Monkey Mind

In Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, Dani Shapiro’s words ring true. “The meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg speaks of catching the mind scampering off, like the little monkey that it is, into the past, the future, anywhere but here, and suggests that the real skill in meditation is simply noticing that the mind has wandered. So liberating, this idea that we can start over at any time, a thousand times a day if need be. I see many parallels between the practices of meditation and writing but none are more powerful than this. Writing is hard. We resist, we procrastinate, we veer off course. But we have this tool, this ability to begin again.” 

Our minds roll at an astonishing speed and it’s easy to feel so busy and consumed that we never check in on our inner chatter. My meditation practice has taught me how to become the observer of the endless parade of my thoughts.

It’s called a practice for a reason. I think people often misunderstand and assume they cannot meditate. It bums me out to hear people tell themselves they can’t do it. So let me just say, you can if you decide to try. 

I’ve been at it for years and I continue to experience my thoughts trailing off to run buck wild while I practice. The practice involves noticing when you drift off and bringing yourself back to the moment. Over and over and over again. Over time, your ability to catch your monkey mind rambling and bring it back to the present will improve.

Here’s one example from this week of the thoughts I noticed in savasana. As I relaxed into my mat, I thought: Breathe in love. Breathe out love. Breathe in love. Breathe out love. Breathe in love. Breathe out love. I wonder if my friend figured out her foot cramps? I wonder if she knows about LMNT packs? She mentioned her high heels. Carrie Bradshaw’s shoes. The episode when Big is leaving for California and Miranda’s water breaks on her new fancy pair. How do they walk around the city in stilettos? I’d fall on my face for sure! I’ve still never been to NYC. I think I’d get claustrophobic. I loved reading Ani’s stories about New York in her memoir. I can’t imagine living there when the pandemic hit. I wonder how many people left and aren’t coming back. I can’t believe we’ve been isolating for an entire year! How is that possible?! I’m so excited to start seeing everyone again soon!! Wait…what am I doing? Oh yeah, I’m meditating. Breathe in love. Breathe out love. Breath in love. Breathe out love. Oh I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer. What else do I have to cook? Maybe I’ll make Banza pasta. Oooo my marinated onions are ready. I’ll make a big salad . . . Hahaha breathe in love. Breathe out love.  

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