3/11/10 - Alicia called me yesterday. She's engaged in a discipline that seeks to foster spiritual peace--you know, one of those dreaded cult things with deadly agendas like showing you how to make yourself calm and happy. She has fun with it. Part of the practice, as in many spiritual endeavors, is quieting the mind (turning off the internal dialog, inner silence, meditation, prayer, contemplation, etc.) as a means of cultivating detachment.
Part of her technique is creative visualization, which she uses to (among other things) get the ratta-tatta-tat in her mind to leave her alone so she can meditate. I love her imagery. It's not only a funny metaphor, but it's also accurate.
Alicia imagines her mind as a monkey.
It follows her around or sits on her shoulder or hides out in secret places, but it is never silent. It screeches nonsense and untruths. It throws stuff that monkeys throw, gets into mischief, breaks things, and requires constant supervision because it's capable of generating considerable unpleasantness.
The object is to get some quiet time from all that insane noise. It's a process that one can work on throughout life, with greater or lesser degrees of success.
It helps to have a great image to guide things along.
When it's time to meditate, Alicia puts her monkey in a pet crate. She turns the crate so its door faces away from her, which limits the monkey's view of her and mollifies it.
She gets some peace and quiet so she can get on with the business of being happy.
Is that a powerful strategy, or what?!