How to Focus Despite Distracting Sounds in Meditation


Hi, I have been meditating for years without being bothered by noises of any kind. That has changed. The last few years I can’t find quiet anywhere at any time. There is no relief from motors. Indoors, outdoors, I have been trying to not let it effect me but am failing.

Thank you,


—Ann, Canada


Dear Ann,

Thank you for writing, and sorry for the late reply.

There are three ways:

  1. Better earplugs or headphones… ;-)
  2. Becoming victorious over those outer sounds, by a strong effort of concentration, achieving pratyahara, the withdrawal of the senses, so that you hear nothing or very little. That is not an easy state to achieve, however.
  3. The third way is to make friendship with these motors, to see them not as a disturbance, but as a blessing. You may consider them, for example, as a constant reminder to concentrate more deeply. Once Yogananda actually recommended to a devotee who had a similar problem to meditate on disturbing factory noises, as if they were the sound of OM. Sometimes the best meditations happen in the midst of noise, if we have that attitude of “friendship”.

And may I venture a bit further? I may be totally wrong, but your situation might be a symptom of something altogether different…. it has been years, you say. You see, when inspiration is high, some motors don’t really disturb us that much, for all that time, because something else captures our attention. Is the real cause maybe lack of devotion, depth, and beauty in your meditations? Are they maybe a little dry? Does it lack energy because the heart is not really excited about going within? If love is strong, little disturbs us, because our concentration is high.

Do you chant? Maybe that will do the trick. Chant more, making “good noise,” inspiring your heart. And then, just let those noises be, and try to be with God inside, visualize His loving closeness. Or during your meditation visualize something which really inspires you, capturing your attention, so that those motors will be of little importance.

This situation is a good moment for you, to learn something important. Whatever it is, all blessings to you!