I love the expression, "the monkey mind." It is a Buddhist term referring to our unsettled and restless minds, unable to focus on the present moment and just "be." Instead of being present, we are off in our heads, swinging from tree to tree, thought to thought, building an imaginary future, re-working the past, less and less aware of what is right in front of us, right now. I was first introduced to Buddhist thought in high school, and I thought it was fascinating, this concept that there were people out there who were truly dedicated to living in the present moment, even just sitting and being there with themselves and meditating. I longed to be someone like that, but it seemed like work better suited to other people. Not someone like me who spent most of the day in school, wishing to be somewhere else and escaping the present reality through daydreaming.
I finally started meditating in my mid-30's when I had a very troublesome order that came complete with the worst client I had ever dealt with. It was a huge order, and a lot of money was at stake. I was losing my mind, tying to get this glaze green enough to match the shower curtains of a very pricey hotel. The test tiles had come out perfectly, but now in this big batch, the glaze was turning a rather unattractive shade of what can only be described as baby-puke yellow. The client was losing their mind, calling me daily to download their stress onto me as the opening day of the hotel drew closer. I could not relax enough at night to sleep, and at one point the stress was so intense I actually felt like I had left my body, which is a very strange feeling. I felt like my world was ending.
It was an colleague of mine who was helping me deal with this order who suggested I meditate to help me with the stress. He told me to just sit down somewhere comfortable, close my eyes, and put my attention on my breathing. Every time when I noticed that I was thinking again, all I had to do was go back to paying attention to my breathing. Over and over for like 10 minutes a day is what he suggested. Desperate for any kind of relief, I tried it. And it helped me so much with my short term anxiety that I have stuck with it ever since.
I like bringing other people to meditation because most people have the same resistance to it that I did: there is no way they can settle their minds long enough to meditate, they are too hyper, too busy, too easily distracted, blah blah blah. But none of that matters. We ALL have a monkey mind. The only question is, do you want to train that monkey to let go of the swinging vine so you can have some peace every once in a while?
While you think about that question I'm going to swing over to another topic, which is HOLIDAY OPEN STUDIO. Are you having one this year? If so, please be sure to read the submission form contained within this months newsletter and meet the deadline with your dates and info. I am very excited about the online map that I've been feverishly working with and I want to see you on it!