This photo shows the view I have from my camping chair under the trees at my sprawling urban apartment complex. The houses and the boats and the docks are removed. I only wish I could remove the noise that accompanies them. It was quite hot in my corner of the world the other day, so I went down to my sanctuary to read in the shade. My peace was interjected with loud voices and a radio at the nearby swimming pool, and the blast of city machinery doing maintainance on the trail next to us. Traffic on the congested arterial on the other side provided percussion for this orchestra of pollution. Given all the variables in my life, this is the best place for me to live, so I must learn to cope. I take myself away to the beach at off times of day, and that helps immensely. This early this morning before the noise ensued I heard birds and bullfrogs. Delightful. This is not enough, however. I have to make peace with this situation, so I returned to the mindfulness teaching of Thicht Naht Hanh. In response to a question about dealing with stress at work, he said this:
“…when you hear the telephone ringing you can consider it to be the sound of the mindfulness bell. You practice telephone meditation. Every time you hear the telephone ringing you stay exactly where you are (laughter). You breathe in and breathe out and enjoy your breathing. Listen, listen-this wonderful sound brings you back to your true home. Then when you hear the second ring you stand up and you go to the telephone with dignity (laughter). That means in the style of walking meditation (laughter). You know that you can afford to do that, because if the other person has something really important to tell you, she will not hang up before the third ring. That is what we call telephone meditation. We use the sound as the bell of mindfulness.” Thicht Nhat Hanh www.ic.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/dailylife/thayq-a.html
So, I will try using the sound of the leaf blower as the bell of mindfulness. Hopefully my faithfulness to the practice will replace impatience and frustration. You may find the embedded video helpful. Sister Dang Nhiem from Deer Park Monastery. I close with her “Poem for Inviting the Bell.”
My body, speech and mind in perfect oneness.
I send my heart along with the sound of the bell.
May the hearer awaken from forgetfulness and transcend all anxiety.
6 thoughts on “Coping With Urban Noise”
& beautiful video of sister D with the bell 🙂
Thanks so much! I’m glad it spoke to you as well.
Sent from my Kindle Fire
What a concept! Good luck with that! (Yes, I know it’s not “luck”.) you can do it1 P
Oh, yes. More than luck shall I need!
Sent from my Kindle Fire
This resonated deeply, Rita. I live on a busy corner and have spent the last year, in particular, learning to focus inwardly as a way of not allowing the distracted noises of traffic to distract me or otherwise rob me of my peace. I focus on the voices of children playing, of the birds singing and at times the soft music in my own space. I wish you well as you continue to navigate the distractions.
Thank you so much, Carrie. It’s good to be with you here. What a hard thing this is. May we thrive in spite of the noise!