The Monkey Mind
It has been called the'' monkey mind''. It is that stream
of consciousness that keeps flitting from one thing to another like a
monkey jumping from branch to branch
Even when you are
concentrating your mind drifts off to fantasise about something you are
going to do next weekend or an unresolved problem you must face tomorrow.
But you have the power to stop the antics of this monkey mind and
achieve the " quiet or still'' mind that is essential to develop your
spiritual nature. Meditation is the method for exercising this
An Inner Centre of Peace
pressure of the world increase and multiply , many persons are turning to
the practice of meditation as a step toward a calmer life, toward the
release of strength and wisdom in their lives, and most important, toward
direct realisation of the wellspring of strength and peace within
In this spiritual search we must not lose sight of the
fact that it is an inner journey. For just as the ocean has quiet depths,
untroubled by agitation on the surface, so has every human. In those
depths -the true centre and source of all that we are- abide stillness,
peace and beauty. And we can reach this inner centre
focused on the inner centre can release the power of the divine potential
that is true spiritual nature of every man and woman. But most of us,
engrossed in the activities and self centred endeavours of everyday life
in the physical world, shut out our spiritual nature and the light that
flows through it from the one Energy Source
It is a natural law
that our attachments and our constant busyness- our fears, desires,
habits, doubts and judgements - severely limit the amount of power we take
By meditation we can remove the obstacles so that the door to
those spiritual levels of consciousness can be opened. Then creativity and
inspiration flow into our lives, reducing the urgency of our problems and
allowing us to express love and peace in all that we do.
Meditation is perfect stillness -silence of the body, silence of
speech, and silence of mind.
To find stillness of mind we have to
learn the delicate art of allowing our actions, our thoughts and our
feelings to be whatever they are, but not let them control us. We cannot
force the mind to be still, but we can withdraw our consciousness from its
restlessness. Meditation is our deepest natural state -our pure
consciousness - which we experience once our minds stop being busy . It is
difficult for us because it is really doing "nothing''- it is just being
what we are .
A Science Centuries Old
Meditation has been a central focus of most spiritual
traditions, but because it takes place in silence and alone , it is less
well known than more social practices like preaching and singing ,
However, precise instructions in meditations set down thousands of years
ago by the Indian sage Patanjali, are still available to us today,
stressing the need for a pure life based not on greed and sensuality, but
on harmlessness, truthfulness, simplicity, and
Patanjali's first instruction to the mediator is to"
hinder'' or slow down the" modification'' of the mind - to stop it from
identifying with , or responding to, stimuli. He then sets out the
following four steps necessary to master the art of meditation:
To observe with
undivided attention develops the awareness or "mindfulness'' that is
essential in meditation. We must be continually aware of the conditioning
that lies behind our thought-feeling and try to act more and more from the
centre of stillness, which is our real Self.
Concentration is necessary
to discipline the "monkey mind''. We must learn to hold the mind steady on
a physical object an idea, or a revered figure, and bring it back when it
slips away. The mind tries to take control , but by carefully watching the
process of our thinking we can learn to ensure that we and not the mind,
determines the content and activity of our consciousness.
Meditation proper begins where
active thought ceases and one becomes aware of the inner meaning of the
object of meditation. It is like going from one-pointedness to no point
and thus experiencing wholeness.
In this final stage the
meditator becomes completely one with the object of meditation. This
brings about an expansion of consciousness that lifts one out of the
little self into a greater Self . There is no longer an "I and an "it"
being meditated upon. There is only the One Reality.
Each person tends to have his or her own way
of meditation, but the following general techniques are common to all
1. Meditate regularly at the same time each
day in a private place.
2. Sit in a comfortable position with spine
3. Relax all muscles- deep breathing is helpful.
Deliberately withdraw your attention from all outer stimuli.
Practice one of the specific techniques outlined below.
6. Radiate the
peace you have experience outward to the world.
7. After about 15
minutes slowly come back to normal consciousness.
As aids to
stilling the mind, several specific methods are used by meditators, some
of which are outlined below:
A. Concentration On Breathing
Concentrate on the breath going in and out of the
nostrils. Do not try to count breath; let them flow naturally, but focus
your awareness on breathing.
This keeps your concentration in the
present moment- the only gateway to higher consciousness.
B. Using Mantras
Mantras are words that
by their special vibrational qualities, link us with the spiritual levels
of consciousness. Chanting a mantra like the ancient Indian
amen is the English equivalent ) is a powerful aid in meditation.
C. Focusing on an Object or Idea
or an aphorism such as "I am one with the Divine" can be used as a focus
to initiate meditation.
D. Emptying The Mind
Many meditators simply try to empty the mind or still its
activities, knowing that if this can be achieved an expansion of awareness
Techniques that interfere with one's control of the
mind are not recommended as they can cause serious harm to the individual
both physically and psychologically. The use of drugs as aids to
meditation is also discouraged, for though they may open up paranormal
awareness, drugs do not take consciousness to spiritual levels. In fact
all practices that either promise to awaken psychic faculties or encourage
the meditator to give control of the mind to external agencies are not
part of true
The Purpose of Meditation
The ultimate goal of meditation is the same as that of
yoga - to allow the individual self to experience the greater Self, the
Oneness which we can think of as God or Nature.
This experience is
the greatest spiritual achievement any individual can enjoy.
To order or borrow the
Suggestions for Further Reading
Approaches to Meditation,
Meditation: A Practical Study,
Finding the Quite Mind,
Concentration and Meditation,
Concentration, An Approach to
Hao Chin, Jr.
The Silent Encounter,