2016 is the Year of the Monkey!
What a perfect time to take up meditation in order to meet your monkey mind.
Monkey mind is the Buddhist term for how our minds tend to jump from thought to random thought. Meeting your monkey mind is the first lesson of any meditation class. However serene our posture may be as we sit with our hands on our knees breathing deeply, our thoughts are generally wild, random and often quite shallow, just like a monkey hooting as he swings from tree to tree.
It’s easy to get discouraged.
But the truth is, we all have monkey minds and getting to know yours is actually an amazing feat. The observation alone indicates awareness which is the first step on the path to mindfulness.
Treat your monkey mind as you would treat real monkeys if your were meditating in Costa Rica and a primate family happened to swing through your practice. Would you curse them? Would you try to push them away? Would you judge them, or get angry?
Instead your would regard them with kind-hearted humor. They are noisy and silly, but also harmless. You would allow them to be, and then focus yourself on the work at hand.
When your monkey mind starts hooting and hollering during meditation practice, observe it kindly and then turn your attention back to your breath and your mantra. You might even smile at the playful monkey inside of you as you choose where to place your thoughts.