In this guide, we will be looking at the benefits of mindfulness meditation for tinnitus relief, and we will practice mindfulness meditation to reduce the symptoms of the condition.

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when there is no sound present. It usually manifests as a ringing in the ear,  a buzzing, hissing, or whistling. The American Tinnitus Association [1] states that almost 50 million Americans suffer from the condition. They describe it as an audiological and neurological condition that can cause dizziness, hearing loss, vertigo, and pressure in the ear [2].

Meditation is a mental health exercise that usually involves focusing the mind on one thing, such as the breath. Meditation is Hindu and Buddhist in origin but is now used in numerous health practices, such as counseling and therapy. There are many different ways to use meditation for tinnitus relief. Some traditional methods include Samatha, Vipassana, and Anapanasati. And there are guided meditations for tinnitus relief that are available on Youtube and apps like Headspace and Calm. 

Because of the psychological nature of tinnitus, meditation can help alleviate its symptoms.

Benefits of mindfulness meditation for tinnitus relief

The primary benefit of meditation for tinnitus sufferers is that it allows the sufferer to experience the condition without reacting to it.

For many sufferers, the symptoms of tinnitus cause anxiety and sometimes depression. [3] The brain naturally interprets sounds as alerts. When there is ringing in the ear, it is only natural to perceive danger and to experience a level of stress and anxiety. Meditation, however, can help train the mind to be less reactive to tinnitus, so you can remain calm while experiencing symptoms.

The U.S. Mindfulness-Based Tinnitus Stress Reduction organization shows that treating tinnitus with meditation can yield positive results. Led by Jennifer Gans, PsyD, the organisation uses the basics of Jon Kabat Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course and applies those same theories of mindfulness meditation for tinnitus relief. 

In one study, 25 patients with chronic tinnitus were taught the Mindfulness Based Tinnitus Stress Reduction practice, which combines mindfulness with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). 6 months later 80% of participants observed significant improvement in symptoms.  

You can’t cure tinnitus with meditation. But you can achieve tinnitus habituation. You can come to accept the ringing in your ears without reacting to it, so that it does not cause stress or anxiety, and does not bother you.

The best way to accomplish this is through Mindfulness Meditation.

Mindfulness means, “Living in the present moment without judgment.” In other words: Acceptance. And that acceptance extends to unpleasant sensations, including the ringing ears caused by tinnitus

Research shows that with mindfulness meditation, tinnitus sufferers develop acceptance of the condition, achieve tinnitus habituation, improve quality of life, and control the way they react to symptoms. [4] [5].

So, how can you use mindfulness meditation for tinnitus relief? Follow the script below.

Tinnitus Meditation Technique

Note: If you are new to mindfulness you might like to read my guide to Getting Started With Mindfulness.


1: Sit in a quiet space so that you can clearly hear the sound in your ears (this will make sense momentarily).

To use meditation for tinnitus relief, we need to be able to hear the ringing in or ears. This might sound counterproductive to many tinnitus sufferers. After all, most people who experience the condition get through by ignoring it. But the best way to achieve tinnitus habituation, and thereby learn to experience the condition without being affected by it, is to meditate somewhere where we can hear the sound, and then come to accept it.

So, sit in a quiet place where you can hear the sound in your ears.


2: Sit with good posture. Now [OPTIONAL] place your hands in Gyan mudra. Put your hands on your thighs, palms facing upwards. Make a ring with your thumbs and index fingers. Let the other fingers extend gently outwards.

It is always imperative to sit with good posture when we meditate. Good posture helps us to focus the mind. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, slightly tuck your chin down to lengthen your neck, and make sure your spine is straight but relaxed.

We also want to use a mudra (hand gesture) to help enhance our mental state. The best mudra for tinnitus is Gyan mudra, which is the hand position for acceptance. Remember, we are using meditation for tinnitus habituation, so anything we can do to enhance acceptance is helpful.


3: Focus on your breath moving between the space between your upper-lip and nose. Meditate on the breath here.

The core concept of using meditation for tinnitus relief is to be able to focus the mind on the present moment without being affected by the ringing in our ears. To do this, we first need to focus on some part of the present moment. And the best thing to focus on is the breath.

Not only does the breath give us a focus for our meditation, but being mindful of the breath also enhances relaxation. As we meditate on the breath, the breath deepens. This stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to create feelings of calmness and acceptance.


4: When you get distracted by the ringing in your ears, say to yourself, “It’s just my tinnitus. Everything is fine.” Then continue to meditate on the breath.

As you are meditating on the breath, you will notice that at times you are distracted by the ringing in your ears. This is completely normal. Remember, the ringing in your ears tricks your mind into thinking that something is wrong. This leads to stress and anxiety. So it is normal to be distracted by your tinnitus. We are now learning to accept the ringing in our ears without the stress and anxiety.

When you are distracted by your tinnitus symptoms, label the experience. For instance, if you hear the ringing, say to yourself, “It’s just sound in my ears. Everything is fine.” If you feel pressure in your head, say, “It’s just pressure in my head. Everything is fine.” Then continue meditating on your breath.

While you are doing this, you are training your mind to accept your symptoms without reacting to them. Glenn E. Schweitzer [creator, Mind Over Meniere’s blog] says. “Once I stopped fighting to ignore the sound, I was able stay focused long enough to achieve [relaxation]”.


5: Continue for twenty minutes, labelling symptoms and retuning the mind to the breath

Many people struggle to meditate for long periods, and that is absolutely fine. I recommend you sit and meditate for as long as you can remain focused and calm. Go for a maximum of twenty minutes.

At times you will be distracted by your symptoms. You might feel irritated or agitated. This is normal. It does not mean that you are meditating incorrectly or that something is wrong. Simply return your attention to your breath. The more you sit and mindfully observe your breath, the more you will be able to focus.

While meditating, always remember to label the symptoms of your condition (“ringing in ears”, “pressure in head”) and so on. The more you label your symptoms, the more you train your mind that it is just a ringing in your ears, and that everything is fine. This develops your ability to accept your condition without reacting to it. It reduces the stress and anxiety caused by tinnitus. Plus, by continually returning your attention to your breath, you train your mind to focus even while you are experiencing symptoms.


Final Thoughts

Tinnitus is an incredibly aggravating condition. But it is aggravating precisely because of how we react to it. The usual reaction is like so. We hear ringing in the ears. The brain mistakenly thinks something is wrong. We feel stressed or anxious. It is this reaction that we must change.

The trick is to train the mind that even though there is ringing in your ears, everything is fine. This is the primary benefit of meditation for tinnitus relief. It lets us experience the condition without being affected by it.

I hope you found this meditation helpful. Write a comment below, and remember to subscribe.


References:

1: American Tinnitus Association, Understanding The Facts,

2: What is tinnitus?, Joy Victory, managing editor, Healthy Hearing Magazine

3:  Anxiety and depression in tinnitus sufferers, JBS Halford, SD Anderson – Journal of psychosomatic research, 1991

4: A randomised controlled study of mindfulness meditation versus relaxation therapy in the

management of tinnitus, M ARIF et al, The Journal of Laryngology & Otology

5: Mindfulness-based tinnitus therapy is an approach with ancient roots, Gans, Jennifer J.

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Written by Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.