There is this thing…it is well-known as “monkey brain” in my house. Monkey brain is when you sit for centering prayer or silent reflection, and suddenly every thought turns into a jumping screaming “monkey” demanding your full attention. I swear some start jumping up and down on my back and some start banging symbols together! Of course, the more I ignore them, the louder they get!
I am not the only one with this problem and it is easy to find advice about getting these monkeys to settle down. I believe this is where repeating a word comes from, gazing at a candle, gently asking those thoughts to run along…you will be attending to them later, watching them float down river with your minds eye. I am not alone with this problem.
What’s interesting to me, is that I don’t, and never have done any of the above things. My relationship with my monkey mind is slightly different, I just never knew how it was different…until today. Today I realized that my reaction was to befriend my monkey’s. Over the years I have gotten to know them quite well. There is the “To do list” monkey…this is the monkey that usually has the symbols! There is the monkey that is always writing my next paper, or at least creating the outline, and the monkey that tells me I am not making the monkeys be quiet enough. I don’t want them to go away, I want to know them, I want to know them well enough that I can name them :-)
In some ways it is like watching a playground full of kids…some are yelling, some are screaming, some are laughing…as you learn about each kid, you learn when they need attention and when they don’t. But here’s the thing, in learning the names and patterns of my thoughts, I began seeing others ones…the ones that are wise and quiet, the ones hiding in the corner scared and afraid of taking on the monkey that’s yelling and screaming. Eventually, I became so familiar with my monkey’s that I noticed that one that wasn’t mine. There is a whisper out there, it is hard to hear but it is out there…just take some time naming your thought patterns so you can recognize the one that isn’t yours….