Even if you’re an experienced meditator, noise can be a challenge.
Each workday, members of our staff sit together in meditation for twenty minutes. Meanwhile, the lot right outside our window is being torn apart in preparation for the construction of a new building. The pounding, the pummeling — it’s every bit as loud as you might imagine.
So: what to do about it? That’s one of the “Dharma FAQs” covered in the Beginner’s Mind section of the May 2015 Shambhala Sun magazine:
Q: I can’t seem to escape from external noise when meditating. What should I do?
We’re usually counseled to find a quiet nook in which to do our meditation, especially when starting out, so that we can focus on the task at hand. Assuming that you can’t sniff out such a haven, there’s really only one thing you can do: sit with the noise. After all, getting comfortable with “what is” is a big part of the work we do while meditating, and that includes traffic noise and kids playing. Granted, hearing your neighbor’s TV or loud music is good cause to keep looking for a personal sitting sanctuary, because electronic noise is particularly hard to work with. But one Buddhist group we know of met every morning for weeks while a work-crew, complete with jackhammer, was loudly demolishing things just outside their zendo. Yes, there was some frustration among the sitters. But they also shared some good laughs—and learned to keep up their sitting through less-than-ideal, even bone-rattling circumstances.