Last week one of my tinnitus patients surprised me during our appointment by saying that he was thankful for his tinnitus. And he’s not alone. We know that 70-80% of people who have tinnitus are not bothered by it; however, I’ve actually had a handful of other patients over the years that actually liked their tinnitus and didn’t want it taken away from them. One gentleman found that it helped him fall asleep and another one with a more musical tinnitus sound said that she enjoyed listening to it.
When I asked my patient to tell me more about his positive mindset around tinnitus, he explained that it gives him body and mind awareness. He shared that he taught Kripalu Yoga for many years and that it is a practice of “witnessing”. It taught him to adjust his lifestyle and to develop a body and mind centered awareness by focusing on his breath. He explained that when his tinnitus is loud he sees it is a sign that he needs to assess what his body or mind needs. It may be that he hasn’t been drinking enough water, or eating enough food, his posture may be off or maybe he is under stress.
This was wonderful to hear because many of my patients report that when their tinnitus is loud, they have a hard time coping and it affects their mood and day. So maybe the key is to not fight it or work hard to ignore it by forcing yourself to engage in nonstop activities to distract yourself from it. What if you just sat with it for a moment and accepted it? What if you instead see it as a tool or gauge to check in and assess your needs?
He also shared the importance of finding love within yourself. We are not only here because we are a product of love but we are “love”. Finding and connecting with your essence will not only help you express it more easily but it can reduce pain too. Ok this may sound like pretty deep touchy-feely stuf for some of you but it’s scientifically supported as well. Meditation increases oxytocin, a hormone that is known to improve your mood, reduce stress and increase pain threshold. Tinnitus is processed by the brain as pain. Instead of focusing on your tinnitus today let’s focus on our breath to calm, center and clear our mind and increase the flow of good hormones If you need some guidance on how to meditate, you can start by checking out Dr. Jennifer Gans’ online program called Mindfulness Based Tinnitus Stress Reduction. It is an 8 week program that teaches you about tinnitus and has meditation exercises. Or you can enroll in a yoga class. Even a quick 5 minute meditation during the busy work day can help. Remember that tinnitus is just a small part of our lives. As the song by Al Jolson “Red Red Robin” says … live, love, laugh and be happy. Hopefully that song will also pull springtime a little closer, especially after the record-breaking snowfall we had last week.