The Monkey Mind and Distractions

Monkey MindI find that when I meditate, I still am distracted by noises. And with having two large dogs, there are plenty of noises. Not only that, but when I sit on the floor, the dogs tend to want to interact with me in some way, from Lex wanting to play with me, to Joker sitting in front of me and staring (and if I ignore him long enough, he’ll either paw at me or simply lay in my lap).

So I found today’s Wildmind Sit : Breathe : Love newsletter relevant. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Wildmind is conducting a “Year of Going Deeper” series of events, the first of which is called Sit : Breathe : Love and runs from January 1st through the 28th. The goals of this particular challenge are: 1) To work toward building up a daily habit of meditation, and 2) If possible, to sit every day for 28 days.

Here is the content of today’s newsletter:

When we’re first learning meditation, and even if we’ve been at it for a while, noises can be a big distraction.

It takes time to learn to accept and allow certain sounds rather than try to fight them. I remember being driven crazy by a newspaper vendor whose pitch was right outside my flat when I lived in Glasgow. I felt an almost homicidal fury at times. Now I actually enjoy meditating in noisy places.

A few things I’ve found useful are:

  • Don’t see the noises as being a distraction. They’re just something else to pay attention to.
  • Don’t see sounds as being in competition with your meditation. They’re a part of it. If you can walk and chew gum you can pay attention to your breathing and also pay attention to a neighbor’s voice.
  • Have an expansive mind. If there’s sound there that doesn’t get tuned out naturally, then have a sense that your mind is expanding into the space around you. And let the sounds remind you of the hugeness of your mind.
  • Notice that the sounds are constantly changing, and are a reminder that everything you experience is forever in a state of flux. If you pay attention to change, then your experience of sound changes.
  • Cultivate compassion for yourself. If the sounds are jarring, then recognize that you’re suffering and send lovingkindness to your discomfort.
  • Use the sound coming from another human being as a point of contact for cultivating lovingkindness toward them.
  • Smile! Smiling gives us strength and reassurance. It reminds us not to take ourselves, our practice, and noises too seriously.

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