from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Friday, 3 May 2013

monkey mind (business as usual!)

Now that I can take a quiet moment here on Skye simply to sit before going out for the last time before the long drive home tomorrow, I notice how caught up I have been, as is natural and human, in my emotional reactions to the last weeks and the landscapes in which I find myself.

Into my inbox this morning pinged my daily Buddhist quote:

'The crucial point is to maintain constant vigilance over and awareness of our mental state so that, at the moment that afflictive emotions rise up, they will not trigger a chain of deluded thoughts. Thus, we neither let desire overwhelm our mind, nor do we repress it while leaving it intact in a hidden corner of the mind. We simply become free from its alienating power.' 

- Matthieu Ricard, “Working With Desire”

Ricard was writing a while ago so his style might seem old-fashioned, but the message doesn't change: we can free the mind by noticing how caught up we become in habits of thought and emotional patterns of craving or pushing away.

At last, after so many years' practice of watching my thoughts, I now notice that I do notice when my mind is hijacked by a bumpy stream of reactive thoughts; and it's rather frightening to see how much of the time that happens. I also notice that, since my meditation practice has become irregular while I've been away, I haven't immediate access to a still ground of being in which to rest. So I notice too that while I'm aware of the detrimental effects of not meditating and how easily my mind resumes its switchback course and takes 'me' with it, I'm still not prioritising even just 15 minutes of meditation, or even attention to my breath.

And 'monkey mind' really is monkey mind: last night it chattered away in a kaleidoscope of rather hyper trivia, non-specific anxiety, and trite little jingles well into the early hours. I could have got up and meditated, or practised yoga, for 10 minutes; instead I lay there, victim of a mental and emotional hijacking, for hours.

The good thing is that at least I noticed.

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