I don’t know about you, but while I’m doing yard work, I talk to myself. Not out loud, but rather an internal chatter that runs something like this:
“I need to do the laundry and wash the windows and get some mulch. I don’t I like the way my co-worker spoke to me Thursday. I’m chilly. That breeze feels good. My knees hurt. Is it going to rain? I miss my dad. I think it’s going to rain, maybe I should go inside. Oh, I guess not, I’ll stay for a few more minutes. What’s my sister doing today? Is it going to rain? The neighbor needs to get his lawn mowed. That email was mean. Who’s got the power tools out this early? Who’s on that bicycle coming down the street? Are they dangerous? Did I turn the stove burner off? That breeze feels good. I need to get to Home Depot and get some paint.”
In the meditation world, this nonstop inner dialogue is called monkey mind. And while the content of the blather may be different for you, I’m pretty sure this is the chatter that keeps you from falling asleep at night. It’s also what prevents you from experiencing now. That’s what my parents might call a highfalutin’ thought there – thinking prevents you from experiencing now.
We’ve been exploring techniques that help you learn how to experience now since the beginning of the month: breathing, staring at candles, chanting, walking. These forms of meditation help you be in the now, versus be in the monkey mind. Today head out into your garden for simple yard work; if you don’t have a yard, do some simple task around the house like wash the dishes by hand. Your job is to be in the now while you do these tasks.
I can guarantee that your monkey mind (just like my monkey mind) will have all sorts of advice. Say thank you, take a deep breathe, and continue. How long does it take before your monkey mind kicks in to chatter up a storm? Simple stop then, breathe, try again. The monkey mind is like a terrible two-year-old bent on keeping you distracted from now. Don’t bother getting into a yelling match with your monkey mind – it’s always there just waiting to talk. Stop, breathe, continue.
Holding inner stillness while doing ordinary tasks is incredibly powerful. It gives you an advantage in a complex and convoluted world. The advantage is that you are in now, or can get into now with one in breath. And that sense of now allows you to move like the willow in the middle of any storm.
Hunt for now, but don’t try to seize or capture now. Now comes with the soft pads of kittens, the caress of a breeze. Now is always here. Where are you?
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