Meditating with tinnitus

Milarepa sitting, with a hand raised to his right ear, listening.

If you suffer from tinnitus – persistent ringing in the ears – you may wonder whether meditation is a good idea. And yet it can be a powerful tool in helping you come to terms with the white noise inside your head. Meditator and long-time tinnitus sufferer Mandy Sutter airs some of the issues.

Tinnitus can make meditation very difficult. And because meditation is mostly silent, it may seem that meditation can make tinnitus very difficult, too.

It’s certainly true that as soon as you sit down on the cushion and close your eyes, the tinnitus seems to get louder. It isn’t really getting louder: it only seems that way because you are cutting down on other external stimuli. However, the thought that you’re making it ‘worse’ by meditating can be off-putting, if you let it go unchallenged.

Even accepting that, some days it’s still tempting to stay off the cushion completely. And of course, a missed day can easily turn into a missed few days, a week, a month.

Indeed, some tinnitus experts believe that sufferers should avoid silence altogether.

But this rather black-and-white view doesn’t help the person who wants to meditate, so rather than hanging up one’s meditation mat for good, I think it’s worth investigating some of the resources available to see if there’s anything out there (or in there!) to help you.

Courses and books

Perhaps the first thing to consider is attending a led course on managing your tinnitus through mindfulness meditation. These courses, which are becoming popular with healthcare professionals, are held in a variety of settings, including medical ones. They aim to defuse the anxiety and stress caused by tinnitus and they often report excellent success rates. Try typing the words ‘tinnitus’ and ‘mindfulness’ into your search engine to see what’s available in your area.

There are other types of tinnitus retraining, too. One scientist of particular interest is Pawel Jastreboff, who rejects the old idea that tinnitus is caused by damage to the ear and believes in re-educating sufferers to think of the condition positively as, say, ‘the music of the brain.’ He posits a strong connection between anxiety about tinnitus and its perceived severity, and has found that a shift in thought can have a dramatic effect on someone’s perception of their tinnitus.

Also see:

Vidyamala Prue Burch’s book ‘Living Well with Pain and Illness’ (reviewed here on Wildmind) is another helpful resource. It doesn’t deal specifically with tinnitus, but uses meditation to approach any chronic condition. There are practical tips on how to cultivate a wider awareness of your body that puts your condition into context.

Some practical tips

Personally I’ve found this particular approach – of cultivating a wider awareness – invaluable. I now sometimes wear earplugs while I meditate (this is a complete no-no for some tinnitus sufferers, though, so please approach with care). Because wearing earplugs magnifies ALL inner body sounds, like swallowing and breathing, the tinnitus sounds seem to decrease by comparison, or at least just take their place among my body’s other normal noises. I find I can simply welcome them to the party.

I have also spent some time actively listening to my tinnitus during meditation, and although this may feel unpleasant and even counter-intuitive at first, I recommend it. When you really listen, you may identify sounds like crashing cymbals or whistles, or notice that your tinnitus varies in volume, or has a wave-like pattern. I have found it helpful to learn the length and breadth of my tinnitus in this way: it makes me less prone to worry.

Meditating with your eyes open can help: the increased visual stimulus acting as a balance to the unsolicited sound stimulus. You can use incense in a similar way. And I sometimes find it useful to meditate sitting against a warm radiator, the body sensation of heat again providing a balance. Walking meditation is another valuable and legitimate resource.

Using sound

Also helpful are guided meditations on CD or mp3 (there’s a good selection of these here at the Wildmind store, and search the meditation pages for free ones. Bodhipaksa has many on the free Insight Timer app. Of course, there are still periods of silence during a guided meditation (though some have background muzak) but the voice coming in and out focusses one’s attention away from the tinnitus.

Listening to ambient sound is another option. You can buy devices or download mp3 files that reproduce the sound of waves, or rain pattering on a windowpane, or the crackling of a log fire. Whale or dolphin sounds can also be good. You can concentrate on the sounds as the object of your meditation or use your normal meditation technique (e.g. counting the breath) with the sounds in the background. I have a Sound Oasis which I find invaluable. These devices can be pricey though, so it’s worth downloading some free ambient sounds to your computer before you buy one, to make sure this method suits you.

You’ll find some ambient sounds more effective than others, depending on the character of your own tinnitus and the nature of your own emotional responses to things. I usually turn my Sound Oasis to ‘Harbour Swell’ (the sound of a creaking boat bobbing on the waters) but this might not suit someone who suffers from seasickness!

Listening to music may help, though you may find it too emotionally stimulating. In fact, this may be one of the rare occasion when muzak is better than music!

Forget any idea that this isn’t ‘proper’ meditation (something that bugged me for a while). It’s just a different kind of meditation.

For some tinnitus sufferers, wearing earphones is helpful. The sound is brought closer, as if inserted between your hearing and the tinnitus. This isn’t the case for everyone, though, so find out what suits you.

Going on retreat

Silent meditation retreats pose a particular problem for the tinnitus sufferer. Forget ‘me and my shadow’ – it’s ‘me and my tinnitus’ for days on end. What you can face intermittently during the course of a normal day can seem overwhelming when it’s continuous.

But it’s still do-able. My tinnitus is quite severe, but I go on retreat several times a year.

The important thing is to look after yourself. As you already know, tinnitus is an invisible condition, so no-one makes allowances for you automatically. You may find it difficult to make allowances for yourself, too. But however embarrassed or guilty you feel about making a special case of yourself in an environment where you are strongly encouraged not to, please do: you have my permission, at least! Retreat leaders can be very helpful if approached beforehand.

Request a single room if one is available. You can play ambient sounds and there will be less chance of being woken during the night (tinnitus sufferer often find it difficult to get back to sleep).

Keep your eyes open during meditations if you need to, or take yourself off for walking meditations while the others sit in the shrine room.

No matter what the normal rules are, allow yourself books, iPod or CD player and earphones. You may not need to use them, but they can act as a security blanket.

If particular foods exacerbate your tinnitus (e.g. caffeine) a retreat may offer the ideal opportunity to avoid them for a time. If other foods help, take them with you. Chocolate helps my tinnitus (only kidding, unfortunately).

Taking care of yourself on retreat can be a valuable lesson in self-metta (loving-kindness towards oneelf).

Coming to terms with tinnitus

Having said that, it was on a silent retreat three years ago where I had no security blanket that I perhaps came most deeply to terms with my tinnitus.

My single room hadn’t materialised, and I was sharing with someone who kept putting the light on through the night. Despite decamping to the sitting room a couple of times, I went for four nights with virtually no sleep. I became more and more anxious. My tinnitus, exacerbated by the anxiety, raged continually. I felt as if a jetplane was taking off in my head. All the meditations were a write-off. Finally I made a break for the retreat office to ring my partner and ask him to come and get me (he’d only have had to drive 200 miles). But I couldn’t remember our phone number.

I decided to stay till the next morning, if only because it was too late to leave that evening. And that night in bed, tinnitus raging, I felt despair laced with terror. What if this never ended? What if this was how it was going to be for the rest of my life? My heart thundered and I had to stuff the pillow into my mouth to stop myself from crying out.

Then I heard a clear voice in my head. ‘You don’t need to follow that train of thought,’ it said. ‘You just need to calm down. You know how: you have the tools. But they won’t work if you don’t use them.’

For some reason, I was able to recognise the truth of this. It was a great relief. I lay in bed going through every relaxation technique I’d ever learnt, be that in cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation classes, or hypnotherapy. It took a while but eventually I felt my body and mind profoundly relax, and knew I would sleep, if not now then later. The tinnitus, loud and insistent, was still there. The feeling of relaxation wasn’t one of relaxing despite it, or beyond it, but alongside it. At that moment, some of the emotional charge went out of my perception of my tinnitus, and it has never come back.

So, through meditation, I’d say it’s eminently possible to reach some degree of accommodation with your tinnitus, no matter how you go about it. You may even come to see your tinnitus as significant, instead of a nuisance: a vehicle for self-nurturing, and for reaching accommodation with yourself as a whole (including all the painful, messy and inconvenient bits).

You may even find, over time, that you have made friends with your tinnitus: or at least that you are not the sworn enemies you once thought you were.

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165 Comments. Leave new

  • Thank you for this post! I’m struggling with tinnitus and as a result, struggling with my meditation practice. These suggestions were very helpful.

  • Excellent Mandy, as always!

  • Hi Mandy, I am 52yrs old and have severe tinnitus after damaging my hearing at a concert just over a year ago! It has completely changed my life and articles like this give me hope that I will get my life back on track. If I am honest I don’t cope well with it at all. I have used relaxation and I considering mindfullness but it seems to raise my attention even more. Good ideas.

    • Hi Simon, it is good to hear from you. I’m sorry that you’re suffering with your tinnitus and I agree that mindfulness and meditation can seem like double-edged swords when dealing with it. It can almost seem masochistic to ‘listen’ to it on purpose. One of the reasons I value Vidyamala Prue Burch’s book is that she tackles this conundrum head on. She explains how to broaden one’s awareness in the moment so that the ‘unwanted’ bits appear as part of the whole, rather than dominating. So although you might be paying attention to your tinnitus, you are also paying attention to other things, like perhaps pleasant tingling sensations in your hands. I think too that mindfulness practice helps you recognise more quickly the sort of things that help you cope. For instance, just this week I’ve noticed that bringing my awareness into my feet while walking seems to help me. Maybe that’s because feet are the body parts furthest away from the ears, I’m not sure! But I wish you the best of luck in finding out what works for you.

  • This is very interesting and great to read something that really relates to me. I am fortunate in only having mild tinnitus (cause unknown) and I have recently taken up mindful meditation for unrelated reasons. One of the things I have found myself doing though is actively listening to my noises. It’s astounding just how many different sounds there are going on in there from buzzings to whooshing, air raid sirens and almost orchestral overtures! I have found that by just accepting this for a while I can almost amuse myself with the different sounds! It has become less of a nuisance and more just a part of me that just is.

    • Hi Vicky, that sounds like an interesting practice you’re developing there. How intriguing about all the different sounds! It gives new meaning to the idea ‘music of the brain.’ Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the topic.

  • Oh, the power of meditation in my life.

    If you so desire the meditation can make you focus on tinnitus, but if you want, your imagination can take you wherever you desire. It is thus that I chose to meditate simply on thoughtlessness, separating my mind as much as possible from any thoughts, including tinnitus. Several sessions, just minutes at first, then longer and longer – I was just happy to be able to let my mind be as thoughtless as possible and relax from its daily grind of thinking.

    Need I say more, this link is of another approach to get to the same results of living with the reality that brains, just like the heart and lungs, apparently, too have a working sound. Oh, don’t get me wrong, but I admit I like thoughtlessness, including from noise, so that is why breathing meditation, heartbeat meditation, or other internal noise is ok for those to whom it is peaceful:

    Peace be with you.

  • Hi Alex, your comment and the link are much appreciated – what an interesting article. Many thanks for drawing our attention to it.

  • Ivan Fruergaard
    March 4, 2012 4:04 pm

    Great to see this article.
    I have meditated between 30 min to 1 hour every day for 4 years now. It is like I use my tinnitus as the “entrance” point for being with what is. Being with the sound. Really deeply listening. without any definition or any “STORY” about it. It kind of make it interesting, and somewhat disapearing. Giving full attention.

  • Hi Ivan, thanks for commenting, and for describing your tinnitus as an entrance point for being with what is – I find that inspiring.

  • I notice that when there are other noises I cannot hear tinnitus; only when there is relative silence do I hear it. From this perspective it seems that hearing tinnitus could be considered listening to oneself. I only had this thought today, and then read your ideas, so I intend to listen more carefully in the future.

    • Hi Jim, thanks for your comment. That does sound a most rewarding insight! I hope your future ‘listening in’ proves interesting.

  • I have had tinnitus for 24 years and meditated on an off for 40. It was only some vague recollection of reading about Hindu mediators that meditate on the sounds the brain makes that kept me going. I am able to meditate and allow the 9khz tone to just be there – wherever there is. In all that time I have never associated its “presence” level (or internal annoyance quotient) with my level of stress. It makes so much sense. Thank you, with renewed commitment. David

    • Mandy Sutter
      May 22, 2012 9:42 am

      Hi David

      How interesting, about the Hindu meditators: I’ve never heard of that but would love to read more about it. I have just Googled it, but imagine it dates back to way before the Internet was invented! Thanks very much for taking the time to comment and all the best for your future practice.

  • It’s so lovely how you responded to each comment, i know this article has been written a while back. im 23 ive had it for about 3months now
    it went extremely mild 2 months ago and then flared up again last week, but im hopeful. the truth is one month after i got my tinnitus, i got another condition called HPPD/ PMA/ Visual snow, imagine my dissapointment to find out that this condition like tinnitus does not have a cure, but i wont give up, im not looking to cure myself anymore, just trying to get on with my life and this article really helped me in taking the next few steps forward, thankyou

    • Dear Hussein, thanks very much for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about your tinnitus and visual snow. But as you so rightly say, these are things we can learn to live with well, especially with meditation there to help us avoid any panic. Good luck and all the best!

  • Hi Mandy I have been inspired by your words and others here about using meditation to help with my tinnitus, mine is very mild and only when it is quiet and I think about can I hear it. I am 44 and have had it since the 20th of december 2012. I have been to a Doctor and currently going to an Audiologist for hearing tests, my left ear is only side with ringing, and it also has some hearing loss in that ear too. My right ear however is completely normal. Please could you tell me how I can start meditating, and do I use music or natural sounds or just silence? Thanks I look forward to your reply. I am very positive about it. I also believe they will find a cure one day.

  • Hi Darren, it is good to hear that that you plan to start meditating. I’d recommend beginning with ‘Mindfulness of Breathing’ here on the Wildmind site. If you click on the link at the top of this page, you’ll be taken to a page where you can read more about the practice and be talked through the various stages. Once you’re familiar with the practice and understand it, that would be a time to try adding in sounds or listening to music, if you decide the silence is too intense. I hope it goes well for you!

  • Good article, ive wanted to try Buddhist meditation for years but get scared that ill fail because they assume youll be able to fill your mind with quiet if you try, which i obviously cant.

    In my case, i struggle so badly with tinnitus because it keeps changing all the time. When its stable, i can actually tune it out quite well, but a lot of the time it just goes crazy or ll get a new tone, or that stupid crackling sound that gives me palpitations, or the one like knives being sharpened. It is then i go to pieces again. I still live in mortal fear of it getting any worse in a permanent way, so every time it changes i think “oh no here it goes”.

    First it was only in my right ear, gradually over 2 years it moved over into the left too. Strangely, i sort of found it easier to cop and tune it out when it was “balanced” between my ears instead of just one. Other times it is so loud and piercing in my left ear that its not just a sound, its like someone ramming the ball of their hand into my ear as hard as they possibly can. Incredibly distressing. Other times its so quiet i can hardly hear it, though that hasnt happened for a number of months now.

    My point is, tinnitus is tinnitus, but how do you cope when its so damn variable? How do you train your brain to tune it out? Every avenue of help ive ever tried always seems to assume its always just a single unchanging tone, but for me its so much more. Its different every single day. Its had a profound effect on my life.

  • Dear MC, I do sympathise. My tinnitus is also very changeable. Perhaps some meditation teachers do ask you to fill your mind with quiet, but the teachings I value are those that encourage me to ‘be with’ what’s happening in my body – sounds, thoughts and all. This can be difficult because one wants to push the ‘bad’ experiences away. But learning to be calm alongside the tinnitus can lessen its power over one’s emotions so that it’s possible to be in the midst of a bad tinnitus attack without getting anxious. This in turn can give the fear of it ‘getting worse’ less force. I think you might find the resources here on Wildmind helpful. You can listen to a guided meditation like ‘Mindfulness of Breathing’ in chunks if you follow the ‘meditation guides’ link at the top of this page, clicking on the left-hand links (Introduction, Stage One, Stage Two, etc) that come up once you reach the Mindfulness of Breathing page. I hope this helps.

  • Thanks for an interesting read.

    Here’s my story: 6 months ago, I developed Tinnitus. This came after a difficult time – a bereavement whilst I was pregnant which hit me really badly when my baby was a few months old and I had time to think about it properly. I went on medication due to severe anxiety and three weeks in, I woke up with tinnitus. I’m not sure if it was the medication or the stress that caused it.

    Anyway, I had CBT sessions and the therapist recommended mindfulness as a way of dealing with unhelpful worries – i.e. observe them and let them fade. I now meditate on my breath for 10-15 minutes a day and it really helps me live with the noise. I sit in the kitchen where we have a fish tank pump to provide a bit of background noise.

    I still have bad days where I think about my quiet years and worry about the tinnitus getting worse, but I now have more good days than bad. I also find focusing on my breathing helps me to sleep when the noise is bothering me. I have to wear earplugs due to a snoring partner, so had to find some way around it, as after many years, I appear to have an addiction to them!

    Just recently I’ve developed a fluttering sensation inside one ear. I hope that’s just temporary as it’s bothering me at the moment.

  • Hi Lou,

    Interesting to read your comments. I have had T for 2 and a half years. No magic answers (there aren’t any!) but have a look at ‘Living with Tinnitus and Hyperacusis by Dr’s Laurence McKenna, David Baguley and Don McFerran. This is probably the best book on the market.
    Mindfulness is recognised as one way forward, I find the breathing exercises very useful.

    RE fluttering sensation, I have had this on an off all the time but more so during the first year. Never found a doctor who knew what the hell it was (few of them know anything about T) but the best suggestion is ‘tensor tympani syndrome’ which are tiny muscles that tighten the eardrum against noise. See my earlier comment Oct 2011 for my background story.
    Avoid the eternal quest for an answer for T and avoid the doom and gloom sites like the plague.
    Living with T is very hard but at least others who experience it understand (I doubt anyone who does not have moderate/severe T can really understand).

    Good luck

    This programme really helped me

  • Thanks Simon for the advice. I’ll have a look at the things you suggest. Getting time to do anything for myself with two small children around is pretty difficult! I always try to find the 10-15 minutes to do my meditation though. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t find the advice to ‘mask’ the tinnitus with another noise very helpful. I just find myself drawing more attention to the tinnitus when I should be covering it up.

    I know what you mean about the doom and gloom sites. They are depressing reading and I do avoid them now. The trouble is, to start off with, you go along to the doctors and get no answers so it’s sort of the next thing you start to look at. I think we all have to find our own ways of managing it. It’s good to talk to other people with T, because as you say, nobody can really imagine it unless they have T noises played through earphones for a few days/nights – something I now think all doctors should have included in their training!

  • Thank you to everyone who has posted on this site in relation to meditation and tinnitus. It’s truly wonderful to hear from people who are struggling with this while not letting it get the best of them. I’ve had tinnitus and hyperacusis for 5 years now. I was a singer and had to give up singing because of it. Singing was my way of giving and receiving so to speak. It was very healing to me. It brought me so much joy on so many levels. The tinnitus came on suddenly after taking mucinex and using a nasal rinse. I’ve tried meditating on and off now since I’ve had this problem and I get so frustrated that I stop…and then I start again. A lot of anger and sadness and despair comes up but, recently I have felt less of that since using some guided meditations by Chris Germer (check out his website). I am inspired by all of you and your comments. I look forward to the book on tinnitus and hyperacusis and to the guided meditations on the Wildmind site. Part of the lesson for me is acceptance of what is. It’s difficult and I feel like a spoiled little child at times…I just want to stomp my feet and throw a tantrum. It’s hard to relax and to not be scared and depressed a lot of the time and most of all to ask for what I need…to actually give myself what I need. People really don’t understand what it is to have this condition – it’s invisible. Thankyou to all of you again for your uplifting insights!

  • Hello Lou, Simon and Judy

    It is great to hear from you all. I was very interested to read your story, Lou, and the quiet and I imagine rhythmic sound of the fish tank pump struck me as an ideal background noise to meditate to. Perhaps I will have to get some fish!

    Simon, thank you for the links and in particular the book reference. I couldn’t agree more about avoiding the ‘quest for an answer’. I spent a few years looking for a solution, and it seemed to increase my anxiety about the condition.

    Judy, great to hear from you too. I related to your analogy about the spoiled child! I find I have to ‘count my blessings’ regularly to remind her that things are not SO bad and I’ve been surprised how much this has helped.

    Two things I’ve noticed recently – as I begin to fall asleep, and go down through the levels, I can catch my hearing ‘switching off’ from the tinnitus. From this, I take the comforting message that I am probably getting a complete break from it in my dreams! Perhaps it may be possible eventually to get a complete break from it during meditation.

    Also, I have an allotment and after a day in the presence of birdsong I find the tinnitus mimicking the birds exactly when I lie down to sleep. Has anyone else experienced this?

  • Mandy I don’t think I have your falling asleep switching off, it sounds reassuring though, I hope the tinnitus goes for all of us when we’re asleep. On quite a few days I wake up and don’t hear the tinnitus until I think about it, normally a few seconds later. It’s like the process of remembering it switches it on. Weird.

    I don’t have your birdsong experiences either. Birdsong sounds like it might be more relaxing than constant hissing though. Tinnitus is very strange. A hearing therapist I saw at the hospital recently told me that the medical community only knows about 5% of what there is to know about tinnitus. No surprise that they aren’t much help then! I’ve a bad cold at the moment and mine has gone through the roof after a decent stretch of good days.

  • Hi Lou,

    Although I don’t experience not hearing my tinnitus when waking (it always seems to rage for half an hour to an hour when I wake up, even after a 10 minute nap), I do share with you that experience of it getting louder when I pay it attention. It’s one of the things that can make me reluctant to meditate. In general (though as we all know there’s no such thing as ‘in general’ where tinnitus is concerned!) it goes furthest away when I am absorbed in an engrossing activity. I find this v interesting: it seems like a demonstration of how powerful awareness is, and makes me want to learn to control my own awareness more (so leading me back to meditation!)

    But oh yeah, tinnitus is a very strange thing!

  • Hi Mandy

    I think you’ve got the awareness thing spot on. I found this article really interesting. I came across it when I first got tinnitus and started googling it:

    A meditation course specifically for tinnitus. Unfortunately I’m not near London but I’d be really interested in finding out what it involves. I believe it’s based on “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat Zinn.

    I still do 15 minutes meditation every day however bad my tinnitus is. I find it helps me stay one step ahead of my thoughts.

  • Hi again Lou, and thanks for that article, which is very interesting. I spent a good hour or so Googling last night and couldn’t find many courses specific to tinnitus, especially not in the North of England! But I have just ordered a copy of ‘A Mindfulness based stress reduction workbook’ by Bob Stahl as I’m sure it would be possible to adapt the content to tinnitus. Thought I would give it a shot then review the book here.

  • I just recently started following Mindfulness Med using a CD. It is an 8 week course and I’m about to begin Week 6. So far, everything has been fine ie as soon as I sit down on my ‘meditation chair’ I quickly ease into what I can only describe as a meditative state. The tracks lasts for about 8 to 10 minutes except for the body scan which is 14 minutes but just few days ago, I began to experience a tingly, buzzing noise in both ears. Whether I cover my ears, the noise is still there. Do you think it would have anything to do with the meditation and therefore should I continue, as I am concerned.

    • Hi, Maggie.

      The meditation isn’t causing the buzzing, which is just the blood flowing through the capillaries in your ears. It’s just that with less going on. You’re noticing the sound. I find hat sounds like these come and go, but in the meantime just accept the sounds as part of the meditation practice. These are just more sensations of the body to be mindful of during your practice.

      With tinnitus, e sounds are so loud that they’re intrusive during everyday activity, but if you’re only noticing them when things are quiet, then this is quite normal, as far as I’m aware, although you could always see an ear specialist.

  • Hello Mandy, This is an excellent article – the comments are very helpful, as well. I started experiencing ringing in my ears about a week ago – have not been to see a doctor yet because I thought maybe it would go away (but I plan to see a doctor next week). I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the Internet – your article is most hopeful. I struggled with anxiety disorder about twenty years ago – meditation helped me get my life back. I plan to read ‘Living Well With Pain and Illness.” Thank you for a wonderful blog and a great post.

  • Hi Heather, thanks for commenting. So glad you found the article useful. All the best in dealing with your tinnitus.

  • A pleasure, Bodhipaksa. I’ve also benefited and learnt a lot from the informative comments from other tinnitus sufferers.

  • I’ve had tinnitus continuously for over ten years, maybe a lot more. I remember twelve years ago going to an ENT to see if I could do anything for it.

    About a year ago, I was in a ten day meditation course, and at one point decided to use the ringing as a sensation to observe for a couple of minutes each round of my body scan. That night, as I was heading to bed, the ringing suddenly stopped. I kept listening, and it wasn’t there. That was the first time that happened. It came back the next day, and I have never had it repeat.

    By the way, do you do anything specifically about Thomas Coleman’s Miracle Tinnitus cure?


  • I meant that I have not had the noise stop again. It still rings continuously.

  • For info Tom,

    Thomas Coleman’s ‘miracle cure’ is a scam/con. The you tube videos are fiction. Save your money.


    • Hi Tom and Simon

      That’s interesting about your tinnitus quietening down during meditation, Tom. Although it’s not my experience that meditation has any magic powers in this regard, it can certainly heighten one’s awareness of moments of respite.

      I haven’t come across Thomas Coleman, but it sounds as if you have, Simon. Thanks for your input.

  • Almost all the advice on here – though clearly given with good intentions – is really bad advice for the majority of tinnitus sufferers eg

    Use earplugs in non-noisy situations to meditate – really bad advice – will just increase ear sensitivity and tinnitus levels – this is confirmed by most experienced audiologists

    Spend a lot of time listening to your tinnitus – again really a bad idea it will just send the tinnitus higher. Much better to use gentle background sounds to reduce awareness of your tinnitus

  • I’m not sure, I think you have to do what you find best. I unfortunately have to wear earplugs in bed due to a snoring partner. I prefer the noise of my tinnitus to loud snoring. Maybe if my tinnitus gets louder, I will change my mind!

    Also I find that ‘masking’ the tinnitus just gives me two annoying noises to listen to instead of one. Maybe another way to deal with T is to try and come to terms with the noise you’re stuck with rather than disguise it with another noise, although I can definitely see why this would be some people’s preferred option.

  • Hi, and thanks for your comments and for expressing your concerns.

    If you read through the article again you’ll see I don’t advocate the wearing of earplugs to everyone. Rather, I list it as something I’ve found helpful in reducing the volume of my tinnitus. It works because the earplugs magnify other internal body sounds like swallowing and in this way form a landscape of sounds of which tinnitus is only a part.

    As regards your second point, I think some degree of listening to one’s tinnitus is inevitable in meditation, so it’s a question of how one manages this. I agree that spending ‘a lot of time’ listening to tinnitus (though again, I don’t advocate this in the article) could be counter-productive. But it’s also important not to avoid it. The British Tinnitus Association says, ‘avoiding tinnitus entirely can increase the distress response to tinnitus.’

    I hope this goes some way towards answering your concerns.

  • Shireen Hussain
    April 19, 2013 12:40 am

    Thank you Mandy , just came across your page while googling tinnitus, I got tinnitus 3 weeks back and was worried sick about how to meditate. My t was caused by an aspirin overdose, I had been taking extra strength aspirin everyday for a long time now. Is T caused by aspirin reversible ? Pls help Mandy :( very worried and upset. Taking ginko biloba, b12,zinc,garlic, turmeric, pineapple, the volume has gone down somewhat, than what it was also putting hydrogen peroxide 3%strength drops and castor oil in my ears.

  • Hello DH,

    I don’t prescribe using earplugs, never have, only for ear protection such as mowing the grass (when I use ear defenders) and when I have to be nearer to a louder noise than I would wish e.g wedding dance with live band. I use proper party/musician ear plugs to ensure that I do no further damage to my hearing. I agree earplugs with severe tinnitus are unpleasant and raise awareness but sometimes you have to do the ‘normal’ things in life that you used to do (not I have much of that normal life left). Hearing protection is the only way. So earplugs do have their place in limited circumstances. Many tinnitus patients have varying degrees of hyperacusis which using earplugs will only make worse.

    I gave mediation a try but for me it caused me to focus too much on what was going on in my head but (and this is a big but) for some people it helps them. Some people can feel completely as ease/neutral with the noise of T and therefore continue mediation or start to learn how to mediate.

    You have to find your own way through this, try different things and see what fits. There is definitely not a one size fits all – we are all different as is our reaction to this beast. My reaction has been pretty bloody awful!!

  • Hi Mandy,

    I’d strongly recommend you discuss your regular use of earplugs in quiet situations with a trained audiologist as this is not recommended as it will increase your sensitivity to noise. Obviously using earplugs in very noise situations is sensible.

    We will continue to differ about whether it is wise to spend a lot of time listening to your tinnitus – personally I think it isn’t and many medical organisations including the BTA also state this.

  • Hi Shireen

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re worried and upset about the onset of tinnitus.

    Speaking as a fellow sufferer who isn’t medically trained, I don’t know whether your tinnitus is reversible or whether the treatments you are trying will work, and suggest you contact a health professional to try and resolve these questions if you are worried.

    I’m glad to hear, however, that the volume of your tinnitus has gone down and wish you all the best in dealing with it.

  • Hi again Dh
    Do you mean you think it’s unwise to meditate at all if you have T? My experience of meditating with T, although this might sound odd, is that although I generally listen in to the T for a few minutes at the beginning of a sit, in order to tune in with what’s going on in my body, I don’t really ‘listen’ to it as such after that. That isn’t to say that it goes away, because I can still hear it. It’s rather that I take my attention away from it by placing my attention as fully as I can elsewhere, for example on my breathing. Of course, if the T is very bad on a particular day this at first seems harder to do. But through the process of relaxing and calming the body and mind it usually proves possible. There’s then a sense of ‘allowing’ the T to be there, doing its thing, while I get on with my life.

  • Hi Mandy

    “Do you mean you think it’s unwise to meditate at all if you have T”.
    Not at all, just using sound therapy while meditating might be better than trying to listen for the tinnitus sound but concentrating on breathing is probably good also, whatever works for you – just avoid using those earplugs in quiet situations as longer term it will probably make the tinnitus worse.

  • Norman MacArthur
    May 22, 2013 7:01 pm

    Hi Mandy, I want to say thank you for this. I’ve been practicing mindfulness since January this year and have recently developed tinnitus in my left ear, which has been quite distressing over the last month as I’ve found it very difficult to mediate. Just by reading through this once you’ve already given me inspiration. Some days are just better than others with it, that just seems to be the way it is. By the sounds of it you’ve suffered with it pretty bad and managed to get to place where it’s okay for the sound to be there. I know we’ll all get there too with determination and optimism, thank you for the methods you’ve provided and your positive outlook =)

  • Hi Norman

    Thanks very much. I’m really glad you found the article useful and wish you all the best in coming to terms with your tinnitus.

  • Hi Mandy,
    tinnitus need not be treated as permanent. I developed tinnitus from noise exposure and bad hearing loss two decades ago. After several years, I had total perceptual habituation. Gone. My mind filtered it out. Couldn’t hear it even if I tried. Tinnitus returned after an acoustic shock and went AGAIN after a few years. My only technique was an enthusiasm for writing. A further acoustic shock brought it all back again last year. It’s worse than it was. But I see no reason why it can’t go again. Do you not think that a general consensus of ‘no cure’ and having to find eternal ‘coping mechanisms’ sends a message to the subconscious brain to keep tinnitus.

    No-one could do the 4-minute mile till roger bannister, and then everybody started doing it. Hopefully, now that others know the truth, more will follow suit. The brain is more powerful and magical than we realize. Trillions upon trillions of neuronal inter-connections per second. Trust me, ‘limiting’ thinking is preventing millions from being self-cured. it can go like a cold can go. the brain can very effectively filter it out, lose it and shut it down for good.. i have seen this happen TWICE and my ‘damage’ was real, I could see pot-holes all over an audiogram. My T was severe.

    More should be said about the silent millions who don’t seek medical or forum ‘wisdom’, for there are millions each year who no longer have tinnitus. They don’t post their experiences, just like I never until now. These are silent statistics. i have met many like myself. We exist. We’re not special. The key is to live alongside it FOR NOW, knowing it can and will go. I believe mindfulness meditation will enhance this process.

  • Hi Nick

    Thanks very much for your uplifting post and for introducing the very helpful idea of ‘for now.’ Yes, the word ‘incurable’ is a double-edged sword, isn’t it! While it may help some to face their condition and deal with it, it does seem to be giving the brain the ‘wrong’ sort of message.

    And your idea of ‘for now’

  • I like your post Nick. I often wonder where are the rest of the 1 in 10 people who have tinnitus? Not all on forums are they.

    I’m lucky that my T is pretty quiet. It still bothers me a lot some days. I found that ‘masking’ made things worse for me – maybe I’d think differently if I had loud T – but it just drew my attention more onto my T. So I decided that if I’m stuck with this noise, I’d better just try to get used to it rather than covering it up. I think meditation helps with this, as it’s a period of time when I’m alone with “the noise”, and I think it’s good practice towards accepting being stuck with it.

    I hope it vanishes for all of us one day too

  • Shireen Hussain
    June 9, 2013 9:16 am

    Hello Mandy
    I must apologise for not thanking you before. Appreciate it greatly that you took time out to respond, thank you so much. I went through many ups and downs and was travelling too. After my first attack of T, it had gotten much much better with Zinc, Ginko Biloba etc, then I got exposed to some loud noise and its bad again. I’m scared to even think of meditating…….

  • Hi Lou and Shireen
    Thanks again for your comments. Sorry to hear about your flareup, Shireen. I hope you feel able to abide with it and also to come to some sense of calm around it soon.

  • well thanks it’s long time i don’t meditate ’cause of tinnitus
    -or it’s fine to think so- i’ll try your way.
    there is a meditation on your enemy that basically your enemy is helping you develop love to you.great that he exists so you can transform your feeling…
    i’ll try with my tinnitus
    ciao from moscow

  • Hi Gio

    Thanks for your comment! Hope your meditations go well.

  • Thank you for this post. I tried a three-day silent retreat a decade ago and left after 24 hours because I found my severe tinnitus unbearable in all that silence. I am grateful for these suggestions.


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