The mind is powerful. It can be both your loudest supporter and your harshest critic. In yoga we call it the “monkey mind.” Much like a wild monkey it swings from thought to thought, stopping to obsess about one thing that inevitably leads to another obsession and on and on.
It is rare for the mind to be quiet and calm considering the pace of the world we live in and the fear mongering television instills in us and the reality of climate change, rising prices, and stagnant wages. We badly need this quiet space in our minds so we can bring calm and focused attention to our everyday lives and by extension the world in which we dwell.
Most people do not know where to start. I encourage you to sit in a quiet space and gently close your eyes, listen to the beat of your heart and the divine breath flowing in and out of your body. If you are able to follow one inhale and exhale out of the body without thought you’ve meditated. This single act alone may take time, but it is time well spent.
I started yoga from the limb of asana. These are the poses and physical aspects of yoga. The end result of asana is to be able to sit comfortably in meditation.
I was extremely anxious when I began yoga and silently judged myself and others harshly. I could hardly sit still. In fact I’d find myself silently raging at the fact class started two minutes late. I was clock watching and later I’d realize my egoic mind was raging. The monkey was loose, angry, and couldn’t settle on a branch for a second. The movement in yoga allowed me to work through this anxiety and breathe into the spaces of tension and holding.
With time and committed daily practice, I discovered something beyond asana. My mind became still and I loved nothing more than to lay on my mat in silence before class started. I was unknowingly in meditation.
Little by little I started to view my divine essence and realize the positive effect I could have on my life path, my family, my community, and the world by spending a few minutes a day in silence. As my mind stilled I became my own cheerleader rather than my worst enemy. I started to see how I could positively interact with the world rather than living in constant battle with the world around me.
Yoga and meditation are a practice and we show up with different bodies and minds with the change in seasons and circumstances of our lives.
While my mind has quieted I still have to tame the monkey daily during yoga and meditation.
It is a life-long dedicated practice. Not a quick fix.
I encourage you to get on your mat and meditation cushion so we can work together to build a healthy world by first taming your wild monkey. The few minutes of being rather than doing is where the potential for greatness resides.