Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Somatics and Tinnitus: Bodywork and Movement



This week, a friend kindly contacted me about a youtube clip she had seen concerning the benefits of tinnitus and somatics.  The thing is, there is no medication, treatment or way of reducing or eliminating  tinnitus. I have learnt to live with it by nourishing my soul. When my spirit is uplifted, so I am better able to deal with my condition. 

Sadly, a whole business has developed of so called specialists trying to sell us 'The Cure' so I am skeptical having tried everything from flicking myself on the back of my head, to patches, to special hearing tablets, you name it and none of it comes cheap ... However, I have had somatic treatment before for my back and it was successful. Here's the video that my friend sent ...



Somatics was developed by Thomas Hann and is based on neuro-muscular education using a technique known as pandiculation to release involuntary muscle contraction. In easy speak, as far as I can tell, the body learns certain movements to protect itself and actually, over time, these can be counter productive.

According to Dr Mandell, who is the Doctor in the video clip,  tinnitus sufferers can get relief by relaxing the big muscles in the neck through movements because these have become tense. I can see that. It makes sense to me. 

So, given that my tinnitus is classified as severe and debilitating, that is, 24/7 non stop and about 5 different conflicting tones, and given that I live with hyperacusis, a sound distortion, as a complication, I decided to go to Darren Gibbs, a Somatic Educator in Haverfordwest. It is Darren that I have seen before.

It was a lovely session with Darren lasting about an hour and a half, costing £40 and I did feel calm and relaxed afterwards but truth is, it had absolutely no effect on my tinnitus. However, the session DID teach me something very important that I have not noticed about my body's reaction to hearing loss and I think this may help others, so I will share it.

During a somatic session, one becomes acutely aware of how the body is reacting and every time Darren was giving me instructions, I noticed that my stomach muscles clenched, my face frowned and I held my breath, listening so intensely in case I did not hear him. A bit like as if I was preparing to open a stiff jar. I did not need this intense effort to hear him. In fact, I was so concerned about listening to all the words to make sure I caught them all, that I didn't really hear him at all ... so once I had noticed this, I stopped clenching my stomach, dropped my frown, smiled, started to breathe, sat back and felt relaxed, likely the fist time I have felt relaxed listening to someone since my sudden hearing loss. Listening is an holistic experience and by focusing so intensely on hearing every word, I was missing something of the joy of it as an interaction. 

I started to wonder how it must be for people in conversations with me; my face frowned, stomach clenched, concentrating on their every word in case I miss any. How oddly intense it must be for people. I apologise now to all my friends  who must have wondered where the old me had gone. Well, I'm back. And that's how it feels, like I have let go of worrying about whether or not I can hear you. So, the good news is, that although I might have to ask you to repeat a few things, I will no longer be scowling at you. Instead smiling and enjoying how beautiful you are.

So, thanks Darren, that was an extremely valuable thing to learn. Oh and yesterday, Darren sent me an email with lots of tips and movements for me to maintain ... will keep you posted folks as to any other interesting finds.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope your days are filled with moments of pure love, for love is what makes it all worthwhile.




Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Top Tips for Recording Dementia Friendly Environmental Sound



Recording Fact Sheet: Sound Memories Radio

It’s so lovely that people have been sending in sound recordings to be included in our Dementia Friendly, Environmental Sound Map

When we are making dementia friendly recordings at Sound Memories Radio, we have to make sure that the sound is what we call ‘clean’ or ‘pure’ that is, without background noise. 

If you want to join in recording for us, here are a few of my Top Tips. If you follow them, it is more likely that your recording will be included.

   1. Whatever you are using to record, you are better to put it down somewhere so that it does not pick up the sound of your hands or the crinkle of your coat or your footsteps, breath, sneeze, sniff … etc



  2. Try to be sure that everyone with you (including the dog) knows that you are recording and ask them kindly to be quiet. Even if they tip toe around in the background, the sound may be picked up by someone with hyperacusis, a sound distortion commonly experienced by people who are in the later stages of dementia.

3. Make sure there is no background traffic noise; the worst culprit for this is the road noise in the distance because although you might think ‘Oh that’s not very loud,’ to someone with hyperacusis, it may well end up being louder than your birdsong, river, sea etc. 



4. Listen back to your recordings as a tester and try a few times is the best. Rivers are very difficult to capture unless you are up close to them. Off course, be careful not to fall in or drop your phone. (Bit of essential Health and Safety there) 

5. Record for @ 3 or 4 minutes. This is why it is good to put your recording equipment down safe, because even light things get heavy after a while.



6. Try using your voice recorder on your phone. This is much easier for me to use. If you send me a video it creates an awful lot of work for me because I have to take the sound off your video through my mixing desk in my upstairs studio and then upload it to my computer, whereas when it is sent as an audio file, I can use it as it is. 

7. Please inbox your audio files to me, Cheryl Beer, via the Sound Memories Radio Group Page on facebook. 

8. If you really like contributing and are likely to do it on an ongoing basis, you might like to think about investing in a Tascam hand held recorder. This is what I use. It has 2 mics and picks up good surround sound for a relatively cheap piece of kit. But, buy a new one, is my advice, so you know there are no issues with it. I have been using these for years and to my mind, simple is the best option. There is one with a 4 track recorder, you don’t need that because you are capturing real, authentic sound, so just get the one track version which comes in at @ £75. That may sound like a alot but mine has lasted for years and I use it for loads of things. 



Oh and the other great thing that I nearly forgot, is that you can buy a sound excluder for it, which is a fluffy microphone shield. It comes with a sponge one but the fluffy ones are better. That way you are less likely to get that horrible wind noise.



9. If you do buy a tascam make sure you press record. I know that sound obvious, but when you press record once, it flashes but is not recording. It’s a chance for you to test the sound levels and adjust them. Then set up the recorder and press record the second time, being sure to keep very still and quiet. 



10. And finally, I think it’s wonderful that you want to help us. Thank you so much but if your recordings are not used, it will be because of the sound quality and not the beautiful gesture you have made. 

11. PS: When you send me your recordings, please tell me what you have recorded and where, so that I can tell those that are listening and it will be nice to put your name too, so that people know who has kindly helped us.



I think that's everything but if something else pops to mind, I will come back and edit this page ... and likewise, if you have any questions just pop along to the group page. Right, I'm off out in the sun to make the most of the woods.

  Thank you once again, for helping me to bring the outdoors to those who are no longer able to go outside.



Monday, 4 June 2018

Dementia Research: Re-connecting to a sense of self through place


Those of you that have followed my journey for some time, will know that for the last four years I have been pioneering innovative ways of empowering older people to be integral to the development of dementia friendly  resources. At sound memories dementia friendly radio, we have our Life Story Channel which is doing really well, a new Inter-generational Channel and our Environmental Sound Maps. 

Last week I blogged explaining why we are looking for funding to explore new ways of working with those who are living with end stage dementia, where hyperacusis is very common. This is a debilitating hearing condition that causes random sound distortion and there is no medication or treatment for it. You can read the full BLOG POST HERE


I know hyperacusis only too well. I have the condition myself as a complication of my own hearing loss. I can not think of anything worse than being in a noisy care home or ward with the sound of air beds and floor buffing machines.

Isn't it enough that someone has end stage dementia. To think that they have this additional complication is heart breaking to me. It was on the discovery of this end stage complication with dementia that I began to explore new ways that we might be able to create something at Sound Memories using Silence and Nature, enabling someone to still get the sense of the outdoors that connects them to self and some relief from their condition. 

Well, a very moving thing happened. In response to that call out this weekend, I had a telephone call from a local family whose mother had sadly, suddenly passed away and the family would like to support our research with donations from their mother's funeral. We will dedicate the new radio channel to their mother. I am almost moved to tears by this kindness. What a wonderful tribute to their mother and a poignant way to remember a loved one, by helping many others.

If you would like to leave a legacy to your loved ones in this way, please feel free to get in touch with me at our Group Page.

I hope wherever you are and whatever stage of life you find yourself, that you can find some moments of joy in your day.






Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Up Close With Nature: A New Creative Approach to End Stage Dementia & Sound Distortion



As the Director and Founder of Sound Memories Dementia Friendly Radio Station  I have found that a one to one approach when working with people best accommodates the needs of each individual, which vary greatly depending on the type and stages of dementia that each person experiences.


At Sound Memories Radio, our Life Story Channel was born from my MA assignment, working with Louie, a 92 year old woman living in a dementia friendly care home in Carmarthenshire. 

The Life story Channel is aimed at people with early stage dementia, helping with memory loss and providing peer stories for reminiscence.

Then we have our Environmental Sound Map which was an idea born from my work with Mary, who had end stage dementia and longed for the sounds of the farm. Her emotional response to the local sound map I created for her, led to a more extensive piece of work capturing sound maps for other older people.

But research now shows that people who are living with end stage dementia or semantic dementia are more likely to feel discomfort with sound such as music, speech and background noise, as these are complex acoustic signals that rely on the cognitive processes which are effected by dementia. In fact, a high percentage of people with end stage or semantic dementia are known to experience tinnitus and hyperacusis. I know first hand how debilitating these conditions can be.

This is an interesting article about it  HERE from the US National Institute of Health.

We also know that for people with end stage dementia, their lives can become very small and based indoors, so they can no longer visit the places that used to give them joy.

Taking all of these facts into consideration, and also knowing the noisy environments that hospitals and homes can be, I am currently collating a sound free, nature video library. The intention is that the older person with sound intolerance can wear sound excluding headphones  and watch the slowly moving films of their local areas such as parks, museum grounds etc. This way, they can stay connected to outdoors.

You can see one of the films as an example HERE.

I am currently looking for a Research Partner to provide funding so that I can take the work into Care Homes. I would like to trial the films with 3 older people who are living dementia and sound distortion to measure the benefits. 

If you feel that you or your organisation would like to fund this work with me, please feel free to get in touch to talk it through. 

Alternatively, if you would like to make a donation towards the work, here is a link to our GOFUNDME page. Thank you.









Fallen on Deaf Ears



You know me, I always have a few projects on the go and one of the back burners that has been coming along nicely is my campaign to keep my song history alive, even though I am now deaf and can't perform due to tinnitus and hyperacusis. 

I put out a call on facebook and started a Group Page called PLEASE HELP ME KEEP MY MUSIC LIVE and had a wonderful response from musicians.

And then the lovely Michael Kennedy from Welsh Connections and Radio Tircoed contacted me and offered to organise an album of my tracks performed by other people as a fundraiser for my project Sound Memories Dementia Friendly Radio Station ... he spoke with Death Monkey Records in Swansea and they are releasing the album. How amazing is that. Michael is organising it all so get in touch with him if you're interested. They are organising a live night with recording from the desk for those who do not have the ability to record themselves.

Already we have had  the most wonderful track from Karl Schramm a musician in Germany who has been in his studio recording a version of my song flirting with Cliche. He's going to manage the press releases in Germany. Here's a little video with the original song from my Snow Tracks album which I made with my little sister in my kitchen when I first wrote it in 2011 ... 



I can't wait to play you Karl's version. I think I like it even better than my own! LOL. It's so wonderful to hear other people's interpretation of my work.

The working title for the album is 'Fallen on Deaf Ears' and we're going to use a black and white picture for the cover taken by Rowenna Russell of me preforming on the main stage at Women in Tune Festival. It is likely my favourite live shot.


Roweena also took the shot at the top of the page at the same festival. She really is a gifted photographer, I love watching her journey through pictures.

It feels very special indeed that my songs are still going to be out there doing their thing even though I can't be.

Always with love and an open heart, dear ones.







Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Ceremony for a Roundhouse



What a dream, to have a round house. There is something so deeply spiritual about the idea of a house with curves, built in the ancient and traditional ways, with local stone and wood. 





So, when friends of mine, Jenni and Ali who own West Wales Sound Healing Centre, put out a call to ask folk if they would like to sponsor one of the wooden poles for their vision of a roundhouse, I jumped at the chance. First, to help them as they are such loving and giving people but secondly, to know that I am a tiny part in making a roundhouse happen, lifts my heart.


When it was completed, all the sponsors were invited to a Roundhouse Ceremony where we named our wooden pole and chose a sign that would be engraved upon it. I couldn't think of anything that I wanted to put on my pole and wondered if it might be profound to leave it empty but then it dawned on me that nothing and everything are one of the same continuum and so I decided to make my symbol the OM, representing everything, the divine reality, the whole universe.

To be inside this structure is to sit in the centre of a  prayer. It is utterly divine. What struck me most of all about  the roundhouse, apart from how beautiful it is, is the smell, the combination of the wood and the earth, it smelt so healing, almost intoxicating. The roundhouse felt much bigger on the inside than it looked from outside, a spiritual tardis. One by one, we all stated our loving intentions and assigned our symbols to the poles, which will be engraved at a later date.



Then Judith played flute as we made our way slowly back to the daylight, now totally aware of our every footstep upon the earth. 





Once everyone had gone up to the main house for cake and tea, I slipped back to the roundhouse to capture a little film footage to show you ... 

The track playing with the film is a mantra I have written called SomakAnta for the Moon Goddesses. I am chanting and the handpan is being played by the lovely Shey Edlington. You can hear the full track on The Mantra Experiments Album HERE 




You can find out more about the West Wales Sound Healing Centre HERE



Empower her with Flowers




I love working from home, but we don't really have that much space in our little stone weaver's cottage. 



So, twice a month, I book into the Powerhouse Arts Centre in Llandysul for an afternoon of Research and Development. I love it. I get to have the whole space to myself and play with ideas, without the clutter of home. 



Having this space enables me to explore within almost as if the clearing of space creates a place ot think more clearly. 



This week I made a film advert for my new story BLOD and completed my collection of 7 little handmade, handwritten books.




Together, the collection of 7 books tell one story, that of Blodeuwedd, the story of the flower woman from the ancient welsh  Mabinogion written in the 12th and 13th century in Wales, only in my re-tell there is a twist, our Blod is empowered by her blooms.

The Collection is available for purchase from my Heartfelt Bookshop at  Quiet Space Studio, Facebook ... Here's a link ...




Tuesday, 15 May 2018

How to attract more kindness in one quick lesson

Cheryl Beer, Musician in residence at Zhodina Orphanage, Belarus 

If you are looking for more kindness in your life, one sure way to attract it, is to be more kind. Sounds simple doesn't it? And it is. Try it. Right now, write to someone on facebook or send a kindly email. Call someone who you know wants to hear your voice and say something wonderful to them. Make a gift for someone you don't know and give it to them, offer to help out at a voluntary project or just simply smile with conscious kindness at people ... whatever it is from the tiniest of things, trust me, your soul will sing and your heart open. Let me know how you get on.


Thursday, 3 May 2018

When your soul wakes you up in the middle of the night



It's 4.00am and I awake in my bed, singing. Yes, singing and what's more, it's a fully completed song that I  have never heard before. It seems that I have written a song in my sleep. I get up, come downstairs and start to play my handpan, tuned around my hearing disabilities, quietly so as not to trigger my hyperacusis nor to wake Jeff and Maisy. 

Too late, Maisy is awakes. She never misses an opportunity to ask for a biscuit. So, me and my little dog. in the wee hours of the morning allow my soul to sing her message through me and I become The Soul Scribe.

And this, my friends, has been happening to me for the last 18 months. Since becoming deaf, though I can not hear the outside world in the same way, I have developed a connection to my inner voice that is beyond listening.

I have been collating my sleepy soul ink messages and am very excited to say that later this year I am launching something very beautiful indeed, that will enable me to share my healing practice with you, offering you a gentle guide to your own soul ink.

The lesson for me is that even from the darkest of places, when all seems lost, the most utterly wonderful life can grow. A daffodil can not shine her light into the world, without first being buried underground.

Have a beautiful day, my friends. 
Always with love,
Cheryl



Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Keeping tinnitus hands busy


One of the best ways that I have found to distract from my tinnitus, particularly in the evenings, is to focus on tactile creativity. Working with wool and felt is perfect. So, tonight I set about making a collection of friendship bracelets from local hand-dyed wool. I made the one above for my partner, Jeff. He loves the Tibetan silver dragon bead because the dragon is our National emblem.


I mention this because I know that many visitors to my blog are from other countries and may not know our National flag , here in Wales.

But my most favourite of all things to make are my little Heartfelt Books within which I write my stories and poems. There is something so sacred about taking so much time to make something so small and yet so loving. And I love the risk of it, that I might make a mistake when handwriting in my poem or very short story ... 



That's one of my top tips for for anyone learning to live with tinnitus. Expand upon your other senses. I quite often have essential oils on in my diffuser whilst creating with wool and felt in the evenings, or combine the two as both wool and felt absorb the essential oils really well.

I hope that is helpful advice. It can be hard to come to terms with tinnitus. By sharing what works for us, we might help others.









Stepping over the 50 threshold

Once again today, I am being bombarded online with adverts asking me ...  'Over 50? Need a Life Plan? Who will cover your funeral costs and look after your loved ones?'

What it should read is 'Over 50, need a hand deconstructing negative stereotypes?' That would certainly be a big fat YES.

Stepping over the 50 threshold has been a frightening insight into the inherent ageism that is woven through every day life. I have become acutely aware of how social media portrays us. 

I spent my entire youth campaigning for the rights of young people, so that we were heard and had a voice. Now it seems, I will spend my entire journey into older age, campaigning for older people to have the same. So be it. 



It is one of the reasons why I set up the Award Winning Sound Memories Dementia Friendly Radio Station,  empowering us to support each other in making our own memory resources through telling our story. As Gandhi kindly taught us, we must be the change we want to see in the world. If you would like to make a contribution to Sound Memories Radio, here's a link to our GOFUNDME page. We are currently raising funds to pay for our website hosting. Loving thanks.


Love your work and trust your calling

Do you love your work? Does it give you a reason to wake up in the morning? Are you so excited to start working that you almost forget to have breakfast? I have come to understand that this is what happens when  'work' is aligned to the soul. 

All I know is, that never has a piece of work taken me as long or been so considered as the project I have been focused on for the last 18 months. 

Perhaps because it is so utterly personal, perhaps because the work itself has become part of my daily practice of healing, perhaps because it is a sharing of my most vulnerable, stripped back self, whatever the reason, I have just finished doing the last edits, as advised by my lovely proof editor Rebecca Lowe, for my new 'Guide to Soul Aligned Well-being through Arts and Spirituality.'

It has been such a long journey coming back from the darkness but knowing that each step of the way, I have been devising something that could ultimately help others as well as myself, I have been filled with the courage and strength to carry on.

The book is part of a collection of resources that I am creating and collating and will launch later this year. 

Behind the scenes, I spend every spare minute of my day and night designing the beautiful new website to host the launch, in my heart I want to bring love and kindness into  the sometimes stark world of the internet.

What are working on? Is it filling you with teh same passion? If it is not, it maybe time to have a little think about what you would really like to be doing or being ...

Whatever you are doing today, I hope your soul loves it and that your heart sings for every minute; trust your calling.




Tuesday, 1 May 2018

The Powerhouse Creative





The Powerhouse /Pwerdy is a fabulous Arts Centre, developed by the people for the people as a community resource in Llandysul. I just love being in the space and creating magic.




I feel so blessed that my dear friend Suzanne Hughes Owen has booked me in for an afternoon every fortnight so that I can crack on and finish my new Creative & Mindful Collection of Resources as a Guide to Spiritual well being for others, ready for my re-launch in the Summer. 






It is a peppercorn cost and makes such a big difference to have the creative freedom that space can give.




What an amazing place and anyone in the community is welcome to book creative time there. They hold Exhibitions, Open Mic Evenings, Special Events, Fundraisers, Workshops, Feel Good clubs, Training, you name it, its happening. 

  
And the whole place is run by local volunteers, not one paid member of staff. Isn't it amazing what community spirit can do.