A discussion of Craniosacral Therapy with Simon Baker
Simon Baker made his first real break into the house music scene with his 2007 monster track 'Plastik' (now somewhat a modern classic). His talent for production found him releasing on multiple esteemed labels such as Get Physical, Kompakt and 20:20 Vision, where he put out his acclaimed album Traces, and collaborating with the likes of Jamie Jones.
After a decade or so in the heart of the scene, DJing all over the world including legendary venues such as fabric, Panorama Bar and Watergate, Simon Baker's tinnitus started to really take its toll. Following a recommendation from a friend, Simon turned towards Craniosacral Therapy.
Here, we discuss this life-changing treatment with Simon, and how it helps reduce the delibitatiing effects of tinnitus.
Hi Simon, how are you?
I am really good thanks, looking forward to the year ahead.
How long have you had tinnitus?
I had tinnitus on and off through my whole DJ career, and I have been DJing for 20 odd years, professionally for around 15, but I noticed it more so towards the later years. I now understand more about why this was happening, which I will mention later.
Do you know how it came about?
I used to think it was purely from the loud music I was exposed to, ear damage as such, until I went for a hearing test and they said I was fine minus a few top end frequencies which was kind of normal being a DJ.
I now understand much more about the real reasons my ears were ringing louder and louder. I now understand it to be my nervous system been in state of “fight or flight or freeze”. The way your body reacts when it feels like it’s in danger - it goes into protection mode. It’s effectively making your nervous system hypersensitive and this causes dramatic changes throughout your body. The way you hear changes radically too.
After reasearching this I realised I was basically hearing the nervous impulses within my own brain. Initially for me it was the loud music that triggered this in the first place, but the thing that was keeping it in my system was the everyday stresses of life.
It turns out these stressors can last months and years, and can eventually lock you into an oversensitive state for much longer. In this state, ears not only pick up external noise, but now, because they are registering more than normal, they start hearing the nervous impulses along the auditory nerve inside your head.
In most cases, tinnitus is nothing more than hearing the noises of your nervous system which we normally ignore. Our hearing has become too switched on and detects nervous impulses inside our head. When the nervous system settles, we stop feeling threatened by tinnitus, we come out of red-alert mode and our ears stop listening out so acutely. As our hearing turns towards calm mode we naturally stop listening to these nervous impulses, and our hearing returns to normal.
How did tinnitus impact your life?
When it was at its worst I was hearing it the whole time. I would say it was on par with when you leave a super loud gig and your ears are ringing for hours afterwards, except mine were like that the whole time. It wasn’t so bad earlier on but later when I was going through some life issues, that’s when it was at its worst.
Most people find it hugely difficult to cope with the condition, however you have found Craniosacral Therapy to be the most effective treatment. How did you come about this?
When my ears were in this ringing state I put the word out asking if people knew what could help. After having my ears checked for hearing damage or a build up of wax, everything was fine, so a friend of mine recommended Craniosacral Therapy explaining that it can help with calming the central nervous system which is directly related to the cranial nerves of the ears. Craniosacral Therapy is really good for bringing you out of the adrenal state of fight or flight as a whole, which causes the overall pattern of tinnitus to steadily calm down.
It was quite a life-changing experience for me. Not only did it reduce the ringing in my ears, but I felt like I could breathe again. The tinnitus didn't disappear completely, but it subsided enough for me to feel calmer, more balanced and in control. After a few treatments, I started feeling different in other ways. I felt more peaceful, more in-tune and more relaxed. I hadn’t realised how stressed and anxious my system was - not just from the tinnitus - but from everything in life that I was storing up plus my lifestyle at the time. It became clear that emotions and physical tensions were triggering this ringing in my head.
What exactly is Craniosacral Therapy?
Originating from Osteopathy, Craniosacral Therapy is a ’light-touch’ alternative method of releasing tensions and conditions in and around the central nervous system to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve the whole of a person’s health and performance. It's a very gentle, effective and non-invasive therapy that will often leave you feeling incredibly relaxed.
Due to its name, many mistakenly think this therapy only refers to the head, but Craniosacral Therapy works with the whole person and changes may occur in body, mind and spirit during and after sessions. Letting go of tension held in the body enables both to settle into calmness.
By applying a gentle, knowing touch along with a healing intention helps stimulate the energy and rhythmical flow of the cerebrospinal fluid within membranes and ventricles of the body. Craniosacral Therapy triggers an individual’s natural self-healing mechanism to help reunite the mind and body, and to restore harmony, vitality and balance.
It works on a very profound and subtle level, influencing the core of the system, penetrating and releasing deep rooted causes as well as surface issues, and often leaving you in a very deep and relaxed state.
Who is Julian Cowan-Hill and what is he doing for tinnitus patients?
Julian is an expert in this field and has had tinnitus himself for 16 years. A Psychotherapist and Craniosacral Therapist who now specialises in tinnitus and has been flying the flag to say tinnitus can be helped. He has written books on the subject and is involved in lots of studies. He is also now a work colleague and mentor of mine alike.
You took a break from music to go back to college. What did you study?
I did, I went back to college to learn about the human body. I studied Anatomy, Physiology, Patholgy and Craniosacral Therapy at The College Of Craniosacral Therapy in London. I have since done specialist courses in Shock and Trauma and I am due to attend a Professional Therapists Tinnitus course in February with the British Tinnitus Association. I hope to become specialised in more areas over the coming years.
You’ve now set up your own holistic health practice. How is this going?
I have, yes. It’s called Simon Baker Holistic Health and it's based in London.
I am loving the new life path. I find it very fulfilling helping people with their issues, whether that be stress and anxiety, a physical problem like a bad back or a frozen shoulder or, of course, tinnitus.
Do you have any advice to help prevent people from getting tinnitus?
I always recommend protecting your ears of course. So if you’re in clubs then use earplugs as much as you can. I am very aware as a DJ myself its can be difficult, especially to use them whilst playing, but just use them as much as you can.
Lifestyle can also play a big role in tinnitus so be aware of this too. Things that put unnecessary stress on your nervous system such as the stimulants of life - alcohol, caffeine, drugs etc. (easier said than done, I know).
Tinnitus commonly appears after an intense or long-term period of exertion, excitement, stress, challenge or change. Consequently most people start noticing symptoms after a period of stress, losing a loved one, an accident, an operation, taking drugs, listening to loud music etc. What I would like to mention here is that most people can get tinnitus if you put them into total silence! A study by Heller and Bergman proved this back in 1953 when they found 93% of people taking part in a test reported hearing noises even though they were in total silence, so don’t worry if you hear some mild ringing or buzzing occasionally, that can be quite normal.
What’s next for you and your music?
After taking a fairly hefty break I am back working on some new music under my new alias B.K.R. which is the more tougher side of mine. Last year I did a release on Dusky’s 17 Steps label as well as my own B.K.R. Projekt label, so I’m hoping to follow suit again with this.
I have also collaborated with with Jamie Jones again, which a few tracks that are yet to be released. We are just finishing those off.
I recently just did a B.K.R. remix for a label called Deer Deer and other than that, I have started working on some new more housey stuff as Simon Baker, so I am back in the studio with a new fresh head on. I also have my S-B Engineering stuff going on, doing mixing and mastering for folks - so I am keeping busy!