Many people ask me how to prevent noise from distracting them, using some simple mental exercises to block out noise.
Trust me, I know how hard it can be. I used to get distracted all the time, whether it was loud sounds outside my old office or my phone ringing, I wasted so much time because of distractions. And it can impact our health too.
I spent an entire year struggling to sleep because of people above me playing video games with the sound blaring. But then I learned how to train my mind to block out noise mentally. So let me show you how.
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How To Block Out Noise Mentally
1: Use The FOCUS System to Overcome Noisy Distractions
One way how to tune out noise mentally is with the FOCUS system. It will help you to focus on studies, on work, or on anything else.
FOCUS stands for “follow one course until successful”. Here is how to do it.
1a. In the morning, do a meditation for concentration
When I wake up, I meditate. If I don’t meditate, I will be unable to block out background noise and I’ll be distracted all day. So, to start, meditate in the morning.
After you’ve meditated for 20 minutes you will be able to focus temporarily. But you might lose focus because as you go through your day there’ll be more distractions vying for your attention than there are stars in the sky.
- After meditating you’ll have focus, but you will lose it if you don’t do the next step.
1b. Choose one thing to do
When you’re ready to finish your meditation, choose one thing to do next. Not the one hundred next things you have to do, the one thing you must do.
Decide the one action you must take next. Do that thing mindfully. Simply focus 100% on what you are doing.
1c. Take short breaks
When you finish doing one thing, take a short break to just focus on breathing. This is important.
As you were completing your one action from above, you will have started to think about other things you need to do. You’re eating breakfast but you’re thinking of work.
If you don’t erase those thoughts, they’ll multiply until they’re swarming in your mind. Basic snowball effect. The one little thought gets bigger and bigger until that little snowball becomes a real issue.
Hence, take a moment to focus on your breathing. When you do this, you will clear your mind.
1d. Focus on the next thing
Decide on the next one thing you have to do. Do that mindfully, and repeat.
1e. Use your breath
If at some time during the day you lose your focus, stop. Do breathing meditation for a few minutes.
2: Block Unwanted Sounds by Listening to Relaxing Music
Whenever I am working on THE DAILY MEDITATION, I always listen to meditation music to help me focus.
Meditation music is specifically composed to help us concentrate. So, simply play some relaxing meditation music.
3. Train Your Mind to Tune Out Sounds With This Mudra
Now if I can get a little alternative for one moment. You can use a mudra (hand gesture) to focus. The best one to use if called Hakini Mudra.\
Here is how to do it.
- Face your palms towards each other, holding your hands up in front of you.
- Curl all the fingertips of both hands so they touch the fingertips of the other hand.
- Focus your gaze towards your Third Eye Chakra (between the eyebrows)
- Inhale and move your tongue so that it is touching the roof of your mouth
- Continue for ten minutes.
This will also help with brain fog and clarity.
4. Learn to appreciate sounds
Human beings tune out sounds using auditory selection.
People who are easily distracted by sound may have lower auditory selection skills than other people. This means they are less able to tune-out noise mentally.
There is a way around this: The trick is to learn to accept the noise. Here’s an example:
Imagine you don’t get along with a colleague at work (let’s call him Tom). Tom is a grouch and is often angry. Plus, he is always chewing gum. When you hear tom chewing gum you’re reminded of his anger. Therefore, the sound of chewing gum distracts you and makes you stressed because it makes you visualize Tom snapping at you. But what would happen if you weren’t bothered by Tom’s anger? You would be less sensitive to Tom’s chewing because you’re no longer bothered by reminders of his anger.
There is a root reason why certain sounds grate us. If you weed-out that root cause you will be less distracted by the sound.
5. Use meditation to stop noisy distractions mentally
There are two main types of meditation: open awareness and focused attention.
For focus, use focused-attention techniques.
A “focused attention” meditation is any type of meditation where you focus on one thing, such as the breath.
Spend ten minutes a day meditating, and you will greatly increase your concentration. If you would like my help with this, book an online meditation lesson with me today.
6. Cut out distractions by being more grounded
Have you ever noticed how there are times when you have excellent focus and times when you’re distracted by the slightest gust of wind? How do we explain this aberration?
It’s like the branches of a tree. The closer a branch is to the root of the tree, the less it will shake when the wind blows. The further away from the root the branch is, the more it will tremble and shake.
When we are close to our root, we are more grounded and less likely to be disturbed. When we are too easily distracted, we need to get grounded again. This is easy to achieve.
Take a walk. Meditate. Have a laugh. Restore your spirits. When we are at peace within, we are less distracted by the noise of others. Again, book a lesson with me and I’ll help you with this.
7. Use relaxing sounds to focus your mind
We can tune-out noise mentally by being more mindful of relaxing sounds.
Here’s a smart idea: Find a way to introduce a relaxing sound into your home or office. Then train your mind to focus on that sound instead of being distracted by unwanted background noise.
By training the mind to be more mindful of relaxing sounds we naturally tune-out distractions mentally.
8: Use Aids
Here are some of the best aids you can use.
- Listen to meditation music.
- Use ear-plugs. Look for ones with an NRR (Noise Reduction Rating ) of 33. Some good brands include Moldex, Ear Buddy, Hearoes, Howard Leight, Flents, Mack’s, and 3M.
- Make changes to your home / office / study space (or simply move to another room). For instance, blocking the gap at the bottom of the bedroom door with a towel, or using heavy curtains or drapes on the windows. What you want to do is create a blockage between the sound and your bedroom. Use thick wardrobes in strategic places to create a sound barrier. Put some squares of neoprene under your bed legs to stop a squeaky bed. And choose softer furnishing that make less noise.
- Eat properly. Because you’re not you when you’re hungry (thanks, Snickers).
- Avoid stimulants, which excite the mind and make us more reactive to sound and information.
- Reduce the noise in your home
- Contact a local government noise pollution department.
- Ask a soundproofing company to work on your room.
- If you cannot focus because you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD), seek professional help
- Use noise-cancelling equipment
- Create a quiet room in your home.
- Use white noise apps or generators
- Increase your ability to focus by meditating
How Good Are You at Blocking Noise?
Many people have it bad. Some people have monkey-mind, which is a restless mind that is incapable of ignoring noise and unable to concentrate.
Some people suffer from misophonia (hyper-sensitivity to noise ). This is no mere distraction. People with misophonia can suffer from depression, anxiety, and extreme anger caused by noise.
Many others suffer from general noise sensitivity.
A scientific study looked at 65,000 people and discovered that half of all workers are stressed by noises at work according to the Noise And Wellbeing At Work Survey. This is a failure of the government and big corporations. We here at THE DAILY MEDITATION are advocating for companies and the government to do more to lower noise levels at work so employees are healthier.
Society doesn’t help either.
Many people who are incapable of blocking out noise are judgmentally labelled “highly-strung”. This, despite the fact that scientific research shows that sounds do indeed have physiological effects and can seriously reduce productivity, performance, and inner peace.
An inability to avoid external distractions can lead to stress. This causes a rise in heartbeat, an increase in pulse, digestive problems, and many other health complications. If you, like me, are hypersensitive to sound, you may have looked for solutions without success.
Some of the obvious strategies simply don’t work for us. Headphones and ear-plugs can cause pain for people with ear complications. And it is not always possible to change our environment. When we are stuck with the noise, we must train the mind to tune-out that noise mentally.
I hope the strategies I have shared above help you.
Just for fun: Here’s how much time we waste due to distractions.
A survey by career builder showed just how much time people waste at work. The results were as follows:
TIME WASTED BY EMPLOYEES AT WORK
25% waste 1 hour
33% waste 2 hours
17% waste 3 hours
10% waste 4 hours
16% waste 5 hours or more
TOP SOURCES OF DISTRACTIONS AT WORK
Cell phone: 55%
Social Media: 37%
Co-workers stopping by” 27%
Noisy Coworkers: 20%
Sitting in a cubicle: 9%
Phones are the number one distraction. But why do people waste so much time on the phone?
WHY PEOPLE CHECK THEIR PHONES AT WORK
Personal Messaging: 65%
Weather Sites: 51%
Traffic Sites: 12%
Adult Sites: 4%
Dating Sites: 3%
I am so glad that I learned how to deal with distractions. Because honestly I find it impossible to get rid of distractions entirely. There will always be sounds, thoughts, and annoyances around us. But I have learned to deal with all of that by training my mind.
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison