I (Barclay) downloaded an app called “Insight Timer” which offers 400,000 meditations. Where to begin?
Then I noticed they had a course called “Learn How to Meditate in Seven Days” which sounded doable.
Day 1: The timer is set for 10 minutes. A woman’s voice, slow and monotoned, tells me to breathe in through my nose and exhale through my mouth. Feel your tummy rise with each inhale. After a bit, I peek at the timer. 7 minutes left. My phone says enough-of-this and beeps a reminder to put the laundry in the dryer – which I do.
Day 2: The woman suggests we “explore the mind”. Let your thoughts drift past, she says. Watch them but don’t attend to them. Wait! What’s that? An ant scurrying for cover. If I don’t nab it, word will spread to other ants. Good-bye Ant. And good-bye morning meditation.
On Day 7 I mute the voice.
So there’s this thing called the Monkey Mind that Psychology Today suggests is our inner critic.
“It’s the part of your brain most connected to the ego, which contends that you can’t do anything right. It’s also the part of you that stifles creativity and prevents you from moving forward with your passions. The monkey mind insists on being heard, and sometimes it takes a lot of self-control to shut it down. It is also the part of your brain that becomes easily distracted, so if you want to get anything done in life, your challenge will be to shut down the monkey mind.”
For some of us, this is near impossible. I think my mind is more elephantine than monkey. My thoughts are constantly racing-what medicare plan should I take when I turn 65, what should I make for dinner, what if my children never get married, will I have enough money if I live to 90!!-just to be clear-Joy chiming in here.
They say that to tame our monkey mind we need to practice ……..wait for it……mindfulness. A buzz word that’s lived its full 15 minutes of fame. (Wouldn’t you just love to coin the next buzz word or phrase that means exactly the same thing??)
But that said, we should give mindfulness its due especially in tackling a monkey mind that’s bent on hijacking our meditation.
Author, Marelisa Fabrega, offers practical suggestions at her website, Daring to Live Fully.)
Let your monkey mind “run amok” for 10 minutes a day, she says. Journal your thoughts. Then if the MM starts up again, you tell it,
“Your session for today is over. Wait until tomorrow’s session. I’ll listen to you then.” Soon, your monkey mind will realize that it’s completely futile to make a fuss at any time other than during your journaling sessions.
We should also question our MM. When it raises a grievance, ask why it’s upset. Counter your MM’s points using the ABC method.
Day 8: I am breathing to the count of 4, holding for 4, exhaling for 4. I have the sound of a babbling brook on my phone. My Monkey Mind tells me that I am late in paying a bill, but I ignore it. 5 minutes passes. Victory.
Clearly, I won’t be hosting a seminar on meditation any time soon.
But hey, it’s a start!
-Set apart time for daily reflection and meditation – whatever duration and practice is right for you.
-Let’s put some serious thought into inventing the next buzz word to replace “mindfulness”. Just think of the best sellers we will write and the talk shows we will grace!!
Enjoy the ride!
xox Barclay and Joy