Developing a practice of meditation can be difficult, especially with our lives being filled with constant chaos and perpetual stress. Even when you’re determined to cultivate the habit, the overwhelm of whether you’ll be able to do it well or not will step in your way. But while this may not be as common as perceived, the one thing that stops most people from even starting meditation is noise.
Beginner meditators always start by finding the time and making a space for them to relax and meditate. But the next hurdle, finding a quiet place to meditate can be the one that pushes them back. As most of us don’t live in the woods or by the beach, finding silence is not an easy task. You could be dealing with a crowded street or the sound of people talking and laughing or a screaming baby perhaps, but one important skill that mediation teaches us is to look beyond the chaos.
How can you tune out the noise?
1. Acknowledge it
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a humanitarian, spiritual leader and an ambassador of peace once said, “What you resist, persists!” When put into perspective, these words symbolise that the more you fight the noise, the more your mind will attach itself to it. This means, you’ll keep focusing more on the sounds, you’ll notice the distractive noises and not be able to push them away.
Meditation teaches you to acknowledge the things happening around you, but it also teaches you to let them go. You slowly notice the sounds around you, the honks, the alarms, the chirps and then you return to your breath. You reconnect yourself with the present moment by coming back to your breath, this tells your mind and body to settle down. As you keep progressing, there will come a point when the noise will stop bothering you.
2. Release expectations
Obsessive perfection can be a quick recipe for procrastination and disappointment. When starting a meditation practice, we always seek perfection; the perfect time, the perfect spot to relax in, the perfect atmosphere, etc. And unless you find the perfect scenario according to you, you feel that the session is pointless, don’t you?
Meditation begins by realizing that there are no perfect places, no perfect times, no perfect scenarios. Absolute silence isn’t required for meditation. By simply starting, you give yourself the power of controlling the situation. Regardless of the scenario, you’re focusing on yourself and your wellbeing. This is a major accomplishment.
3. Slip on headphones
If you’re just beginning your meditation practice, try meditating with headphones on. This will work best if you have a guided meditation playing on your phone or laptop and can immerse yourself in it through the headphones. It will not only block out the noise but will also help you focus on what’s you’re trying to achieve.
4. Take a walk
When you walk on the street, where does your mind wander? Does it focus on the sounds around you? Is it aware of the internal talk inside your brain? Or are you skipping your surroundings because you already know and have already seen all the possible details?
Meditation strengthens the idea that we live in the present and yet many people struggle to let go of the past or wonder about the future. Walking meditation can help you observe the details present in the now. Think about what you’re experiencing in the present moment, this will help you enter a meditative state that allows us to acknowledge our external environment.
How can you silence the noise inside your mind?
It is natural to dwell but it does us more harm than good. The thoughts running through your head can cause you to be distracted during meditation. These simple tips can help you drown out your inner monologue.
Practicing yoga or indulging in physical exercise will release the tension and restlessness present in your body and mind. Physical movement and stretching can inculcate stillness, making the mind go quiet. You can start by practicing a few minutes of pranayama to find inner peace.
2. Eat mindfully
Our mind has a ‘mind’ of its own, something that is affected by many factors, including the food we eat. Nutrition plays a crucial role in bringing our mind and body to our self. Eating a vegetarian diet that includes green vegetables, fruits, beans, protein and grains will help you achieve a meditative state in a stable and more relaxed manner. Regular meditation will also help you make ideal dietary choices.
3. Don’t fight
As mentioned above, awareness comes with acceptance. When our mind starts working in overdrive and our thoughts run haywire, we try to resist or tune it out. We judge ourselves for having particular thoughts, we label which ones are good and which are bad. But resisting and judging our inner monologue doesn’t make it go away, does it? They always come back.
If you choose to accept the thoughts as they come, we enter a state of ‘witness consciousness’. This is when you detach from your thoughts and become a kind observer instead. You make no attempts to change the thoughts but instead, simply observe them. This grounds you to the present and makes it easier to let go and settle down.