Technique 8: Breathing technique

Technique 8:    Breathing technique:

This is a breathing exercise I have adapted slightly from a lecture given by Dr Leon Chaitow, a professor of health at Westminster University, London. He has dedicated many years of study to health in general and has done a lot of research on of breathing. It is amazing that in just a couple of minutes you can feel an instant calming and centring effect. If you are in a panic, or need to focus away from something, or just want to settle in any situation, please try this.

Start by breathing out through a small hole in your lips, as if blowing through a straw. Feel the pressure in your abdomen as you make a slight effort. This is your diaphragm that has to work for you to do this. Keep on blowing out until you know you want to breath back in, then stop for a second.

Close your lips, and then let go and relax. Have a holiday! As you do this, still with your lips shut, feel the air rush in back through your nose and fill your abdomen. Feel your belly really filling up. Then go back to the beginning again and start blowing out through your lips again.

The first few times you do this you may get a bit dizzy. If this happens, just go back to breathing normally for a few breaths and then try again. I recommend taking just ten of these breaths at a time but practising this often. Slowly as you keep revisiting this technique your breath starts to become more and more centred in the belly. This is where we breathe when we are relaxed and calm.

You can always tell a stressed out person because they breathe in their upper chest and you can often see the shoulders going up and down.

The best thing about this technique that the most important stuff happens when your lips are closed and you are not doing anything – ie when the air is rushing in all by itself. Feel how the air wants to rush freely down and fill your lower belly.

This technique is brilliant for letting go of those annoying thought patterns that can take over some times. Changing the focus from thinking to how you are breathing can massively shift your ability to concentrate clearly.  This technique helps you practice how to let go with each and every breath. It also changes the oxygen/carbon dioxide balance in every cell of your body. Over a period of time the rate of gas exchange becomes less extreme, and levels out. Instead of taking in masses of oxygen and expelling masses of carbon dioxide, you start exchanging less and less urgently so that the who body can settle and relax more. Try this and notice how you are breathing. I use it every time I need to gather my thoughts or want to calm down.

Technique 9: Orienting to midline

Technique 9:        Orienting to midline

This is a technique that is widely known amongst the Craniosacral Therapy, Core Process Psychotherapy community and people who meditate. Particular thanks to Maura and Franklyn Sills of the Karuna Institute in Devon, UK, who helped clarify this for me from their own deep centre of awareness. (I thoroughly recommend their courses for anyone who is interested in finding out what’re really going on inside.)

The intention is to develop an awareness of your midline, your central vertical axis. This is the part of you that connects your crown down your spine to your tailbone. Awareness of your midline can help you feel really centred and clear, and provide a sense of connection to other people in a manageable way, especially when you come into contact with challenging situations.

All you need to do is sit vertically and comfortably with a straight but not rigid back. Feel your sitting bones on the chair or cushion. Feel your head and notice if it is directly above your tailbone. Sit comfortably with this sense of head to tailbone and feel your way up and down the spine. Become aware of how vertical you are and what the spine feels like.

Does it feel straight? Can you feel one half of your body closer in to the middle than the other? Maybe you have a sense that your midline is slightly ahead of you, or that it is very hard to feel at all. Just notice how it is for you. Become aware of whether it is clear, out of focus, narrow, broad, floaty, strong, vague, and so on.

Once you have a felt sense of this midline, extend it down into the ground like a plumb-line. Imagine a strong connection down through the floor into the earth. Try and get a felt sense of this like a fluid and magnetic density coming out of you and linking into the ground. Notice if anything starts feeling different in the base of your spine as you do this.

Sometimes you can feel floaty feelings up and down your spine. It becomes much stronger and easier to feel if you are surrounded by other people doing the same thing. Your local meditation centre would be a good place to explore this. If you are in the presence of someone else that has a very clear midline, then you may naturally come into resonance with them and find it becomes easier to feel in yourself.

When you have a clear midline you feel grounded and connected to the earth and have a strong sense of being centred. From this space it is easier to notice what is going on inside you and around you. If you lean forward, you can feel the line moving through the earth backwards. If you lean to the left, you can feel a pendulum of energetic connection swinging to the right beneath you. If you lean backwards, it moves forwards under you. The midline is just a continuation of your own central axis and moves in line with that.

Try extending your awareness above your head a little and see if there is a sense of midline continuing up.

Get a sense of where your focus is along the midline. By this I mean is there any particularly clear part of this central axis that feels more intensely aware than elsewhere. Is it behind your eyes, behind your heart, at the base of your abdomen, or maybe above your head? Notice how this focus is. Does it stay in one place or is it shifting?

When you get a sense of your midline, you can move from here our into the day from a centred and manageable place, and feel this centre interacting with people and experiences around you. Its like you respond to things from the whole of you, rather than from just your thinking self, or a part of your body.

So we have come to the end of our journey. I hope that I have inspired you to start taking a look inside yourself and find out how you really feel inside. My advice is always please seek the support of a therapeutic relationship. There is nothing that helps more than being supported by someone else. Just like a little baby needs a loving mother to grow and develop into a happy and balanced person, as adults we still have needs for support and care that only come from being in relationship with another person.

Stick the matrix somewhere where you can see it and get to know it, eg on the fridge or a cupboard. This will help you recognise how you are making progress, and can help motivate you to keep on going. Use the techniques regularly and find out what most helps you.

All your patterns are sitting in your body right now. Get in touch with how you feel just as you are right now and they will probably start changing right before your eyes. I still find this extraordinary.

My advice to you is to get in touch with your body as often as you can. Explore these techniques. Discover your inner felt-sense and learn to work with it. This will bring you closer to your normal state of maximum health.

As you let go more and more into the realm of no resistance, tinnitus ceases to be possible and vanishes! I wish you the best of health and, above all, peace.



Eugene Gendlin, Focusing: How to Open Up Your Deeper Feelings and Intuition, 2003, Ebury Press

Caroline Myss, Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential, 2004, Hay House

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy and Liberation. 1998 Rider Books

Ken Wilber, A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality, 2001, Shambala

Ken Wilber, No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth, 1979, Shambala

Ken Wilber, One Taste: Daily Reflections on Integral Spirituality, 2000, Shambala

Zweig and Abrams, Meeting the Shadow: the Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature, 1990 Tarcher Putnam

Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart, 1993, Random House

Where to find a practitioner of craniosacral therapy or core process psychotherapy

For details on where to find a practitioner of craniosacral therapy or core process psychotherapy, please go to the website:

To find a practitioner in any therapy I recommend contacting the relevant association first. Most organisations have a website for this and can been found using a search engine on the net. Each association website often provides lists of registered practitioners. Taking this route usually provides a certain guarantee of quality and standards.

Tinnitus: From Tyrant to Friend by Julian Cowan Hill


I wish to thank all the tinnitus people I have worked with for providing a constant challenge and a source of inspiration. You have taught me what helps let go of tinnitus, and also what is not helpful. Now I can share this experience with others.

I would also like to thank the Craniosacral Therapy and Core Process Psychotherapy community for teaching me how to be well and let go at a deep level. It is your support, education and deep sensitivity that has opened up a whole new world of well-being for me where tinnitus cannot survive.

Finally, thank you Mario Petrucci, Biggles and Frank Steffenhagen for your keen writer’s eye, encouragement and help with editing.


Well-Being Matrix For Tinintus

Chapter 1
Establishing the Ground
Core Issue 1    Negative People
What is tinnitus?
Core Issue 2    Tinnitus is not an ear based problem

Chapter 2
What are tinnitus people like?
Core Issue 3    Silence
Core Issue 4    Stop trying to cure your tinnitus
Core Issue 5    Are you ready to change

Chapter 3
How to make progress
Core Issue 6    Moaning and groaning
Core Issue 7    Avoiding doom and gloom
Core Issue 8    Don’t let vampires sap your energy
Core Issue 9    Letting go into support
Core Issue 10    Diet
Core Issue 11    Exercise
Core Issue 12    Getting in touch with your body

Chapter 4
Charting your progress

Level 1 Stuck
Technique 1    Crisis Calmer

Level 2 Struggling
Technique 2    Clenching and relaxing

Level 3 Resigned
Technique 3    Better and worst list

Level 4 Motivated
Technique 4    Knowing what matters to you
Technique 5    How do you view yourself?
Technique 6    Running commentary

Level 5 Letting Go
Technique 7    Audiovisualisation

Level 6 Empowered
Technique 8    Breathing technique

Level 7 Liberated
Technique 9    Orienting to midline


What relieves and what aggravates tinnitus?

What relieves tinnitus?

Body-based activities
Focussing on a candle, fire
Being listened to
Eating well in good company
Calming music
Sound of water, wind, rain
Sound of kids playing, laughter
Chilled radio station
Foot massage
Enjoyable work
Life-affirming film
Having a good cry
tai chi
Alexander therapy
Craniosacral therapy
A good night’s sleep
Going on holiday
Clear relationship boundaries
Body-based focussing
Exploring new things
Feeling safe and secure
Feeling supported
Belonging to a group
Making new friends
Physical contact
Being moved
The natural world
Inspiring others
Being inspired by others
Healthy living
Making love
Allowing awareness to open
Studying something new
Art or craft
Slow calm activities
Being by a river
Lying in a hammock
Falling asleep during the day-time
Focusing on eating when you eat
Burning lavender, rose, neroli oil
Getting away from it all
Spiritual practice
Soaking up Amazing views
Appreciating the basics of life
Half-full not half-empty
Tickling each other
Helping others
Being generous
Downsizing to a realistic amount
Respecting self and others
Good stories
Being honest and open
Not needing to achieve
Being good enough
Connecting to the larger picture
Feeling grateful
Being allowed to make mistakes
Letting things be
Steady regular exercise
Clear identity
Personal space
Managing change gently
Looking after yourself lovingly
Letting things be
Living through the body

What aggravates tinnitus?

Needing to achieve
Being overambitious
Never good enough
Bombarding the mind with TV
Too much stimulation
Being a perfectionist
Being too meticulous
Bad night’s sleep
Clubbing, loud concerts
Recreational drugs
Watching the news
Receiving Bad news
Needy clingy people
Being dumped on
Too much pressure
Money problems
Court cases
Relationship stress
Moving house
Surgical operations
Some medication
Emotional trauma
Physical trauma
Mental trauma
Spiritual crisis
Threatening behaviour
Loud noise
Horror/gory films
Doom & gloom
Bottling things up
Head colds
Taking on too much
Casual adrenal sex
Feeling unloved
Unclear boundaries with people
Unexpressed emotion
Unresolved childhood patterns
Eating rubbish
Chronic tiredness
Masses and crowds
Too much visual stimulation
Electronic lifestyles
Lack of human contact
High speed activities
Dangerous sports
Extreme cold or heat
Irregular eating habits
Beating yourself up
Forcing things
Drastic sudden change
Blaming others
No exercise
Being taken over
Invaded personal space
Living in your thoughts
Acoustic Nerve damage
Acoustic Neuroma
Physical Trauma
Blow to the head
Clenching teeth
Jutting Jaw
TMJ problems
Dental trauma
Listening out too much

Look after yourself properly and your tinnitus will take care of itself.

Look after yourself properly and your tinnitus will take care of itself. By Julian Cowan Hill R.C.S.T.

When you work with hundreds of people with tinnitus, certain patterns become clear. The core issue seems to be learning how to let go at a deep level, and once a person becomes able to do this, symptoms get better. In this article I want to show that if you receive the right kind of support, then the process of letting go takes place all by itself. I have had a lot of experience easing people with tinnitus out of a locked up state, and have witnessed great improvement not only with the noises in their head, but in their ability to be comfortable, positive, relaxed and healthy.

A person with tinnitus typically holds tension at the base of the head and along the length of the spine. Often the body feels like it is standing to attention or bracing itself. One man lay on the couch and claimed he was relaxed, and yet his head wasn’t even touching the pillow! He wasn’t aware of this, and when I told him, he needed to put his hand behind his head to check what I said was true. I have met literally hundreds of people with tinnitus who have not much body awareness because they are too locked up and numb to be able to feel what is going on inside.

Tinnitus people live in their heads spending most of their time living in hectic thought processes, planning, analysing, worrying, imagining, sorting out problems. There is always something to be achieved and there is rarely a prolonged period of just being happy with the way things are. Give a person with tinnitus a day off, and they will fill it with frantic activity, rather than sitting somewhere quietly and noticing the surroundings, without a care in the world.

It is always very revealing talking to people with tinnitus about how they relax. They might say they enjoy gardening for example. But when you look into it, rather than being aware of the positions of the body, what they can smell, or how the plants looks, that is, simply being aware of the present moment, it seems that they spend most of their time in their thoughts, only vaguely in touch with their body and sometimes miles away from what they are doing. People with tinnitus on a walk, for example, will be much less aware of the simple sensation of their feet on the ground than what is going on in their head.

As a Craniosacral therapist you can literally feel how people hold themselves and how open or closed their system is. Treating tinnitus I often find a moment when intense energy at the base of the head releases, and suddenly the spine relaxes and people reconnect with the body. When they get up at the end of the session they are much more aware of how their body feels inside, and they feel really connected to the ground. When this happens their head feels lighter, calmer and clearer.

If tinnitus could talk, as a symptom, it would cry out, “Listen to your body and learn to let go.” Although this condition actually forces you to listen to your body, most run away and hide in frantic activity, desperately trying to divert their focus away from themselves and their inner world. Sometimes tinnitus makes people run away from themselves even more. They cannot accept the way they are inside. The only place for them to go is into their thoughts and activities.

In my experience it only becomes possible for the central nervous system to let go and switch off when genuine support is offered. When this sense of support is felt through direct contact, and the nervous system experiences a calm, clear and manageable contact, this brings in a very real possibility of transformation.

We can only let go when we feel safe, and someone is there to hold us. As a practitioner you become very used to meeting people who are carrying too much and do not let themselves be supported. Consequently they spend most of their life in a permanent state of overwhelm.

When this support strengthens into a help network reaching out over several weeks or months at a time, this can have a profound effect on a person’s sense of well being, and what they are able to manage. This can provide the platform for them to let go much more deeply than they are used to, on a mental and emotional and physical level.

Craniosacral therapy also brings sensitivity and energetic awareness into contact with your body. This gradually helps you develop your own awareness of how you really are inside at a deep level. In my mind it is one of the best therapies for bringing the nervous system back into a state of manageable calm. This is a very real, palpable experience that you gradually develop over the course of a few months, and years, depending on how far people want to go.

People with tinnitus have a deep need to be heard and understood. Because I had tinnitus myself for 16 years, of which 4 years was so severe I couldn’t hear the phone ring, I am in the fortunate position of being able to understand what people are going through. People find great solace in knowing that I have healed my own tinnitus, and this gives them not only a positive sense of hope, but also motivation and inspiration to start looking after themselves appropriately.

In a society where people are often told devastating news that there is nothing they can do about their tinnitus, and need to learn to live with it, I find providing hope, guidance and a means of being able to let go has proved to be a powerful antidote to this negative “spell.” When a person is in need of support and feels they are losing control, it has very serious consequences when a practitioner they go to for help leaves them feeling hopeless and with no way out. This shows very little understanding of this condition and how to meet people’s needs appropriately.

In circles where there is a lot of awareness and experience with the relationship between practitioner and client, it becomes clear that practitioners needs to care about their clients and be open to be affected by their suffering. Deep down we all know that if the person we go to for help doesn’t really care, then there is only a limited amount of value in what they are offering and their ability to resolve deeply held issues.

It is commonly accepted that tinnitus appears when someone’s nervous system becomes stuck between “fight or flight” mode (sympathetic hyper arousal) and the freezing response (parasympathetic overwhelm).

When we move into a state of red-alert the way we hear changes radically. Normally we happily monitor background noises just below the level of consciousness and can focus sharply on important information when needed, e.g. hear one person’s voice in a noisy pub. In red-alert mode, which includes most people with tinnitus, you listen out for any sign of danger most of the time and as a result you notice background noise.

In fact your hearing becomes so sensitive that you hear the noises inside as well as outside the body. Nervous impulses along the auditory nerve can sound like a buzz or hiss. Movements inside the head such as changes in pressure can sound like crackles and pops. For some, the sound of the heart beat becomes noticeable, and for many it can becomes hard work trying to distinguish what’s important from all the cacophony going on in the background.

The cerebral cortex also becomes highly activated and so the part of the brain that remembers sound, recognises it and can conjure up any imagined sound becomes over-amped and too switched on. This means that our sound imagination can take over. I can remember, when my tinnitus was bad, listening out for the doorbell and often swearing that I heard it, when in fact it was just my auditory cortex being very active. It was very confusing.

When I take on a client with tinnitus, my aim is to help bring them back into a switched off, not-a-care-in-the-world mode. As they move more and more into that state, people commonly improve in the following way:

The first sign of relief comes as you stop being bugged by symptoms so much. This often happens fairly quickly, after 4 to 6 sessions or so. The tinnitus is there but it is not nearly such a big deal. I find that knowing others have got better really helps at this stage, as well as understanding that tinnitus is just a central nervous system reaction to having too much undigested life experience going on behind the scenes. This helps the whole condition feel less and less threatening.

Then, as you genuinely start learning how to let go, you start paying less attention to it and forget about it. You can spend a few days without bothering to notice how it is. This can be a milestone of progress, as it gives you proof that you are going in the right direction. This in turn can help you let go even more, creating a positive circle of progress. To get to this stage may take anything from a few months to a year or two depending on how much people need to process and release.

Gradually symptoms become harder and harder to notice, and although people can readily find the noise again if they look for it, tinnitus has really started to play a minor role in that person’s awareness.

It is at this stage, that something vital happens. Tinnitus will often come back if there is acute stress, tiredness, anger, illness etc, but people start to learn that how they are has a huge effect on symptoms. As a result they start to take more responsibility for their own health and really start to look after themselves. They notice that their usual habit of getting twitched up about things doesn’t help, and may well take this into therapy.

For these people tinnitus now has become a healthometre acting as a happy warning system telling you to calm down, get help or have a few early nights. People know that if they have a bad week, that it will soon balance itself out again. They also start to becoming much more self-sufficient in their own management and are motivated to look after themselves. They know what they need, and have ready access to that help.

Eventually, as the nervous system strengthens more and more, it takes more and more resistance, stress, illness, trauma etc to bring the symptoms back. For example, just a couple of years ago, I found coffee and wine made my tinnitus come back, but these days I can get away with coffee and wine every day (not something I encourage!) and still be free of it.

I believe craniosacral therapy is particularly good for tinnitus as it works very specifically on the parts of the central nervous system that switches off the stress response. It helps people come out of the freezing response, pass through fight or flight, back towards the ideal and calm state of homeostasis. It is important to note that some people may never have experienced this ideal state of calm and well being and it can come as a real surprise and new experience, as it was for me!

I have tried to capture some of the main qualities of these states in the chart below:

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Module 1 Guide

Basics – Okay so you have tinnitus. Now what?

This is a brief outline of what to do during the first month?

Don’t worry.

Tinnitus is not a permanent illness that you will have for the rest of your life. This symptom depends on staying stuck in a state of red alert or fight or flight.

What you need is to come out of red-alert mode. The more you come out of this state of fight or flight, the harder it will be for tinnitus to stay in your awareness. The more you let go the easier it becomes to let go and you find your path on the right track towards well-being.

So, in the first month you need to start setting up the right conditions that will help you learn to switch off and let go. Here is a list of guidelines that will become essential tools for you to let go:

Support Network

Set up a support network. Its hard to let go into nothing, but when you have people around you that understand what is going on then you can start to unpack what you are carrying inside and unwind.