Regular readers of this blog know I am almost as passionate about yoga as I am about hearing loss advocacy. Yoga and meditation keep my body and mind strong and help me handle the daily frustrations of living with hearing loss. Often, the techniques I explore in my yoga and meditation practices can be directly applied to managing my hearing loss. My experience at a recent meditation seminar was no different.
The seminar entitled “Staying Sane in a Crazy World” featured Joseph Goldstein, a renowned meditation teacher, and Dan Harris, an ABC anchorman and author of the New York Times bestseller “10% Happier.” The talk was sponsored by New York Insight Meditation Center and it was packed! I had not expected a meditation lecture to be such a popular way to spend a cold winter’s evening during the holiday season, but I was pleased to see all the interest.
What I had expected was a lot of details on the specifics of meditation — the best way to sit, what to do with your hands, the perfect place to meditate, how to choose guided or silent, etc., but I was once again surprised. The main takeaway — do whatever works for you. It reminded me a lot of living with hearing loss.
When Coping With Hearing Loss — Do Whatever Works
During the talk, both speakers discussed their personal meditation practices and how these had evolved over the years. Sometimes they needed one thing, other times something else. They let their changing life circumstances and personal needs drive their meditation practices rather than wedding themselves to a “perfect prescription” for what meditation is supposed to be. “We are all unique,” they explained, “so do what works for you.” I wish we could be as welcoming in the hearing loss community.
Sometimes there are serious disagreements among the D/deaf and hearing loss communities as to the best way to live successfully with hearing issues. Some promote using technology like hearing aids or CIs while others argue for sign language. In the technology realm, some recommend captioning while others prefer hearing loops. Some are excited for OTC options, while others believe only traditional hearing aids will do. My take: Why not support all of the above — in whatever dose works for the individual?
Hearing Devices Are Not One-Size-Fits-All
Hearing aids come in many shapes and styles and from a variety of manufacturers. Most are sold through audiologists, but over time, direct-to-consumer options may expand, especially with the advent of OTC hearing aids. Let your communication goals, lifestyle, and the severity of your hearing loss dictate your choices, while respecting that others may choose something else. Try a variety of options, experiment and select what works for you. Let others do the same.
Embrace a Variety of Assistive Listening Techniques
As meditation expert Joseph Goldstein stated, “I love technology because it provides access to meditation for more people. It doesn’t change the act of meditation, it just changes how many doors lead to the practice.” The same applies to assistive listening techniques. As technology improves, new ways of enhancing communication will only expand our opportunities for meaningful interactions with one another.
CART, speech-to-text apps, communication best practices, paper & pen, sign language — whatever you need to use to communicate — do it with pride. Experiment with different options to see what is best for you. The answer may vary depending on the situation, the local soundscape and your conversation partner. The key is to find the right path for you in that moment.
Our Goals Are the Same
No matter our hearing issues, our goals are the same — better communication, enhanced personal relationships, and an increased ability to work with purpose and impact. Let’s support one another in our choices, even if they are not the ones we would make for ourselves. Let’s allow everyone to do “whatever works.”
Readers, do you take a “whatever works” approach to your hearing loss?