Layering Meditation: Sitting with Tinnitus

A subject I’ve been avoiding touching upon since beginning the meditation challenge is my tinnitus.  According to The American Tinnitus Association one in five adults suffers from one form of the persistent ringing in the ears or another and of those: 20-50% of sufferers find it psychologically disturbing & debilitating. I’m one of them. It’s something I’ve grappled with since my crib was placed between my parent’s hi-fi and I developed permanent damage in both my ears from their love of Fleetwood Mac, Yoko Ono & Jethro Tull played way too loudly. As we move into the second week of the challenge with it’s focus of mindfulness I find myself taking a look at my relationship with the high pitch buzz I experience 24/7.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts is that I’ve been slowly lengthening the amount of time I sit.  The ringing is it’s most pronounced the more quiet it is. Now that I’m sitting for 20 minutes of concentration practice twice a day I find my attention wandering to the ringing more often.

Anyone who suffers from tinnitus knows that reading, talking or even thinking about the condition can increase the apparent volume.  Not thinking about it is one of the only ways I’ve learned to cope with the constant sound barrage. It was one of my first experiences with the power of awareness discovering that where I put my focus would change the quality of the experience.  My letting it just be- not pushing it away & not focusing on it has always kept it to a tolerable level.

Photo by Maren Yumi Motomura

The mindfulness focus of week two is allowing me to add meditations to the silent sitting practice.  Practices that are letting me work where I’m not noticing the ringing as much.  Been enjoying layering my practice with a walking and the body scan meditations.  In the mornings my walk to work affords me the perfect ten minute stretch to practice & been doing the body scan/ touch point meditations in the evenings.  Listening to the guided audio meditations after my long sitting session is allowing me to mix it up and I don’t notice the ringing.

Hoping with a little practice I’ll be able to keep my focus on my breath longer & not on my tinnitus as often.  I’ve been pondering which audio meditations to add as I read through the suggested reading of the mindfulness sections of Sharon’s Real Happiness books. I have to admit I’m curious but a little nervous to try the sound meditation.  I’ll let you know soon how that goes.



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