The first thing any meditation text will tell you is to find a quiet place with little or no distractions. In a perfect world, these silent places would exist for everyone. But, in many people’s lives, distractions are the rule rather than the exception.
Let’s face it; life is hectic these days. If you share your home with children, parents, or roommates, you have built-in distractions at every turn. Whether it’s the television, earsplitting music, or just loud conversation, you may not be able to get a moment’s peace in your home no matter how hard you try.
You may ask, “How can I possibly meditate under these conditions?”
Unfortunately, many people just give up. They feel the noise and distractions in their lives make it impossible for them to enjoy the advantages of a daily meditation practice, which include stress-relief, mental relaxation, and physical rejuvenation. Ironically, these are exactly what we all need in these stressful, hectic times.
Well, the good news is, you can! The method I’ll describe has been effective for me and many of my friends and associates. It takes practice though; along with acceptance, patience, and perseverance. Here’s how it works:
The key to meditating in a noisy environment is to change the way you think about noise. Rather than letting the external sounds distract you from your meditation, use them in your meditation.
Try this: Sit calmly and just listen to the noise around you. Let the sounds fill your head. Focus on the tones and vibrations of the sound rather than their origin.
All sound—whether distracting like a television, a baby crying, a dog barking—or calming like ocean waves or a running stream—are just vibrations. If you break the noise down to its components, you can focus on the deep underlying vibrations and actually enhance your meditative state. If a sound is a sound is a sound, then this sound could easily be comforting rather than annoying.
- Acceptance – You can’t make the noise go away. You could try ignoring it but this is usually futile. You could try blocking it out with music but you will find that lulls in the music will allow the outside noises back in. The intermittent nature of this can prove to be even more distracting. You may even find yourself dreading the soft parts of the music or the silence between songs. In order to meditate in this kind of environment, you have to acknowledge the unwanted sounds in your space and understand that you must coexist. If you can accept them and are determined to meditate “with” them, not in spite of them, they lose the power to control your life.
- Patience – Give yourself a break. Don’t expect to be able to do this right away or 100% of the time. Be patient with yourself and realize that ALL meditation is about catching the mind wandering and bringing it back to your “object of meditation.” If you feel you’re getting frustrated with yourself because the sounds are still annoying you, pat yourself on the back instead and accept that you are only human. Just smile and focus back on your meditative mind, you will eventually succeed and—believe me—it will be worth the effort.
- Perseverance – Don’t give up. There will be times, especially at first, when you just can’t help being annoyed by the unwanted sounds. You’re non-meditative mind will “know” that these sounds are distracting and it will naturally want to be distracted. Just focus as best you can for your meditation session and come back tomorrow and try again. You’ll find that the meditative mind will start to learn that these sounds are part of the process and it will become easier and easier to reach your meditative state.
So, if your life is full of noise and distraction, you don’t have to give up on a healthy meditation practice. Try the method above and see if it works for you. I sincerely hope this information helps because I strongly believe everyone should include meditation in their daily lives regardless of their living situation.