I have always admired buddhist monks. They seem so... content. So disciplined. So focused on the HERE and NOW, which for our Western culture seems almost impossible. Our mind is forever going from the past, regretting our past choices (''I shouldn't have been such a doormat in high school, no wonder I was bullied''/''I shouldn't have married him, why didn't I see this catastrophe of marriage coming?''/''I should have studied harder, then I would have got an A,'' etc.) and fearing the future (''Am I going to be single forever?''/''When will I find another job in the times of the recession?''/ ''Will I even get my pension when I get old? Who's going to take care of me?'').
See what I mean?
The buddhists call this ''monkey mind.'' The term describes the restless and unsettled mind (which we all from time to time have) which goes on and on, never stopping in the present. But what if we could train ourselves to stay in the present? What would our lives be like? Much more focused and less stressful, I can tell you that:)
When I feel overwhelmed by my monkey mind, I do this simple and short exercise:
Sit in a comfortable position. It doesn't even have to be a full lotus or half lotus. You can just be comfortably sitting in a chair. Sit up straight and take a deep breath. While you breathe in, think ''breathing in, I know that I am breathing in'' and when you breathe out, think ''breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.'' Repeat as many times as you want.
After a few repetitions, I usually realize that in this moment, I am safe and that all is well. My fears are somewhere in the future. And I cannot control the future. I can only control the present. So I practice breathing:)
It may happen that after doing this exercise, you monkey mind will go back to its full throttle. Unfortunately there is no fixed formula that will ''cure'' your mind. You will have to make a pact with yourself that you will practice being in the present until the day you die.
I have been practicing being in the present for more than a year now and I still catch my monkey mind dwelling on the past or escaping into the future. It's not easy at all. But totally worth the effort:)
I think that Master Yoda (I'm a Star Wars fan, by the way:)) would say: ''Much to learn you still have, young padawan.'' :D
Yep, I do.
May the force be with you;)