Mental Discipline for that Monkey on My Back by chubbyskinnybrowngirl
As Michellene led us through our Blissology practice last night, there was one thing she said that brilliantly stood out to me; “people don’t realize that yoga is a mental discipline much more than physical”. As we lay in shavasana at the beginning of class, she invited us to calm our monkey brains as she sprayed deliciously relaxing aromatherapy above us. Ahhhh, yes, I could definitely use a break from my very busy monkey brain this week.
Sure, I’ve been told this a million times, “detach from your thoughts”, “simply allow yourself to observe them”….WHAT??? Sure it sounds AMAZING (in theory) to be able to calm my thoughts or detach myself from my busy mind. Heck my busy mind often produces way too many unwanted, almost involuntary emotional responses or worse yet, hours of obsessive analysis and over-contemplation. I’m one of those people who hate to sit in spiritual or emotional discomfort. Usually for me, comfort often comes through understanding. So I find, when I’m in thoughts of discomfort, my monkey brain pursues understanding by thinking it up and down, near and far, until I come up with resolutions or understandings that allow me to tie a pretty bow around my discomfort and store it away in my “It’s Okay” box. Quite frankly, this gets frigging tiring! I know way too much time and effort is often expended on things that shouldn’t take so much of my time, attention and attachment. But how does one detach from their thoughts?
But as always, my wise guru put her direction into a very practical example that made perfect sense. She guided us ever so gently and easily; “Imagine yourself being in a foreign city, sitting on a bench, watching a beautiful sunset. Feel that calmness and the awe of that moment. Of course, you’ll notice the people who walk by in front of you: their clothes, maybe their smiles, maybe their interactions…but as they pass, so too does your attention on them. They come, they go and you are very much aware but indifferent to their presence; you are observing them but detached from them.” Huh! Interesting! Yes, I sorta get it now.
So that’s what I did last night. As I relaxed and started to just breathe, I began to watch these thoughts come and go – these small natterings of remnant feelings throughout this week, the should’s, the should not’s, the past few weeks discomforts…and magically the Monkey found another branch to hang off of temporarily. The glimpse of observation without attachment gave me a bit of rest and a smidgen of hope. It ispossible to quiet that monkey brain. It ispossible to not spend a lot of energy uselessly fighting these thoughts out of my mind; there is a more peaceful and restorative way of surrendering them.
Last night for the first time, I simply watched my thoughts pass by, as I humbly took in the beautiful experience of breathing and stretching before that beautiful sunset Michellene created for us last night. It was wonderful, timely and restful. My monkey brain and grateful heart thanks her. <3