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- Meditation Could Help Alleviate Tinnitus - July 18, 2021
Tinnitus comes in many shapes and sizes. Some people hear a consistent ringing, but others hear a sound more akin to humming, buzzing, whirring, whooshing, or roaring. What they have in common is that this sound does not originate outside the body. On the contrary, the sound occurs either in a part of the body close to the ear or from within the ear itself.
Another thing that those with tinnitus will tell you is that the symptoms can be worse in a quiet environment. Particularly in a quiet bedroom before falling asleep, many with tinnitus find the sound to be so loud that it is difficult to think about anything else. With this in mind, why would meditation be a potential remedy for tinnitus? Meditators will tell you that a quiet location is best, eliminating other distractions in the world to create an environment for intense focus.
The key to this type of tinnitus alleviation has to do with the mental nature of tinnitus, so let’s explore how the connection works.
Of the many styles and approaches to meditation, some are better suited to those with tinnitus than others. Some people find relief from guided meditation. This approach uses the voice of a speaker—either in person or on a recording—to guide the mind of a person toward different objects of attention. Sometimes guided meditation involves storytelling in a fictive landscape, but it can also be a simple reminder to focus on one’s own breath. Mantra meditation works in a similar manner, but the meditator uses mind power to focus on a single phrase, word, image, or other thought through repetition. Both of these methods have been used to alleviate tinnitus, with great success. Other styles of meditation can be effective, as well, including Anapana, Vipassāna, and mindfulness.
While some people have used meditation to draw the mental focus away from tinnitus symptoms, others have used object-focused meditation to place the attention onto the sound of tinnitus instead. Why would someone do that? The symptom of tinnitus is the source of stress, so it seems counterintuitive to fix the mind on that sound for many consecutive minutes. Those who practice this type of meditation say that taking the sound of tinnitus into one’s own control can actually engage a deeper process of reckoning with its persistent presence in life. Some who use this type of meditation treatment for tinnitus have even found that the symptoms are relatively easier to bear outside the meditation environment. It seems that learning to focus on the sound of tinnitus through meditation can also make it possible to shift that focus away from tinnitus at will.
These approaches to meditation as a solution for tinnitus are not only based in anecdotal reports. Clinical research has demonstrated that a combination of mindfulness-based meditation and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) methods led to an 80 percent reduction in tinnitus symptoms over the course of 6 months. Although the study only included 25 participants, the results are promising, and researchers can begin to inquire about the effectiveness of mindfulness-based meditation on its own. Those with severe tinnitus have often found it difficult to engage in meditation at all, so researchers are also interested to know which types of tinnitus are more suited to meditation-based approaches than others.
Meditation doesn’t work for everyone as a treatment for tinnitus, but it has had good results for many people. Aside from these approaches, there are other treatment options, as well. Some people use white noise machines, fans, televisions, or nature sounds to mask the sound of tinnitus, but these approaches are not tailored to the individual. Contact your hearing health professional to learn more about individualized treatments for tinnitus, many of which use your hearing aids as devices.
By playing a sound suited to your individual condition, these treatments can be fine-tuned to mask the sound of tinnitus in your own ears and consciousness. The first step is to schedule a consultation with one of our hearing health professionals about your needs, experiences with tinnitus, and your desire for assistance. With that information in hand, we can pair you with the right treatment options.