Tinnitus. A constant ringing or buzzing in the ears. That’s what most people think of when they hear the word. How bad can that be, right?
But for someone who suffers from tinnitus, it’s more than just a ringing or buzzing. It’s enough to make you crazy.
When I saw that today’s topic/meditation recording was a hearing/listening meditation, anxiety kicked in. My heart raced.
“I don’t like this one. I’m not going to do it.” I even said that out loud. (Sometimes saying things aloud gives them more weight in my world, a little more credence. )
But what if…
What if I approached the meditation recording that Sharon provided with Beginner’s Mind. I have a rocky history with sound, with anxiety built up around sound and listening. (Which is sadly ironic when you consider that I’m also a musician!) What if I could sit with all of that history and all of that anxiety and still try not to judge the experience BEFORE it happens.
What if I could let it happen and simply watch it? (Was something like that even possible?)
“Ok. I’ll try it.”
Not wanting to sit by myself, wrapped in a bundle of anxiety, I played Sharon’s recording. I love listening to her voice. I tried to concentrate on that.
Then I tried to listen–just listen–to the sounds around me.
Immediately, I noticed that high-pitched whistle-ring that drives me bananas if I let myself hear it. One of the things people with tinnitus do to simply live with it is to learn how to tune that sound out.
And now I was fully aware of it. My breathing got faster. (I watched it.) My heart rate sped up. (I watched it.) I wanted to move off of the chair and do something–anything!–other than sit and listen to it. (I watched that impulse, too.)
I had to make a decision: was in trouble and needed to act or was I simply feeling discomfort? I was ok. I wasn’t going to die. I was uncomfortable. I stayed with it.
I noticed other sounds: the clanking of pipes in my apartment building, the sound of machinery and voices coming in from the street through my windows. I noticed a new sound, one I hadn’t heard/noticed before: a low-pitched, steady hum.
The external sounds came and went. The internal whistle-ring was constant. No… that’s not quite true. It came to the foreground of my focus and then dropped to the background in waves. Probably my mind’s habit of allowing myself to be conscious of it and then pushing it away.
What did I learn from this?
It’s interesting to listen. It’s interesting to see how sounds come and go–even the ones that are near-constant and can drive a person crazy.
It’s interesting to see how much anxiety I had built up around the thought of simply sitting and listening. (There’s an opportunity to acknowledge my history AND practice Beginner’s Mind.)
And you know what? I lived. I’m still here.
Is this something I’ll do again? Probably. I’m the kind of soul that likes to test things out. We’ll see what happens the next time I decide to sit and simply listen.
Because it’s never that simple. Right?
May we all be safe. May we all be happy. May we all be healthy. May we all dwell in peace.