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Wednesday, 12 November 2014


We all suffer from what is sometimes called #MonkeyMind, the state of incessant chatter going on between our ears.  "I'm not good enough", "She thinks I'm a bitch", "I'm a failure", "It's too hard", "It can't be done", "He's such a loser", "I'm such a loser", "Things always go wrong for me", "God never planned for me to be a success", "I have to prove myself", "I  have to fight for everything" and so on.  There is an endless chattering that goes on, and it's time to tame it.

One of my favourite authors is #NatalieGoldberg, who writes about writing from a #ZenBuddhist perspective.  One of her books, #WildMind, invokes the reader (and aspirant writer) to write without being inhibited by the perpetual internal editor:  "Lose control.  Say what you want to say.  Don't worry if it's correct, polite, appropriate.  Just let it rip".  How do you reconcile that approach with taming the monkey mind?

The great paradox is that you cannot free your wild mind and just let it rip without first taming your monkey mind, because it is exactly that which gets in your way, inhibits you, slows your progress, causes you to lose confidence, not to trust yourself and, tragically, to edit your creative self into a boring, compliant, non-wave-making sheep.  Your monkey mind can also push you the other way, having you dramatically play the rebel,  deviant or tough guy in order to prove that you are somehow not as much of a failure, or as ordinary as your money mind is having you believe.

Monkey mind gets in your way in every circumstance.  It is like gazing at the pristine perfection and tranquility of a mirror-surfaced, tree-lined lake, but rather than taking in and feeling gratitude for all the beauty, your eyes fall on a lone piece of litter floating in the distance and you allow that to spoil everything else for you.  Or perhaps it's like making love, the perfect union of two souls, and then, during the act, one suddenly wonders if she looks fat, or the other wonders whether he's good enough to do the job.  The moment is lost.  Monkey mind is what a teacher of mine, Roy Whitten, used to refer to as "the turd in the punch bowl".  It is that part of your mind which contaminates all else that is wonderful within your mind.

How do you tame your mind?  It is about recognising the contamination,  letting it go and clearing it out so that you can access the creative waters and ply them unhindered by monkey mind.  

There are techniques which are beyond the scope of this blog, but you can start with something as simple as a daily meditation practice.  Learn forgiveness, press out your anger in places where it doesn't matter, let go of your wallowing and keep seeing the (proverbial) glass half full.  

It doesn't matter how you do it, but if you want to access wild mind, first come to stillness by taming your monkey mind.

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