Meditation Practice to Deal With Tinnitus Suffering

Discussion in 'Alternative Treatments and Research' started by Vincent R, Feb 9, 2015.

tinnitus forum
    1. Vincent R
      Inspired

      Vincent R Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
      People who get stucked with T risk to get dragged into a vicious downward spiral. As the intrusive noise causes stress and anxiety, daily life gets harder to manage. The T-sufferer may be deprived of sleep, which threatens other areas of life, such as career, social life, relations and worst of all: the ability to take care of yourself and your family. The insight about this causes even more stress to the individual, who is slipping more by the day, but is powerless to stop it. Health gets worse due to tensions and pain. At the end of this road awaits despair with severe depression, suicide thoughts and fear of the tourment that will only get worse. Dependence of medication, alcohol or other drugs may help out with momentarily survival, but can eventually show out to be another nail in the coffin.

      Habituation, modified life style, and the human beings ability to adopt and carry on save most T-sufferers from this fate. The purpose of this thread is to add another tool in the toolkit for those looking for something to get an edge over T, as well as an option for those who have reached pitch black: meditation practice to cut through just about any flight-or-fight response.

      But first a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and I’m not a professional therapist. If you are severely depressed, suicidal and your life is bursting at the seams, the last thing you should do is to rely blindly on what some stranger writes on an Internet discussion board. Seek professional help and do whatever those with the right education advices you to. I merely offer something you can try as well, which should be as risk free as anything could and it won’t cost you a cent. Feel free to invest your time, but don’t invest your faith, because it’s not asked for. The core principle of all meditation practice is that personal experience and result is the only currency that matters which even old sources of religious nature is crystal clear about.

      What you need to know about me

      I’m a 35 year old male who can be categorized as a spiritual geek, meaning I’ve always been interested in metaphysics. Along with this comes a natural dedication for different mediation methods, which I started to train in an early age.

      I developed a condition of chronic pain due to muscle tensions, primarily in the hips. The cause was probably over exaggerated sports training. Stress and physical fragility may have been contributing factors, but this is unsure. Doctors and therapists of all kinds were unable to help me, since the tensions were so firmly established. Pain and tensions causes more pain and tensions, and my future seemed to offer nothing but an extended hell of growing suffering and disability. Not being too enthusiastic about this, I gave up the idea of seeking help from others, and tried to find a solution on my own, resorting to the only thing I could think off. After a few years dedicated effort, I finally shattered the wall of bodily dysfunctions. I gained a keen understanding for the core principle of all mediation methods and combined this with a relaxation technique refined from yoga by a Swedish therapist named Birgitta Rudberg. At this point I was a complete wreck but I could start to claw myself back up from the black hole I had been trapped in.

      Saying that I’ve been healthy and happy ever since would be a stretch. But thanks to meditation I’ve been able to carry on and live an active life with career, friends, social life and hobbies. I’ve been vulnerable to stress, pressure and tensions, but I’ve had access to a failsafe way to always keep my head above the surface.

      My experience with tinnitus and meditation

      My T started September last year (2014), after an acoustic trauma at a pistol club. I suffered from the anxiety most people on this community have experienced, so I won’t get into detail with it. However, just like before my meditation practice were effective. With a constant noise in the head, meditation is not easy to pull off, but my previous and hard gained understanding of it helped me out. This is to say, that no matter how horrified I’ve been and no matter how load the T has seemed, I’ve always been able to make tense muscles relax. Because of this I’ve often started to powernap during my practice. Simply put, if you’re deprived of sleep and make your body relax, your brain will shut down. Since my T started I’ve suffered nights with disturbed sleep, but I haven’t been sleepless even once.

      So far, I only have superficial understanding of how much or how little meditation can do to battle the consequences of T and stress in general. Because all this time, it has merely been a hobby and a survival tool. I consider this to be the first step of learning meditation, but I haven’t played it to the bone. When I’ve finished off a couple of other long lasting projects, I plan to go all out. If nothing unexpected happens, I believe I’ll be able to do so within one to four years. Preferable, I would have wanted to wait with creating a thread about meditation practice here on Tinnitustalk until I’ve started on this road and had more knowledge to share. But since I’ve been asked by more than one member to get on with it already, I’ll try to help out with what I’ve learned up to this point. It will be a bit of a half assed effort, which buggers me, but if anyone can benefit from it I guess it can’t hurt. And I have to pay back what I’ve gained from Tinnitustalk anyway. So here goes.

      Environmental circumstances

      If you’re a wreck, you’ll need several hours of meditation to benefit from it, so the most important environmental circumstance is to have plenty of time. I recommend that you practice during the evening or the night when you’re free the next day, at least until you’ve got the hang of it. You don’t meditate to see if it works, you meditate until it works.

      The venue needs to be calm and quiet, and you ought to make sure that you won’t get interrupted. Turn your mobile phone off, tell your partner to take care of the kids and do anything else you have to, in order to be left alone for a while.

      You will be lying on the floor with a blanket or something similar beneath you. It won’t do to feel cold during practice, so turn up the heat in the room. If you have to, buy a heater to make sure it gets real warm and comfortable. Fresh air helps, so leave the window a little bit opened.

      Don’t try to mask your T. You will only get stressed if you hear it through these attempts. You will actually be meditating while you listen to the noise going on in your head. I don’t rule out that you can add something to your sound universe that makes T less dominating. Me, I have a fan heater blowing hot air over my upper body while I meditate, which serves this function to a certain degree. I’ve also tried to meditate in silence and to suitable music, which has been working as well. Just understand that the T-sound will be part of your meditation experience and there is no need to run or hide from it. For practice purpose, it may be best to start in silence but this shouldn’t be the decisive factor to if you succeed or not.

      Okay, I’ve arranged circumstances as you advice. Now what?

      Now you should prepare yourself to face whatever demons that awaits inside your mind. There’s a common misconception that meditation is equivalent to a state of inner peace. A more correct understanding is that it’s a method to take on fear and worries head on, and thus finding out what awaits on the other side. You may experience inner peace – among other things – along the way but that’s merely a side effect, and shouldn’t be considered as anything else.

      What meditation is then, is …

      … focused awareness.

      This is to say, as long as you can focus your awareness towards a specific subject, you can meditate. In fact, as long as you focus your awareness towards a specific subject you are meditating. It’s absolutely fine to feel panic, despair, worry or whatever in the mean time. It doesn’t mean you are failing or do anything wrong. It’s to be expected that when you enter meditation everything will initially feel worse. All those little devils that keep your mind buzzing will go on a rampage, or you could say that you unveil how they have been going on a rampage all the time, but you have only been partly aware of it. If you keep your awareness focused towards the chosen subject, sooner or later a change will start to kick in. Probably you will notice this during your practice, but it’s possible that the whole session will feel like hell, and you won’t notice until afterwards how you – for no valid reason – feel a bit better or more at peace.

      Focused awareness, as I describe it, must not be confused with distraction. Focused awareness in a meditation sense is not the same as being absorbed by a movie, a song, a book, a conversation, a meal, or problem solving. That’s distraction.

      What subject you focus on is what defines the different methods of meditation. The breathing is almost always included. The most common mediation is where you sit still and focus on your breathing and nothing else. In yoga, awareness of your body is included thanks to the stances they use. In Tai-Chi and Shi-gong you focus on your breathing and the movement of your body. There are other important differences between these methods, but for this thread you will have to settle with a simplified description.

      As you keep your awareness focused towards a specific subject, your attitude towards everything else should be non-interference. As the T-sound, anxiety, relation problems or what have you gets your attention, you merely need to accept this interruption, and as soon as you notice that your mind went drifting return to focusing your awareness to the chosen subject. Accept that you share mental universe with the T and all kinds of feelings and thoughts, but keep focusing your awareness to the specific subject.

      During the meditation practice I teach in this thread you focus your awareness towards all impressions you get from your body, and along with this you also include your breathing.

      As you become more present in your body, you are likely to notice tensions that are built up in your muscles. When this happen, stay focused on these tensions. Awareness will cause increased blood flow and muscular relaxation. If you feel thirsty after the session, this is likely because the increased blood flow gathered stuff that needs to be cleaned out.

      What else to do to learn this method

      It may help to buy books about yoga and meditation, and try out the exercises they describe. They may perhaps not be as fundamental as mine, when it comes to helping you relax so you can go to sleep afterwards. But they will most definitely help you understand the concept of focused awareness, as it will be approached from several different angles in a pedagogy fashion.
       
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    2. Vincent R
      Inspired

      Vincent R Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma
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    3. Sailboardman
      Frustrated

      Sailboardman Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Florida
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/21/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Sensorineural hearing loss right ear.
      My Chinese Acupuncturist, gave me a simple exercise to do 3 times a day for 5 minutes or so. Relax your body, stick your index fingers into both your ears and listen to your breathing. You focus on taking goood energy in through the top of your head and releasing bad energy out through your feet. You may even feel your feet getting warm, as you continue this.

      Right after you take your fingers out of your ears, you may notice your T is momentarily gone.
       
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    4. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      East Coast USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      1998
      I find that consistency of practice is more important than time. When I was trying to set out for 30 minutes at a go or whatever, it was hard to stick with. When I committed to just sitting ten minutes but every day, I started to make a lot of progress and worked up to more like 15-20 mins over a few months. Guided meditations, especially basic body scan stuff (plenty on youtube) was very useful to me early on.

      I've been slacking on this lately, though. I've been taking a meditation class the past couple weeks to try to crack the whip a little.

      A problem for me is that when my life is going along smoothly I get lazy and stop meditating, and then when everything flies off the rails I think "ahh! everything is horrible! I need to meditate", but it's almost impossible for me to establish a calm and useful practice when my limbic system is already on fire.
       
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    5. marqualler
      Nerdy

      marqualler Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Minneapolis, MN
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear infection / Mild Noise Induced Hearing Loss
      I always find myself feeling so much better after yoga and meditating. It is really key to me. This is a great resource, thanks for sharing!
       
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    6. Indianajohn
      Arsewit

      Indianajohn Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Decatur Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      loud chronic noise for three months
      I started meditation a week ago. I must say that I have noticed a reduction in volume after my meditation. Obviously, the T isn't lowering in volume, just my perception of it is. Just being able to lower the volume of my T just a little bit has saved my sanity.
       
    7. Kah Povi

      Kah Povi Member Benefactor

      Location:
      New Mexico
      Tinnitus Since:
      1974
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Genetics and loud music
      I've been a meditator for about 40 years - mainly Zen Buddhism. I recently went to my first long retreat -- over a month -- in extreme silence. For the first time in my life, my tinnitus has spiked almost intolerably, which is why I found this forum. I don't know whether it was bad before the retreat but I just was never in a quiet enough environment to notice or if the long overseas flight or allergies or a combination of it all is behind this. But some nasty shift has occurred. Now when I'm sitting it's very difficult to focus on anything but the tinnitus. Very scary and frustrating. I used to hope for samadhi or enlightenment; now I just hope to stay sane or to have a meditation practice back that isn't about this problem.
       
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    8. Terje Larsson

      Terje Larsson Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      1975
      Then perhaps you should simply use the T as your main object. That would be the traditional vipassana approach. Face the pain or irritation head on and use it and the feelings that come along with it as your object.

      I'm doing something similar to nada yoga, so I actually use my T as the main object and listen to it very intensely for a while. I find it helpful, strange as it may seem.
       
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    9. Lorenzo74
      Mellow

      Lorenzo74 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Italy
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2013
      Hey @Kah Povi

      Did your spike eventually subside ?

      Sorry I am interested on your story because a few months prior to developing T I went to a 10 days Vipassana Meditation Retreat and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life where I learnt a lot about myself...

      When I developed T I found great help through my Vipassana experience and it helped me to habituate, embrace the sound and feel the changing nature of it all and therefore calming myself down and "accepting" it...

      I have been dreaming about going back to a 10 days retreat, and a part of me feels that maybe my T could even disappear for good in such environment, but another part of me has fear that the silent environment might make a permanent spike on it... So I have been struggling in making a decision... Do you think the fact that you were in a silent environment for a long time was a factor on the spiking of your T ? Since the ear is made to hear, if there are no sounds it would probably concentrate on the T and maybe make it louder, do you think that is what happened to you ?

      Hey @Terje Larsson are you familiar with the Vipassana tradition... ? What I did to help me habituate was, rather than making the T the object of my meditation, more like observing it without attaching emotions to it, like one would do with other sensations or thoughts, and kind of let it drift in the background... Observing it without emotional reaction, and this I believe helped me to kind of "embracing" it and therefore making it less important.... This is pretty much what happened to me and so far it worked..

      All the best to all...
       
    10. Terje Larsson

      Terje Larsson Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      1975
      I am familiar with the tradition, yes. And you describe the method better and in more detail. To observe without emotional reaction, sure, but also, observe the emotional reaction if there is one anyway. And if the pain (T or whatever kind of pain) is overwhelming and you can't distance yourself from it, then don't. Face it. Observe it, study it. The idea is that this way it will get less scary.

      Also, there is nada yoga and sound meditation where "the inner sound" is used as an object, it is mentioned aso in buddhist traditions. This is not vipassana really but I'm not dogmatic about these things. Anyway, even meditators in the vipassana tradition have described the inner sound, or "the sound of silence" and reading that it's very clear to me that we're talking about mild tinnitus.

      There is also something known as "meditation induced tinnitus", again mostly in the nada yoga tradition. These guys can develop a pretty severe tinnitus. And what could possibly we possibly get from that? Well, they can develop this tinnitus and then they can stop ther practice for a while and it will subside. Or they can continue and it will change at some point too.

      I meditate with it, with the T in the background, aware of it but not focusing on it, but I also meditate on it, using it as the specific object. I find both ways helpful, but perhaps the latter even a bit more.
       
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    11. Terje Larsson

      Terje Larsson Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      1975
      Another point with nada yoga or sound meditation... if you're anyway stuck with this sound in your head you could as well start to love it. I mean, you can go the vipassana route and be indifferent to it but you could go further and see it as your way to nirvana.

      And the thing is that many have claimed that it was! Among them the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, says it to the Buddha in, I think it is in Lankavatara sutra, that sound was the means by which he reached his enlightenment, to which the Buddha replies that incidentally so did he.
       
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    12. Lorenzo74
      Mellow

      Lorenzo74 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Italy
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2013
      Hey @Terje Larsson

      Thank you for your replies... I don't know anything about nada yoga so I will research a bit on it...

      Do you find that when you meditate "on" it your T changes in volume/intensity or stays the same ? It could be an interesting approach to T and meditation, I will probably give it a try...

      I am still undecided if giving another go to a 10 days silent retreat or not... It would surely be a different experience with T in the background...

      Be well !! Ciao, Lorenzo
       
    13. Terje Larsson

      Terje Larsson Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      1975
      Lorenzo my friend,

      There's no real change in volume or pitch when I meditate "on" my T but as by being with it I calm down and it becomes less stressful.

      And as for the nada yoga idea, sound is a powerful tool for meditation as it tends to shut down the chatter of the mind.

      We have it so why not use it, eh? :)

      Take care!
       
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    14. Aighton
      Curious

      Aighton Member

      Location:
      Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      6/2015
      Hey Kah I'm curious if your still meditating?
      And also if others are still meditating :p
       

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