The Reason Chaos is Good for You
Do you really need the quiet?
I am the kind of person that chooses a busy coffee house instead of a quiet library to study. In the library, I feel like I can barely breathe, or I’d be too loud. In the coffee house, however, there is plenty of people, plenty of noise and just so much going that I can easily zone out and focus, with my headphones on.
When it comes to meditation, the instructions usually start with: “Find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted…”.
But I am starting to doubt that it is really what we need, at all times.
I recently started teaching outdoor yoga in a public park. For some reason, I choose the space next to the walk path and one of the frisbee golf courses. That means that throughout the class, people are walking past chatting, playing frisbee golf, along with children asking what we are doing and adults commenting that we have nothing better to do with our time, which I find hilarious. This means that the space is very far from quiet, but still I very rarely hear anything other than my own voice teaching and the visual signals from my students. And I am sure that my students are also learning a lot from this not so quiet space I chose.
So, is quiet really what we need?
Same goes for my meditation practice. I went to a rough patch where I lacked the motivation to sit down in my quiet room to meditate. However, after doing yoga and settling down into a hot tub at a public swimming pool I found my peace.
In a crowded hot tub with people chatting in many different languages, with young children accidentally bumping into me and older children running around playing in the swimming pool nearby, I found the quiet I needed.
With my legs crossed, I would sit there in the loudness of it all, the chaos, and hear absolutely nothing, getting in about 15-minute meditation listening to my own breath, feeling the water on my skin.
Are you still sure about the quiet?
In my children’s yoga teacher training the teacher asked us if we put our phones on silent. Then, to our surprise, she said “Don’t! I want all your phones ringing. This is the weekend where we learn how to deal with chaos!”
Is meditation maybe the art of zoning out and turning inwards, where everything is quiet already?
I often choose to meditate in public spaces. I meditate in parks and hot tubs. I close my eyes and listen to my own breath on the bus. Sometimes I sit by the ocean, just listening to the waves.
And when I’m lucky enough to spend time with my family, my meditation practice doesn’t happen in my room behind closed doors, but in the living room, where I can still hear people chatting in the kitchen, and the children running around, playing, on the second floor.
Because that my friends is my meditation.
A practice to find the quiet in the loud.
A practice to find peace in the hustle.
A practice to find the order in the chaos.
And that is how I find the beauty and the joy, in this loud chaotic life of mine.