Monkey Mind In Spring
Spring is nearly here. I can feel it, see it, and even smell it in the air. The anticipatory excitement is building and there is a restlessness in my body and mind. I've been looking for buds on tree branches, even a speck of green, but it's too early. I know this yet I am still impatient.
My impatience isn't helped by the residual fogginess I've felt since daylight savings. There's a fair bit of ice and snow around still, and no, I can't go outside without my parka just yet. Yup, I live in Toronto and spring comes when it comes. I swirl in and out of the whirlwind of analysis and subtle hints of how spring will somehow change my life for the better. These thoughts keep me distracted from being in the here and now. It is a perfect example of what is known as Monkey Mind; a Buddhist term referring to our unsettled, chattering minds incessantly searching for anything other than the present moment. Monkey Mind is part of being human and can exhaust us if we don't consciously notice it, and then release the urge to follow the insatiable desire to distract. If and when we do take the bait of distraction, we end up feeling tired but wired. This is because the peace and joy we are seeking is buried underneath the racing thoughts and narratives we create. Having compassion and non-judgement towards our Monkey Mind is important because it is not separate from who we are. In fact, I believe it exists to teach us about ourselves so that we become more aware. Here's wise and funny quote by Chelsea Richer that captures the reality of any type of awareness practice: "To earn the trust of your meditation, you have to visit it every day. It's like having a puppy!"
So rather than take myself down the rabbit hole of analysis about my desire for spring, I decided to sit with the restlessness. What revealed itself to me was a sense of longing. A deep longing - to feel the warm sun on my skin, to ride my bike without having to be bundled up, to see flowers bloom, and to feel my bare feet on thawed earth. The longing is familiar, there's even a touch of sadness. I feel more at ease as I remember other times in my life when I have longed for things or people. This was the bud I had been looking for - to be with the exquisite experience of longing.