Where can you meditate?
Do you need to have a quiet place free from all distractions or can you actually meditate anytime and anywhere?
Many people live in crowded cities or other areas where it’s busy. Does that mean 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.
Some 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. Since she knew just about everyone, my wife wanted to meet up and enjoy conversation with her friends.
We were in a room with a band playing and many people talking, laughing, and dancing. I was sitting there quietly and decided to try something.
I wanted to see if I could meditate even with all that noise around me.
I could clearly hear all the noise, the music, and conversation.
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 while my wife enjoyed herself and her conversations. Even with all that noise and the dancing, I was able to meditate.
I surprised myself with this ability, because until that point I had never been in an atmosphere like that.
My life normally is rather quiet, so I never really had the opportunity before to try meditating in a boisterous environment.
I had been meditating for a long time and this is part of the reason I was able to do it, but if I can do it, anyone can. If I can learn to meditate anywhere, so can you.
All it takes is practice, determination, and dedication.
If you live in a large family or noisy house, you probably are wondering how you can meditate with all those distractions around you.
This is my answer: you listen to the silence inside the noise.
In my house I have an area set aside for meditation. I never ask my family to be quiet. If the television is on or the music is playing, that’s fine, I just meditate.
How is that possible?
Well, the key is to listen to the silence in the midst of the noise. That may sound odd, so let me explain.
It’s like the analogy of a room.
The room you’re in right now may have chairs, a television, and tables in it.
If you’re in the car, there’s the steering wheel, the seats, and the console.
But in both of these places, while there are things around you, there is also space. It is possible to find the space amidst all the objects.
In the same way, it’s possible to find the silence amidst all the noise.
Silence and space are ever-present. They are the background on which the noise and activity of living take place.
Be present with that stillness that exists in the midst of the noise and activity. Go there, be attentive, and just be.
If you live in a big city, you may hear cars honking outside and people making noises as they walk by, but what about all the emptiness, all the space around you? All the silence in that emptiness?
Go to that emptiness, that silence, that space.
Meditating amidst noise is a lot like dealing with a bite from a mosquito.
There’s a tendency to scratch because it itches, but if you scratch, 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.
You don’t push it away, you just acknowledge 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 return to your breathing, your mantra, or your prayer word.
Another little trick I like is to use a guided meditation or headphones with music when many distractions surround you.
You may still be able to hear the noise, but your main focus will be on the music, on your breath, or on your guided meditation. Your mind can only focus on one thing at a time, and you are focusing it on the meditating.
Meditation is about focusing on one thing and staying there.
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 do that 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, just like when you’re distracted by thoughts, don’t be annoyed, just get back to your breath.
The same prescription holds if you’re in a very quiet location but your mind is running on high speed – it can make as much noise as a noisy crowd.
Don’t fight that noise, or get mad at it; simply acknowledge the noisy thoughts, and go back to your breath whenever you think of it.
Gently concentrate on breathing in and breathing out, slowly and deeply.
Like me, you will discover 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 and anytime at all.
Just be present and at peace.
This article is an excerpt from Dr. Robert Puff’s book: Reflections on Meditation: A Guide for Beginners and has been published with the author’s permission.
About the author
Dr. Robert Puff, M.A., M.Div., Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, international speaker, marriage counselor, and life coach who has been successfully counseling individuals, families, organizations, and businesses for over twenty-five years.
Dr. Puff has given thousands of media interviews and frequently appears on national TV and radio talk shows. His books have been on the bestseller lists at Amazon.com. How to Live a Positive Life: The Art of Living Well, has been the #1 bestseller at iTunes books in the “Self-Improvement” category. He co-hosted the weekly international Web-TV program, The Holistic Success Show, which is viewed in over a 200 countries. He also hosts The Meditation for Health Podcast, with weekly lessons on meditation, and The Happiness Podcast, and maintains a website called The Happiness and Meditation Blog.
To know more about Dr. Puff, visit his website www.doctorpuff.com.