Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Many of the shamanic and psychological terms used in Chuck’s essays are defined in Tools & Definitions on our Psychotherapy website.
Students of meditation are well aware of the monkey mind, with its undisciplined, ADD, free-associative activity determined to derail any attempt to rein in its mental dominance of our energetic selves. Shamans have labeled the mind a foreign installation, seeing its alien energetic activity as frantic back and forth energy compared to the swirling circulative flow of the other vital energy centers of the body. One thing is certain, the mind is a conjurer, and left to its own devices it will monopolize our lives with thoughts that evoke all kinds of emotional activity that drain our vital energy. If we are ever to gain full possession of our energy to journey beyond the veils we must find a way to detach from the seductive control of the mighty conjurer, the mind.
Two dominant religious traditions, Buddhism and Christianity, offer images to address the challenge of the conjuring mind, each picturing a man and a tree. In Buddhism, Buddha sits utterly still beneath the bodhi tree as the conjurer floods him relentlessly with images beckoning his attachment. Similarly, Christ is utterly contained, nailed to his tree/cross as he detaches from his conjuring mind in his reconciliation with God. In mythology, Odysseus, like Christ, strapped himself to the tree/mast of his ship to refuse the call of the conjuring Sirens in order to survive his journey. These are dramatic examples of restraint from attachment to the conjurer’s offerings. Jeanne speaks more simply of detachment in the flow of everyday life. She coaches us to use our intent to refuse the conjurer by stating: “Don’t attach!”
I have found this practice extremely effective. There was a time when the conjurer could trap my energy in an obsessive mental process of worry as it projected countless scenarios that might possibly occur, some so frightening that they absolutely demanded attachment. Over time, I observed that almost none of these projected scenes ever came to fruition, though they might just as well have, given the emotional energy they had consumed. I also observed that when a real challenge presented itself I spontaneously handled it with no advance cognitive process. I eventually began to trust that I could count on my challenged self to act in my best interest and that the real trick was to empower that self with sufficient stored energy. The way to store energy was to cut off its depletion by not attaching to the incessant sales pitches of the conjurer. I learned to state my intent: Don’t attach! In the beginning, I’d state it incessantly, singing the don’t attach song, rapidly blocking the intensity of the conjurer’s intrusive thoughts. Today, I can state don’t attach, once or twice, and the thought and image disappear and calm emptiness is restored.
I agree with the shamans that the key is perseverance over time. The mind usually wins because it puts up a big fight in the short run and we are tempted to give up, give in, and simply feed its demand to perseverate. Defeated, we think: I really have to get back to learning to meditate. I suggest, keep it simple. You don’t have to sit still in a lotus position or strap yourself to a tree. Simply move along and state: Don’t attach! And, oh yes, then don’t attach to the outcome. In other words, suspend judgment, be persevering, and watch what happens!
As always, should anyone wish to write, I can be reached at: email@example.com or feel free to post a comment.
Until we meet again,