How can I meditate with all this noise?
People sometimes complain that their meditation is disturbed by outside noises. There's an assumption that the mind can only become quiet if the world around is quiet. We imagine the ideal meditation setting to be somewhere far from the madding crowd—a retreat deep in a forest, a peaceful chapel, or perhaps the quiet of one's own bedroom. It is much harder for the mind to settle down in a noisy environment.
Having a quiet space certainly helpful. And I too thought it was necessary. Until one day when I was on a meditation retreat next door to a large construction site. "How could I meditate with all that noise?" Finally when the workers went home I got some peace, and could settle easily into my meditation.
Then I realized something. The real disturbance was in my mind. It wasn't the noise itself that was a problem, but my wishing it weren't there.
I've discovered that when I think something is in the way of my meditation, it is good to pause and consider that it may be my resistance to it that is getting in the way. By accepting my experience as it is, I am able to be more in the present moment—which after all is one of the goals of meditation—and my mind can settle down again.
So when you find noise or something else seeming to disturb your meditation, notice what is happening inside. See if there is any sense of resistance to your experience. Be curious as to what is going on and how it feels. And you'll find you can have quiet mind even in a noisy environment.
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