Watching the Monkeys
One of the first things we all experience when starting out on a meditation journey is what the Buddha termed 'Kapicitta' - literally 'monkey-mind.'
It's a wonderful and evocative term, and all of us who have experienced it know exactly what it means. And I would love to say that in my years of meditation I have moved beyond monkey-mind - but of course I haven't. There are still times when I sit and my mind races.
Having monkey-mind can be discouraging, but in reality the mere recognition of the fact that we are experiencing Kapicitta is the practice. The monkeys were always there - it is just that now we can see them. Even that is progress.
I like to approach the monkeys in the way I would real monkeys - with fascination and curiosity. If you showed me a room full of monkeys I could spend hours watching them, learning about their nature and watching as they play, fight and squabble.
The thing with monkey-mind is not to try and banish them, but to observe them, understand them and learn about why they are there. When we begin meditating one of our first insights is that we can watch the monkeys rather than being defined by them.
And watching monkeys can be fun - both out in the physical world and in our minds.
Sometimes we feel that the arrival of the monkeys is a kind of failure, that we haven't achieved the level of mind-control that we would like to think we have. But I like to see it instead as an opportunity to be playful, to have a little bit of fun. There are times when thirty minutes of watching the monkeys play can be the most valuable thing we can do.
So I would like to wish you all monkey-free meditations in the coming week. But if they do arrive, you know what to do!
Have fun, Chris.
I have linked below a fully guided meditation on watching the monkeys play. A few of us have committed to press 'play' together at 7pm PT on Sunday 21st February - you are welcome to join with us if you wish.