Monday, October 4, 2010

Taming the Monkey Mind

Most of what the mind does is to churn the same thoughts over and over. One of the goals of Taoist meditation and Qigong is to tame this "monkey mind" so we can complete one of the three main goals of practice: regulation of the mind (the other two are regulation of the breath and body). Without regulation of the mind, regulation of the breath and body are impossible. This is why Taoist meditation practices are important as a component of a program for improving health and energy.  The ultimate goal is much deeper, however. "Attaining the Way" is that ultimate goal which is sought by Taoists.

Tranquility of the mind and tranquility of the breath are inextricably linked.  That is why many of the meditation approaches devised by Taoists use the breath as a vehicle for realizing the Way.  Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang has published the excellent book, Qigong Meditation.  Embryonic Breathing, which is an invaluable resource for understanding ancient documents which describe the meaning and intent of meditation breathing practices that have been historically employed by Taoist masters.  He points out that the first goal is to attain a peaceful mind.  Deep, profound breathing via the lower dantien is a means of achieving this goal.  The lower dantien, centered in the body below the navel, functions as the major center for breath origin and circulation of energy up (Du meridian) and down (Ren meridian) the torso.  This circulation helps regulate the spirit (shen) by cultivating space within the mind.

I was listing to an audio presentation by Dr. Wayne Dyer, a couple of days ago.  This presentation is a part of his book, Getting in the Gap.  This is another approach to help tame the monkey mind, and the image of returning to the space between thoughts is useful to illustrate that meditation methods are designed to create this sense of openness, space and tranquility.  As the mind becomes more tranquil, the breathing becomes more regular, relaxed and the respiratory rate is reduced.  For those who have trouble using the breath as a vehicle, I recommend his method or other methods that return the mind to one central point, like vipassana.

A helpful resource for learning how to use the breath as a vehicle for transformation is the audio presentation by Bruce Frantzis, Tao of Letting Go.  In this audio tape, the listener is guided in a progressive series in how to experience the use of the breath to obtain inner transformation via the water method of Taoist meditation.  This method is a gentle but very powerful method of practicing and allowing tranquility to manifest in your body, mind and emotions.  I have attended several of Bruce's workshops and highly recommend this tutorial for obtaining mental tranquility and spiritual advancement.

Use these methods to tame the monkey mind for obtaining psychological as well as spiritual maturity in your life.  The world can use more people who are capable of using the power of tranquility to deal with the difficult situations that life sometimes presents us.  And life regularly presents difficulties.  These inner transformation methods are essential tools for helping us along the the Way, or Tao, and for seeing our difficulties as transient and possible sources of opportunity. 
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