Friday, June 24, 2011

#341: Unquiet Brain... Running with the Monkey Mind.

Sometimes when I run, my mind slips easily into a quiet, contemplative state. I feel my breath, I hear my footsteps. I become empty.

Today, I was haunted by what the Chinese call the "Monkey Mind." My thoughts chattered away, bouncing from one place to another like monkeys playing in the tree tops. I had so much on my mind, Brother's cancer, my play, the house, even the blog. I found myself wondering how I would write about the run, all the while ignoring the run itself as I thought about ways to describe it.

I started to get a little frustrated. This isn't why I was on the road. I came out here to stop thinking about all these things for a few minutes. What was the point of doing this if running couldn't help me relax and clear my head? My Monkey Mind had me turned all inside out.

Then, at about the half-way point of my two mile run, I realized what I was doing wrong. I was denying my own thoughts, telling myself that they shouldn't be there. I tried a different tactic. I welcomed them in. "OK, Monkey Mind. I hear you. You have a lot to say. That's all right. You're part of me and part of my run today, and you're welcome to stay as long as you like.

And the darndest thing happened. Without my even noticing, the monkees stopped their chattering. It isn't as if somone threw a switch and they went away. It's just that when I finished my run, I realized that I had stopped hearing them. As soon as I stopped fighting them, they stopped bothering me.

I think Lao Tzu would have gotten a kick out of my run today. Something tells me that this was one of those life lessons that's about a lot more than just running.


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