Probably the most common hindrance to my meditation is my mind’s latching on to some damn song, endlessly looping just a snippet of the song through my head. I’ve tried many strategies to get beyond whatever song is playing in my head and sometimes it’s not such a struggle. But just about every time I go to sit, there’s some song in my head.
This morning it was “Jet,” from the McCartney album “Band on the Run.”
My mind is a manic menace. There are times when I easily let go of the bothersome tune that is trying to monopolize my meditation, but I’m never really aware of how that occurs. There are several strategies I employ, all of which can work from time to time, but none of which are universally successful. One, I focus stridently on my breath, really forcing my mind to let go of the tune and pay attention to my breathing. Another is silently chanting Buddho as I breathe, and when that becomes so monotonous that I sense I am drifting into sleep, I will count my breaths going from 1 to 5, then back down to 1, etc.
The counting tends to work the best, but there are other times when I will direct my mind to take a close look at the song in my head, asking it the question, “Where is this coming from?” This is occasionally successful because the mind usually responds with, “I have no idea,” and the song disappears.
Nonetheless, just about every time I sit for meditation, I have to initially struggle with some freaking song. Music playing in my head is so common that when I first wake in the morning, a song immediately starts playing. It’s the first thought of my mind each day!
Granted, I listen to a lot of music. I have a blog as well about Frank Zappa’s catalogue. I have probably more than 1,000 CDs. The thought that a solution to my problem is to turn off all the external music around me is so repugnant that I won’t even consider it. But there are times when I intentionally engage in activities to separate myself from music and the rest of the world, like when I go for a hike.
Any of you have similar recurring distractions to your meditation? How do you deal with them?
I'm a content director for a television company, guiding content on Web sites. I'm an avid listener of Frank Zappa and a practicing Buddhist who follows the Theravada vehicle. I'm an insatiable traveler who calls Chicago home.