Oh, monkey mind. We go way back, rachmiel, so you're not alone
Here are two threads I made recently on the subject:viewtopic.php?f=45&t=15023viewtopic.php?f=77&t=14887
First, one thing relentless monkey mind has taught me is that it does not impact our natural awareness and recognition
. You recall what monkey mind said and did, even while fully embroiled in it. There is awareness and recognition during distraction. Our task is to examine our relationship to the distraction and therefore the suffering within it, not to somehow make a better, more aware mind.
Here is what I've found helps:
1.) It's impossible to gain insight into monkey mind while reacting to it. Therefore, instead of engaging in a mental tug-of-war, practice equanimity: you neither want the thought to stay nor go away, it simply isn't interesting.
This monkey mind has operated your whole life and likely lives before. It's not something foreign to oppress or try to crush through selective attention. I found I was spending my meditation trying to crush thoughts. So when the volition waned, thoughts always overwhelmed me. It created a lot of aversion towards the whole experience.
This aversion creates tension and thus feeds the fire of agitation. This article and especially the section "Bringing Thoughts to the Path" have been very helpful for me: http://www.purifymind.com/ObstaclesPath.htm
2.) Once more stabilized in equanimity, you'll experience moments of monkey mind without being distracted by it
. With practice and relaxation, you'll see the seed of the thought, its arising, what it does, then its cessation.
Be very delicate in your mental "touch". You might habitually crush thoughts as soon as you notice them, which is a form of aversion. Think of the thoughts like a bird you want to study. You can't move too quickly or be too loud or it'll fly away. The article I linked explains this in more detail.
3.) This may make you notice that there is really no inherent suffering or influence in these thoughts from their own side. In fact, through choosing equanimity instead of suppression, they seem to calm down on their own. So then it's worthwhile to investigate why some thoughts are distracting and others aren't.
4.) I've noticed that before monkey mind goes nuts, there's a feeling of "lifting" off the object, and a mental momentum pulling away. I think it's attraction/clinging, motion away from the present reality of meditating. This moment is often overshadowed by the experience of distraction.
But what drives this pulling away? I'm still investigating all of this, but it seems like a subtle dissatisfaction with the present moment. Not obvious "bad smell" or "annoying coworker" dissatisfaction, but the dukkha the Buddha talked so much about. In one of my threads, someone described it as "the vibration of our neuroses".
I haven't gotten to the bottom of this yet, but I feel like my relationship with monkey mind is changing. That article especially has helped meditation start to feel interesting and helpful again instead of a frustrating, distracted waste of time. If we're going to have this experience of monkey mind, we might as well learn what we can from it
I'll also throw out there that meditation time is a microcosm of our state of mind the entire day or night before. If we're constantly distracted and do nothing about it during the day, or have restless dreams, then it'll be that much more of a challenge to find stability and equanimity while sitting down to meditate. In what ways do you give into distraction throughout the day?
Hope that helps.
On hiatus from Dharma Wheel since 9/30/16.