Though the research is still new, several studies show that meditation can help relieve tinnitus symptoms.

Around 25 million people each year in the United States experience episodes of tinnitus that last longer than a few minutes. And for some of those people, these tinnitus episodes are chronic and can cause significant disruption and distress in their daily lives.

But what types of treatments are available for chronic tinnitus ― and can approaches like meditating, or other mindfulness techniques, actually help reduce the severity and impact of tinnitus?

Below, we’ll explore what the research says about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness for chronic tinnitus, including how you can start meditating for tinnitus.

Mindfulness describes the practice of bringing our awareness to the present moment and allowing ourselves to experience ourselves and our environment in the present. Meditation, sometimes called mindfulness meditation, is a type of mindful activity that can allow us to practice being fully present and mindful.

Mindfulness-based approaches, including meditation, have been shown to be beneficial for a variety of reasons.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), research has shown that mindfulness-based treatments can help improve the symptoms of conditions like depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and even chronic pain. In fact, research suggests that these approaches may also help reduce the symptoms and severity of chronic tinnitus.

In one small study from 2017, researchers explored the effects of weekly yoga classes, which included yoga, breathing, and meditation, on 12 participants with chronic tinnitus. According to the results of the study, 12 weeks of consistent yoga practice was able to reduce both tinnitus severity and overall stress scores.

Another study from 2017 investigated the effects of two different types of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy ― relaxation training and mindfulness meditation ― on chronic tinnitus. Results of the study found that both techniques, but especially mindfulness meditation, were able to significantly reduce tinnitus severity, disability, and other symptoms like depression and anxiety.

A more recent systematic review from 2019 also explored the research on mindfulness-based interventions for tinnitus-related distress, anxiety, and depression. According to the results of the analysis, which included 7 studies and 425 participants, mindfulness-based interventions can significantly decrease distress levels in people living with tinnitus.

Can meditation cause tinnitus?

Some people report experiencing symptoms of tinnitus, such as ringing or buzzing in the ears, after a meditation session. However, most of these reports are anecdotal ― and there’s no research to suggest that meditation can cause tinnitus.

With that said, people who are prone to experiencing tinnitus may notice that the silence of meditation can make symptoms worse, especially if there are no other distractions around.

If you frequently experience worsening tinnitus symptoms after meditating, you may want to try meditating with a sound machine or listening to gentle music. If this doesn’t bring relief, reach out to your doctor to discuss other treatment options.

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If you’ve never meditated before, you might be surprised to know that there are actually many different types of meditation. And each type of meditation offers something different, depending on what your needs and preferences are.

For example, here are just a few of the types of meditation you can do:

  • mindfulness meditation, which involves simply being mindful of the present moment
  • focused meditation, which involves focusing on something internal or external
  • movement meditation, which involves movement, like yoga, tai chi, or even walking
  • spiritual meditation, which involves building a deeper connection with one’s spirituality
  • progressive relaxation, which involves relaxing different parts of the body one by one

Because tinnitus often sounds like ringing, buzzing, clicking, or even hissing, people with tinnitus may find that they are more easily distracted during silent meditation sessions.

If this is the case, there’s nothing wrong with adding a little background noise ― like a sound machine, running fan, or even peaceful music ― to help bring the focus away from the tinnitus. You may even find that guided meditation recordings help draw you away from the drone of tinnitus.

If silent meditation is difficult, it can also be helpful to find specific forms of meditation that don’t have to be done in silence. For example, meditating by focusing on an external sound (focused meditation) or walking in nature (movement meditation) can still offer potential benefits for your tinnitus symptoms without becoming frustrating for you.

Get started with your own meditation journey

In addition to potentially reducing the severity of chronic tinnitus, research has shown that meditation can benefit a wide variety of health conditions ― from chronic pain conditions to mental health conditions, and so much more.

If you’re interested in giving meditation a try but don’t know where to begin, here are a few of our resources to get you started on your journey:

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If you’ve ever experienced tinnitus, you know that it can be an annoying, frustrating symptom. But if you’re one of the millions of people who live with chronic tinnitus, it’s not just annoying ― it can be downright debilitating.

Mindfulness-based practices like meditation have been shown to help not only reduce the severity of tinnitus but also improve the mental and emotional symptoms that chronic tinnitus can cause. Plus, meditation can offer a wide variety of other benefits that may help improve your quality of life overall.