Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Monkey Mind

During the meditation portion of my transpersonal psychology class last semester, I heard a peculiar term – “monkey mind.” Monkey mind refers to how the mind seems to always be in motion and has trouble slowing down. Our thoughts are going a mile a minute and we have trouble controlling them.

During meditation, I found that when my body was quite, my mind wanted to break the nothingness and take over. My mind was telling me about all the things I needed to do, thoughts of friends, my schoolwork that I should look over, etc. And of course, once monkey mind started and I tried to quite my mind, more thoughts would surface. It caused me more mental pain to try to stop the thoughts then if I just watched them. I was to learn that that was exactly what I was supposed to do. Watch them and let them go.

I have been thinking about this in the context of being a religious seeker. Maybe one of the reasons I have trouble with identifying myself with a certain religion is because my thought process gets in the way. I find that most religions have similar values and ethics even if they have different interpretations of them. I have trouble with letting myself say that I am (fill-in-the-blank) because then I start listing through the things that each religion has in common or sometimes even the things that I don’t believe within the religion. I end up feeling that if I don’t believe everything, then I must not be a part of that religion.

I have been thinking about what it takes to declare oneself as Pagan/Christian/Jewish/etc. When I wrote about conversion last week, Cosette mentioned that most Pagans say that they “found, discovered, or learned” their religion. That made me wonder if most people consider themselves part of a religion through intuition or if it is a conscious choice that they make through the study of the religion. Could it really be as easy as saying “That’s what I am!”?

My monkey mind brings so many questions to the surface that it is no wonder that I have trouble calling myself anything but a seeker. Maybe I have to find a new way to approach this aspect of my life. Maybe it is okay to have doubts about certain aspects of a religion and still be considered a part of it. And then again, maybe I just have to learn to watch my monkey mind thoughts and let them go.

2 comments:

Jenavira said...

I admit that I sometimes feel like a hypocrite because I stopped considering myself Christian because of a few things which I didn't agree with, although I probably shared a large number of the basic beliefs and after having been Pagan for several years I probably share even more. But while there are also aspects of Paganism that I disagree with, somehow I have a much stronger emotional connection to Paganism that makes me want to work through and analyze those differences of opinion rather than just write it off as "not my thing."

I think that emotional connection has to be the deal-breaker. If you don't feel strongly motivated to belong to a group, particularly one that is (or should be) as deeply personal and emotionally important as a religious group, there's no reason to associate yourself with it.

Sojourner said...

I would agree that the emotional context of connection does have a strong impact on whether you join a group. I have never thought about it in that way.

...somehow I have a much stronger emotional connection to Paganism that makes me want to work through and analyze those differences of opinion...

Through this statement (and addressing it from a psychology standpoint), I can see how someone might be willing to resolve/analyze those differences when they feel more connected to it. When there is something that causes disagreement within a person's life, it needs to addressed and resolved. I see this as a good thing because in the end, it will most likely help them to strengthen their faith.

On the other hand if that "someone" has no reason or desire to resolve the issue, I can see how that person's faith in that belief system would be diminished and could possibly lose that emotional connection.

Would I be on the wrong track if I said that this may be a part (referring to emotional connection) of what “the mysteries" represent and/or stem from?