Reducing anxiety and stress can help with tinnitus
Can mindfulness help with tinnitus? The science says 'yes' and it's certainly worth trying. One study conducted by the University of California found that sufferers of tinnitus experienced relief after an eight week mindfulness-based stress reduction course and, more importantly, were still benefiting 12 months later when they were reassessed.
It's clear to me how mindfulness can provide relief, but as in so many other areas, the key is not a one-off session, but in cultivating a regular practice. First to consider is that although tinnitus is very common, only a proportion of those who hear a persistent ringing actually self-describe as 'sufferers'.
There is obviously a subjective element to measuring tinnitus, but as far as researchers can tell, it's not the volume of the noise which necessarily determines whether one is 'suffering' from the condition.
Although that must play a role, a person's ability to focus on other things has consistently been found to be the most important element in the tinnitus sufferer's mental wellbeing. Since mindfulness trains one's focus and attentiveness, it is a powerful tool that you can use to start to experience more quiet in your life.
If you have tinnitus - as I do - it might be best to start by drawing your attention on what you see or feel, rather than what you hear. You can close your eyes, relaxing the muscles around them, and bring all of your attention to the darkness that's there behind your closed eye lids. Don't strain.
Or you can do something physical, such as walking, showering or doing the dishes.
As you do so, concentrate on your physical body and the muscles involved in the activity. If at any point your attention is drawn to your tinnitus, just acknowledge it, accept it and bring your point of focus back to what you see and feel.
If you experience frustration, anxiety or stress while doing this, become mindful of that as well.
When you get good at that, divide your attention evenly between what you feel and see. Then, and only then, add in what you hear, at first focussing primarily on external sounds. Let me know how you get on.
- Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at https://www.facebook.com/ Belfast Hypnosis/?ref=hl/?ref=hl