Many people ask me how to block out noise mentally, so they can reduce distractions and focus through background noise.
If you’ve been struggling to sleep because of noise, or you have distractions in the office that stop you working, it’s time to make a change. [For sleep, use my meditation to get to sleep despite noise].
We live in a world full of distractions. Snoring in the bedroom, noisy neighbours, creaky wooden floorboard, dogs barking…. Some of those distractions are environmental (like background noise), and others are internal, like stress.
The trained, enlightened mind knows how to tune out distractions. The unenlightened do not. That’s why Zen monks can focus all day. By meditating, they train their minds to be able to focus through distractions. [READ: Best meditations for concentration]
The average person, on the other hand, has the focus of a fish. They hear the slightest background noise, and they lose focus. Distractions at home, office, school, or college, can seriously affect our productivity, our inner peace, and our happiness.
Thankfully, there are smart ways how to block out noise mentally so that we can maintain our focus and concentration.
Ways To Tune Out Noise Mentally or with Aids
- 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.
- Sleep better, so you’re less irritable.
- 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
But my personal favourite option is to learn how to block out noise mentally. So let me show you how.
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. This will help you to focus on studying, on work, on whatever you need to focus on.
If you cannot get quiet time in your house to focus, you will find that this system helps you block out noise mentally so you can concentrate.
FOCUS stands for “follow one course until successful”.
Essentially, this entire process is designed to stop you multi-tasking so you are more productive. Because focusing on one thing at a time is proven to be a lot more effective.
1a. Meditate in the morning for early focus
For starters, when I wake up, I meditate. If I don’t meditate, I will be unable to block out noise from external sources and I’ll be distracted all day. So, to start, sit yourself down in the morning and meditate (or just do it in bed).
After you’ve meditated for 20 minutes you will have focus temporarily. But here’s the problem. You may very well 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, ask yourself what’s the next thing you must do. Not the one hundred next things you have to do, the one thing you must do. If you must eat breakfast, eating breakfast is the answer. Right answer: “Eat breakfast”. Wrong answer: “Well, I have to eat, and then I have to shower, and then brush my teeth, then I’ll have to phone work I suppose…”
Decide the one action you must take next. Meditate while doing that one action.
1c. Take short breaks
When you finish doing that 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’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 20 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 with focus and concentration. Because of the frequencies used in this music, it calms the mind and helps you focus. This will make a huge difference in your ability to concentrate at work.
3. Train Your Mind to Tune Out Sounds with This Mudra
You can use a mudra called the Hakini Mudra to focus your mind. Mudras are hand gestures used in meditation and different belief systems. Science shows that mudras can boost cognitive performance.
One mudra is especially important for mental focus. It’s called the Hakini Mudra. And it is simple to do.
- 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 help you with brain fog and clarity.
4. Learn to appreciate the sound
Human beings tune out sound using auditory selection. Auditory selection is the process through which our brains tune-in to important sound and tune-out unimportant sound.
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 the 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 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. Some methods of meditation can, however, cause problems. Many people are surprised to hear that meditation can cause hypersensitivity to light and sound. If you meditate and you are sensitive to sound, there could be a connection.
Some meditation techniques such as Dhyana can potentially cause this sensitivity. If you use this technique, try switching techniques. I particularly recommend grounding meditations. And one of the best meditations for concentration is alpha meditation.
It’s important to learn ways to block out noise mentally because some noise is uncontrollable. For instance, some sleep disorders involve making noise while sleeping, such as a partner snoring or grinding teeth, and many people can’t stop that. That’s why you need to look for ways to block out noise mentally when you can’t cut out the noise environmentally. Another instance is a workplace with a high Occupational Noise Exposure Level. You probably can’t change that, so learn to block out noise using your mind instead. Meditation will help.
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 his 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 we go, the more the branch 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.
7. Use relaxing sounds to focus your mind
We can tune-out noise mentally by being more mindful of relaxing sounds. Remember the last time you were utterly engrossed in a book. You were so absorbed in the book that you were hardly even aware of the sounds that usually distract you.
When we’re engrossed in a) what we’re doing, or b) a relaxing sound around us, we are less reactive to noise and distractions.
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.
Smart strategies, aren’t they?
These enlightened ideas will help you to tune-out noise so other people don’t distract you.
How Good Are You at Blocking Out Noise Mentally?
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.
Many people who are incapable of blocking out noise are judgmentally labelled “highly-strung” even though 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%