How to Meditate with Noise

I can’t seem to escape from external noise when meditating. What should I do?

Lion’s Roar
14 November 2016
Person meditating surrounded by noise.
Illustration by Nolan Pelletier.

Question: I can’t seem to escape from external noise when meditating. What should I do?

Answer: We’re usually counseled to find a quiet nook in which to do our meditation, especially when starting out, so that we can focus on the task at hand. Assuming that you can’t sniff out such a haven, there’s really only one thing you can do: sit with the noise. After all, getting comfortable with “what is” is a big part of the work we do while meditating, and that includes traffic noise and kids playing. Granted, hearing your neighbor’s TV or loud music is good cause to keep looking for a personal sitting sanctuary, because electronic noise is particularly hard to work with. But one Buddhist group we know of met every morning for weeks while a work-crew, complete with jackhammer, was loudly demolishing things just outside their zendo. Yes, there was some frustration among the sitters. But they also shared some good laughs—and learned to keep up their sitting through less-than-ideal, even bone-rattling circumstances.

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Lion's Roar

Lion’s Roar

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