Meditation May Alleviate Tinnitus Symptoms
Tinnitus is a condition that often occurs alongside hearing loss, in which the patient hears a constant buzzing or ringing sound that is not present in the external environment. Depending on the severity of the noise, tinnitus can range from mildly annoying to debilitating.
As of this writing, there is no total cure for tinnitus. However, treatment options are available for those who want to reduce their symptoms and enjoy some quiet time. Since tinnitus is a neurological condition, it’s impacted by changes in mood, stress, caffeine intake, and more. The vicious cycle of tinnitus occurs when one tries to ignore the sound in their head and, being unable to do so, actually makes it appear more present and irritating.
One way to counter the effects of tinnitus is with a meditation routine. While it might seem like being left alone in a quiet room will only make the tinnitus seem more powerful, achieving a calming state will make it easier to accept the tone and, consequently, reduce its severity. Additionally, by expanding your conscious state to include more of the environment around you, the tinnitus tone can seem like only a small part of the total field of sound you hear. This skill, known as mindfulness, has the dual benefit of keeping the mind from returning to the tinnitus and tuning the ears to other, more pleasant sounds.
Some tinnitus patients may consider meditating with earplugs, but this can sometimes exacerbate its effect and should be tested with caution. Once you have begun meditating, it is important to confront the sound of tinnitus by listening closely to its pitch, timbre, and any variations in volume or pattern. While this may seem counterintuitive, recognizing the qualities of your tinnitus will make it feel less threatening and allow you to distinguish it from other sounds when you are not meditating.
Another way to expand your awareness is to stimulate the senses other than hearing. This can include keeping your eyes open while meditating, lighting incense, or sitting in front of a quiet fan. Activating all senses at once will keep you from returning to the ringing sound and allow you to appreciate the areas of perception you tend to neglect. Listening to ambient music or a recording of the ocean or other calming sounds can also distract you.
The benefits of meditation extend far beyond tinnitus relief and should be considered by anyone who wants to achieve a better sense of balance in their life. You may not ever eliminate your tinnitus completely, but with time, you may be able to make peace with it and enjoy hearing once again.