Even in absolute silence, inner background sounds may be heard. These sounds are generated by sensory-hair cells in the inner ear. However, the sounds of ‘silence’ are subtle and not so easy to detect.
People with ringing ears can easily hear internal sounds in total silence. Those without hearing disorders also generate inner background sounds that are not as intense. They may sound like hissing, ocean waves, clicking, buzzing, whooshing, or ringing. We don’t register these sounds while busy with everyday activities, but with awareness, it’s possible to tune into them.
I can hardly hear in my right ear; it’s constantly ringing. Whenever I bring awareness to my hearing, there is a static wooshing sound.
During my military service, using earplugs wasn’t always possible, and I guess I didn’t protect my ears as I should have from all the booms and bangs. After being dismissed from the army, my hearing deteriorated. I have learned to live with it by using my left ear. In many cases, it’s challenging for me to know the direction of a sound source, which can be frustrating.
This constant background imbalance impacts my ability to center and concentrate in silence, and that’s no fun. But I also use the continual ringing as an indicator of changes. Every cloud has a silver lining.
I use the sounds of silence to get indications of my shifting emotions and to assess the impact that different breathing practices have on me.