Saturday, July 23, 2011

MINDFULNESS MAY PROVIDE RELIEF FROM TINNITUS

Tinnitus is a physical condition experienced as noises or ringing in the ears or head when no such external physical noise is present. The condition is usually caused by a fault in the hearing system itself.

Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease in itself, and it can result from a wide range of underlying causes.

At present there is no actual 'cure' for tinnitus. However, many of the causes of tinnitus are treatable.

Approximately 17 to 20 per cent of Australians suffer from some degree of tinnitus, varying from mild to severe. As regards the latter, the noise can vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal or whine, and it may be heard in one or both ears.

The majority of tinnitus sufferers use what may be referred to as the ‘direct’ approach, that is, they attempt to drive away the ringing in their ears. However, new research suggests that acknowledging (or, in mindfulness parlance, 'noting') the sensation and learning to live with it can help decrease suffering.

As I see it, this is just another one more example, or rather illustration, of the metaphysical or mental ‘law of indirectness’. That ‘law’ or principle says, ‘Don't attempt to put a thought or problem out of one's mind directly but rather let the problem slip from the sphere of conscious analysis.’ Don't try ... instead, let ... for we all know from experience that, 'Whatever we resist, persists.'

Easier said than done, of course, but it can be done ... with practice. Is persistence needed? Not in the sense of 'will-power.' (Actually there is no such thing as will-power. The will has no power in and of itself, but that's for another blog.) Here's another metaphysical law worth remembering ... 'Effort defeats itself.' Got the picture? So, forget about gritting your teeth and flexing your muscles, as though some form of mental toughness would achieve the desired result. No, the type of persistence needed for success, if that be the right word, takes the form of what has been described as an effortless effort ... in the form of an awareness, and 'noting', on an ongoing basis ... from one moment to the next.

Lead researcher Jennifer Gans (pictured right), an assistant professor at the University of California at San Francisco says a technique called 'mindfulness-based tinnitus reduction' helps people separate the ringing from the stress, anxiety and other negative emotions tinnitus often causes.

‘Instead of pushing it away, it's dealing with what it is and experiencing it as a body sensation without the fear and depression that's creating the suffering,’ says Gans.

Mindfulness-based tinnitus reduction is an adaptation or special application of mindfulness-based stress reduction, which previous studies have found to be effective in helping people deal with chronic pain and arthritis. The tinnitus version is specifically designed to deal with the symptoms of tinnitus.

For more information see this article from ABC News/Health ... as well as this YouTube video on using mindfulness in treating tinnitus:


Finally - This blog sets out a simple form of mindfulness sitting meditation.



Resource: Gans J J, 'Mindfulness-based tinnitus therapy is an approach with ancient roots', (2010) Hearing Journal, Nov 2010, v 63, issue 11, doi: 10.1097/01.HJ.0000390823.09995.f3


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