Meditation For The Deaf: A Guide

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Many people assume that meditation is impossible for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, especially when it comes to guided meditation. However, there are alternative ways for deaf people to meditate and benefit from the practice. For example, deaf people can use unguided meditation with white noise or relaxing music in the background. There are also online communities, such as Trudi's Mindfulness for the Deaf Community, which is a Facebook group run by a trained deaf counsellor. There are also closed-caption videos by mindfulness teachers such as Jon Kabat-Zinn on YouTube, as well as guided meditation videos with text. For British Sign Language (BSL) users, Ben Fletcher's YouTube videos are recommended.

Characteristics Values
Meditation type Guided meditation, unguided meditation, mindfulness
Resources Trudi's Mindfulness for the Deaf Community, closed-caption videos by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ben Fletcher's BSL videos, national be mindful website, guided meditation videos with text on YouTube, books, online communities, yoga classes
Techniques Using white noise or relaxing music, breathing exercises, visual cues, tactile cues, signing


Utilise online communities and resources, such as Trudi's Mindfulness for the Deaf Community

Utilise Online Communities and Resources

Trudi's Mindfulness for the Deaf Community

Trudi Collier is a trained counsellor, therapist, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working with deaf, hard-of-hearing, deafened, deafblind, and disabled people. She also has experience in couples counselling, facilitating, mentoring, and research. Collier set up an online community, Trudi's Mindfulness for the Deaf Community, to address the lack of accessible resources for deaf people interested in mindfulness.

Collier's Facebook page and website, Deaf Mindfulness, are designed to be useful for deaf people interested in mindfulness and meditation. The Facebook page features short quotes to encourage mindful thinking and doing, as well as video clips in British Sign Language (BSL) explaining the history of mindfulness and meditation. The website provides information on mindfulness and how it can help individuals. Collier also gives talks about mindfulness to deaf organisations and mental health awareness organisations.

Other Online Communities and Resources

There are several other online communities and resources that can be utilised by deaf individuals interested in mindfulness and meditation:

  • Ben Fletcher's YouTube channel, which features clear and concise BSL videos on meditation.
  • The national be mindful website, which provides information on practitioners and courses, including online courses and consultations via email or Skype.
  • Everyday Mindfulness, a free website for individuals of all backgrounds and meditative levels to share information and advice.
  • Sign Health, which has a BSL video guide to mindfulness, including a short exercise to try at home.
  • Deaf Yoga, which has tips for non-signing yoga teachers and guidelines for interpreters about effectively and ethically interpreting during yoga classes.


Incorporate visual cues, such as flashing lights, to indicate transitions during meditation

While meditating, visual cues such as flashing lights can be used to indicate transitions, especially when the person meditating has their eyes closed. This is particularly useful for deaf or hard-of-hearing people who rely on visual cues to guide them through the meditation.

Flashing the overhead light is a commonly used signal to indicate a transition to the next activity. Alternatively, if you have a light that can be set to dim gradually, this can be a visual way of mimicking the gradual sound of a bell.

For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, keeping the eyes open during meditation may be preferable to reduce interference from flashing lights or internal images. However, if you do choose to keep your eyes closed, be aware that flashing lights or changes in colour are common occurrences and not something to be concerned about. These lights are often the random firing of optic nerves or the release of energy that shows up in one's visual field.

If you are creating a meditation routine for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, incorporating visual cues such as flashing lights can be a useful way to indicate transitions and keep the person engaged. This could be as simple as flashing the lights or using a visual cue, such as waving a feather, to indicate the end of a meditation period.

Additionally, having a clear outline of how the meditation session will progress can be beneficial. This allows the person to anticipate the next steps and reduces uncertainty. For example, you can incorporate visual cues such as a slap on the floor to indicate the next pose or instruction.

Incorporating visual cues such as flashing lights can be an effective way to guide deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals through a meditation session, ensuring they can follow along and transition smoothly between activities.


Use closed-caption videos by mindfulness leaders, such as Jon Kabat-Zinn

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people can face challenges when it comes to meditation, especially guided meditation, which often relies on audio instructions. However, this does not mean that meditation is inaccessible to them. One way to make guided meditation more accessible is to use closed-caption videos by mindfulness leaders, such as Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a well-known mindfulness teacher and author who has taught mindfulness and meditation for many years. He has a wide range of videos available online, including conversations, interviews, and guided meditation sessions. These videos can be a valuable resource for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals who want to learn from a renowned mindfulness leader.

Kabat-Zinn's videos cover various topics related to mindfulness and meditation. For example, he has a two-part online class on "The Virtues & Challenges of Lying Down Meditation," in which he provides guided meditation instructions. He also has conversations and interviews with interesting guests, such as Dr. Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the United States, and Chogyal Rinpoche, with whom he discusses the essence of spirituality.

To make his videos accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers, closed captions can be used. Closed captions are a text version of the spoken content that can be displayed on the video, allowing individuals with hearing loss to understand the audio portion of the video. By turning on closed captions, individuals can read along with the meditation instructions, conversations, or interviews, ensuring they don't miss any important information.

Using closed-caption videos by mindfulness leaders like Jon Kabat-Zinn can be a great way for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to access guided meditations and mindfulness teachings. It allows them to benefit from the expertise and guidance of experienced teachers without the auditory barriers often present in traditional guided meditations.


Explore sign language mindfulness resources, like Ben Fletcher's clear and concise videos

Ben Fletcher's videos are a great sign language resource for mindfulness practices. In his videos, he explains how to meditate in British Sign Language (BSL).

  • Well-Being with Matt: Matt Reinig, a deaf mindfulness instructor, offers numerous videos in American Sign Language (ASL) and with captions on his website and YouTube channel.
  • Sign Health: A British nonprofit for the deaf community that provides a video series in BSL.
  • Yoga Pah: Offers yoga resources in ASL.
  • The Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center (SPARC): Presents an ASL translation of 'Mindfulness and Health'.
  • Rachel Postovoit, LCSW, MS: Offers workshops and individual consultations through A.M.A.S. (Mindfulness, Adaptability, Sustainability) in ASL. She can be reached by videophone or email.
  • Tara Brach: Holds an ASL-interpreted meditation class every month in Bethesda, Maryland.
  • No Barriers Zen Temple: Founded by Rev. Ōshin Jennings, Hoshi, possibly the first Deaf Zen Buddhist priest, to provide accessible meditation to the Greater Washington, D.C. area.
  • 5-Minute ASL Guided Meditation by Matt Reinig
  • Breathing Technique by Deaf Holistic Yoga
  • Brief Breathing Meditation on Facebook by Stephanie Gasco of Shoregrace Healing Arts: She also has a video at Deaf Women United.
  • ASL translation of the 'Mindfulness and Health' report by the University of Massachusetts
  • Yoga videos in ASL by Deaf-certified instructor Beverly Hanyzewski: has a list of ASL-fluent yoga instructors and Deaf-friendly yoga studios in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
  • Deafhood Yoga: Offers resources and online classes in ASL.
  • DeafYoga Facebook group: A community page for those who enjoy doing yoga and aim to create a community and improve access to yoga practices in the Midwest.
  • DeafYoga Foundation: A nonprofit organisation that aims to share yoga, mindfulness, and wellness with the growing ASL yoga community.
  • DeafYoga and Life Retreats: Empower individuals to lead a healthy and fulfilling life through yoga and life coaching activities.


Focus on your breath: simply sit and observe your inhalation and exhalation

Focusing on your breath is a simple yet powerful mindfulness meditation practice. It is a great way to relieve stress and open a door to a more healthy and mindful lifestyle. It can be done while sitting, standing, or walking, but most people find sitting to be the best position. You can do it with your eyes open or closed, but closing them might help you maintain your focus.

To begin, find a comfortable position, either seated on a chair or on the floor on a cushion. Keep your back upright, but not too tight. Place your hands wherever they are comfortable, and rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth or wherever it feels natural.

Notice and relax your body. Try to observe the shape of your body and how it feels. Allow yourself to relax and become curious about your body and the sensations it experiences, such as the touch of the floor or chair. Relax any areas of tightness or tension.

Now, tune into your breath. Feel the natural flow of your breath—in and out. You don't need to adjust it or control it in any way. Just observe the breath as it is, whether it is short and shallow or long and deep. Notice where you feel your breath in your body. It might be in your abdomen, chest, throat, or nostrils. Try to feel the sensations of each breath, one at a time.

As you focus on your breath, you may find that your mind wanders. That's okay. Just gently bring your attention back to your breath. Be kind to your wandering mind. If you notice that your thoughts are drifting, softly say "thinking" or "wandering" in your head, and then redirect your attention back to your breathing.

Stay focused on your breath for five to seven minutes. You will likely get lost in thought at times, but simply return your attention to your breath when that happens. After a few minutes, check in with your body again, allowing yourself to relax even more deeply. Offer yourself appreciation for taking the time to practice meditation today.

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Frequently asked questions

Deaf people can meditate by following unguided meditation practices. This can be done by using white noise or relaxing meditative music in the background.

There are many online resources for deaf people who want to start meditating. For instance, Trudi's Mindfulness for the Deaf Community is an online community led by a trained deaf counsellor. There are also closed-caption videos by mindfulness teachers such as Jon Kabat-Zinn on YouTube.

One simple meditation practice that doesn't rely on audio is to sit quietly and watch your breath. This can be done by feeling the sensation of breathing in and out without trying to change it.

For guided meditation, deaf people can use visual or tactile cues such as flashing lights or tapping on the shoulder to indicate transitions between activities.

Yes, there are sign language mindfulness and yoga resources online that can be useful for home practice. For example, Ben Fletcher has clear and concise videos in BSL that can be a good starting point for regular meditation practice.

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