Recently I came across an article that talks about how our usual mind is like a monkey in a house with five windows. The five windows represent our senses and the monkey represents our mental consciousness. The monkey is restless and bounces around from one opening to the next, always on the lookout for something interesting.
It's an apt description of how I feel sometimes and the best way to calm it down is to focus on one thing at a time. Much like the grounding advice given to people experiencing an anxiety attack - find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste - it does work. At night when I head to bed, my monkey mind can not settle down. I tend to create all kinds of scenarios and imagine how I would react. But if I can get that monkey to just listen, to the wind or my own breath or to the patter of rain, sleep will soon be at hand.
But there is another monkey in my memory. Years ago I was having problems holding on to an unresolved conflict. I knew I needed to let go of pent up hostility, but I just couldn't. I was struggling and my emotions were holding me down. So I asked an old friend (and part time spiritual guru) Denny, to help me, to show me how to let it go. His response was clear and concise and perfect in it's simplicity.
Denny told me of an interesting method used to capture monkeys. The monkey trappers would place a small cage in the jungle and place a bunch of bananas inside of the cage and lock it. When a monkey come across this setup their natural reaction is to reach through the bars and grab the bananas. The bars are so close together that the monkey can't remove his hand without dropping the fruit. Even as the trappers approach, the monkey will not unclench his first. He is trapped by his own instinct and he could be free if only he could let go.
It was a light bulb moment for me and a lesson that has served me well over the years. I often visualize my own fist being unclenched. I long to be free and every day it becomes a more solid reality. I will not allow a monkey to rule my life.
|My husband and I with Denny in the middle.|