Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monkey Mind, Uncaged

I first acknowledged I needed to explore meditation when I noticed that my brain worked more like a movie trailer than an actual narrative.  Somewhere along the journey, exposure to split second stimuli had reduced my concentration skills to something akin to the TV remote when your fat roommate sits on the channel button.  Click-click-click-Snuggie commercial-click-click-click-Oooh, there's Sheryl Crow-click-click-click-God, I hate Fox News, click, click...you get the picture.

I don't proclaim ADD or ADHD or even any other D disorders here.  No, this is something that is plainly in my hands to manage.  In fact, I used to have the concentration skills to follow full works of fiction through to the end in one sitting.  Now, getting through an email without flitting over to Facebook, tweaking my I-Tunes selection, or returning a text requires the discipline of an Everest climber.  I've done this to myself because (a) life in front of a computer offers too many choices and (b) to quote Carrie Fisher, "Instant Gratification takes too long".

Amen, sister.

The world is at our fingertips these days.  It's a blessing of enormous proportions and a curse that will likely be the end of us as a civilized race.   Seriously, we're answering cell phones in church, Twittering in traffic, and texting at funerals.  We've reduced our language to a series of LOLs and ROFLs which guarantee that we won't be able to express ourselves in complete sentences by the time the year 2020 rolls around.

The first casualty, it appears, is the simple act of being awake.  And by awake, I mean aware.  And by aware, I mean here...now.  It's one of the hardest things to do.  In fact, I have to say, between the Buddha's Eightfold Path and the Bible's Ten Commandments, I'm a much better Christian than a Buddhist.  I can dodge the stealing and killing and adultery quite well.  It's that whole "Right Attention" thing that gets me every time.

But then, that's why it's called a Path, isn't it?  We never really reach our destination, we just do our best each day to further the journey.

So, some days, I sit.  Some days, I don't.  On those I do sit, I get my own instant karma from the mere act, the payoff of starting my day with a taste of serenity and stillness.  On days I don't, well, the mental monkey cage gets quite a workout.

Where and when do you find your monkey mind taking over, and what brings you back to the present?  It can be a sound, a scent, a feeling, or a simple stillness, but I'd like to know.  I look forward to your thoughts.  And to someday being ever-ever-ever present.

Until then, I'll be here...or at least, trying to be here.   Me and my monkey.

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