Kindness matters

I often find myself awake at 4am. Sometimes there’s absolutely no reason and sometimes I’m in a lot of pain. Regardless of why I’m awake I become very aware of my tinnitus. It’s really quiet where I live at 4am; occasionally there’s a car going down the street, maybe snores from bedrooms or the hoot of an owl. So not surprisingly my tinnitus is more obvious as there is no masking.

One of the things I do is get up and respond to all those emails that have been lurking at the back of my mind. It might seem an odd thing to do at such an early hour. However, it clears my mind and my desk ready to tackle bigger challenges when I start work properly later that day. It does freak people out when they get emails with a 4am time stamp. They labour under the misapprehension that I’m some sort of crazed workaholic. I soon put them right!

Another thing I do, which helps to relax me, is to practice loving kindness meditation:

  • May I be well
  • May I be happy
  • May I be free from suffering

Loving kindness is a meditation of care, concern and tenderness – a feeling of warmth and compassion for yourself and others. Rooted in the Buddhist practice of Metta it’s a mindfulness technique which can be used to both focus the mind, and to open the mind to the suffering of ourselves and others.

Once I have offered myself loving kindness, I then offer it to others. There will usually be some people on my mind such as friends, family, acquaintances that are struggling in some way or other. But without fail I offer loving kindness to my students – past and present by name:

  • May James be well
  • May James be happy
  • May James be free from suffering

I suppose in a way it’s a form of prayer. Offering my compassionate good wishes out to the universe. I don’t know whether it makes my students feel any better, but I know it helps me.

But what about the rest of our tinnitus tribe? The millions around the world who do battle day in, day out with this challenging condition. If I could name you all I would, but I can’t. But you’re all in my heart. So I finish by offering loving kindness to everyone who is suffering with tinnitus…

  • May we all be well
  • May we all be happy
  • May we all be free from suffering