I'm having a lot of troubles with noises. I try to close my ears with cotton, but it does not works great. Is a little bit difficult to me try to meditate rounded by noises (here, where a live, people seems to be sensible to noise, and worst, they like to put their automotive stereo system at high decibels despite the fact that it is forbidden by law (here the State does not get to apply its own laws), its like some kind "meat show"). So, is there some technique to surpass noises when meditating?

  • What type of meditation do you do? They way you are supposed to react [to noise, and so forth] depends on it. Oct 16, 2015 at 13:50
  • Some years ago I was trying, I'm not sure, "nispanda bhava". But, some week ago, I come back to try meditation, and now I'm trying to practice this. Oct 16, 2015 at 17:43
  • I am not familiar with it. Is it actually Buddhist? It seems related to yoga and practiced by yogis and babas. Still, to come back to my first question: what do you emphasize among the three factors that are: mindfulness, concentration, and alertness/introspection? Oct 16, 2015 at 17:54
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    When I was a boy and occasionally had to spend days at my grandma's I remember having sit on the floor, may be looking into a child's book with fantastic frogs and trees and elfes and mushrooms around a spot of water, sometimes I simply sat there without looking and in the silence between the steady ticks of the wooden clock I "got lost". When then the sound of the tram or a bus or a truck came into my ears, they they did not "protest" - it just came in and it become the same type of noise which one can have, when one sits silent at the beach and hears the ocean. Sometimes I resort to that ... Oct 17, 2015 at 6:21
  • ... mental mood: just letting in the sound and letting make itself familiar with me. However, that's not completely true. The omnipresence of the noise here in my town kills that mental ability. It needs a special moment to concentrate on this, and because I cannot make it a continuous mood for over the whole day it is not a real recipe, only a hint. It is still possible for me outside of the town, when noises are not permanent. I remember a film about the annexion of Tibet, where there was a statement: they (the conquerors) kill the silence and this is the most effective weapon. Oct 17, 2015 at 6:28

6 Answers 6


You should watch this Youtube video, in which Ajahn Brahm speaks about his experiences with mosquitoes in Thailand, when he first became a monk. As a monk, he is not allowed to kill them and his teacher also did not allow them to use mosquito repellants or coils.

Instead, his teacher Ajahn Chah, told his students to see the mosquito as their teacher. From then on, they became Ajahn Mosquito (Ajahn means Teacher in Thai). He explains that when he went deeper into his meditation, he became unaware of the mosquitoes. If his mind wandered, the pain from the mosquito bites would draw him to that fact, and he would go back to his concentration. Later on, the mosquitoes left him, possibly because his metabolic rate dropped and he produced less carbon dioxide that attracted mosquitoes.

Similarly, I suggest that noises can also be considered a training medium.


Noises are going to be a problem if you are just starting out. This is especially so if they are the abrupt, jarring type of sounds that you seem to be contending with. I would highly recommend that you do your best to find a quiet place to sit at first - even if this means leaving your home and sitting somewhere else. You might be surprised to find that many of the more liberal Christian denominations and the Unitarians might offer you some space in their respective sanctuaries to practice. The same goes for campus chapels. My own sangha has used everything from a classroom in a Methodist Sunday school to a yoga studio!

If you must sit in a noisy area, my best advice is to treat sound just as you would any other distraction or phenomenon you might encounter on the cushion. This is going to vary depending on your tradition, but coming from the samatha school that I practice, I'd advise you to double down on your meditation object. If you are following the breath, continue to watch the whole body of your breathing as closely as you can. Be with it for its entire duration. Watch the blankness in the space between your exhalation and inhalation. Sound is a difficult obstacle to work with, but like pain, agitation, sensual desire, or really any of the five hindrances, it won't be able to gain a foothold in a mind that is closely applied to its object.

Also, for the love of Pete, don't spend your time on your cushion fantasizing about how much better your meditation would be if only it were quieter! That'll kill your concentration faster than the sound of a truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant!


This sounds like perfect opportunity to practice insight meditation! If you watch your mind when these noises happen, you can notice how you become unhappy due to the mismatch between "is" and "should" (aka "this" and "that"). If you examine this mismatch very carefully as it happens in your own mind, and learn to let go of the "that" - you will realize the meaning of the Third Noble Truth.

Another technique as per Thrangu Rinpoche is to imagine even worse sounds (shrieking screams etc.) and reflect on how much nicer the present sounds are, in comparison.


Shamata meditation would be beneficial as it improves continuous focus and awareness of the mind state. I did read about advanced stages of Shamata practice which would produce a kind of trance, but it would require a lot of meditation within reclusive retreats.

But I think at the beginning it is mostly impossible to meditate with the kind of sounds you describe. There are sounds with more abstract nature like of wind, birds, people walking or whispering and even machines, cars, trucks and horns. Its possible to to not get disturbed by these sounds and keep the meditation going. Now if there is loud harsh music or people is chatting close to you it is very likely these sounds will inevitably pull your attention to them, and out of the practice.

Of course this division is arbitrary. People can get annoyed with birds singing, others aren't bothered by the neighbor's late night party.

My advice is that the best way to surpass these intrusive noises is going to a quiet place. I think that in the beginning you need some silence to learn and progress. And with practice you can train to be mindful even in noisy situations. There is no need to make it difficult right at the beginning.


My recommendation maybe it's not the more orthodox, but the best way to ignore noises, if your meditation skills do not allow you to ignore them yet, is to hide them with another noise less annoying and easier to ignore. These kind of noises are called "White Noises", and you can find a lot of resources online:

(Wind, waves, rivers, rain, fire, etc..) https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=white+noise


I'm with the 'Old School' on this one.. if noises are a problem while you meditate, then you should surround yourself with noises.. perhaps gradually, perhaps abruptly.. thus your practice will become rapidly better, even though it may seem at the time that it is very difficult.

If it is not noises, then it will be something else. The idea of meditation is not to get into some kind of state, but to practice, over and over again, in different conditions, the discipline of meditation and thus improve.

In that sense, any type of meditation has "The Goalless Goal"

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