Stop bothering the noise

I forget which teacher I heard this from — could have been one of Pema Chodron’s talks, or perhaps Shaila Catherine. It’s a comment about how sometimes, when we’re meditating, we get easily distracted by anything that is going on around us.

A commonly heard complaint: “I was trying to meditate, but it was too noisy. The person beside me was breathing too hard. I could hear a garbage truck outside. I just couldn’t concentrate.” The instruction I’ve heard goes something like this: “The noise just is. You are the one grasping at it with your mind. Stop bothering the noise, the noise isn’t bothering you.”

I think about this instruction frequently. It applies to much more than unwelcome sounds during mediation. Often we grasp at any and all distractions around us, using them as excuses to avoid whatever is the real task at hand.

So when I’m trying to work on something that really matters to me, but I find myself distracted by Twitter or wanting to watch that Netflix show or go get a coffee, I try to remind myself that it is up to me to stop bothering the noise.