When Your Monkey Mind is Cluttered
My son and I went to visit my neighbors today to drop off a daily dose of vitamin A via some persimmons from our tree. Two ragged looking women and three very cute, very excited shih tzus opened the door. June couldn’t find her ticket to tonight’s Adele concert. Can you imagine? Gina had gotten their tickets in April. The show was rescheduled to November. They’ve been anticipating for how many months, and now they can’t find one of the tickets.
Oh, my GAH!
I briefly commiserated, Chance gifted the two persimmons, and I suggested a 15-minute nap or a walk in her garden while enjoying her persimmon. “When the mind is at ease, important things can float to the surface, like a ball in a pond.” Her face immediately relaxed. “You’re right,” she said. “Thank you,” and we said our goodbyes.
In a myriad of thoughts and worries, everything gets swept up into a tumultuous current and you get lost in the chaos. In a calm pool, we can see things clearer. Adding an external distraction, like enjoying a delicious persimmon could transport June to the present moment, away from the plague of “oh, craps” and “what ifs.”
Stop Thinking About It
My childhood best friend, um…what’s his name? Just kidding. Sean used to tell our friends, “Stop thinking about it and you’ll remember.”
Everyone listened to Sean. He was the smartest person we all knew. He had like a 150 I.Q., got in the 99% percentile on the ASVAB. I would go over to his house and find a large electronic board taken apart to find out it was a really cool game he got for Christmas, but instead of playing it, he was taking it apart to see how it worked.
Anyway, whenever one of us couldn’t remember something, he would tell us that. And we were all amazed and laughed when 5 minutes later we would blurt out the thing.
- That word we can’t quite think of.
- The name of the person we just met.
- The title to your favorite song.
We end up in this futile loop of associated pictures, people, and words that are not the thing we’re thinking about. (Hmmm…is that kind of like the Tao?)
Breaking the Cycle of Cluttered Thinking
To escape this endless round-a-bout, Tanner Christensen says we “must force our mental processing to break away from it.”
Another way to say this is “distract the monkey mind from going in circles.” Release your attachment. The stronger the effort in a situation where there’s a strong attachment, the further the thing stays. When a child tries to paddle water to get a ball closer to the side of the pool, what happens? It gets further away.
In essence, the more effort we put into thinking about that thing, the less chance we have actually recalling it.
Quiet the Monkey Mind
I text June, “How’s that persimmon?”
She responded, “Delightful! Thank you so much for sharing!
My clearer mind reflected on throwing away ticket stubs, programs and other event memorabilia, de-cluttering a drawer.”
The story ends happily. They went anyway and were able to get in with their credit card receipt.
Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.
Robert Louis Stevenson