Living in a city can have its perks, certainly. You’re almost always guaranteed to have a place to hang out at, there are always people around, there is always something happening, and things like school, work and the shopping centre are just a few minutes away from home.
In nature, there are no noisy neighbors, or the sound of car traffic going by every few seconds, probably the two most disturbing things that have occupied the minds of meditation practitioners who live in a city. Neighbors and cars, who would’ve thought. And because of them, it’s impossible for me to meditate. Poor me.
In the corner of the room..
My meditation practice began quite some time ago, and it has changed its course a dozen times since then. In the early days, it was all about peaceful conditions, clean sheets and a pillow; all tucked beautifully in the corner of the room, as advised by the many articles and books that you can get your hands on. A true Zen environment.
You can get used to that peaceful environment rather quickly. Waking up at the same time every day, having the same morning routine in the same place, without being disturbed, is going to build a serious habit that will later have some consequences, but not in the form of unpleasantness.
A new place to meditate..
What did it for me was that it was time for me to start living my own adult life, in my own city, in my own apartment. That’s where it began. The sudden thought that I won’t be able to meditate because of all the noise around me, it simply won’t be possible to sit in silence because of all these cars going back and forth, or the neighbors who continue to argue in a foreign language.
It won’t be possible, so for now my meditation practice has to be put on hold, until life offers my a better place to live so I can meditate again.
The last bit, was the exact thought pattern that I went through when I first understood just how used to the quiet meditation space I was. I was skeptical at first, but after a few meditations, I realized that it really wasn’t going to be that bad at all. A few months later, I don’t even think about it. My neighbors can be on a long-distance call with their relatives, or the road-workers outside can be fixing the streets, it’s all just part of the creation that life is.
I can’t do it..
If you take a closer look at some of the most popular meditation communities on the web, the question as to whether the volume of noise around your surroundings have influence over the meditation practice/experience is asked fairly frequently, to the extent where I wrote this post just to answer that question. But bare with me.
Some of us are really sensitive (me being one of those people), and the idea of sitting in a noisy room doing meditation can seem quite off-putting. It’s really not. And you will have to see that for yourself in order to fully understand it.
Since there are different types of meditations (and here are some more), everyone will have a different objective of the meditation they’re doing; whether it is watching your breath, counting from 0 to 10 and then all the way back, or focusing on an object such as candle — it’s all about maintaining focus.
You could very well say that the noise around us is disturbing us because we aren’t able to focus on the meditation itself, but rather get taken back by the activities around us.
Within a few weeks, the noise around had become truly irrelevant. It was the first thought of worry that had me thinking it wouldn’t work, but compared to meditation I did then and do now, there really isn’t a difference — other than me having become better at it.
What about you? Can you meditate under noisy conditions? Do you feel like it is stopping you from achieving some form of progress? What kind of solutions have come up with in order to tackle this problem? Would love to hear answers to these questions!