In meditation, our mind is often referred to as a monkey mind. Just like a monkey jumps from one branch to another, our mind jumps from one thought to another, restless, incapable of staying still.
This monkey mind always seeks thrill, thinking that there is something better just around the corner, waiting to be discovered. It seems like it’s unable to accept and appreciate the only thing we are in control of – our present. And it complains a lot. Something else always seems better than what we have at the moment. Something is always missing.
If we allow being led by our monkey minds, eventually we become tired. Anxious. We can’t relax. And instead of calming down and trying to quieten our mind, we desperately search for something to put us at ease. We grab for another branch, and then another, and then another…
At one point we realise that despite all our efforts we are not happy with our lives, but usually, we don’t have the slightest idea why.
This monkey mind also doesn’t like to be restricted in any way. We don’t have to do something or go somewhere, but we want to have that option open. I have a cat that goes mental if I close any of the doors in the house. She wants them all open, even though she’s not interested in actually being there and she always sleeps at the same places. Not much difference with us people, and it’s easy to see that now when we are forced to stay at home.
Maybe we rarely travel, but know that we can’t we really want it. Maybe we mostly go to work, and when we come home we spend the evening watching Netflix, perhaps reading or wasting time on social media, but now all we can think about is having a dinner in some restaurant, going to a pub, cinema or some other social activity. Maybe we work too hard and rarely have time for our hobbies or simply doing nothing, but know that we have, we would give anything to escape this what it seems like a never-ending lull. We dream about picnics under the clear blue sky, weekend getaways and barbeque parties. We miss the thrill of bustle and hustle.
These days more than ever, social media is our only window to the outside world. And the view is not pretty.
Majority of the stories are complaints about the current situation. Some share ideas about how to survive long days with kids and spouse, how to escape boredom, learn a new language or finish some course now that we have so much time on our hands. How to stay on top of the game, how to be the best, feel superior and make others who do nothing worth of bragging feel miserable. We are desperately grabbing for the new branches.
We behave like it’s a mortal sin to do nothing. As if times like these have nothing productive to offer. Isn’t it a blessing to be with our families without having to rush to some carefully planned activity packed with fun and adventures? When we do this, do we really spend time with each other or we just spend time? Do we invest into our relationships, try to improve the way we treat each other or are we just grabbing for various activities that can be caught with a camera and posted on Instagram with some inspiring caption and hashtag? Isn’t all this free time something we craved for while we had our days planned from dusk till dawn?
Sometimes it appears that we would achieve contentment when we would have it all in entirely same doses. An equal amount of free time, work time, family time, self-care time, socialising time, quiet time. Would that really stop our monkey minds from seeking troubles? I doubt it. Probably the perfect amount of everything would eventually become the cause of anxiety. It’s like we are wired to look for misery, and if we don’t pay attention, our minds have the power to make us feel miserable no matter what we do.
A completely balanced life is hard to achieve. Our lives are more periods of different times in which at one point we have too much of this and too little of that. These periods alternate and we usually manage to feel happy if we accept things as they are. If we try to enjoy the benefits that each of these periods has to offer no matter what they consist of.
Some of us really needed this reset button that Covid-19 enabled. This opportunity to step out of mindless, never stopping treadmill and slow down. Instead of continually being mind full to try and be mindful. Appreciate what we have because tomorrow when it’s gone, we’ll think about it with longing. We’ll regret we didn’t spend this time more joyfully.
Wouldn’t it be better if we tried to look at the current situation as a blessing? After all, we are given the excuse to do nothing and at the same time to do the most important thing. To look closely at our relationships with the ones we share our life. To nurture ourselves the way we rarely have time; maybe taking long baths, meditating or reading that pile of books we collected through years hoping that one day we’ll find time to savour them.
To accept the present moment, the reality we are currently living instead of running away from it and ignoring it.
To be in charge of our monkey mind.
*This article had been published on OUTSIDE online magazine.