The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
meindzai
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The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by meindzai » Fri Aug 08, 2014 4:24 pm

I am in a fairly good place with my meditation right now. I can sit for quite awhile, and things are very quiet. There is often lots of piti and some sukha arising.

The lasts wisps of noise going around in my head seem to be music related. It doesn't seem to matter weather I've listened to music or not. (I can verify that going for an entire month with no music, while in a monastery, didn't seem to effect a change). It doesn't even have to be a song I've heard recently. Sometimes it will just pop up based on a phrase in my head.

I have a lot of musical training and a music theory background so it doesn't take much. If an existing song isn't in my head, my head will make one up.

I've tried (mentally) turning it off, lowering the volume, pushing the record needle off (the "zzzt" sound followed by silence) and obviously I've tried doing nothing, just observing it and going back to the breath.

I almost want to link to the song I've currently got going but that would be mean. At least it's a very happy song!

BTW my practice is Jhana - oriented, mostly taking the teachings of Thanissaro Bhikkhu and the thai tradition as my guide.

-Dave K

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Sam Vara
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Aug 08, 2014 4:49 pm

I believe this phenomenon is very common. Monastics have talked about how tunes linger in the memory, and I remember Ajahn Sumedho saying how he was plagued for years with a nonsensical spoken phrase that would not leave him.

Is it a problem for you? My guess is that listening to music off the cushion increases the likelihood of it happening, but you might find that as your practice develops you are able to set it aside more easily.

Would they only count as a hindrance if we have some type of desire to "play" them, or to hear how they resolve? In themselves, I would have thought that they are fairly neutral; just random memories.

meindzai
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by meindzai » Fri Aug 08, 2014 4:54 pm

Yes, I'm not sure how much of a real problem it is. It's just that sometimes it seems to be the last thing floating around in there. It's like my ego's last guardsman going "haha! You will never get into this jhana!"

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imagemarie
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by imagemarie » Fri Aug 08, 2014 4:57 pm

Hi meindzai

Try heading it off at the pass? :tongue:

http://www.amaravati.org/downloads/pdf/ ... _Amaro.pdf

:anjali:

meindzai
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by meindzai » Fri Aug 08, 2014 5:10 pm

imagemarie wrote:Hi meindzai

Try heading it off at the pass? :tongue:

http://www.amaravati.org/downloads/pdf/ ... _Amaro.pdf

:anjali:
Interesting! I might try this, though I tend to "get to" a certain point using breath, I might try switching to this to see what happens. What good is meditation if you can't experiment?

Funny that I keep seeing "nada" as the spanish word... Focus on nada!

-Dave K

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Mkoll
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by Mkoll » Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:07 pm

If you listen to music regularly or have to listen to music because of work or something, then I'm not too surprised this is happening. Especially given your musical background.

:shrug:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

SarathW
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by SarathW » Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:28 am

Simple solution give up music!
I was very much in to loud music.
I was helping a singer song writer to put his/her album together.
I used to watca TV progammes such as American idele, Voice etc for few years.
I could not sleep as these tunes haunted me all the time.
For three months I did not listen to any music, radio or television.
The problem solved except I play the drum beat in my office desk when I concentrate on a problem
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

meindzai
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by meindzai » Sun Aug 10, 2014 8:34 pm

Those who have read my post carefully would note that I said it doesn't depend on whether I listen to music or not.

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Mkoll
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by Mkoll » Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:33 pm

meindzai wrote:Those who have read my post carefully would note that I said it doesn't depend on whether I listen to music or not.
You said you went a month without music while in a monastery. If that's the longest you've gone without listening to music, especially given that you were "forced" to because you were in a monastery, then I think you're jumping to conclusions. Try not listening to it when you have it available to listen to, i.e. during your regular life, for a longer period of time and see what happens.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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m0rl0ck
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by m0rl0ck » Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:13 pm

What works for me is listening to something complex but not unpleasant to drive out simple repetitive melodies. Boccherini (and if that repeats itself endlessly at least you are listening to something good) and improv jazz work for me lately. Beethoven and classic rock are way too catchy.
Classic rock especially is bad for getting lodged in my head, seems to be everywhere you turn too.
Last edited by m0rl0ck on Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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Goofaholix
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by Goofaholix » Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:31 pm

The mind is going to busy itself with something. Probably the reason it's busying itself with music is that it's not busying itself so much with regrets about the past and planning for the future, this probably indicates that you are pretty worry/complication free these days which is a good thing.

We tend to think that concentration is about forcing out anything that isn't concentration, rather it's about maintaining a mind that is stable and centred around the object despite whatever thoughts are arising and passing away. The music doesn't have to have the ability to take you away from the object unless you let it, doesn't have to be a cause for aversion unless you let it.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

SarathW
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by SarathW » Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:19 pm

meindzai wrote:Those who have read my post carefully would note that I said it doesn't depend on whether I listen to music or not.
There is a Sutta to explain how to deal with a case like yours but I cant remember it right now.
Perhaps keep music as your meditation object.
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

meindzai
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by meindzai » Mon Aug 11, 2014 1:24 pm

Mkoll wrote:
meindzai wrote:Those who have read my post carefully would note that I said it doesn't depend on whether I listen to music or not.
You said you went a month without music while in a monastery. If that's the longest you've gone without listening to music, especially given that you were "forced" to because you were in a monastery, then I think you're jumping to conclusions. Try not listening to it when you have it available to listen to, i.e. during your regular life, for a longer period of time and see what happens.
Well, this is probably part of why people ordain. Complete avoidance as a householder is most likely impossible. I'd have to plug my ears every time a car with music went by, or I go into the grocery store, etc. Conditioning oneself to avoid music seems conducive to developing a kind of aversion.

I'm sure I could go much longer than a month and it would still be there. Especially with a background improvisation/composition, it's easy to make something up.Still, it is interesting to see what people suggest. I'll keep experimenting.

If it had been a persistent problem in the Buddha's time, like it is today (we are inundated with media) he would have likely given some suggestion other than avoidance, which is why I asked, and why I mentioned it as a sixth hindrance. For each hindrance, the Buddha typically provided some sort of meditation object or strategy.

For example, music is a combination of sound and silence, so there's always bits of silence there even when there is music. So this is something I try to keep in mind. I also try playing with the volume, turning it up to exaggerate it and then turning it back down.

It's not a major, major problem. Just wanted to hear people's thoughts on it. It is in some sense logical to avoid music, but I think complete avoidance is a bit puritan for a lay practitioner.

-Dave K

meindzai
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by meindzai » Mon Aug 11, 2014 1:29 pm

Goofaholix wrote:The mind is going to busy itself with something. Probably the reason it's busying itself with music is that it's not busying itself so much with regrets about the past and planning for the future, this probably indicates that you are pretty worry/complication free these days which is a good thing.
Yeah, it's actually kind of a good problem to have, in the sense that I have times where it's literally the last thing in there.
We tend to think that concentration is about forcing out anything that isn't concentration, rather it's about maintaining a mind that is stable and centred around the object despite whatever thoughts are arising and passing away. The music doesn't have to have the ability to take you away from the object unless you let it, doesn't have to be a cause for aversion unless you let it.
Yes. It doesn't take me off the breath or prevent the arising of some of the other factors that are useful in meditation. It's just a bit like that guy that invites himself to your house but for some reason doesn't realize it's time to go. You'd kind of like to turn in for the night. You say "Ok, well I'm going to turn in for the night." He says "ok then" and doesn't get up. He's still your friend. You can't really kick him out but you kind of wish he'd go. :)

-Dave K

culaavuso
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Re: The "sixth hindrance" - Earworms!

Post by culaavuso » Mon Aug 11, 2014 4:57 pm

meindzai wrote: Well, this is probably part of why people ordain. Complete avoidance as a householder is most likely impossible. I'd have to plug my ears every time a car with music went by, or I go into the grocery store, etc. Conditioning oneself to avoid music seems conducive to developing a kind of aversion.
There seems to be a difference between not seeking or generating desire and passion for music and the development of aversion towards music. Complete avoidance of music is not always possible for monks, either. If a car goes by playing music or when the grocery store has music on in the background, there is no need to pay excess attention to that music or have it cause a distraction. Similarly when music arises in the mind there is no need to participate in a way that keeps the song going or generates excessive passion and desire for it. If there is complete silence that's acceptable, and if there is music playing that's acceptable too. If both outcomes are really equally acceptable, there's no need to add music to the environment that others have not already put there but there's also no need for plugging ears or generating aversion. One practice described in the suttas to help with this is the practice of sense restraint. Observing the eight precepts on uposatha days is something achievable for many householders and can help in this regard.
AN 6.63: Nibbedhika Sutta wrote: The passion for his resolves is a man's sensuality,
not the beautiful sensual pleasures
found in the world.
The passion for his resolves is a man's sensuality.

The beauties remain as they are in the world,
while the wise, in this regard,
subdue their desire.
AN 3.70: Uposatha Sutta wrote: As long as they live, the arahants abstain from dancing, singing, music, watching shows, wearing garlands, beautifying themselves with perfumes & cosmetics. Today I too, for this day & night, abstain from dancing, singing, music, watching shows, wearing garlands, beautifying myself with perfumes & cosmetics. By means of this factor I emulate the arahants, and my Uposatha will be observed.
[url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanavara/uposatha.html]Uposatha Sila: The Eight-Precept Observance[/url] by Ñanavara Thera wrote: How do the Acariyas include listening in watching?
According to the Acariyas, the breaking of the precept lies in the effort exerted in going to watch shows. If we are standing, sitting or lying down in our own place, that is, if we do not put forth the effort to go and watch, and if such shows or entertainments come to us or pass by, it is not a breach of the precept for us, though the sila would be tarnished. But in any case, not to listen or watch is the best.
[url=http://www.oberlin.edu/alummag/spring2004/feat_monk_04.html]Being A Monk: A Conversation with Thanissaro Bhikkhu[/url] by Rich Orloff wrote: Many people see Buddhism as anti-pleasure: no drinking, no drugs, no debauchery. These are a few of my favorite things. Do you ever miss them?
The biggest loss for me was classical music. I was hooked on classical music.
...
Do you ever listen to classical music?
It's against the rules. When I go home, Dad has it on all the time, so I hear it then. Occasionally Brahms or Mahler goes through my head. But it gets so that you don't miss it.

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