Taming Your Monkey Mind: Part I


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I recently started a class on Mindfulness; the process of engaging in being aware of your awareness. This practice has also been known as insight meditation  and it involves a process of meditation where one gains insights about themselves and their relationship to the world.

One of the qualities I have attributed to myself in the past is having the ability to be focused. Or so I thought until it was put to the test when I got ready to meditate.  As soon as I settled into my comfortable posture and closed my eyes an entire world of activity seemed to instantly come to life. My mind seemed to kick into high gear. First the sounds around me suddenly got louder. I took an interest in wanting to know what was around me.  “Did someone just come into the room?” I wondered. ” Why was the person to my left breathing so heavily?” And that thought was interrupted by another and yet another. Closing my eyes became  quite inconvenient.  A sudden pain in my lower spine demanded my attention and my right knee seemed to be going numb at exactly the same time.

You see, we have what is called the Monkey Mind. It is the constant need to think all the time.  Our minds are constantly on the go. It is why when someone is talking to us, we are already formulating our response. Or we are fast forwarding to the  future making lunch plans in our minds when we are still  in the first meeting of the day.

The simple act of sitting down and breathing while paying attention to the thoughts racing through my mind demands that I  take note of those thoughts. I had several insights about myself just sitting there. “Why,” for example, ” was it so important to plan the rest of the day when the morning had not taken place yet?”

Part of it is the need to be in charge of the outcome.  The need to somehow be in the process of manipulating the future has a way of pulling us out of the present. While there is nothing wrong in planing the future, I couldn’t help but imagine what more I stood to offer the world were I not caught up planning the future or formulating a witty response while someone was still talking to me.

Another reason is the fact that our minds, built for survival,  are constantly looking for the next thing to assess. Our lives have slowed down significantly since the stone age days but our minds have not.  Sitting down and trying to focus on what is currently in front of us means we have to retrain our minds’ constant need to skitter from one thought to another. Just being aware of what your mind spends time thinking about, is one way to gain insight as to what your concerns really are.

I am still continuing my journey in Mindfulness. Some of the insights I have gained have led me to some uncomfortable truths about what I may have deemed important in the past. So much of what I have spent time thinking about is irrelevant. Letting  go of some of the inconsequential thought patterns is an absolutely easy way to make little changes in my life.

The next step is to take the Mindfulness journey and apply it to some of my daily activities. Next time,  I will log insights gained while trying to apply mindfulness in daily activities.

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