How often have you tried quieting your mind for meditation only to be disturbed by noise? Although it is harder to achieve a state of tranquil spirituality in a noisy place, it is not true to say that meditation is only possible in a quiet environment.
Buddha knew that a noisy environment is not a bar to quieting your mind and that any noise disturbance to meditation comes from wanting it to stop. It is not the louse sound that is the problem.
When Buddha described it 2,500 years ago, in the language of his time, he referred to dukkha, which is the negative of sukha. These words, literally meaning “bad hole” and “good hole” refer to something we are all familiar with, the feeling of discontent as opposed to having a mind that is at ease.
Dukkha arises when we fail to accept things as they are. It means that the state of being at ease has been overturned by putting up a resistance to something that is being experienced.
Sukha comes from going along with how things are. The only thing that can stop you from quieting your mind is a self-created sense of discontent. In other words, it is your own resistance to the experience of loud noise that prevents you from quietening your mind.
Many Buddhist teachers have told us it is necessary to stop thinking about an experience as we want it to be, as opposed to accepting what it is. This does not mean to say that we should be tolerant of any injustice that exists in the world around us. There are many issues we should try to overturn, such as homelessness and cruelty.
What is described as “acceptance of experience” refers to what is happening at the moment. For instance, when you are angry or frustrated, you should accept it and focus on how it feels, rather than wishing it was not so.
In meditation, quieting your mind does not mean it should be empty. You should still have awareness of the world and your feelings, thoughts, sensations and sounds you are experiencing. Your mind will ease when there is no self-inflicted discontent and you stop wishing that something was different.
Whatever it is that is preventing you from quieting your mind, you need to take notice of it. Be aware that you are starting to resist the experience of noise and open yourself to the experience of the resistance you are feeling. This is all part of the present moment so it should also be part of your awareness of the moment.
The sort of resistance which might prevent you from quietening your mind can be difficult to pinpoint. When you fail to find peace of mind, ask yourself if there is any resistance you are not aware of. It could be the tension you feel about what you are experiencing or your resentment against it.
When you discover something you were not previously aware of resisting, focus on the resistance in your mind, rather than the cause of that resistance.
In a noisy environment, commence with quieting your mind by making the experience of resistance part of the present moment. Your feeling of discontent will disappear when you understand that your resistance is just part of the moment.
Try this the next time you feel disturbed by a noisy environment when you are doing your meditation. You will begin to feel more at ease. Your sense of spirituality will increase and you will suffer less from loud noise when quieting your mind.