This morning during yoga, there was a constant loud banging sound coming from outside the dance studio at Clementi Swimming Pool. There were two workers dismantling the metal awnings next to the pool. It was so loud that my yoga teacher had to go out to ask them to tone down. Unfortunately, the two foreign workers didn’t understand her, so the class had to tolerate the din and try to focus at the same time. No wonder I couldn’t balance while doing the brave warrior pose.
Other times, when there is a school sport’s carnival at the pool, my yoga teacher had to compete with the loud speakers cheering on the swimmers outside.
That place is really not the most conducive for yoga.
On Tuesday mornings, I have another yoga class at the dance studio at Ulu Pandan CC. The dance studio is situated next to a child care centre, catering to toddlers as young as 18 months. Many times during our class, we have to bear with the screaming and crying kids returning from their walks, while the teachers shout out instructions to them. The noise is particularly loud because of the echo from the tiny lift lobby. It’s especially maddening when we are trying to meditate.
Last night, at a talk conducted by Ajahn Brahm, he gave me a new insight into noise. Many years ago, Ajahn Brahm was a novice monk in a village in north-east Thailand. Although the villagers were poor, they knew how to party. Whenever there was a party, the amplifier would be turned on loudly until the wee morning of 2am. The party would often last for a few days. The noise was so loud that the monks at the temple 1-2km away couldn’t get their meditation done or any sleep. By the time the din died down at around two am, it was almost time for the monks to awaken at 3am for the early meditation. Finally, the monks went to their teacher, Ajahn Chah, hoping to get him to speak to the village head. Instead, the wise teacher told the monks, it’s not the noise that disturbs you, but you who disturb the noise.
The ajummas at yoga was complaining about the noise this morning when I suddenly remember this story that Ajahn Brahm told us last night. I couldn’t repeat what Ajahn Chah said, or the ajummas would think me crazy. Somehow, only such words spoken by a monk makes sense.
Don’t you agree?