Tinnitus, that distracting ringing or buzzing sound in your ears, can disrupt your daily life, make it difficult to focus at work, and stop you from getting a good night’s sleep. Along with sound therapy programs or white noise machines to mask tinnitus, meditation can help relax you, relieve stress, and reduce your experience of tinnitus.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus, often described as a buzzing or whistling sound in the ears, is a sound that only you can hear. This phantom sound is most commonly heard where everything around you is very quiet, and it can disrupt your thoughts and increase your stress levels. Tinnitus is usually the sign of another underlying problem, such as an ear infection, a buildup of earwax in the ear canal, or a hearing loss.
The symptoms of tinnitus are different for every person, and they can include:
Any of these sounds can be present in your tinnitus, and you may experience it at a high or low pitch. It may be very intrusive and loud, or it might be a soft background sound. Some people experience tinnitus constantly, while others notice tinnitus only from time to time.
Tinnitus can affect your health and well being, keep you from sleeping at night, and leading to fatigue and increased irritability. It can also make it hard to concentrate, and with tinnitus it may take you longer to get things done.
Tinnitus and Stress
Tinnitus and stress are locked in a negative cycle. When you focus on the ringing or buzzing sound that no one else is hearing, you’ll feel stressed. As your stress levels rise, you’ll also be more acutely aware of the tinnitus, and your experience of tinnitus will get worse!
If you’re feeling very stressed by other aspects of your life, this can also have a negative impact on your tinnitus, and your tinnitus will get worse. When your tinnitus worsens, your stress will too. The cycle continues, and until either the tinnitus or stress is reduced, you’ll feel both acutely.
Meditation for Tinnitus
Meditation is a powerful tool for slowing down your breathing, calming your body and your mind, and reducing stress. Meditating might seem like the opposite of turning on a white noise machine, and if you plan to meditate to alleviate your tinnitus, be prepared for some challenges at the beginning. When you sit down to meditate, the tinnitus may seem louder, and it will take time to train yourself to stop focusing on the tinnitus.
When you meditate, you’re simply being aware of your body and mind in the present moment. You watch thoughts come and go, and feel your body sitting on the mat or chair. This is done with no judgement against your body or against your thoughts, just an awareness of what is. Focusing on your breath will help you connect with your body and be in sync with your breath and your heart rate. This can bring you a deep sense of calm, and reduce the stress and anxiety you feel.
When you’re able to reduce stress levels through meditation, you’ll start to notice that your tinnitus doesn’t seem as strong, and you’ll get relief from the symptoms of your tinnitus.
Coming to Terms with Tinnitus
Through meditation and mindfulness, you can come to terms with tinnitus. If your tinnitus is very loud or intruding, it can easily make you feel stressed, and pull your thoughts in a negative direction. As you meditate, and get practice at recognizing your thought patterns, you can catch yourself in the middle of these negative thoughts, and change direction. Coming to terms with your tinnitus will give you more peace, and help you navigate the challenges of tinnitus without increasing your stress levels.
Other Ways to Manage Tinnitus
Along with meditation, you can practice relaxation techniques to reduce your experience of tinnitus, or use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to find new ways to come to terms with your tinnitus.
A common strategy for managing tinnitus, especially if you have a hearing loss, is with sound therapy. This tinnitus management program on your hearing aid will let you select between peaceful nature sounds, your favorite song, or simple white noise to mask tinnitus. The program will play the sound you’ve chosen, and you’ll be able to go about your day without being bothered by tinnitus.