This weekend I watched Mythos, a special from the mythological scholar Joseph Campbell. Campbell mentioned the difference in the ego (in a Jungian sense) between Eastern and Western sensibilities. Put bluntly, Westerners have a much more solid ego than people from an Eastern background.
Campbell likened it to “taking a little hammer to a big western ego.”
What do we do with this?
The answer, I think, is to take things in steps. We have already acknowledged that different meditation techniques work for different people. In another way, perhaps we need to understand that different techniques work for people at different times and at different stages of their development.
One of the first things in many meditation practices is to listen to the sounds around you. Sometimes an instructor will ask a student to keep listening for sounds that are further and further away. Try to live in the sound.
I think that another option, rather than counting on ambiance, is to listen to white, pink, or brown noise. Through listening to these kinds of artificially generated noise, the mind begins to find new depths in existing sound rather than looking to expand the consciousness spatially.
This depth is crucial to finding the part of the self separate from thoughts and body. This part of the self is the real self, and once you can connect with it, you will be well on your way to a deeper life.