Where can you meditate? Do you need to have a quiet place free from all distractions and noises or can you actually meditate anywhere, anytime, any place? Many people live in crowded cities or areas where it’s busy. Does that mean that they can’t meditate? Is it possible to meditate even when there’s cacophonous noise all around you? I say it is.
Let me share this story with you. Many years ago I went to my wife’s high school reunion. I didn’t know many people from her high school because I had grown up in a completely different area. So while I didn’t know many people and she knew just about everyone, she obviously wanted to meet up and enjoy conversation with her friends. She wanted to spend time with her friends, reconnecting. We were in a room with a band playing and many people talking and laughing. I was sitting there quietly and I decided to try something. I wanted to see if I could meditate even with all this noise around me. I could clearly hear all the noise and conversation, the music all around me. I kept my eyes open and although I could still hear my surroundings I was able to go into a meditative state without being obvious. I managed to meditate and relax in a meditative state while she enjoyed herself and her conversations. Even with all that noise, all the conversations going on and people dancing I was able to meditate. I surprised myself with this ability because up until this point I had never been in an atmosphere like this. My life normally is rather quiet, so I’ve never really had the opportunity to try meditating in this type of atmosphere. I have been meditating for a long time and this is definitely part of the reason for my ability to meditate so quickly and easily in this particular situation; however, my point is that if I can do it than anyone can. If I can learn to meditate anywhere, so can you. All it takes is practice, determination and dedication.
Many people live in large cities, or have large families, or maybe live in a noisy house. You ask yourself, “How do I meditate with all that noise going on all around me?” and my answer is simple; “You listen to the silence in the noise.” In my house I have an area set aside in the middle of my house to meditate. I never ask my family to be quiet. If the television is on, music playing, whatever the noises around me I don’t ask them to be quiet, I just meditate. How is that possible? Well, the key is to listen to the silence amongst the noise. That may sound kind of odd but let me explain.
It’s like a room. The room you’re in right now may have chairs, a television, and tables. If you’re in the car there’s the steering wheel, the seats, the console. But in both of these places while there are things around you there is also space. The space, in many ways, can be like meditation. Find the silence amongst all the noise. Find the silence in the noise. The background in which the noise is taking place is silence. Be present with that silence. Go there, be attentive, and be present with that silence.
If you live in a big city you may hear cars honking outside and the people making noises as they walk by; but what about all the emptiness, all the space around you? Go to that emptiness, that silence, and space. It’s a lot like a bite from a mosquito. There’s a tendency to scratch that bite because it itches, but if you scratch it then it actually gets bigger and more bothersome. If you ignore the itch, it goes away. In a sense you’re ignoring all that noise around you. All the cacophonous noise that’s all around you is simply ignored. You don’t push it away, you just in a sense acknowledge that it’s there and then get back to your breath. Breathe deeply, breathe slowly, and when your mind goes back to the noises around you, simply go back to your breath, your mantra or your prayer word.
Another little trick that I like is to use headphones with music or a guided meditation while you are meditating. You listen to meditative music or guided meditations and while you may still be able to hear the noises around you, but your main focus will be on the music, on your breath or on your guided meditation. That’s really the key. Your mind can only focus on one thing at a time. In one day we bounce all over the place. We listen to a conversation, move our attention to a noise, go back to a thought, whatever the distraction may be. Meditation is about focusing on one thing and staying there, staying focused.
When I was at the noisy reunion that I spoke of earlier, I focused on my breath. Even though I was still in a noisy place I could focus on my breath and tune out the noises around me. I found the silence that the noise was created in and stayed there, concentrating on my breath. Even though I could still sense the background noise, I was in a deep place. You can do this too. Wherever you are, you can make it a place to meditate. You don’t need everything to be perfect. Just focus on your breath, your prayer word, your mantra. When your mind’s distracted by external noises, instead of thoughts, just get back to your breath. If you’re in a very quiet place, your mind can be just as loud as if you were in a noisy crowd. Don’t fight that noise, but acknowledge it and go to your breath. Concentrate on breathing in, breathing out, slowly and deeply.
What you will find is that no matter where you are, no matter what circumstances are occurring in your life, you can still meditate each and every day. Remember you can meditate anywhere, anytime; just be present and at peace.
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a meditation expert, international speaker and the creator of the weekly Meditation For Health Podcast, available at http://www.MeditationForHealthPodcast.com He also creates a weekly podcast that explores the world of Enlightenment available at http://www.EnlightenmentPodcast.com If you would like to contact Dr. Puff, his e-mail address is DrPuff@cox.net