I’m writing this on Sunday morning at a later than usual time. The sky is overcast and there’s a misty fog making for a sleepy, dull atmosphere. It’s a great change of pace. I want to slow down physically and mentally today. I wonder how successful my efforts will be.
Before sitting down to tap out this post, I prepared a cup of hot joe American style with a bit of half and half. Coffee and my laptop are my favorite morning props. Gearing up to compose this essay I first must check in with my social media to see who’s been doing what while I slept. I’ll also download my email. I also want to download some stock photos for this post because I don’t encounter exotic creatures in my normal, everyday environment. Finally, I’m updated on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ve answered two emails and found some cute monkey photos. Maybe they will induce readers to click the stars at the end of the post?
My hands have been as busy as my mind. In Eastern philosophical teaching, this is called “Monkey Mind”. This phenomenon is most often noticed when you sit on your cushion to meditate. The mind moves from thought to thought to reactions and thoughts about those thoughts and reactions. If you’ve ever watched monkeys in a zoo or on a teevee nature documentary, you remember how monkeys are constantly active. They’re completely unpredictable and often mischievous.
Our culture encourages the Monkey Mind lifestyle. Think of how we multitask much of our day away. Maybe we chat with a friend on the phone, while preparing lunch, while watching a teevee show in the kitchen, soon making a quick check of Twitter and Facebook. All of this is done automatically without barely a thought.
At work, we might be working on a report, fielding a phone call, looking over a memo from the boss while checking over the inbox for important emails. Again, all of this is done automatically without barely a thought. By the end of the day, we wonder why we feel so physically exhausted and emotionally drained. We shouldn’t be surprised after doing the mental equivilant of a gymnastics tournament all day long. Our Monkey Minds have been playing around the whole time.
You might sit in front of your teevee to watch the news. Not only is the newscaster reading the news and going to live shots here and there, but there is the text crawler at the bottom of the screen with headline summaries. There might be another small image at another corner of the screen plus another program is being promoted somewhere else. All of this is going on at once. Mass media monkey mind! Are you on the phone and having a snack at the same time, too?
The weekend arrives at last. If you’re a sports fan lucky enough to live in a city with a professional or college ball team you might decide to attend a game. It’s not enough for some people to simply spend $80 for a seat to enjoy all the hubbub of the crowd and the progress of the game. Some folks will have earbuds from their radio tuned into another game taking place in another stadium somewhere. They might even check in, from time to time, on the progress of yet another game or summary of games on their mobile phone’s video feature. On top of that, their companion may have brought his iPad to keep track of yet more games.
I get dizzy just thinking about all the monkey mind at one game let alone trying to keep track of several. What’s the point? It’s only a game or should I say, they’re only some games. Did the fan get his $80 worth? I hope so.
I rarely have the opportunity to attend a big ticket game, so when I do have the chance, I take in every bit of the one game that I can. The afternoon or evening in the stadium provides more than enough activity for one brain to handle.
This all brings me back to the lazy Sunday morning. Even though I planned on letting my Monkey Mind rest, he sat on my shoulder waiting for me to finish this little essay. The long day promises to provide many opportunities for my Monkey Mind to frolic and just as many opportunities for me to observe him. I wonder if I’ll ever get him comfortable with the idea of full on concentration.
The Blue Jay of Happiness has just noticed that a neighbor is trimming his lawn with a weed-eater while listening to something on a portable audio player. I wonder what the neighbor has on his mind, too.