Chapter 1: Establishing the ground

I had tinnitus moderately for 16 years, severely for 4 years and today I am not aware of it at all. When I get a cold, or overdo things, it sometimes creeps back as a feint fizzle, but that only takes up a few seconds of my attention. I feel very much that I have become cured of tinnitus and that I have learnt a lot about it through this process.

Like many of you, I was told there was nothing I could do about it and that I “had to learn to live with it,” which came as a blow, to say the least. This is NOT true.

Anything that focuses your mind, distracts your attention away from tinnitus, and relaxes you will help this condition. There you are, three things that help already: FOCUSSING, DISTRACTION and RELAXATION. In this book you will find techniques that directly help you achieve these three goals, which help let go of tinnitus. As you practise them you will find out for yourself.

In this book you will follow the story of how I converted a maddening chorus of crickets in my head, chirping away all day and all night long, into a deep state of peace and stillness. You will receive mostly practical advice, techniques and key pieces of information that help take the power out of tinnitus and start it on its journey back into unawareness, where it came from.

I call these core pieces of advice “Core Issues.” Please read them until you understand and know them thoroughly. Habitual patterns of thinking often take over our thought processes and can get in the way. You may quickly forget or “unknow” what you read here so I recommend revisiting these “Core Issues” a few times. They are taken from experience based working with hundreds of people over 8 years.

When you really understand what tinnitus is you will realise that my advice is common sense and that there really is a way out of this suffering. Here is the first piece of advice.

Core Issue 1:     Negative People

Please let go of negative people who say there is nothing you can do about tinnitus.
They are not going to help you. How can they honestly be of any use? The next time
you hear someone say, “There’s nothing you can do about it,” shake their hands and
say good-bye. Acknowledge that they are advertising the fact that they cannot help
you. You need positive, constructive advice from people who understand this
condition. They do exist. You have found one here.

Unfortunately there are plenty of health practitioners that have little or no
understanding of tinnitus. I meet plenty of people who have been given the wrong
information and feel distressed as a result. What you don’t need is to be exposed to
tales of doom. It helps to be in touch with people who have learnt to let go of tinnitus
themselves. Please know that tinnitus is not a fixed state. It can be changed and many
people do get over this condition.

If you want to get better then you are going to need to understand what tinnitus is. The moment you understand what’s going on and why you get it, this has two enormously positive effects:

Firstly, you will feel less threatened by it. This will help you calm down and start to let go. Working with tinnitus is all about letting go so that you can feel more confident and on top of things. To begin with, most people are scared of tinnitus because they haven’t a clue what is going on and feel they have lost control. Understand it, and you will have taken a vital first step towards getting better.

Secondly, once you understand what tinnitus is, and how it works you will know how to manage it, and be better able to find the things that help. When you start looking after yourself properly, tinnitus starts getting better.  When you realise this, you will feel relieved, much more in control and start relaxing. Anything that makes you relax, focus, and feel happy and comfortable helps tinnitus.

The moment you start improving you will become more motivated to take even more
care of yourself. Taking more care of yourself helps symptoms back off further. This
makes it easier to relax and let go more. The more you let go, the more tinnitus backs
off. In fact it gets easier and easier the more progress you make. The most important
stage is easing you out of stuck patterns of thinking. At the beginning we often get
stuck in a negative cycle of thinking with tinnitus. There is a positive cycle too.

The next section is one of the most important parts of the book. I am going to explain what tinnitus is and why we get it. Please re-read this until you have got it. It took me a few months before I really understood what tinnitus was, and when the penny finally dropped I have been getting better pretty much ever since.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus comes when our nervous system goes into a state of red-alert. When we are too switched on, too sensitive, too wary, too on the look-out, all our senses become hypersensitive. In this state our hearing is so switched on that it not only picks up noise from the outside world, but also the sounds inside the body.

This is what tinnitus is: being so sensitive that you hear the internal noises as well as the external ones.

Your ears are listening out so intensely that you hear any sound inside your head. Nervous impulses along the acoustic pathways sound like hissing or high-pitched squeaks, movements of structures and fluids in the head create cracks and pops. A yawn, heartbeat or a click in the ear-tubes can sound like a deafening roar, a regular pulse or a bang, respectively.

Tinnitus means you are too switched on. This is a whole body thing and not just an ear thing. Your whole central nervous system is in red-alert and tinnitus is just one of the many side effects of this whole body reaction.

Many people are told tinnitus comes from damage to the hair-cells in the cochlea – the part of the hearing apparatus that detects sound. This is not true. Damage to the hair cells causes deafness, not tinnitus. When you become deaf, you strain to hear more. It is the straining to hear more that can temporarily increase your sensitivity. An increase in sensitivity can temporarily make you more prone to tinnitus, not damage to the hair cells.

Tinnitus needs your central nervous system, – that means your whole body, to be in a state of red-alert to exist. The state of your nervous system is very changeable. Going into a state of red-alert is a reversible process. We move in and out of it all the time.

The important point here is that this means tinnitus is reversible. The magic wand that helps undo tinnitus is to bring your central nervous system back out of a state of red-alert. This state is also known as: fight or flight, sympathetic nervous system arousal, hyperarousal, overwhelm, and the adrenal response. But in this book I will use the most instantly understandable term, red-alert.

Anything that brings you out of this state of red-alert will help your tinnitus.

Know that this state of red-alert is a temporary condition. When you come out of it your tinnitus will improve.

Core Issue 2:  Tinnitus is NOT an ear-based problem

Stop thinking of tinnitus as coming from the ears. It is not your ears that are the
Problem. The problem comes from the fact your whole central nervous system has
become too switched on. To work with tinnitus you need to learn to get your whole
central nervous system to switch off. This book shows you how to do this. It is far
more useful to focus on working with your whole system rather than just the ears.

Tinnitus is like a burglar-alarm. It is going off for a reason and is indicating that your
nervous system still hasn’t been able to switch off. The alarm is not the problem. You
need to find out what triggered the alarm off in the first place. Trying to muffle the
alarm or switch it off is not dealing with the problem and won’t get rid of it.

Tinnitus is a useful and healthy alarm that will quieten down when you start doing the
right thing, start looking after yourself, and learn how to let go. The more your central
nervous system settles and the more you feel well in yourself, the sooner the alarm
will quieten.

Stop blaming the alarm, and start dealing with what set it off. My aim is to help you
enquire into what triggered the alarm off in the first place. As this becomes clear, you
will know where you need to focus.

Many people tend to get very focused on specific things as THE single cause of their
tinnitus, like a jaw problem, a knock on the head, or loud noise exposure. Of course
these can trigger tinnitus, but they are likely to be the final straw that broke the
camel’s back, after a whole life-time of previous challenges.

I’ve met people who have pointed to a specific place just like a mechanic and said,
“When this place is pressed, my tinnitus gets better, or if I hold my head like this,
(they crane their neck to one side) then the sound subsides.”

This is like a burglar-alarm going off and then trying to solve the problem by
adjusting the position of the speaker, or fiddling about with the wiring. Of course
interfering with the mechanism may have a big effect on the sound, but the cause of it
still remains the same: your nervous system is TOO switched on.

The point here is that if you are not in a state to start off with, then you wouldn’t still
have the tinnitus now. Or to put this more clearly, a person who is really calm, centred
and not in a state of red-alert, may get tinnitus from a blow to the head, but their
tinnitus will soon subside. The fact that your tinnitus has not yet subsided is because
you are still in a state of red-alert.

Most people get “normal tinnitus” after a loud concert or from exposure to silence. It
pipes up and then goes away again. Continued tinnitus is there in the vast majority of
cases because of a state of red-alert, and this state can change.

The trouble with focusing on one bit of your body or one event as a cause for tinnitus
is that, you are still focusing on your tinnitus. If you want to keep your tinnitus going,
then the best way to keep it there is to focus on it, worry about it, talk about it, and
react against it. It doesn’t matter if you are blaming a noisy drill, the next door
neighbour, or a clicking jaw, what you are in fact doing is focusing on your
tinnitus, homing in on your suffering and keeping it firmly there in your awareness.

Your reaction to your tinnitus, how you are relating to it right now is far more
important in determining your progress than the event that triggered it.

If you are calm and happy inside, then the muscles won’t be tight, the neighbours
won’t be irritating and the world won’t wind you up. If you feel calm and happy
inside, you are highly unlikely to spend much time noticing your tinnitus.

Secondly, remember that whatever you are blaming for your tinnitus is most likely to
be the final straw after a long, and almost imperceptible layering of challenges onto
your nervous system, called life.

A shockingly large percentage of the population over 50 have tinnitus. This is because
as we get older we accumulate more experiences that have been overwhelming or
hard to accept at the time. As a result we end up carting around this undigested life
experience or “baggage” in our nervous system. There is more “stuff” that needs
processing and this build up causes very specific reactions in our nervous system.

If you are 20 years old, and hit your head, you may get tinnitus for a day or two, but
because your nervous system is relatively free and has enough available space to deal
with challenging experiences, you get over things quickly. However, if you are 60,
and you hit your head, you may get long-term tinnitus. This happens because you are
much more likely to be bogged down with unprocessed baggage, resulting in
overwhelm and a nervous system that goes into red-alert. Being in red-alert leaves
you oversensitive and reactive. Therefore you notice the tinnitus more, create a
reaction against it, and by so doing, lock it firmly into place in your awareness.

Older people are more prone to getting tinnitus not because of their age, but
because they are less likely to have processed some of their baggage in therapy. You
can start unpacking your “stuff” and lightening the load at any age. This will help you
come out of red-alert.

It is not just one bit of your body, or one act that causes tinnitus, even though they are
important. It is the prevailing general state of your central nervous system that leads
to continued tinnitus. This means the way you approach yourself, the way you
experience being in your body and how you treat yourself are central to what keeps
tinnitus going!

Blaming the terrifying experience, bad news, operation, loud drill, medicine etc. is not
taking the whole picture into account. You will have had a whole lifetime of
challenges building up to that moment when the balance is tipped into a state of red-

It is far more useful to focus on what makes you feel well in yourself and get
guidance and support from a professional therapist. This will help you process a
lifetime of experience held in you body, bring you out of a state of red-alert, and settle
your system.

Merely focusing on releasing this muscle or repairing that bit of the body can be very
frustrating as it is unlikely to lead you to the treasure at the end of the rainbow.