Competing with disturbances

QUESTION: Masters, right now at this important moment we should be focusing on ourselves, sleeping well and quietly, I am finding myself in an ironic situation. A few days ago there was a deposit of building materials behind my house; now there is annoying noise all day, whistles and the sound of the engine forklifts incessantly from 5:30 in the morning. It has harmed my sleep and my readings and meditations even while using ear protection. I’m worried about losing this incredible chance from being tired and not being able to release that anger about it, or meditating and practicing all the exercises I have learned to this point because it requires a calm environment. I fear that this noise never ends and I have to live with my mother, I did not want to because she has problems with OCD, acquaintanceship is terrible and she will not seek aid. ~Bárbara Louise, Brazil

ANSWER: You have tied yourself up in knots. You are like the strings on a fine instrument—pluck the string and it vibrates for a long time before it is finished giving off sounds and can do nothing else until the vibration stops. Lighten up! Stop setting conditions for your world. Learn to integrate the world around you into your world. It is not necessary to be in a vacuum in order to get in touch with your inner self or to communicate with us. You are going to have to share the world with others. They will not let you impose your standards and requirements upon them, so you need to learn to ignore their processes.

To shut off the distractions you need to go inside. When you pay attention to the noise, you are giving it power and strength to interfere with your life. Start by concentrating on your breathing. Hear/feel the air coming into your body, washing away the debris from your body and then rushing out with all the toxins. If you feel the process, the background noise and all distractions will begin to disappear—unless you won’t let them by constantly trying to hear how loud they are. Every bit of concentration directed toward the noise intensifies it.

When you want to sleep, hum a favorite tune, allowing it to get louder and louder in your head until that is all you can hear. Hitch a ride on the melody and go floating off into rest and relaxation. Turn down the construction noise while you turn up your internal tempo.

In an attempt to control your environment, you have envisioned the worst possible scenario: having to go live with your mother. This brings you back to your youth where she was whom you had to run to when life was not working as you wanted. Now she is a symbol of failure to you. Stop being a victim. Create in your mind the background you desire. You have been concentrating on the annoying noise; now supplant that with your own sounds.