So often it’s the case when we practice mindfulness we think we need to have silence. We may look for a quiet place in our living space to practice. Before the quarantine, we may have gone to a meditation studio. Then, when we hear noise we respond to it as an unwanted intrusion.
Living in NYC, I’ve find there is never a shortage of sound. SO, if I insist on silence as a condition of mindfulness practice, it’s not likely I’ll ever practice. Through my open windows, I hear a mix of nature sounds—birds singing, the occasional dog barking, as well as the whir of traffic on the highway in the distance and the rumble of subway. If I go to war with sound, I will lose. I’ll also create stress for myself.
Rather than fight sound, invite it in and make it a focus of your practice. Find a comfortable seat and begin to observe sound and the absence of sound inside and outside the room. Bringing your nonjudgmental and undivided awareness to sound can enhance your perception of it. You may hear sounds you didn’t notice before—the ticking of the clock, the sound of your breathing, the hum of appliances, the sound of planes flying overhead. As you listen, try not to label the source of the sound. Just attend to it like a symphony.
Meditating on sound is one of my favorite mindful practices. Try it and you may find it’s one of yours too.
Dr. Lisa Napolitano is an expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other mindfulness-based treatments. A licensed psychologist in New York and Florida, she is the Founder and Director of CBT/DBT Associates, a boutique psychology practice group. Dr. Napolitano is an expert in the treatment of stress, anxiety, worry, and emotion regulation problems. She has specifically designed her treatment approach for executives, attorneys, and other high-functioning individuals whom she believes shouldn’t have to sacrifice their careers to manage their stress and work on developing their potential.