation in a chronic pain clinic working with folks with tinnitus. I often went home thankful I didn't have it. Then, last year when I turned 60 - someone flicked the switch and I had it.

    I notice it the most when going to sleep and sitting. I spent many hours trying to figure out a way to deal with it. Then decided, like many have already said, just to treat it like any other intrusion. No different than the wind howling - but a little different than a puppy crying to go out.

    I find I still hear it, but the bothering has faded. Like so many things my discomfort came from the distance between the way I wanted to world to be (no tinnitus) and the way that it actually was. Once I accepted that my world now contains tinnitus - and that is small element in a much vaster world, - then it stopped bothering me as it did.

  22. #22
    Member Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    Uggy, I also have anxiety like this, and I just want to let you know that I know how you feel. For me, it is not so bad this year, but it has come and gone before with years of panic attacks and a general feeling of unease all the time, usually set off by something small, like your ear blockage. For me, it was a bad tooth infection. Another time, though, a big thing, my mother's cancer. Before that, just a little change in medication for one week set me off for years. It is just how I am wired, I guess. Best thing I have ever learned to do is not play the game, but it doesn't always work. I know how hard it is to explain that while you know how silly and unproductive it is, you are still feeling it deeply. I'm sure a lot of people here can empathize.

    Gassho, sat today, lah
    迎 Geika

  23. #23
    For those who don't know how overwhelming tinnitus can be for some people, a short film which recreates the experience and explains the sensation ...

    https://www.nbcnews.com/leftfield/vi...-1060145731897

    Part of the cure, I am sure, involves acclimating the brain to ignore and "pay no nevermind" to the experience, must as we train in Shikantaza.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  24. #24
    Well yeah, during my readings i found this site about "tinnitus retraining therapy", and it involves spending daily time listening to the tinnitus without reacting.

    Very interesting read overall :

    http://tinnitus.org/

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