Katalyst

- An agent that provoke change or speed significant change or action - Awareness that the ripple of change begins within

Sound Therapy.

My auditory system latches on to speech while missing silence and unable to enjoy music as before. Podcasts, guided meditations, and youtube all provide distraction away from tinnitus. How do spoken words (even in the background) impact the connection between the auditory and limbic systems?

With sound always present in my ear, using available media sources seems no brainier to distract. Over the first three months, this method, although not perfect, seemed to support tinnitus management, and then it didn't. Listening to words and sentences takes energy; they can tire the ears and place the limbic system into a state of "frequency to information" energy exchange. I have become tired of absorbing knowledge and opinion, adding to the dopaminergic need from algorithmic internet feeds. I became aware that what I was listening to places me into a sense of "doing", "indignation", or "judgement". These distractions took away tinnitus while also stealing my limbic system's ability to find stillness to the point that ambient nature sounds used for sleep became a chore.

My core sources of Treble Health and Julian Gower-Hill talk of sound therapy and neuroplasticity. I was attempting to use the former in isolation, e.g. bedtime only, leaving the rest of the day subject to internet algorithmic input likely base on my moods and sounds of the loud city. I am not surprised I have been living in the top half of my head for three months. The brain's ability to adapt need stillness, allowing the subconscious to observe new pathways toward peace.

Accessing sound via the internet and mobile device is convenient, but it comes with algorithms, dopamine and unconscious choices. Time provides my auditory system with something neutral to latch onto during the day, something I can choose.

My white noise machine arrived—a simple portable device with around 40 sounds. I switched off my mobile phone and TV in rebellion against my past efforts; I began cycling through the menu on the machine; light piano, chimes, seascapes, rain, thunder, and brooks softy produce from the speaker met my ears. Landing on a seascape sound, Immediately, my mind returns to memories of a peaceful childhood in Scotland. I sat breathing in time with the waves; for over 15 minutes, I felt tension move from my head into and away from my body. Things felt still. I wept, I released.

Encouraged in my stillness, I left the machine running while I performed some stretching, cooked a meal, read a book and wrote this post. It replaced my silence for peace rather than the noise and distraction of the internet. My tinnitus remains, but finding my pathway to habituate is not about ignoring it; it's about giving myself time, space and compassion toward the stillness that the mind, body and soul need.

Words are constructs of thought. Natural sound is the construct of being.

Silence to Sound

Eighty days of silent meditation. Finding those moments after work to sit and absorb the sound outside my city apartment supported me to see within, to find stillness and acceptance in a post-pandemic world.

Summer arrived, I caught the flu, and I heard there was a bug going about. After a week of fever, snot and sweat, it was gone. I woke one morning with a pitch emanating from my left inner ear. I was too quick to halt my disrupted meditation practice, thinking, "It'll Shift!"

...It didn't!

In the past, I met people with tinnitus, and the idea of it always filled me with dread. Now, here I am with the sound getting louder, destroying my sleep and causing sensitivity to sound.

A visit to a chiropractor to explore neck and jaw issues didn't address the situation. GP analysed blocked sinus tubes and provided meds. Nothing!

Continual Nights of dog whistles in my head, Sleeplessness anxiety drew me toward mild sedatives creating more worry about addiction and reliance on the need for sleep. I made an unhealthy anxiety loop.

But wait, stillness does not need silence. It needs presence and acceptance, and care. Sound is with us irrespective of what can be heard. Everything vibrates within its frequency.

Practical and positive resources need to be absorbed when life brings struggle—acceptance of my contribution towards hearing damage is also primary. The use of headphones has increased over the past two years. Not just for me but for broader society.

Unable to use headphones has ironically pushed me it a world that IS there, and I now listen to a world that I shut out for a long time.

Ninety days of constant sound unconsciously placed me into a more profound solitude. I halted meditation; I have been spending time wanting to escape from it rather than seek acceptance.

Within this fearful emptiness, I have found a key to my identity, not the mask of the ideal developed self. Humility holds me when there is no guide rail.

"Dare to walk through the valley of darkness, dare to dig deep into the mud and shit of your past, to spew out the suppressed energies that are seemingly so scary.
Be courageous and humble enough to be a warrior of the heart. This is an act of love, an act of kindness to yourself." - Amoda Maa

Finding kindness in the self opens the window to the resources needed for healing. Opening up about my condition with colleagues and friends, I realise it is possible to confidently integrate tinnitus into the being rather than run away from it. The core of tinnitus retraining revolves around cognitive and holistic therapies, both of which I have ( as "Observed" shows) have been core to my life. The difference here is that it is not about development; it's about clearing a path; as I age, imperfections will come with me; personal attitude determines how they are carried.

Observing known methods from a fresh angle provides a pathway to revealing something deeper from perceived struggles. Carrying a sound in my ear can be as light or heavy as I want it to be.

Change Approaches.

I sat speaking with my team leader, my voice trembling with wilful emotion. Serving the most excluded in the community always comes with challenges. Coming out of the pandemic, the already ignored seem forgotten; it's no longer a challenge; it's an abyss. People are being left to rot.

I am fortunate to work in a supportive team and thankful my service does not have a "statutory duty" to serve, allowing us to meet people before the problem. The solutions we offer are primary to ensure the system gets rent payments met by the state.

As all other services ( homelessness, social services, landlord services) are hamster wheeling in their key performance indicators, deeper, more complex work is placed into our inbox.

I visit people in their homes who have been left neglected until the point the system wants money out of them. When the cost of living crisis sits front and centre of society's consciousness, I refuse to leap into the technical problem solving that only serves the status quo. Instead, I strive to find presence with the person I meet, join the struggle and work with them rather than at them.

With every service being overwhelmed, bureaucratic armour is thick; I spend most of my time asking services to do the expected job. Endless to-fro emailing, long hold times, staff fearful of making a decision, and staring into a bureaucratic abyss does not serve anyone. Is accepting being a cog the only way to help people in modern times?

After 10 mins into our sessions, my therapist says, "That's all well and good, Karl, but what about you?"

I speak, and it seems no- one is listening; I am devaluing myself. When I stop talking and start listening, my observations are validated. I am more aligned with the people I serve than the platform that places me there; this platform is my distraction from the painful loneliness that fluctuates in my soul. I experience so many broken parts I have forgotten pathways to Joy. My heart mirrors the people I serve as I see more of myself in them.

Advocacy and community service take energy; in my tenure, the cumulative circumstances I find myself in compounds the sorrow I feel inside for the world and my lack of ability to empower people toward their hearts. Change is needed; with the words of Amanda Maa, I remember a forgotten lesson.

"Real transformation is not something you can just decide to do or make happen because you think it will make you immune to pain. Rather, it's a tipping point that surfaces in your innermost being when suffering becomes simply too much to bear."

This place resonates with my nature. Doing is not the answer; naturally, opening to the movement forward will steer me where my heart, home, and joy awaits. Clouds may obscure stars, but above, they still shine.

It Pierces and Teaches

"When a Stoic Faces a Problem, They: - Don't make things worse by whining/complaining- Focus on what they can learn- Endure what they can’t change- Look for opportunities to improve because of it- Embrace their fate."

It started small, I thought it would pass, but tinnitus crept up. Early on, I passed this buzz off trapped nerve or crick in the neck. That was my first assessment, so I got a chiropractor to click things back into place.

It remains; a week later, I woke to what can only be described as an inescapable dog whistle. I did everything I could to drown it out, background tv, laundry tumble dryer, even tried (a terrible idea) headphones, but nothing. Sleeping became impossible, so I had to call a mental health helpline to distract me.

Going to work, although a struggle, distracts the sound as I have to engage and serve with others. People see I am tired, but I endeavour to remain chipper. Becoming overactive "doing" provide the exhaustion needed to get some sleep, but as soon as something woke me up at night, I am up. So, go out, run or walk. The wind and ambient noise help drown it out.

A friend helped, providing some mild sedatives; I got some deep rest, waking the sound subsided, thinking, "IM CURED" I returned to the old habit of listening on headphones ( another bad Idea). The day after the dog whistle returned.

That was 24 hrs ago. Waking this morning, I noted the sound flux in and out. The "flux in" happens when walking to and from work near a considerable amount of tower block construction sites.

My ears have been damaged; how is yet to be seen, but how can they heal when being bombarded by the natural city sounds 24/7 (I live centrally)?

Returning home today, I was tired of sound, but I noted the tinnitus reduced or relaxed. I chose not to put on TV to distract but rather seize the moment to breathe into the silence I found myself in, returning to seated silent meditation.

I let the sound outside my window land while accepting any frequency within me. I breathed and used meditation beads to count. I began to see the tree from my window again, find the silence within me, and accept the healing done by sitting in stillness.

Pain and reactive escape are often paired. Escaping provides more chaos; take time, be patient and discover a compassionate place to escape.

Travelling

Be a traveller; not a tourist.

▪️ Take your time
▪️ Don't follow the herd
▪️ Get off the beaten path
▪️ Enjoy the little moments
▪️ Don't be afraid to get lost
▪️ In no hurry to reach the destination

After all, you get to go on this journey only once.

The Work

There is work to be done, but only in the self. When and how it is done is a personal choice. Please take what you own, half it. If enough is left, half it again. Now, with less distraction, the self becomes exposed. New distractions will be tempting, look inward for answers. The self needs to know you, without the external. We distract ourselves as fear grips our hearts. Allow freedom to permeate, and distraction will subside, exposing true purpose and inner contentment.

Master Gardener

She who cuts with blades of master gardener;
Finds growth in the lost,
Toils earth, discovers the heart,
Tends sprouts,nurtures family,
Honours her man
Holds her child
Nourishes the community
Connects with light
Enlivening the world
The great mother unites.

Freeing the Mother

The day started calmly. My sister and I woke early; my nephew was a bit slower. Caring as always, my sister prepared a picnic for later. Although she was playing it cool, I sensed her excitement in our adventure to the 'Tap of noth' Rhynie, Scotland. Mum joined us, gently placed into my rucksack, as the final leg of her journey in our world drew closer.

Driving and listening to Ludovico Euandi, our chat brought joyful memories to the surface. I found a presence here with my family.

Arriving at the base, sister and nephew expressed trepidation at the steep sections of the climb. Navigating cattle gates, the damp grass seeped through our socks until we met the gravelled incline to the summit.

Precipitation fluxed, jacket on = dry + jacket off = cool down, was the functional equation of the walk. Small steps and deep breaths supported the flow of movement and heightened awareness of the now.

Overlooking the 360 summit view, the wind blew our attention toward Rhynie at the valley's depth. Mums home, Mums Roots.

A bank of Scottish Heather (my sister's name) with a large rock beckoned as a final resting place and landmark overlooking the valley. We all agreed this felt right.

I was tentative in opening the vessel that held my mother's remains, and I found space, breathed and tipped it over, zig-zagging across the bank of heather, watching the dust blow toward her home. I stopped and called my sister over to continue; as she approached, I held her close and reminded her of my love. With her effort, Mum was freed on to the wind. My nephew took over from his mother, the youngest generation of our family, rightly saying goodbye to the oldest one he knew.

The wind was still with us, but I spoke the Tao Te Ching(V52) words over the gusts.

"The world has a source: the world's mother.
Once you have the mother, You know the children.
Once you know the children, Return to the mother.
Your body dies. There is no danger.
Block the passage, Bolt the gate: No strain Until your life ends.
Open the passage, Take charge of things
No relief Until your life ends.
Seeing the small is called brightness.
Maintaining gentleness is called strength.
Use this brightness to return to brightness.
Don't cling to your body's woes.
Then you can learn endurance."

We all took a breath, absorbed the view and readied for decent. A sense of completion fell over me. I was silent while my family spoke of the journey so far.

Bringing us level with valley walls, our descent firstly silenced the winds sheltered. I looked ahead to cloud breaking, and a vivid rainbow sat at the base of this historic hill. We all stood in awe, the universe providing us with a sign of alignment of our actions. I felt mum with us, watching and smiling.

Stopping for a picnic, the sky remained blue, and the sun shone. After sandwiches, my sweet tooth kicked in. My suggestion of going for coffee and cake (A fine piece) certainly was met with approval by all involved in the adventure, including mum.

Speaking with Father

I always visit him. It's nice to see someone leaves fresh flowers. Due to circumstances I do most of the speaking.

I let him know that like him , I'm not perfect , I rarely get thing right, and fearful letting people down.

I explained mum with be with the wind soon. She may have already joined him. They where soul mates, just crap a relationships.

Returning to roots, environments of child hood stir insights to the surface.

Standing there talking with dad , I found deep gratitude for him and mum. They got me to this place now, and even with all my struggles , who is to say I have lived my life wrong.

A good father helps a son overcome his doubt. Find a pathway, realise worth. Pity mine is not here to witness it. His spirit remains part of it, as it always has.

Meeting the Wind.

July 2020, our phone calls held more joy. She managed to get out for a "fine piece ( cream cake)" at the cafe and picnics in the gardens with her friend Amelia. The restrictions in Scotland seem north Korean in my view, so my daily phone calls connected mother and son with congruence. She articulated fear, not of sickness but being forgotten; this sat in her heart before the lockdowns (as it sits in mine). It taught me how isolation and oppression bring personal and societal vulnerabilities to the surface. She never realised how much I discovered when we spoke.

Autumn was approaching, and with the colder weather, she could not go out. Discussion of her legs feeling weaker filled me with concern. There was a tone of loss in her voice; depression took hold, her value forgotten. I reminded her of the courage she gave me. Her compassion rippled outwards through her children, and we all contribute our love in service to the world. 

My sister called; I booked a flight, hugged my sister, arrived at mum's bedside, held her hand and read her poetry. Then she was gone.

Remembering this time, as tomorrow I return to my family and roots. My sisters and I have grown closer. A blessing mum left us. 

Mum asked to be taken to "Tap o North", a hill looking over the place of her upbringing Rhynie, Scotland. Her ashes will meet the northern winds; her soul will join with nature. With closure comes connection, with family comes love, and with love comes light. 

Zen Torrettes

  • Important to work with nature of a the soul. None of us perform well when not aligned.

  • If we show the world a masked version of ourselves it will not treat us the way we want. As it does not see us.

  • If we learn to articulate our soul properly and accurately then people know where they stand with you.

  • Meditation , movement , walking, running followed by good meal, human connection and rest supports one centre.

  • When lost we live without chains.

  • Chosen struggle bring enduring lessons.

Now there is space to...

  • Switch off from work
  • focus on personal growth
  • reconnect with friend
  • build fresh Networks
  • remove lethargy
  • develop strength
  • build resilience
  • maintain wider commitments ( life/friends/work)
  • climb mountains swim rivers
  • dance
  • smile from the soul
  • pet the dragon
  • forgive myself
  • validate from the inside out.
  • cycle to woods
  • run the city
  • breathe
  • move
  • live

Lines for Living

  • I don't have time to rush
  • Willingness to be wrong invites truth
  • Do it on purpose and find out who you are.
  • There is no time, just an eternal now.
  • My presence radiates the potential for havoc.

Fear

The addiction to fear is on an industrial level. It provides people reason not to live as significant beings. The pre covid sedation of consumerism and tech was just the epidural to make sure people remain spineless when sovereignty is amputated form the soul.

Self Compassion Exercise

When I feel "Whats the point?"

I take a nice hot bath/meditate and remember these points

  • Was the task hard? ( How many others are attempting it)
  • Was I properly equipped? ( Sometimes You don't realise you need something until it not there)
  • Failure is not unique its just that society makes a lot of effort to hide theirs . I must own my failings.
  • Remember "Luck" is a feature of existence and sometimes it not on not on my side.
  • My worth is not dependent on external things. Separate achievement from love.
  • Like everything else , this too shall pass. Let the world move on.

Perception

Middle of this week, my casework seemed insurmountable. Reading, disseminating, communicating and absorbing fears can get exhausting. Something I note, when coming up to leave, the an emotional bottle necks appear on the calendar. "Must get stuff done, clear the decks." This thought process got too much by Thursday.

The sense of feeling "busy" does not sit well with me. I never use the word out loud. I fell back to a core productivity method , find deep work , leave the light threads to later. I picked a big three task, and by Friday all that remained was negotiable threads that can be delegated or rescheduled.

Inbox zero and clear action managers by 4.30pm. I reflected what other factors allowed this outcome. I noticed I didn't take on any new cases or task during duty. My influence on the team does land. When I began this role it was a manic rush to deal with duty inbox. Over the years I explained its better to frame it as a list. As it grows longer it identifies , truthfully, the capacity of the team.

This experience demonstrates that in this work its all about what I tell myself and how I let go of perceptions on how others will see me.

I quipped, "Imagine if pre-holiday case work days could be done all the time" the team laughed "It would kill us, and we would miss out on the banter that keeps us human"