Gunshots are Bad for Meditation

On October 15, 2013, in Meditation, by Emily

Credit: Steven Straiton

Gunshots aren’t good for meditation.  I know you’re sitting there reading this and going, ‘Well, duh!’ about that.  Perhaps a supplementary thought that you’re having is, “why are there gunshots in your area?  Shouldn’t you be, I don’t know, paying attention to your survival rather than meditating?”

Our next door neighbor likes to shoot targets with his shotgun.  He aims for the woods in his backyard and it’s done in a controlled atmosphere.  The gun itself makes quite a loud noise when he fires it, though – which means that when I meditate with the window open, I can hear his shooting plain as day.

I haven’t gotten to the point where I schedule my meditation.  My next door neighbor doesn’t have a schedule for his practice.  They happen when they happen, and yesterday they coincided.

The frustration of the day had built up to the point where I knew that I was going to have to either meditate or spontaneously combust.  I’m not a fan of combustion, so I asked my guy to set a timer for 20 minutes.  By that time, I was away from my computer and didn’t want to go back to make a move for the alarm clock.

When the 20 minutes were set, I started to breathe sitting down on the edge of my bed.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  And, I was doing pretty good – it was starting to set up as a good session because my brain wasn’t being jumpy. My body stays pretty still during the meditation process, but everything else usually becomes  hyperfocused.  As I get deeper and deeper into it, there’s a growth in the awareness that I have with my outside world as my sensation of ‘self’ drifts away.  This is an indicator of a good session.

About halfway through, a gun went off.

Now, I think that we’re all reactionary sorts.  The first thing that we do when we hear a loud noise is to acknowledge that there’s a loud noise.  The second thing that we do is determine what it is.  The next thing that happens is dependent on what the answer to the second question is.

So, in this case, it was… ‘hey, that was a gunshot.’ I determined how close the gunshot was, determining that this was happening next door and that there wasn’t anything that I could do about it – but my meditation was interrupted because of it.

Now, if it was a noise that I couldn’t identify or if there were other noises associated with the gunshot, my next question might have been, ‘should I stop meditating to help the person who’s been shot?’ or ‘should I stop meditating to figure out what’s going on?’ or ‘should I stop meditating to make sure that everything is okay?’  Fortunately, to that, the answer was no.

I was able to fairly successfully pull myself back to the meditation.  When the next couple shots went off, I was able to better dispel them because my ears had heard them before.  There was a beautiful drift that happened, and when I came out of it, I felt a LOT more focused and relaxed.  The spontaneous combustion had been avoided.

What is the oddest sound that has happened when you’re meditating?  Sometimes to me it feels like the whole world has been amplified.

Until next time – Emily