Taming Monkeys

You’ve been there. A well-deserved nap is interrupted by your doorbell. The final edits before a deadline are postponed by a knock on your office door. Your long-awaited planting day in the garden is extended by a neighbor who stops to ask which side of her house is the most ideal for gardenias. Some of us are much better at ignoring distractions that hamper our days than we are ideas that derail our minds.

Random thoughts are often unwanted visitors. We don’t recognize that some hijack our energies away from priorities. We feel in our minds like children in candy store or a spook house, far too excited to make good decisions or afraid to escape without being hurt. Thoughts engulf and rob us of confidence in the power to choose fresh initiatives; ones we’ve never “thought” of before.

Quiet meditation is a powerful means of transcending mental habits. Its practice, intended never to be perfect, helps us delete extraneous and nurture essential notions that align with our goals. Meditation is not mysterious; it is an intensely personal process of ignoring brain noise to clarify deeper wisdom.

Brian Tracy, one of the world’s top success authorities, recommends solitude as a means of gaining insights that will save months and years of work. Too often, we work to deserve time to rest our minds rather than resting our minds to allow more focused and productive efforts.swinging monkeys

Buddhist teachings call our random thoughts drunken monkeys that jump around screeching and chattering, sounding alarms and promoting fear and caution. We cannot kill our psychic monkeys, because what we resist will persist. Instead, we can calm and over time, tame them.

The monkeys are tape recordings of our past experiences; anxieties and imaginings that distract from our true potential. We need to deny them the power to define us. Meditation is a start.

To meditate, find a quiet place when you are rested and not likely to fall asleep. Assume a position, either sitting or lying down, in which you are least likely to move. Stillness allows total concentration on your breathing as it flows in and out. Set a timer for five, then 15, then 30 minutes as you gain experience. Once it starts, forget about the timer. Breathing is the only thing you must do in these moments. Allow your body and mind to rest.

Imagery is a powerful tool for the process of releasing thoughts from your mind. Here are indoor and outdoor examples to try:

•See yourself walking down a hallway toward a bright light in a window at the end. Doors on either side are opening to slow or stop you: people, obligations and ideas ask you to wait for “just for a moment.” Gently usher them back inside, close the doors and keep walking. The thoughts aren’t gone; they will wait until you return. For now, you have a destination beyond thoughts. You are finding your essence by ignoring the urgent and allowing your higher self to emerge. Once you reach the bright light, you will be closer to a simple, unencumbered view of who you are and what you might accomplish in an hour, a day a week or a lifetime.

• Envision walking barefoot along a shore toward a sunrise. Waves are lapping in, some washing high over your feet and calves. As they rush out, you are printing a straight path in the sand. Gulls are swooping over the water and beach. You hear them, but keep walking. Random ideas, breezes or passersby come along, one with a barking dog. You gently dismiss them one by one, not attending to anything but breathing on your quiet, cleansing journey. By the time you finish your walk, the sun is fully visible on the horizon. You witness the power of a rested mind and its new visitors: hope, freedom and inspiration ready to be explored.

You’ll benefit from meditation as much as you do sleep. It is a catharsis for your psyche and soul, much like the writing of a life story. The more busy and harried you feel, the more confused about what to do next, the more meditation can help. Best of all, it is accessible, private and free for you to use in pursuit of peace.

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