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Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?

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Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stickman2 5/19/18 2:59 AM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? curious 5/19/18 2:59 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stickman2 5/20/18 6:15 AM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? curious 5/20/18 3:19 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Nick Green 5/21/18 3:32 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stickman2 5/21/18 7:47 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Paul Smith 5/22/18 6:40 AM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stickman2 5/21/18 7:29 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Tashi Tharpa 5/20/18 6:39 AM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stickman2 5/20/18 9:08 AM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Paul Smith 5/20/18 10:42 AM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stickman2 5/21/18 7:33 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stirling Campbell 5/21/18 4:33 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stickman2 5/21/18 7:38 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stirling Campbell 5/22/18 11:23 AM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stickman2 5/22/18 10:29 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Nick Green 5/23/18 4:44 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stickman2 5/23/18 5:42 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stirling Campbell 5/23/18 5:43 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Tashi Tharpa 5/23/18 6:10 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stickman2 5/23/18 8:57 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? alguidar 5/24/18 7:54 AM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Stickman2 5/24/18 3:34 PM
RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ? Lars 5/25/18 3:41 PM
Hi all, I've been reading about research that says people with tinnitus have altered attention and emotional processing. For example

People with tinnitus process emotions differently from their peers, researchers report

"Activity in the amygdala, a brain region associated with emotional processing, was lower in the tinnitus and hearing-loss patients than in people with normal hearing. Because they've had to adjust to the sound, some plasticity in the brain has occurred. They have had to reduce this amygdala activity and reroute it to other parts of the brain because the amygdala cannot be active all the time due to this annoying sound."

Ringing in ears keeps brain more at attention, less at rest, study finds

"The researchers found that, in patients with chronic tinnitus, the precuneus is more connected to the dorsal attention network and less connected to the default mode network. Additionally, as severity of the tinnitus increased, so did the observed effects on the neural networks. The results were published in the journal NeuroImage: Clinical."For patients, this is validating. Here is something related to tinnitus which is objective and invariant," Husain said. "It also implies that tinnitus patients are not truly at rest, even when resting.
This could explain why many report being tired more often. Additionally, their attention may be engaged more with their tinnitus than necessary, and that may lessen their attention to other things. If you have bothersome tinnitus, this may be why you have concentration issues."

Emotion processing in brain changes with tinnitus severity

"Patients with lower tinnitus distress used an altered pathway to process emotional information. The path did not rely on the amygdala, commonly believed to play an important role in emotion processing in the brain. Instead, patients who had adapted to their tinnitus symptoms used more of the brain's frontal lobe, a region critical for attention, planning and impulse control. The researchers suggested that the greater activation of the frontal lobe might be helping to control emotional responses and reduce tinnitus distress."


I have tinnitus, and I've read a few threads here of people who have it too, sometimes recalling how it came on during meditation.
I've also noticed that it can get worse during concentration meditation.

Maybe the recent research will help validate or explain those experiences, or provide clues to deal with them.

Speculating - maybe the inner focus required in some mediation ractices is enough to start to make the brain compensate for the loss of perceived signal from the outer world, and hence bring on tinnitus.

It would be unfortunate if the inner attention required for meditation practice actually causes tinnitus, and that may mean that continued practice just reinforces the plasticity effects, who knows ?

But also types of practice may help when the cause is physical damage to the auditory system.

So I offer the above to help around this issue, and I wonder if anyone has any thoughts or experiences that may help us understand and deal with it ?

If you've got any thoughts or experiences in this, or info, please post

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/19/18 2:59 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Hey Stickman2, there was a really cool thread at the DhO on the 'Nada' sound, which I think is often taken to be tinnitus.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/85173

The short story is that internal ringing can be a great meditation object. You can investigate it to detect different tones, tones within tones, and different locations, some pretty obvious impermenance, and the other characteristics. 

I experience the ringing too (and I suspect most people do, if they stop to listen).  It seems to become stronger and weaker, or more or less noticeable, at different times. It used to occasionally annoy me, but hasn't concerned me since I started serious meditation.

I also read somewhere that most instances of tinnitus don't seem to have a physical cause.  That has let me to think that the ringing sounds are actually the background hum of the auditory cortex.  So I choose to intepret tinnutus as the opportunity to hear the carrier wave of my mind, and happily let it hum away.

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/20/18 6:15 AM as a reply to curious.
Hi curious, well, you can meditate on it, and maybe that's good advice for some people, but I just see it as an illness that I want rid of. I get the opposite, if it plays up during meditation it just makes me want to stop. I don't see it as something that will be conquered by meditation, for me anyway. If other people have defeated it by further practice it would be good to know. I think that would depend on the cause though.

You mention nada sound so that's a good point -
to what extent does this occour in meditation communities ?
at what point does it become seen as a pathology ?
does it go away ?
is it mistakenly assumed to be a good thing ?
does it get seen as an austerity, like the aches and pains of sitting, or hard zen training ?

And because tinnitus seems to be having effects on concentration and emotion processing, does it place an extra burden on meditators that could be simply avoided ?

Speculating, is it the turning of attention away from sensory input that mimics the hearing signal loss that often brings about tinnitus ?
(I don't know if it's the background hum, strictly speaking, but the brain fills in when there is a loss of signal)

Or, given that tinnitus can also arise after emotional upset, is it to do with the emotional effects of meditation ?

Or both ?

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/20/18 6:39 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Interesting. I have it pretty bad. Probably half of it was due to a single Mudhoney show in the 1990s. Goddamn they were loud! 
Playing the drums in a band was also not a great thing for my hearing.
I never feel much distress about it, at least not consciously, and sometimes wonder if feeling that it 'shouldn't be there' is the primary problem for people who see medical professionals about it, etc. But of course, it may be the case that others have a very high-volume tinitis. 
I like the idea of embracing it, bringing metta to it, tuning into it as an object and, in general, being welcoming toward it. This may or may not help with any sub-perceptual neurological changes related to it, but what else could one do?

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/20/18 9:08 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
Mudhoney eh ? Reading Festival 1990. Big fan.
Aanyyyywayyyy.....
Good that you can deal with it and I expect that, as with yourself, my regular proximity to speaker bins has a lot to do with it.
But I don't know, because I went from grunge to jhanas in a short time. For all I know I caused or exacerbated it with meditation. And now that I know that there is a rerouting of emotional processing in people with tinnitus, according to scans, that opens new possiblities. So I'll be interested to further see what people experience around this.

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/20/18 10:42 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2, for me tinnitus (loudness and intensity) is directly correlated with intensity of practice. Less practice - gets quieter, more - gets louder. 

I was worried when I started hearing it, but then I noticed it's not the sound that's the problem (it doesn't hurt or interfere), but my stories about it. After some time brain got used to it and habituated it out of my awareness. It's always there, but in the periphery and doesn't bother me. I use it to concentrate, it's a great object to silence (hah) the mind emoticon

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/20/18 3:19 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Hey Stickman2.  

I would be a little cautious of the medical research because its assumes a direction of causation. Tinnitus might be the effect, rather than the cause, of some of the changes in attention they talk about. That said, it is interesting that those links confirm that medical reseachers don't understand tinnitus, and that it often doesn't seem to have a physical basis.

As for the tinnitus, itself; I don't think it is a good thing or a bad thing, it is just a thing. It can be used as an attention object, or not used as an attention object. If it is bothering you, then you may have built up a habit of negative mental reaction towards it.  One way to unwind that habit  is just to observe, throughout the day, when it is louder, when it is quieter, whether it rushes with the pulse during exercise, whether you hear it when you talk, whether you hear it when you listen to music, and so forth.  Can you describe it, can you track it? Also, what Paul Smith said.  emoticon

There are lots of other constant sensory inputs that we leave in the background (the touch of clothing, peripheral vision, the feel of teeth in the mouth, the flow of air in the nostrils and so on).  So we are clearly capable of paying more or less attention to these constant sensations, and being more or less annoyed by them. 

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/21/18 3:32 PM as a reply to curious.
Hi Stickman2, like Paul (Smith) I've noticed my tinnitus is often correlated with intensity of practice. When I did a longer retreat in 2013 it was interesting to notice the pitch of tinnutus appreaed to relate to the stage of insight, as I wrote back then:

"What was amazing was the volume of tinnitus in my ears. By day three this was at record levels (like after a really loud gig) and had I not been forewarned by MCTB (i.e. changing perceptual thresholds), I would have been really spooked. My tinnitus also appeared to change pitch and frequency depending where I was on the Progress of Insight: entrance to DN would be heralded by a drop in frequency and a drum like beat in my left ear, then as I moved along DN these discordant/ dissonant chords would ring at higher and even louder frequencies in both ears that was truly ugly. Finally, as I entered Equanimity the pitch appeared to increase but soften into harmonics as the tinnitus would finally quieten down."

In subsequent retreats I've paid less attention to my tinnutus, which has become less bothersome. The main thing is that reaching equinimity helps as it no longers annoys so - which is usually a good sign I'm in that vicinity.

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/21/18 4:33 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
I have had mild tinnitus since my late 20's as the result of repetitive Rickenbacker + Vox AC30, and A. Zildjian abuse.  emoticon

After Stream Entry, my first retreat/sesshin coincided with a NEW version of this, not quite like my original tinnitus. It is/was much louder and more harmonically rich.

Like others, the deeper/longer/more regular my practice the louder it is. It is also often very loud when I wake up, strangely. 

I have played around with using it as an object of focus, but rarely - I almost always sit in "open awareness". 

It doesn't bother me at all - it's just a sensation like any other sensation. 

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/21/18 7:29 PM as a reply to curious.
Hey curious,
Effect rather than cause ? I don't know, I suppose it's possible but they must have good reason to see it that way.
I'm iffy about regarding something as neither good nor bad when it's a symptom like this. I get the idea of regarding unpleasant things with equanimity if they are unavoidable, but I wonder if adherence to tradition is leading to a mislabelling of a pathology as a sign of progress. I guess it varies, some people may be OK with it but I could definitely do without it.
On the other sense, I wonder if there are any changes in those too once attention is withdrawn from them regularly? Speculating, it may be that hearing is just more vulnerable to plasticity changes that manifest as tinnitus.
cheers.

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/21/18 7:33 PM as a reply to Paul Smith.
Hi Paul yeah that's pretty much what I found, the more you practice the more it comes. It would be helpful to see if people have mapped it to jhanas or length of time of a sit, does it go away after a while and what is that correlated to, does it have a rhythm ?
For me it started about 25 years ago and I had no community to bounce my experience off of so it's interesting now to see how prevalent it is.

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/21/18 7:38 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
"Rickenbacker + Vox AC30"
Dear Santa...

So as with others it may be noise damage initially but which changes after meditation. And it seems it doesn't bother many people, but for some (there are a few threads on DO) it does. I used to suffer terribly now it seems bearable - but our emotions change with age even if we don't meditate, so I wonder if the noises do too as they are linked.
ta

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/21/18 7:47 PM as a reply to Nick Green.
Hi Nick,

 Thanks, do you find it gets more intense with concentration on inner processes such as body scanning or breath watching ?
I still don't really understand DN or what the difference is between just feeling unhappy, but that's interesting that you note a link.
As I understand it DN isn't an inevitablity in this path, but is common.
What I'm thinking is that if the two come and go together then what if it is a pathology rooted in the same thing, and can it be avoided ? It's food for thought thanks.

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/22/18 6:40 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2, I got into th 1st jhana using nada as the object. The trick was to listen to sounds in both ears at the same time and ignore everything else. Mind speeds up (dropping of non-nada objects gets faster) and nada starts to resonate with itself, focusing on the resonance put me into 1st jhana. This is a solid method for me, because it's based on a simple, stable object. I tried few more times to reproduce the 1st jhana and this is what I found:

* More energy in the system -> louder sound, easier to focus on. Unfortunately, more energy = more vibrations, so more objects to ignore, so it important to find an equilibrium.
* Focusing on a frequency in just one ear sometimes invokes a buzzing sound, like a mosquito or a fly. These virtual flying things have a tendency to want to fly into the skull via the ear canal. Usually I get startled by them and they disappear immediately. Once a single "mosquito" went into the skull and started to fly inside, it was pretty cool. This was before sleep, while lying in bed. I think this method can induce vipassana jhanas (things vibrating).
* Access concentration is marked by increased vibration / energy. This can be a bit scary, and can interrupt the process. My pattern is: work up to AC, just before the 1st jhana, fail to notice (and ignore) the anxious reaction and get back to the beginning. Quite frustrating emoticon

Sometimes a rushing sound is heard, located inside the spine / skull, it's like rushing electricity. Focusing on it brings silence quicker than listening to sound in ears.

I suspect listening to nada in specific way puts the brain into a different (higher) frequency (?) of operation. Brain recognizes this as very beneficial and releases reward chemicals (1st jhana) so there's a reason to repeat the experience.

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/22/18 11:23 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:
"Rickenbacker + Vox AC30"
Dear Santa...

Haha... Still have them, though after SE I lost most of my interest in playing music.

-

I know the "just sensation" stuff might ruffle the feathers of those that feel they practice hard and earnestly, but when you can see things (or the lack of them) for what they are, that is just the reality of it. It has always been the awareness that practices so hard, not "you". It's worth reading some Dogen (Zen) on this topic, regardless of your practice tradition or lack thereof.

The ringing just another reminder that what we are is the awareness that lies behind the world of objects, and this sound, along with the "silence" and the "panoramic" seeing are qualities of being awake once you can see how that is. I never feel anything but gratitude for them.

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/22/18 10:29 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
It seems there are some people who do get tinnitus from meditation, and some who don't. And of these two groups  there are some people who find it a problem, and some people who don't.
Some of the accounts on threads at DO indicate quite a lot of distress and definitely seem like reports of illness. I tend to think it's an illness, but the rewards people get from meditation make it worth the payoff for some people, as it is in music. Some people even see ringing ears as a sign of dedication to a band, and the price of pleasure, but some really regret paying that price.
I'm starting to see tinnitus like a sport injury, whether people tolerate it, use it, or not it's still an injury.

Any ideas as to what the difference is between people who get it and people who don't ?

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/23/18 4:44 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Hi Stickman,

Your last is a really good quesiton and I'm not sure. I believe my tinnitus was a result of being in a band and loud gigs in my twenties. That said, I'm quite a perfectionist/controller by nature, meaning tinnitus can be a nightmare for me as I can get locked into a spiral/loop of 'frustration - this will last for ever - anxiety' then gets ever tighter. However, one thing that really made a difference for me (as well as noticing it drop in equinimity) is when a practitioner friend, who had to have a serious operation for cancer, empathised with me and wrote that 'threats to health go so deep within us, it's hard to be objective'. Something in their clarity and care really impressed me and helped me separate second arrow suffering from first. Not sure if that is what you are asking about but I suppose what I'm saying is that whether concentration practice effects my tinnitus or not, each time it's flared up badly, I've somehow managed to move past it to another more accomadating side. It can be a real nuisance and I wouldn't be surprised if I have another 'spike' at some point in the future but it hasn't ever badly effected my practice on retreat (or at home), which is the main thing.

Nick

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/23/18 5:42 PM as a reply to Nick Green.
Hi Nick thanks for your reply. Well, it just seems that, if not everyone gets it, then it might be something avoidable.
I also should be asking about other things that go along with it, like buzzing feelings or tensions which I also get. It seems to blot out a lot of my sensory experience at times. Some neuroscientist input would be good here, but I need to do a bit more background research too, the discoveries about the changing focus of emotional processing. Actually, I would think that tinnitus brought on by meditation would be very interesting to neuroscientists, it should tell us something about how the brain works and it's vulnerabilities.

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/23/18 5:43 PM as a reply to Stickman2.
Stickman2:

Any ideas as to what the difference is between people who get it and people who don't ?

I'm beginning to get the impression that people who get it are both musicians and meditators. : )

I strongly feel there are two separate issues here: Tinnitus and "nada" sound. They are NOT the same, from my perspective, though they do seem similar and can blend together. I didn't hear the "nada" sound/"silence" aspect of it until SE.

Is it possible to hear "nada" sound/"silence" before SE? How many had some tinnitus BEFORE hearing nada "sound/"silence"?

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/23/18 6:10 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
I hear a very distinct rushing-roaring sound at times that seems wholly practice-related. It doesn't have the ringing quality of tinnitis, which I'm pretty sure I've had since at least my 20s.  

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/23/18 8:57 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
OK, I'm not so acquainted with the arcana of pali terminology so thanks for the distinction. I've read a lot of esoteric stuff over the years and I know that mystical experiences or trance states often involve sounds like bells for instance.

Here are some DO threads with accounts of tinnitus
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5738039
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/676965
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5732863

And a lot more. It's interesting how common an issue it is.
But I haven't seen any thing about curing it with meditation. It would be good to see an example (I may have missed it) of it going away permanently with practice.

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/24/18 7:54 AM as a reply to Stickman2.
I do have strong tinnitus and seemed to get louder with meditation practice.

Strangely doesnt bother me, i´m hiper sensitive to noise.

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/24/18 3:34 PM as a reply to alguidar.
Well, alguidar, the recent research made a comparison between people who are, or are not, bothered by their tinnitus.

The ones who were less bothered seemed to use the frontal part of the brain for emotional processing more, rather than the amygdala.

https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52626-New-study-shows-tinnitus-severity-is-related-to-emotional-processing
"the patients who weren’t as bothered by tinnitus used more of the brain’s frontal lobe to process emotions. The heightened activity in the frontal lobe was notable because the frontal lobe is typically used more for attention, planning and impulse control."

Well, there's the target of a lot of meditation right there.

So there are two populations at least within those who have tinnitus, and maybe this is reflected in contemplative's anecdotes.
Sounds promising doesn't it ? I wonder if someone somewhere has this figured out?

I also experience tinnitus worse if I am subject to stress or adrenaline, and there is a crossover between adrenaline and jhanas I think - piti as a manifestation of a stimulant neurotransmitter. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

And I also note that it calms right down when I am engaged in rational, physical thinking - say about astronomy or such.

Maybe readers have similar experience ?

thanks.

RE: Tinnitus, attention and emotional processing, realted to practice ?
Answer
5/25/18 3:41 PM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Stirling Campbell:

I'm beginning to get the impression that people who get it are both musicians and meditators. : )

I strongly feel there are two separate issues here: Tinnitus and "nada" sound. They are NOT the same, from my perspective, though they do seem similar and can blend together. I didn't hear the "nada" sound/"silence" aspect of it until SE.

Is it possible to hear "nada" sound/"silence" before SE? How many had some tinnitus BEFORE hearing nada "sound/"silence"?


Interesting theory regarding being a musician. Playing an instrument requires the ability to distinguish between fairly small increments of tone/frequency (and the gaps between notes), in a way it's like they practise vipassana on sound even if they're not meditators. Personally I heard tinnitus for years before playing an instrument, and only after doing vipassana for a while (using primarily sound as an object) did I start noticing the nada sound.

While sitting last night it seemed like the nada sound was like the audible version of nimitta. Nimitta is like seeing your mind, perhaps nada is hearing it? emoticon