I realized that if I'm obsessing about my own feelings,I'm not present with the people around me—and am frankly of no use to them. ~Jane Lynch
“Monkey Mind” is a term familiar to yogis, but we’ve all experienced the chatter inside our own brains that seems to come from nowhere. And why is so much of it negative? We have been telling ourselves the story of our life, moment by moment, day by day, every day of our lives. Much of it is us re-living moments of anxiety, anger, fear, and other negative emotions in the hopeless attempt to process them somehow. Much of it is stuff other people have told us about ourselves that we may or may not want to believe, but we hear it over and over again nonetheless.
Another yogic term is “Samskara”, which is Sanskrit for impressions that we store in the subconscious mind that form our beliefs, attitudes and personality, or as some call it “some scars”. They are like grooves in our minds that get deeper and deeper as we relive them and add more of the same—they are well-worn paths that are familiar to us, so we follow them even if they are painful.
Can you ever process all of that stuff? Can you ever be free to wander away from the old paths? Yes, but the way is found by letting go, aggressively letting go. I know it sounds like a contradiction, but it is a loving practice. Whenever you find yourself thinking something negative or painful, try this: stop and listen, really listen to yourself. Don’t judge yourself like you’ve been doing countless times over years and years, just listen, and open your heart to that voice. It is not you. It is a story you told yourself long ago, or a story someone else told you long ago, that has been compounded daily by other similar stories, deepening your Samskaras, weighing you down, chattering constantly, telling you something that no real friend would ever say!
Be a friend to yourself now, in this moment. Accept that it’s only a story—it is not you, and never was you. And in this moment, drop all of that resistance, all of the mental chatter , and say to yourself, “Let...go, let... go, let... go”, as you breathe deeply and slowly in and out. It’s a very simple meditation, but very powerful. Meditation does not need to be done 20 minutes twice a day, or for hours a day on some retreat. Real meditation is learning to still the mind at a moment’s notice, even if just for a few minutes, freeing yourself up to open to new worlds. You are so much bigger than your story, so much richer than the poverty of the rut you’ve been treading. Believe and Be Love.