The Buddhists have a phrase they call “Monkey Mind.” It’s basically our everyday, normal, active mind, roaming around inside our skulls, always chattering, always busy, easily distracted and more than a bit annoying at times. Everyone has it – it’s part of being human.
Putting “Monkey Mind” in its place may be one of your goals in this class. It’s a worthy goal, and you may feel frustrated when it refuses to go away. You are trying to calm your mind and focus on the form (the hands, the feet, the hips, the order of the postures, the transitions, the Essentials, woof-woof blah-blah argle-bargle); meanwhile your Monkey Mind is pestering you about the fact that you haven’t called your mother this week, the cable company sent ANOTHER notice, your kid’s teacher wants to have a conference, your boss is pestering you to make a deadline…
…woof-woof blah-blah argle-bargle…
The essay linked below is a pretty good description of the Monkey Mind, why it happens, when it’s actually a GOOD thing, and ways to tame it. It mentions meditation, but the word can sometimes be off-putting or intimidating to Westerners. If you’re anything like me, “meditation” immediately conjures up images of monks in saffron or cassocks, staring at a blank wall for days at a stretch while fingering a set of prayer beads and mumbling to themselves.
(It has some salty language in it – we’re all grown-ups)
Well, tai chi is often referred to as “moving meditation” and we can use all the stuff we’re supposed to focus on to tame the Monkey Mind. As you’ve surely discovered by now, there’s a LOT we can focus on when doing the form. That focus helps to push other things aside and keep us in the here-and-now; and we can use this skill throughout our day.
But it doesn’t always work. Our Monkey Mind can be annoyingly persistent.
That’s when the techniques outlined in the linked essay become important, and they’re my suggestion to you when you have trouble focusing in class:
o Beginner’s Mind
o Be Kind to Yourself
My Monkey Mind is just as active as yours is, and I work on all these things just as much as I encourage you to work on them.