Monkey Mind. It’s what Buddhists call the mind that jumps from one worrying thought to another worrying thought, like monkeys swinging from tree to tree.
I am well acquainted with my Monkey Mind – especially since I’ve been working on my novella for Nanowrimo this month. I’m chugging along and it keeps saying, “This is terrible. Seriously. Why do you continue? You should scrap this.”
But I do my best to ignore it and I continue to write because if I listen to it, I’ll stop writing. I’ll be a quitter and the only thing worse than being a bad writer is being a quitter.
I know you’re familiar with Monkey Mind, because you’re listening to it all the time.
What if I miss my plane?
What if I don’t lose the weight before the reunion?
What if I fail as a parent?
Donald Trump is our President! He has no experience! I’m worried that he’ll get us into a war because some other world leader makes fun of his hair!
How do we handle Monkey Mind?
Focus on your breath. Focus on the present moment. Notice it and say, “Oh hello, Monkey Mind. You don’t bother me,” and continue on your way.
“Most sea turtles undergo long migrations, some as far as 1400 miles, between their feeding grounds and the beaches where they nest.”*
I thought of animals like the sea turtle who complete Herculean tasks as a part of just living. Since I started Nanowrimo and set a daily word count goal for myself, I’ve realized how it’s so important to stick to your daily goals in order to reach your End Goal. If I skip one day, not too big a deal, but if I fail to meet my goals two, three or more days, I’ve now got quite the task in front of me and it only adds to my anxiety.
Your good great health is built on a long string of days doing the right thing: eating well and exercising. If you skip too many days, you’re no longer healthy or fit and it’s just that much more difficult to reach your goal.
If you give 50% effort during several days of work per week (or month), the quality of your work (in general) suffers. You no longer have the respect of your peers, your boss(es) or your clients. Most importantly, you no longer have self-respect.
An off day is OK. But be sure to jump up and start your long journey right again the next day and catch up!
Each day is precious.
I’m still writing, just haven’t blogged about it. Thought I’d share the progress (and I want to hear from you, too!)
I am an entire day behind on Nanowrimo. As I wrote last night, I have been busy planning and executing my husband’s 50th birthday and it was WELL WORTH IT!
My children’s book is also progressing nicely, my teacher/friend is halfway through the Spanish translation. Yippeee! Somehow, it looks more real when I see progress that someone else has added to it.
When I realized I am not on pace with my Nanowrimo schedule (approximately 900 words/day), I started to feel a bit bad/sad/panicky. And then I was reading The Book of Joy and Desmond Tutu said something that gave me pause: sometimes, our ambition wrecks our happiness.
All the spiritual leaders I know have spoken about this. It’s FINE and GREAT to have ambition, as long as it doesn’t stress you out and cause you negative feelings. I don’t want to give up my goals, but I also don’t want to feel bad when I don’t reach my goals. I’ve always used stress to motivate myself (so my husband tells me). What to do?
Work towards them and remain flexible for a bend in the road. Continue working happily. Continue working through obstacles happily. Work around them and just remain equanimous.
We’re growing various plants in our backyard, including an herb garden and, of course, cactus. My favorite desert plant is the ocotillo. I see them growing magnificently in Usery Park (where they grow wildly and without irrigation) but in my own backyard, it’s taking its time. We don’t want the branches to grow out into the pathway, so we placed tiebacks on the branches to “encourage” and “redirect” growth in our desired formation.
Tiebacks work when the plant is still supple and maturing, and the tiebacks are gentle in their support. It wouldn’t work to have harsh restraints which could harm or kill parts of the plant.
Humans have tiebacks, too. They’re called habits. As with plant tiebacks, they’re most effective when we’re receptive and “supple” and when the habits are firm, but not too harsh.