Background Static

“Awareness and Equanimity are the only measurements along this path,” repeated our Dhamma doot (translation: messenger, ambassador), aka S. N. Goenka. I remember hearing the words awareness and equanimity on the speakers every day, multiple times a day during long and short Vipassana meditation courses. Understanding it is still a work in progress.

For the most part, my default reaction to discomfort is retrieving to my mind with the mission of “figuring out” where I’m going “off balance”. There’s a solution to everything! I don’t think that looking for solutions is flawed, albeit it’s empowering and responsible, in my opinion. However, levels of awareness and equanimity are key. If I have a longing to rid of a feeling or situation, then I’m most likely not here in the now. If I want to better myself while still being accepting of and kind to myself, to my current abilities, and to the situation I am in, then there’s peace in my being.

Or so I thought.

But this life thing with it’s everyday experiences, with the past baggage (synonym: sankhara) it comes with, and with the new layers that keep on revealing themselves tend to throw me off now and again. Sometimes I just plain can’t be kind to myself, and then the practice becomes to be kind to the unkind in me. What?! …but I digress…

The topic of background static is somewhat new for me. I remember Assistant Teacher’s often telling students to ‘let the thoughts just be there like a radio or television playing in the background. Don’t pay any attention to them, stay with sensations or with breath.’ I never have been good with the radio or television playing in the background, I can’t help singing along or getting enthralled with the actors onscreen; that’s why, during study-time, I started listening to instrumental-only music. Over a period of time, I stopped that, too, out of respect of the composition and composer. I wanted to pay attention to the music be it with or without words, after all that’s the purpose of music, in my opinion.

A few months back I discovered Coffitivity. It is a website that has recordings of background murmur, like the kind we hear in coffee shops. There’s no rhythm or pattern to it that deserves attention or appreciation. It’s just random background noise. It’s not taking anything away, in fact studies suggest that this kind of random background noise might actually help us concentrate.

When I have background static in my head, so far my default has been trying to make sense out of it. Like music, I pay a lot of attention to it. But I am realizing there’s nothing there! It’s nonsensical. Just like my external surroundings are sometimes quiet, sometimes loud, and always on a spectrum between the two extremes … so is my internal being sometimes quiet, sometimes loud, and always on a spectrum between the two extremes. Depending on where I am on the spectrum + what my levels of awareness and equanimity are, my concentration / distraction can fluctuate. Simple enough.

Needless to say, I wouldn’t be here without Vipassana. Jai ho!

2 thoughts on “Background Static

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