Most of us live our lives hungry, hungry for love, attention, praise, success. But no matter how much we take in, it’s hard to be satisfied and feel full. We may get what we need momentarily, but then before long we’re craving more. It is easy to spend each day waiting for tomorrow when we will get what we dream of. Most think that tomorrow they will arrive at their goal, find a new job, have good weather, or finally, magically, meet the love of their life.
But when tomorrow comes it’s another day, just like this one. Unless we know what this day is, and how to live it fully and truly, the fulfillment we dream of never comes. In Zen this is called being a hungry ghost- someone at a banquet who eats and eats, but is still unable to taste the food, feel full or be nourished by it.
The good news is that we can learn to eat, digest and be nourished by all that comes to us. Zen practice is about stopping the merry go round of our minds and heart. We take our attention off the prizes we think are waiting for us, off being good enough someday, and realize we’re good enough now. At this very moment we are that which we seek so fervently.
How To Take The First Step
Stop For A Moment
Practice is about stopping. We stop our usual way of running, moving, chasing, fixing, thinking, doing and take a breath. Just a simple breath, just like one we take every moment of our lives, but pay no attention to. The first step is to take charge of our focus and pay attention to what’s happening right here, under our eyes, to the breath we are taking, this very moment. Without this precious breath and the one that follows it, we would not be anywhere. Strange, isn’t it, how we take this breath for granted. What else do we take for granted? It’s worthwhile to look and see.
Exercise: Paying Attention
Consider for a moment what you pay attention to all day long. What seems important to you, what do you take for granted and hardly attend to at all? Write it down. Do not judge your answers. Be honest and simple. As you keep track all week long, you’ll be amazed at what claims your attention, what you give your life force to.
Most of us spend our lives paying attention to the dreams created by our racing, scheming minds. We allow this Monkey Mind to rule us. The monkey mind is the mind that hops from person to person, job to job, desire to desire, thought to thought. It always wants more, never feels good and doesn’t now how to say thank you. It chatters endlessly and is an expert in spoiling, judging and criticizing everything. Sometimes it is very loud in our lives. Other times it settles down.
This monkey mind pursues that which has no value and doesn’t know how to find that which it is yearning for. In order to fill our hungry hearts, we must learn how to recognize and dissolve this monkey mind, to take our attention away from it, to turn our focus to what counts.
Exercise: Stop The Monkey Mind
Spend some time getting to know how the Monkey Mind is operating in your life. Much of our misery is caused by our own monkey mind. The first step is becoming aware. We need not hate, reject or try to get rid of it, just to recognize what’s going on. This recognition takes its power away. As we learn to make friends with this part of ourselves we help it to settle down and take its proper place. As you pay attention and stay in the present, little by little you will be returning to your original nature.
This is the part of yourself which knows the truth, is kind and filled with clarity and satisfaction. As this part of you grows, everyday life and the struggles it brings, will become transformed. Life will become fresh and new possibilities will then come to you and to those you interact with. Cc/author/2007
Copyright (c) 2007 Dr. Brenda Shoshanna