Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. We all have monkey minds, Buddha said, with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention. Fear is an especially loud monkey, sounding the alarm incessantly, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong. B J Gallagher
Overwhelming shame and fear, real or imagined, pulled me away from others. When the isolating anxiety became more than I could handle, I found solace in writing practice. I talked to myself as if I were my beloved counselor and minister, my son, my mother.
I needed to hear kind words.
I needed to know why my son killed himself.
I needed to know how a mother survives such grief.
I needed to calm my monkey mind.
Ten years later I am still writing.
This morning my monkey mind jumps around with ideas for sharing this practice and doubts of who I think I am or why it would matter. Argh!
So write, Laura. Use your practice to tame that monkey.
A wood laminate floor will be installed in half my house tomorrow. How will that affect those rooms? How will it affect the rest of this place? Will everything look dingy and outdated? This house was last “decorated” twelve years ago for a person whose ex had just moved out. I’m not that person now.
How do the wall colors affect mood? What colors inspire creativity? Serenity? How can meaningful collections be arranged into so they are not just clutter? Do I need more furniture, or less?
I begin some online research (aka Google.)
What do I do if I hate housework but appreciate a clean house?
If I give up my cable TV connection can I use that money for a maid twice a month?
Can a more inviting living space encourage serenity and creativity?
A new semester was last night’s concern before bed. This morning as I consider changes in the appearance of my home, I begin to have ideas about how to change the classroom to invite safety and inspiration for the students.
And so it goes…
What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.― Plutarch
This isn’t the post I wrote an hour ago. That post disappeared when the power went off. Oh, and it was so profound!
“Yeah, right,” says God, and pulls the plug. “Stop talking in lofty abstracts and step into the real world.”
I was talking about how writing has changed my reality. How words no longer scare me. How much easier it is for me to find my balance now when I become overwhelmed. Blah, blah, blah. And then the lights went out. Yikes!!! I’m sitting in here in my pajamas, the heat is off, and I have twenty things to do before my four o’clock class.
I check the breaker box. Nada. Everything’s ok in there. It must be related to the trucks down the street who are trimming the trees around the power lines (to prevent outages). I have no idea how long this will take and thinking about what I want to be doing will only make me restless.
I’ll take a shower, get dressed and take my computer and books to the library, where I can use their wi-fi, heat and lights. It’s a good plan.
However when I step out of the shower, voila. Lights and heat!!!
Ta da! And I didn’t lose my balance or feel overwhelmed. A small thing, perhaps, but worth noting. I have been known to take these interruptions very personally.
Because of our mindfulness, we see our desire, and our aggression, our jealousy and our ignorance. We don’t act on them; we just see them. Without mindfulness, we don’t see them and they proliferate. Pema Chodron
Another day, another quote. But it is becoming so much more.
When I post a daily quote, first on Facebook, then here on this blog, I am putting something in motion. I am bringing my thoughts to the forefront, seeing them and sharing them with others. They set a tone for my day and become a foundation or a framework. So much of the day’s experience finds a place in these words. Yep, it freaks me out.
The quote comes from ideas I pull up while writing morning pages, which come from recent experiences and the siftings in my sleep. Is everything so connected?
Relax, Laura. What can you learn today?
Don’t try to force anything. Let life be a deep let-go. God opens millions of flowers everyday without forcing their buds ~ Osho
Monday was hard, even being semi-retired.
I visit a sixth grade language arts class first thing in the morning. The young teacher is having the same problems I had as a new teacher. How does a teacher convince twelve-year-olds of her authority when she is only ten years older?
I spin through my mental files and leave her with a few specific ideas that might help her pre-adolescents focus on choosing the correct pronouns when their minds are on how to get the attention of their classmates.
Unfortunately my mental spin cycle becomes stuck and continues to generate ideas long after I’ve driven away from the middle school. I have other things to think about, but the harder I try to let go the faster I spin.
Writing is a release for me, so I put some of these ideas on paper. This time seeing my words on paper just gives me more ideas. Breathe.
Changing settings sometimes works, so I run to the grocery store for bread. As soon as I return home the thoughts return.
I pick up the book I need to finish for the book club discussion, but can’t focus.
Osho says “a deep let-go.” Let go of little Ms. Responsible. The hammock is totally not on my to-do list. In minutes I’m stretched out enjoying the mild late summer breeze and I realize the world will be fine without me for a little while.
The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. Anna Quindlen
One of my son Carlton’s favorite sayings as a young child was “You’re not the boss of me.” He would use it after I had delivered “constructive criticism” (my mother’s words) about a certain behavior or way of doing something.
Another was “That’s your opinion.” This comment would follow a particularly “profound” piece of advice I had shared with him.
Ah, the wisdom of small children.
The words I have needed to override the critical voices that haunt me when I’m not paying attention.
“Why in the world would you choose to do that?” the condescending voice questions.
“You’re not the boss of me,” I think, feeling the freedom from justifying myself.
“You spend too much time lost in words,” the it’s-for-your-own-good wise one offers.
“That’s your opinion,” I smile and continue to type.
Thanks, Carlton. The still, small voice I carry inside.
Carlton, age 5
Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Robert Fulgham