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having problems with noisy surroundings

Discussion in 'Having Problems?' started by Volcom23, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. Volcom23

    Volcom23 Member

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    Hello everyone. I'm a college student from the Philippines and I want to enjoy the healthy benefits of meditation. I'd already listened to Jon Kabat-Zinn's wherever you go there you are audio program and I was really fascinated on how powerful meditation could be in putting your mind in the present moment. I've been practicing meditation probably for about one month now. I could see some positive results but I'm not assured if I'd really done the right way in meditating particularly the preparations that I ought to have in my meditation place.

    The problem is I really don't have a good place for my meditation sessions. Here in the Philippines where population is growing bigger and bigger-- it's really hard to stay in place where there is total silence. We had a spare room in our house and I think it's not quite conducive for meditating. It has no windows and has only one door, therefore it's quite hot in there. I had to use a noisy electric fan (you had to understand the Filipino lifestyle!) every time I use the room in meditating. Though the room is quite closed I can still hear the noisy engines of motorcycles and cars in the street. In addition there are also loud noises coming from stereos in our neighborhood.

    In this situation, it's really hard for me to meditate therefore I accompany my sessions with some peaceful and meditative music and I've been doing it for a month now. Now that I heard about lifeflow meditation and listened to its podcasts and guided meditations I've been wandering if I'd done my sessions the right way-- if I'd really had the correct mantra. By the way, I use my breath as my mantra sometimes I use some random images of mountains and seashores.

    Sorry for making this thread quite long but I really appreciate the suggestions you could provide as I am new to meditation. My main concern is that is it okay to use some meditative music in order to conceal the disturbing noises in my environment? Could it affect the mantra?
     
  2. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Volcom, it's helpful for many just learning meditation to have an environment relatively distraction free, but it certainly isn't an absolute requirement. You might try the heavy-handed solution of securing yourself a good pair of noise-reducing headphones, like the people wear at gun ranges to protect their hearing. Or you could get some of the inexpensive foam earplugs to serve the same purpose.

    I'm not a big fan of such devices unless they're absolutely necessary. Too many people learn meditation in a silent atmosphere only to find that most of life takes place in a non-silent environment and their meditation skills fall apart the moment they step out of their quiet little shelter. A skill that can only be used in very limited places when the surroundings are just perfect isn't of much practical value in the long run.

    See what you can do to incorporate the sounds around you into your practice. If the fan (or other things) in the room makes a sound, let that sound become a cue to bring you back to your inner quiet. Develop that habit and you free yourself from requiring a silent environment for meditation. You'll be able to practice anytime, anywhere.

    As far as mantras go, using visualizations can work but you need to insure your chosen object isn't associated with memories and feelings that will draw your focus to them and away from your practice. I find my wife rather appealing to look at, but if I were to use the image of her as a mantra I would probably find that rather than being focused on meditation I would find myself always being led away by thoughts and memories related to my wife. It wouldn't be very effective. So pick images that are of neutral value if you use pictures.

    Mantras that are words should similarly be as free from personal associations as you can make them. In some traditions, particularly the Vedic, great emphasis is placed on the vibrations that the sound of the mantra sets up, therefore you find schools of meditation derived from Vedic thought talking a great deal about you receiving a very special, personal mantra that is tuned specifically to you. Perhaps, but I suspect this practice has more to do with garnering as many followers as possible than it does with the actual requirements of meditation.

    Vedic tradition aside, pick whatever mantra feels right to you. Let it be association free as much as possible, but beyond that it really doesn't make much difference. If you feel drawn to the mantra, "vacuum cleaner", then by all means use it. You may need to try a few different ones before you arrive at one that really feels right. But once you find a good fit stick with it. There's no point in changing the mantra periodically. In fact I rather suspect periodic changes in mantra detract rather than add to your practice.
     
  3. Volcom23

    Volcom23 Member

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    Maybe I could use some images as my mantra and accompany it with some meditative music. Is it okay?
     
  4. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    So long as your images are conducive to experiencing fewer thoughts and not just to creating new and different ones, yes, imagery will work. To be honest though, most people just beginning meditation practice respond better to a verbalized mantra as opposed to imagery. All too often imagery ends up acting as nothing more than the genesis of a whole new set of thought. A person can get so caught up in them because they're new and usually pleasant that they don't even realize they're not in meditation, they're just daydreaming. Keep that cautionary note in the back of your head.
     
  5. Volcom23

    Volcom23 Member

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    Thank you very much for the advice. Maybe I shouldn't use imagery as my mantra because I noticed that I cannot keep my focus on it. How about the breath? I find my breath quite appropriate for me because somehow I can keep my focus on it and keep my mind from wandering anywhere. How about that?

    I really appreciate the time and effort you had spent with my queries! Thank you!
     
  6. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    If it serves to put you in that place where thought slows down then it's fine. Just keep in mind that like any mantra or any other meditation technique, once you reach the place of quiet stillness, don't force yourself to keep focusing on the breath. If breath focus is the tool you apply to get into meditation then that focus must be abandoned just like any other tool once that threshold of meditation appears. Holding on to it at that point becomes counterproductive.
     
  7. Volcom23

    Volcom23 Member

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    Now I know. Thank you!
     

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