fireflies and monkeys

In yoga we call the ever wandering, ever chattering, ever jumping from one thought to another in one’s head “monkey mind.” I really love that image. Monkeys are fidgety little buggers, and I know exactly what monkey mind is all about without ever needing an explanation. I like to think of the little moments of clarity that you begin to experience with consistent yoga practice as fireflies. It takes a lot of discipline to stand still enough for one to land on you, and as soon as you realize it’s there monkey mind chases it away. It’s a frustrating conundrum, but with practice you can tame the monkey.

After a few months off, I’ve been back in a very consistent practice for a little over a month now. Today, I saw a firefly. After an hour and a half of incredibly hot (103 degrees!), incredibly rigorous (each new teacher I try out gets more and more intense), and, you guessed it, incredibly detoxifying yoga, it landed right on my belly. We were flat on our backs (finally), and refocusing our minds on slowing down the breath. This was a real chore. After several moments here, she had us place our left hand over our belly, and our right hand over our heart. Eyes closed, breath slowing, connected to my source. Grounding into the earth and feeling the energy of the room sink into me. In this moment I felt, for the first time in ages, an incredibly deep care and appreciation for what my body had just done. Rather than wondering if this time on the mat would make a difference the next time I tried on skinny jeans, rather than speaking ill over my pudgy belly for not being as tight as I’d like it to be, rather than criticizing every bump and curve, I felt such respect for the work my instrument had just completed. In that moment, my body was just that- an instrument, rather than an ornament. The firefly had landed.

Just as quickly as it appeared, monkey mind tried to catch it and it flew away. I chased it for a while but, once it’s gone… it’s gone.  That’s the thing about fireflies. Just when you think you’ve crept up on one, his shiny little butt lights up on the other side of the yard. Then, he’s gone. Just a glimmer every few moments, but out of reach.

I know that if I keep coming back to my mat, I will see more fireflies. As we go deeper into times of meditation and focus on connecting to our life source, those moments of clarity will come more often, and hang around a little longer. As long we let them be and enjoy their light without bothering them, they will stick around.

It’s all about taming that damn monkey. They say that it takes around three months of consistently coming to your mat for the spiritual, emotional, and mental benefits of the practice to be realized in every day life. My monkey is real curious, so we’ll see, but I’m enjoying the fireflies as they come to me.

After a day like this, it feels most fitting to end with a…

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