A little over six months ago, I started walking three miles a day in what ended up being a successful attempt to lose weight. To be honest, I never enjoyed my walks very much. Every day my mind kept saying, "I can't do this, I really can't do this. Please take me home now." Was it that I didn't have the physical energy to continue my walk? Physically I was okay. I could have been better on the days when it was 95 degrees outside, but still the actual process of moving my legs and walking in a circle five times was doable. The problem was the voice in my head that would simply not leave me alone. Everyday was a challenge for me, because everyday the voice told me that I needed to stop walking and go home and relax. Walking with my constant negative mental chatter is like having to hang out with a bored three year old for the afternoon, as there was constant whining, complaining, and asking for treats. As it turned out, after a couple of months I added another mile to my walk to make it four miles a day. I knew that I had to continue to walk so that I could fit into my clothes again; I had gained twenty pounds since my wedding two and half years ago. Every day, my mind would start with its barage of complaints and reasons why I needed to stop walking and go home. What got me through was having the awareness that yesterday I thought that I couldn't complete my walk and yet I did it any way, and the day before that, and the day before that. I had to look back at my walking history and notice the pattern that even if I felt as though I couldn't make it through my walk and I was just too hot and bored to continue, I could do it; I had been doing it.
I go through this same process with sitting for meditation. My mind thinks up a hundred reasons why I should not take a few minutes out of my day to spend with myself in contemplation and meditation. I'm starting to become aware that throughout the day, my mind is engaging itself in a useless, negative, and destructive conversation about any number of unimportant and meaningless topics.It says, "you can't, you can't, you can't! you simply must not!" It rarely tells me that I can do anything, or that I am a capable or worthwhile person. All of this nonsense is nothing more than the anxious thoughts of a bored mind. None of it is based in reality.
Thank you to all of the teachers and friends that have come into my life to teach me about becoming aware of the monkey mind and its antics. Real and lasting peace is the product of a purified mind.