Meditation Debate: Quiet or Not?

Generally, when meditating, one seeks out a peaceful and quiet environment to do it in. Makes sense. Meditation requires focus and concentration.

Complete silence, though, is never really possible in this world. Even if you go out into nature and sit beneath a tree, you’ll still hear birds chirping and leaves brushing one another.

When doing a meditation in which the goal is to focus inwardly and to keep one’s attention on a mantra without thinking, do we need as much silence as possible?

I’ve always felt that once you get practiced with meditation, you should be able to focus yourself where ever you are, in any situation, even if it is noisy. Others think there should be a still atmosphere around.

What do you think? Should our goal be to be able to meditate even in noisy or difficult situations? Is a peaceful surrounding environment necessary to get the most benefit from meditation?

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Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Jeramy Hansen

    So, I, as you know, practice a silent Taoist meditation. I find that whether I can deal with noise is highly dependent on the nature of that noise. Sudden and loud tends to really upset me, whereas constant and background I can deal with. If I expect the noise to possibly happen (like, my upstairs neighbor has the uncanny ability to know when I’m meditating and begins to walk around like an elephant), I can deal with it being louder than background.

    Maybe eventually I’ll be practiced enough that I’ll be able to deal with sudden and loud noises.

  • Maya Resnikoff

    My primary experience with meditation has been with mindfulness meditation, so the idea is to be aware of what’s going on around you- so some noise (or eventually, I’m told any sort of noise) is just something to (to quote a teacher) “support awareness”. But milder sounds are easier to work with than loud and surprising ones, at least for this beginner.