Our lives are inundated with sounds, we hear them everywhere we go. Our sense of hearing is a beautiful one. We are lucky to hear the birds chirping to announce the break of dawn, the gurgle of a baby observing life innocently, or the voice of a loved one whispering sweet words in our ear.
Yet, there are many sounds in our environment that we can do without: sounds from our electronic devices as they pressure us to respond to a text message, email, or phone call, sounds from the devices of others … Talking fills every space and crevice on earth and “Ding!” or “Ping!” are heard everywhere, how can we find peace with all of this noise?
The Importance of Inner SilenceWe must remember that we have a choice in all things. And taking time for silence each day is one way to remember this. By finding the silent space within you for 20 to 30 minutes each day, you are accessing the inner silence that is already there. New meditators often have a difficult time with noise because they are just beginning to access this inner peace.
My first experience with meditation was at The Chopra Center’s Seduction of Spirit retreat. I had just begun meditating with Dr. Deepak Chopra and about 300 other meditators. Deepak reminded participants to turn off cell phones before meditation. However, in the middle of our 30-minute meditation someone’s cell phone vibrated for what seemed like an eternity. I found myself getting angrier by the minute thinking about how rude the owner of the cell phone was to not turn it off.
After the meditation, Deepak asked if we had any questions. I raised my hand and asked, “Could you please emphasize to everyone that a cell phone on vibrate is still disruptive.” He responded, “What’s the matter? Why couldn’t you meditate with the noise?” I was humbled to silence in an instant.
Deepak was correct. We need not control the world around us but be able to control our inner thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
The most frequent questions I get in my Primordial Sound Meditation classes are “Can I wear earplugs to meditate?” and “Can I turn on music to drown out the background noise?”
If we try to block out the world around us, we are not embracing it as we find our peace. While it’s common sense to turn off your phone, put out the pets, or occupy the children before meditation, there is value in learning to let the world be what it is.
Even if you don’t have a meditation practice, take five to 10 minutes per day to close your eyes and observe your breath. Notice the noises around you and how they go on without your interference. The more you focus on your breath, the more the noises become faded into the background. If a noise is troublesome or begins to irritate you in any way, acknowledge the irritation, but then go back to the breath. Soon you will notice yourself becoming calmer and be able to take that calmness into your daily life.
So the next time you hear “ping!” or “swoosh!” from a device or a loud conversation from the bathroom stall next to you, you can choose to address or ignore it.
As I say to my new meditators in the studio, “In no time, you’ll be meditating in airports, at train stations, or on the metro with no problem at all. Because the silence is not out there …. it’s within you.”