The Zen of Misophonia

“Mr. Lama, are you chewing gum?”

Dear readers, this post was written in 2011, before I knew what Misophonia was, or that others had it, or that it was a “thing” that could be “had.”

I was sitting in the car, my mind distracted from work, feeling  underwhelmed by a vague sense of nameless, causeless unease. It was my first time practicing meditation at a new center, and I wanted to get myself in a good place, energetically, before going inside. (I was confident the monks would be able to tell if I strolled in there with bad ju-ju).

I needed quiet to quiet myself inside. A little driver’s seat meditation session would dissipate the unease, I just knew it.

Suddenly, a piercing voice cut through the closed car windows like a rusty, jagged knife. My body immediately reacted to the sound, resisting it’s timbre, it’s intrusion. A young man was talking on the phone behind the fence next to where I was parked.

Duuuude! I KNOW, right? Bahahahahahahah!”

To say that I’m sensitive to noises and sounds is like saying Brad Pitt is easy on the eyes. (And yes, I will continue to use Brad Pitt = beautiful man for as long as we both shall live). Understatement city.

My Pain Body (Eckhart Tolle‘s name for the destructive, pain-seeking entity that lives inside each of us) has fed countless times on the hot, pulsing, murderous rage that rises within me when I hear certain sounds.

10 weeks ago, I would’ve become infuriated, gotten out of  my car and RAN as far away from that guy and his voice as possible. Either that, or I would’ve started my car and driven away in a rage, skipping my intended meditation practice altogether. But over the past few months, I’ve had some practice observing my Pain Body, and I was determined to watch it carefully as it created this reaction.

As I listened to the sound of this bro’s voice, tears welled up in my eyes and that muscle in my vagina began to pulse (I get a little clit hard-on when I get wildly angry – what is that about?!).

I remembered what I had learned from reading The Power of Now: “This dude and his voice are not causing my reaction. This guy is simply a mirror, reflecting my own pain back to me.”

I took my attention into the feeling of rage and felt where it manifested in my body – in a furrowed brow, a tense face, and heat rising up into my neck. I tried not to label the sensations as good or bad, but instead observed them as neutral, if intense, thoughts that had become physicalized in my body.

I continued to watch my thoughts and observe the physical sensations in my body.

“Why the fuck is he so. Loud.”

“I could never live here.”

“I hate Wisconsin, these accents are the fucking worst.”

“He is so inconsiderate.”

“No one will ever be quiet unless you’re sleeping. The rest of the day people don’t give a fuck.”

By the time he was finished talking, I was much calmer.

By observing my thoughts instead of simply believing them, I created enough space for the anger to dissipate. I separated myself from the thoughts, and saw that while there was anger in me, I wasn’t anger, incarnate.

What was interesting was that the “me” that was watching the thoughts wasn’t angry at all – she was peaceful, calm, and intensely interested in everything I was thinking.

After a few minutes of watching my own thoughts and doing my best to experience them as pure energy, the bro abruptly hung up the phone.

My resistance would’ve fueled the experience, and I betcha dude would’ve stayed on the phone much longer than he did. My acceptance, on the other hand, was an acknowledgment of the truth I had been shown.

It was like saying “Hey universe, yes, I know that pain is there. I see it. Let’s deal with it right now,” and the universe answering back “Oh, you see that? Ok, cool. We were just trying to get your attention so you can heal some shit, but it seems like you’re wide awake. Hey bro? You can shut up now, she gets it.”

Each sound that irks me – the sounds of the house, the voice or shrill laugh of a co-worker, the sound of my father’s footsteps on the creaking floor boards above –  exists in order to reveal my pain to me. To show me what is there, lurking, ready to pounce. To show me what still needs to be healed.

When I can sit quietly in my house as my neighbor’s music blasts from next door and not feel a flicker of resistance, then I will know there is no pain left within me. Then I will truly be at peace.

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