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Taming That Unruly Monkey in the Mind

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

I was, and am a peace-seeker. As a child growing up amidst tumults of chaos, I sought peace, both on the inside and out.

As a young women in her 20’s , I quickly realized yoga was a path that might lead me to the peace I’d been longing for most of my life. The deeper I explored yoga, the more there was a lure to find tranquility that existed in silence and communion with some divine source seemingly greater than I.

Eventually I would learn to meditate (as if this can truly be taught, but must be experienced!). Through the sublime direction of Rolf Sovik, during my yoga & meditation teacher training at the Himalayan Institute, I was mesmerized. Now to be clear, I don’t use the word sublime haphazardly, like the word awesome, which seems to pepper my vocabulary a bit too freely like butter on popcorn. But Rolf was and still is the most genteel mannered, soft-spoken melodic-voiced teacher I have come across in my 3 decades of taking yoga and meditation classes. His guidance is both kind and yet direct. It was under Rolf’s tutelage there at the original Himalayan Institute in Glen View, Illinois, I recall being asked for the first times to sit erect on an old “Indian” blanket, cease talking (a miracle in deed!), and watch my seemingly hopeless mind bounce about like a hyperactive Super Ball, being hopelessly wrangled to stillness. Impossible, I thought. The back pain stabbed; the hips ached, and I was inattentive to Rolf’s blissful cuing to bring my mind back to the breath and the mantra. Dang, I couldn’t get beyond the pain and anxiety that the stillness brought on, let alone even delve into the 'focusing the mind' part for any significant amount of time before it would go gallivanting about.

Eventually, through much detached practice from the outcome, guidance, patience, and yes, grace~ the meditations started to bear the fruit of peace I had been seeking. There are still, of course, times my human nature battles pure consciousness, and I can’t quite seem to find a buoy due to the distractions of body, mind, and my ego. But the sweetness of the nectar found in those states between thought and identification with ego, in what one might call a meditative state, are sublime . . . a word I, as you know, rarely use!

It’s been about 24 years since I first taught meditation class and is still my favorite class to teach. But it is my personal meditation practice that has saved my life in real and metaphoric ways! The mindful presence, peaceful state which meditation fosters, have been the greatest gift I’ve received from the yogic tradition. It has had a long-lasting and deeply positive impact on all facets of my being. Quite simply, I’m able to quiet the monkey mind, and more often than not, venture down the “rest and restore” path within the autonomic nervous system, rather than the “fight, flight or freeze,” route, something, thirty years ago when I started, I felt was impossible.

Life, no matter how beautiful, has pitfalls of drama rife with opportunities to stress-out and lose our way. My wish for you is that you will find the enthusiasm and discipline to dip your toe into the tranquil waters of the meditative mind, and discover life can be even more beautiful in the stillness! . . . perhaps even sublime. Om Peace, Peace, Peace~Pamela

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