Our monkey mind trundles away making constant demands of the body. The busy mind cares little if the body is tired and unwell or is being stressed too far. It presses the body to carry on regardless, often resulting in exhaustion and depletion. It gives little attention to results that cannot be seen and often views restorative activities such as sitting still, meditation, being in nature, reading, art, enjoying being with others, hobbies and fun activities as a waste of time.
To change this means convincing the monkey mind that there must be time allocated for restorative activities – the mind will resist this at first, but regular practice will overcome this resistance in time. The following exercises helped me to start a small, but regular, spiritual practices that have benefited my life immeasurably.
Set a timer for five minutes and sit still.
Don’t worry about what you are thinking, just let the thoughts be – don’t fight anything – just be. While traditional meditation is sometimes hard because the busy mind interrupts with things that we should be doing or dwells on past pain, five minutes is easier. We can stop for five minutes.
Develop a simple routine
The monkey mind doesn’t like change – it likes things to stay the same. But the monkey mind will accept things once they become routine. So develop a simple routine that signals time for rest and recuperation. Ten minutes is a good start, ten minutes is manageable. Set a reminder or alarm for every day.
Do the same thing each time – it could be making a cup of tea and sitting down to drink the whole thing without getting up to do anything else, or ten minutes reading something uplifting – a book of meditations, poetry, novel or biography. You could light a candle or oil burner, or sit at a window looking out onto the garden. It can be anything you find restful. But make a little ritual out of it, small and simple enough that your monkey mind barely notices the change.
The monkey mind won’t notice the change but you will, and from these small seeds you can grow a spiritual practice that will help bring joy and peace into your life.