I don’t know what sound is.

This is sort of embarrassing.  My 8-minute meditation book introduces a new technique each week, and the technique I learned today involves sitting and listening for eight minutes.  You’re supposed to dismiss any thought about the sources of sounds, and simply focus on wordless observation.  That sounded easy, but it’s not.

Okay, furnace humming is definitely a sound.  Kid A bumping around in his room:  sound.  But what about the ringing in my ears?  (Years of cranked up headphones, Reader Zero–they take their toll.)  The ringing is in my head, technically–ears are parts of heads–but not only in my brain.  It’s loud, too.

Still, the song in my head drowns ear ringing.  This morning, I could hear I Got Too Much Love by Unkle better than either the furnace or the ear ringing.  And it’s a small step from head-songs to head-words, the very thing meditation is supposed to get rid of.  But I literally “hear” words when I think (as anyone who’s been a victim of my typos would guess).  So what’s a real sound and what’s not?

The kicker is, you’re supposed to sit there and listen to sounds, without judging, until your timer goes of.  Something is wrong with that logic. . .  If I ever got good at this, unlikely as that is, I’d just sit there all contemplating the beep of the timer.

That’s why I’ve always been a little scared of meditation.  If you’re really doing it right, emptying your mind, how do you stop?

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