I doubt there is a single person who isn’t distracted by sound during meditation. Recently, however, I started a meditation course with Sam Harris, which you can find on your app store by searching for Waking Up with Sam Harris.
Even meditating early in the morning you will find you are subject to sounds, whether it be dogs barking, distant traffic or birds singing. I have often meditated on birds singing which I find quite peaceful but add a barking dog or someone leaving their house in a car and I find myself distracted. I’ll bring my focus back to the breath and resume.
Sam Harris teaches that rather than be distracted by sounds, no matter what their origin, to simply focus upon them. Just in the same way that you would the breath.
I was actually surprised at how easy this was and the difference it made. Rather than being distracted by sounds, they simply become a focus of the meditation itself.
Previously I deemed birds chirping to be pleasant, whereas dogs barking to be distracting. Now it doesn’t matter what the sound.
“If you can’t meditate in a boiler room, you can’t meditate.” – Alan Watts
The sound simply permeates consciousness just in the same way breath does. And sound comes and goes, just like the breath does.
So the next time you meditate and hear the kids shouting, dogs barking, cars starting or neighbours chatting, simply focus on whatever sounds come into your awareness and follow them until they disappear.
This totally changes your meditation. Try it.
[This image was taken (clearly on the roof of a car!) close to Point Reyes, California – if you can meditate on the top of a car you can meditate anywhere, right?]