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"The turtle can draw in its legs. The seer can draw in his senses."

(Bhagavad Gita)

When meditating, most people find it difficult to withdraw from noises around us. Noises prevent us from concentrating on the Atman. Most of us have found it difficult to detach from sense of hearing.

How should one approach this? Does this indicate that it's unproductive to meditate in an environment where conversations are within earshot?

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    1) this forum is not for giving personal advice. please edit your question to make it more impersonal. 2) sound is the most difficult sense to detach from when meditating - that why's meditation should be done in a quiet place. It is not unique to you. Best to find somewhere else to meditate or meditate at those times of the day when all is quiet. Scripture recommends the 'hour of Brahman' - the hour immediately before daybreak. everything is quiet then... – Swami Vishwananda Nov 21 '16 at 5:46
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Keep on practicing and eventually no noise will disturb you. As Krishna says:

karmaṇy akarma yaḥ paśyed
akarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ
sa buddhimān manuṣyeṣu
sa yuktaḥ kṛtsna-karma-kṛt [Bhagavad Gita 4.18]

Meaning:- He who finds rest in midst of activity, and activity in rest, he is the wise amidst men, he is the Yogi, he is the doer of all work.

If you read Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, you will find that he has talked a lot about meditation.

You must keep the mind fixed on one object, like an unbroken stream of oil. The ordinary man's mind is scattered on different objcts, and at the time of meditation, too, the mind is at first apt to wander. But let any desire whatever arise in the mind, you must sit calmly and watch what sort of ideas are coming. By continuing to watch in that way, the mind becomes calm, and there are no thought waves in it. These waves represent the thought-activity of the mind. Those things that you have thought too deeply, have transformed themselves into a subconscious current, and therefore these come up in the mind in meditation. The rise of these waves, or thoughts, during meditation is an evidence that your mind is tending towards concentration. Sometimes the mind is concentrated on a set of ideas -- this is called meditation with Vikalpa or oscillation. But when the mind becomes almost free from all activities, it melts in the inner Self, which is the essence of infinite Knowledge, One and Itself Its own support.

As Swami Vivekananda said, at first mind will wander here and there but don't let it become distraction, sit there and eventually you will have perfect concentration.

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One should meditate in a secluded location. Here is what Krishna says in chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita:

To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kuśa grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should be neither too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogī should then sit on it very firmly and practice yoga to purify the heart by controlling his mind, senses and activities and fixing the mind on one point. One should hold one’s body, neck and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose. Thus, with an unagitated, subdued mind, devoid of fear, completely free from sex life, one should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life.

It's only when one is free from distractions that meditation can be successfully undertaken.

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