Taming the monkey mind

– January 10, 2009 – A drop in the ocean

I am but a drop, I am the ocean. It’s pretty amazing, the more I meditate, the more I realize there is so much going on in this crazy mind of mine and it feels like there is an infinite vortex still to be explored. Constantly bombarded by thoughts and stories, it’s a wonder my mind doesn’t just shut down and take a break. If my body was this busy, I would have died of exhaustion by now!

I’ve learned different types of meditation techniques over the years and sometimes I get visions, like a movie or a kaleidoscope of images that replay in my mind’s eye when I sit quietly, sometimes I hear a ringing sound in my ears, sometimes I feel my heartbeat in various parts of my body. Some days are better than others, but then can I really have a bad day meditating? There are days I just don’t want to sit still; those are the days to observe what’s going on, stepping outside of myself to witness the activity in my mind. When I manage to do this, I notice the agitation usually passes because my mind gets bored easily and is always on the lookout for the next shiny thought.

On the days when I do have more patience and I’m able to go deeper, I’m almost laughing at the chaos that’s going on in there. There are constant waves of activity and when I can just watch it all happening, it gives me a little comfort in knowing that this is not really me at the core. Sometimes, even just for a few seconds, I’ve experienced a blip of no thoughts, nothingness; Osho calls this ‘no-mind.’

Why were we given this ability to constantly think, to obsess over silly details, which we have no control over anyway? Or do we have control? I suppose that’s what meditation is all about – learning to control the chaos. Exploring what’s going on in here is better than a movie some days; sometimes like a horror movie, or a drama and sometimes it’s a comedy, at least it’s usually entertaining.

Taming the monkey mind

We all have monkey mind. It’s that pesky, mischievous, yet also lovable little voice, or voices, that keep chattering all day long. The monkey hardly ever stops, bouncing around from one thought to the next. Sometimes the monkey is kind and offers supportive thoughts like, ‘hey you look pretty good in that shirt,’ or ‘good job on that presentation today.’ Sometimes he can be harsh and say mean things, such as; ‘you’re not good enough, you’re dumb, that girl is prettier than you, you shouldn’t have done that.’

Most of the time he’s just a running commentary reviewing past events and situations that could have gone a different way, or he’s wondering about the future. It could be what you’re having for dinner tonight, or he could be talking about what you’re going to do next year. He hardly ever stops.

While I’ve been living with my monkey my whole life, we have now come to an understanding that he is not in control – I am. We appreciate each other and I even find him humorous a lot of the time, but he knows his place. I no longer allow him to direct my life and I don’t always have to believe in what he says – especially the negative chatter. I can also take a break from him, even if only for a few moments, to reconnect to my heart during meditation.

When you begin to question the monkey and challenge his chatter, you eventually learn that the monkey may not always be right. He can be tamed though, with dedication and persistence and using a variety of tools, one of which is meditation.

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