Somewhere down the line I’ve developed the reputation among some people as that Zen guy.
That’s sometimes said while they extend their hands with their finger and thumb touching. They might even add an ohhmmm sound for effect.
It’s seems to describe for people someone who meditates and tries to be, as the comedian Eddie Izzard would say, relaxed and groovy.
And that’s hilarious because my mind rarely feels very Zen-like.
My Monkey Mind is Hyper-Active
In Buddhist circles, they often talk about the monkey mind. It describes the fact that your mind jumps frenetically from topic to topic like a monkey in a tree. A lot of days, I feel like I have a monkey island mind.
Because patience is not my go-to state of being. Being relaxed and groovy isn’t a natural wavelength for me. When I learned about the meditation practice as way to calm my mind, it sounded like a good idea.
But when I started a meditation practice, it didn’t come easily. OK, let me take that out of the past tense. It still doesn’t come easily.
Meditation doesn’t make my “ferret on amphetamines” attention mellow with a snap of the finger. It’s hard for me to sit still. It’s hard for me to concentrate on my breathing. It’s hard for me to not react to all the thoughts that keep popping up in my head.
Even though I try to meditate every day, it seems that I only get a good 20 seconds of calm in there. But I try not to get frustrated, because that would be really counter-productive…
It’s the Journey, Not the Destination
So if people really knew about the chaos of my mind, maybe they would give me a different name.
Or maybe, the fact that I’m working on it, that I’m practicing and looking for ways to bring my attention to the now, is enough.
As mindfulness becomes a more common topic in the mainstream world, it’s important to remember that it’s not a state to achieve but a tool to use in our daily lives.
Maybe the term Zen guy is not about who I am, but about the process I’m involved in. It’s about who I’m becoming.
Yeah, I like that.
So even though I still suck at meditating, you can call me a Zen guy if you want.
And I’ll keep practicing.