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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Monkey Mind Animal Signs

I am reading a good book these days by Natalie Goldberg called "Wild Mind". Natalie Goldberg also wrote "Writing Down the Bones", another very inspiring book for writers. Wild Mind is a "how to" book for writers, but it also has some information that I think is applicable to everyone.

Goldberg compares the "wild mind" to the "unconscious"- that rather zen like state of just "being". She explains that if you consider wild mind as a huge sky above you and put one dot up there with a magic marker, we as humans, tend to focus only on that dot. Goldberg explains the dot as being what Zen calls "monkey mind", or what western psychology calls the conscious mind.

Monkey mind becomes that voice that is your critique. It runs like a chatter in the background all the time telling you what you can't do, shouldn't do, or should do. It's the voice that prevents you from allowing yourself to let go and let be. Monkey mind is your control mechanism and it often keeps you very controlled. When you pay attention only to the dot, or the monkey mind, you miss a lot of opportunities. You try so hard to focus that you miss the scenery along the way.

Goldberg explains that it's necessary to write from your wild mind, the uninhibited, uncensored being, without listening to the monkey mind that says you aren't good enough, creative enough, or talented enough. That sounds like a good mantra for life in general. It's about living with a tad less focus so that opportunities are allowed to present themselves from our peripheral vision. When we don't focus so much on the monkey mind we allow ourselves to be more in touch with, and to acknowledge, our emotions and authentic selves. The real you is revealed.

We have a common expression of "monkey on your back". The monkey mind can be that rather relentless force that clings and just won't let go no matter how you try and shake it off. It is a burden that refuses to be ignored. You keep focusing back on your faults and shortcomings. You deny yourself free expression and unchecked emotion. You hold yourself back and punish yourself for being you. You force yourself to complete tasks just because somewhere in your mind you're "supposed to", even though you really don't "want to".

This theme is carried through in the significance of having monkeys come into your life, or having them as totem animals. As an animal sign, the monkey is seen as the animal that helps you connect with simplicity and the joy of living. According to Daniel Mapel in "Into the Heart of the Wild", the monkey can help you facilitate acceptance of yourself. The monkey helps nurture playfulness, curiosity and self-expression. Mapel explains that monkeys are a signal to us that we may be out of touch with our basic emotional and physical needs. Sounds like being focused too much on our minds, rather than our body and soul.

So perhaps taking monkey essence can help you let go of your monkey mind, and pay more attention to the lighter side of life. You can become less critical of yourself.

If all that talk of monkeys just sounds like chatter and has you more confused than anything, maybe it's time to just let go of figuring, calculating and trying to sort things out. Connect with your wild mind where anything can happen and you can be anything you want. Let yourself go unchecked for a bit and see what comes up and appears for you.

Who knows, maybe if you don't focus on that monkey mind dot, you'll be able to see a whole grove of banana trees!

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