Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reigning in the Monkey Mind

Our minds are incredibly powerful and complicated instruments. The way the human mind works is indeed a mystery.

Our thoughts are capable of creating amazing and wonderful masterpieces. They are also capable of making our lives into a living hell.

Have you ever had trouble shutting off your mind at night? Sleep eludes because too many thoughts are spinning through your head. It's frustrating when this happens and it negatively impairs our lives by damaging the quality and amount of sleep that we get.

If you've ever had a conflict with someone and found yourself replaying it over and over in your head - usually with 'better performance' on your part, you are certainly not unique! Most of us, at times, get stuck in instant (and sometimes long past) replays of events in our lives. We go over and over the incident, as though it will change something!

Many of us struggle at various times with thoughts that just will not let us go. We can't stop 'running the tape' of those thoughts through our brains. It is a waste of time, energy and potential. Yet, it doesn't seem to be something we can control.

The only way I know of to address this phenomenon is to 'train' the mind to get quiet. The most powerful way to do this is by meditation practice. It's like anything else. You most likely cannot do something unless you practice it regularly.

Why would we expect to be able to 'turn off' our minds when we are stressed out if we've never even learned to do it when we're not stressed out? That doesn't make much sense.

My teacher, Dr. Chuck Bruni used to ask me this question: "Would you rather make an important decision while sitting in a quiet library or in the midst of Grand Central Station at rush hour?" The meaning being that if we are peace we will most likely make a better decision than if we are in the midst of internal chaos!

Daily practice in quieting our minds will help us at times when we are under great pressure.

I once heard someone say, "The time to start weaving your parachute is NOT when you ready to jump out of the plane!" We can't wait until the moment we absolutely need the ability to quiet our mind to begin to cultivate that ability. We can start NOW... and perhaps the parachute will be ready when we need it!

If you've never meditated before, you need to start small. Even 1 minute of taking deep breaths saying 'relax' inside your head is better than nothing. Using a mantra (words that you repeat either silently or out loud) and watching your breath are excellent ways to begin. Numerous books and workshops are available to teach meditation. It's not complicated... it just requires practice!

Quiet your mind, every day... and soon you'll find that your whole life runs more smoothly!