The biggest difference is that MBTSR is a structured skill building program designed in an 8-week adult-education format specifically for the person with bothersome tinnitus. While a mindfulness approach is the umbrella under which all skills in the course are taught, the meditation practice is only one facet of the training. The Mindfulness Meditation practice is used in the course as an “awareness building” tool. By building and strengthening neuronal growth and firing along attention pathways, like muscle fibers growing stronger after focused exercise, we build the brain’s ability to focus attention on the experience of the moment as it actually is without haphazardly allowing the mind to wander into stories and dark places which is common in the mind of the person with tinnitus.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is not specific for tinnitus. It is one of many types of meditation practice that allows the mind to self-transcend all mental processing altogether. There is no effort or attempt made whatsoever to direct attention. A state of self-transcendence arises also generally resulting in a more peaceful state. I have chosen Mindfulness as the tool for the Stress Reduction Program because I believe that the active approach to observing the totality of the mind and its wanderings, gives the person with tinnitus practice in letting go of old habits of making the sensation of tinnitus center stage overtaking all else that is in one’s experience in any given moment.