Overlooking a small bay in Maine
Sunshine rides on space and poetry on sunshine.
Poetry gives birth to sunshine, and sunshine to poetry.
Thich Nhat Hanh
I just love the sun rays working their way through the clouds above. For some reason they give me a sense of peace, of calm. They are in direct contrast of something we all have and often struggle with, that being something called, “monkey mind”. I first heard that term during a guided meditation I was doing. It is also something that I notice I struggle with a lot lately. Some times more so than others. Monkey mind is when your mind is all over the place. When I sit still and try to be calm and mindful, which I find myself trying to do a lot lately, I realize that this monkey mind is filled with thoughts of fears, anxieties, doubts, regrets. Not a pleasant place to be for any of us. But yet it’s so common for us humans. Being the intelligent humans we are we can summon ways to overcome this monkey mind.
Buddha defined it best when he said; “Just as a monkey swinging through the trees grabs one branch and lets it go only to seize another, so too, that which is called thought, mind or consciousness arises and disappears continually both day and night.” Huh.
Why this now and so much more lately? Time is one. Having time, for the first time in 40 years, to actually stop. Stop and think. Some of you are way more enlightened than I am and have figured positive ways to address this typical human thinking state. Mindfulness, yoga, meditation, forest bathing are a few methods. I’ve dabbled in them all but to be honest haven’t mastered any of them.
Work is an overwhelming undertaking. We are subject to this state of work/mind in order to put dinner on our family’s table and provide a warm, safe roof over their head. Taking time for ourselves often seems unattainable, maybe even frivolous. Now that I have time and see the immediate effects, I ask myself why I denied this need for so long. I am coming to a conclusion that it isn’t frivolous or unattainable. It’s necessary. A must. A can’t live healthy without. Even 10 minutes each morning or evening is immensely powerful, providing immediate relief and sense of much sought after calm. We can all do that. Well, that’s easy for me to say now that I’m not working 50+ hours a week at school and another 50+ raising a family. But we can and we must.
So let me say this….just do it. Find the time. You are worth it. Your family is worth it. While all my monkey thinking and mixed up emotions are far from tamed, these few minutes a day helps…a lot. The other thing that helps a lot is walking outside especially in the woods.
I find myself wondering if these thoughts that seem to be hounding me lately are because I have stopped running on that carousel of work and that I actually have time to think of all the things I’ve been to busy to think about. This can be a godsend or a curse or a combination of both. But one thing is for sure; it certainly is a wake up call. Life is short. We’ve been sadly reminded of this lately.
So stop. Just stop. Take that personal day (And don’t tell what the reason is! It’s personal!). Do something you love to do or need to do. With someone you love or by yourself. You are worth it. You deserve it. And for the sake of our Earth community we all need to begin doing this more often.