Meditation in a Noisy Place

When you think of meditation, you probably envision a serene hillside, a quiet butterfly or two, and a person sitting silently, legs crossed, in total perfection.

I meditate in my basement. It’s freezing cold, there is usually at least one cricket on the ground near me, and I sit in front of my TV (turned off). But it works.

A few days ago, I was meditating with the baby monitor nearby. About 50 seconds in, my son started wailing through the monitor. Since my son is old enough now that I can let him cry for a bit without intervening, I kept on going.

I noticed my thoughts arriving in my head, like I normally do. Most of them were plans for how I was going to make the crying stop, or how long I would wait before I went into his room. My brain immediately went into planning mode, only this time, I was sitting outside of it in meditation, just observing.

It surprised me at how immediate my “find a solution” mind went into action, especially with not much of a problem to solve since he does occasionally wake up, cry, and put himself back to sleep.

It’s a little bit like how I feel when there’s airplane turbulence. I look out the window, I grip the seat, I turn off my music. None of these things allow me to actually control the situation, but my mind is going into planning mode, and looking for anything that might help alleviate the suffering.

Perhaps this anecdote challenges the idea of needing to be in a quiet, comfortable, clean place to meditate. If meditation is simply the act of being aware in the eternal now, then it doesn’t matter how noisy the environment. All of it is part of now, all of it is part of the experience of being human.