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Meditation gives you the ability to turn inward when the world around you is busy or hectic. It takes time to develop a meditation practice that allows you to go to this place naturally. As you practice, you may be tempted to use earplugs to drown out the noise around you but is that an effective way to develop your meditation skills?
You can’t and shouldn’t meditate with earplugs. The purpose of meditation is to accept whatever distraction is happening in your mind or your environment without affecting your thoughts. By trying to cancel out sound using earplugs, you will miss the ultimate benefit of meditation.
In this article, we will talk about the importance of meditating without earplugs or anything else, altering the environment you are practicing in. You will also find some different recommendations and techniques to meditate in a high traffic or volume place. Hopefully, by the end of the article, you will feel confident in continuing to practice your meditation practice without needing earplugs.
Why You Shouldn’t Meditate With Earplugs
Meditation can be thought of as a sort of life training. When people adopt a meditation practice, it usually isn’t to feel centered when in silence. It is so that they can feel centered on all of the noisiness in the world and their minds.
When you think of meditation, you may think of practicing it in a quiet, dark studio or room in your house. Or perhaps you meditate lying in bed at the end of your day. However, meditation is a practice that should and can be practiced and turned to in any environment and any atmosphere. So do not believe you need to confine your meditation practice to this sort of peaceful, still environment.
At the heart of meditation, we should consider how we respond to a stimulus, not the stimulus itself. In other words, if there is a distracting sound, whether it be noise from traffic outside or perhaps a conversation happening the next room over, we should not judge this sound as good or bad. Instead, we should accept the sound for what it is and stay focused inward, remaining calm and centered.
With all of this being said, using earplugs during meditation to counteract a distracting sound in your environment somewhat contradicts the practice of meditation itself. Understandably, you may be tempted, especially if you are just beginning to meditate. But ideally, you will want to steer away from using earplugs so you can truly learn how to meditate in all settings and all surroundings because that is the true beauty and benefit of meditation.
Solutions Other Than Earplugs
Instead of meditation, you can do a few other things to help yourself find your center and look inward despite the noises around you.
Be Patient as a Beginner
If you are beginning to meditate and only have a noisy environment available to you, turning to use earplugs is understandable. And perhaps it is not the absolute worst option as a beginner. If you need to experience what it feels like to find your center and focus inwards, try using earplugs temporarily.
Use earplugs if this is the only solution to helping you establish your meditation practice. It is better to meditate with earplugs than turn away meditation because you can’t get an effective practice established.
Be patient as you establish your practice. Mindfulness is a skill we are all born with but quickly grow distant from because of our world’s hustle and non-intuitive ways. Depending on when you are working on starting meditating, there is a good chance you are far separated from your mindful, centered self you will rely on while meditating.
Understand that meditation is a practice. If you find yourself distracted by a noise while you meditate, that is okay. The key is how you react to it. If you are distracted and fall out of your practice, acknowledge and accept that, and go back to focusing on your breath. This will allow you to become recentered. Do not let distractions keep you from practicing or tempt you to turn to “hacks”; your meditation practice will be forever evolving.
Use White Noise
If you are doing a seated meditation practice in a noisy environment, providing yourself with another stimulus to focus on may help keep you from focusing on the more distracting sounds. Using white noise is a great option. Maybe you invest in a portable white noise machine that will always be easily accessible. There are also several apps and even YouTube tracks that provide hours of white noise.
Hopefully, using white noise will somewhat cover the distracting sounds of traffic, voices, or music. Also, as mentioned previously, there is no issue if you become distracted by external noise. But if you have a hard time going from hearing external, distracting sounds and going right back to focusing on the breath, white noise may be helpful.
Instead of taking what can sometimes feel like a drastic jump from distraction to being centered, go from being distracted to then focusing on the white noise. Once you have focused on the white noise enough that the external stimulus no longer is receiving your attention, then try to go back to focus on your breath and go inward.
Another option is to use guided meditation tracks. These guided meditations have several benefits and are especially ideal for beginners. Listening to the track will be enough to cancel out any external noise. But the guide will also be a gentle reminder to continue to focus on breath and tune back into your meditation practice.
Similar to white noise, there are many options to access guided meditation. Using YouTube may be the option. There are some good apps, such as Sattva, as well that provide guided meditations at low or no cost.
Consider Where You Meditate
If you prefer to meditate in a quiet space, try to get creative with where you meditate. Outdoor meditation is extremely beneficial as you also experience the life-giving benefits of the outdoors, like getting Vitamin D, increasing immunity, and better sleep. Being outdoors has even been proven to increase focus, so there’s a chance external stimulus will not interfere with your meditating as much in outdoor environments.
Also, recognize that meditation can be done anytime, anywhere. Meditation is not something that needs to happen when lying or seated in a comfortable position. You can meditate while walking, brushing your teeth, or doing other daily hygiene; you can do brief meditations before and after meals. Do not feel like you need to be confined to space while meditating, particularly if space is not serving you.
If your current environment is distracting to you, consider the place and time of your practice. Hopefully, there is a time in your day that provides calm or silence to you, and take advantage of that time for your practice. Hopefully, once your practice is better established, you will be able to meditate in any environment regardless of the noise level.
Can you meditate with earplugs: Final Thoughts
Ultimately, the key to meditation is non-judgment. As you shouldn’t judge the stimulus around you as good or bad, if you must use earplugs to sustain your practice, do not judge that as good or bad either. However, be aware that practicing without earplugs may give you more benefits and allow meditation to become more helpful in your everyday life. Hopefully, patience, white noise, and choosing new environments can be helpful solutions for you.