The man with the megaphone. Jumping around like a crazy monkey

Picture this: 

You are lying in bed, exhausted from a tiresome day. Rest. Finally. Finally some time to relax. But that brain of yours clearly thinks differently. All kinds of thoughts run through your mind. “Perhaps I should actually not have said that to my colleague”. “I mustn’t forget to go past the post office tomorrow.” “Did I actually confirm for next week?” “What would my love think about dinner tomorrow?”

More. Always more. And louder. Always louder. As if a man is standing behind your shoulder. Shouting things all the time. Through a megaphone, even, so that you are sure to hear it. Commenting on you. On the things you do. And on the things you don’t do.

And on top of that, your commentator jumps from one topic to another. Thoughts to the left, ideas to the right. Another idea and another. Like a monkey, jumping up and down, all the while screaming loudly. Continuously trying to get attention. Demanding attention actually. “Okay, we can forget about sleeping. Sigh.”

Sounds familiar? Then, read on.

You’re not alone. Everybody, I repeat, everybody is familiar with this. It’s just that some people seem to be able to deal with this better than others. I say “deal with this”, not “avoid”. That’s why I am at this retreat. To discover how to deal with this. At a meditation centre in Thailand.

These centres come in all shapes and sizes. Ranging from primitive (sleeping on a bamboo mat on the floor, getting up at 4am, no eating after lunchtime, no sex or other distractions such as reading, writing or being on the computer... no talking), to luxurious (a 5-star resort with delicious food, a great bed and WiFi).

My retreat is more of the luxurious kind. “It is my first time.” “Hunger makes me extremely moody.” “I can’t sleep on the floor with my bad back.” Blablabla. Blablabla.

So I am at a retreat. Busy with my baseball bat and net. Swinging around like a mad man. Chasing the megaphone man and the monkey. I can’t catch them nor knock them out. Turns out that the bat and the net aren’t the right tools.

My meditation teacher advises me to try and compete with the megaphone and the monkey instead of trying to knock them out. “Alright, I’m up for the challenge!” I crawl on my mat and get myself in that fabulously comfortable meditation position (legs crossed in an interesting looking plait) and tell the megaphone man: “Show me what you’ve got. Knock yourself out.”  And the thoughts and ideas come. And go. “Is that all you got?” I dare the megaphone man. And something else comes. “That’s it?” And more comes. “Anything else?” Nothing. Or actually, thud, another idea. And then nothing. I am sitting quietly, relaxed and content on my mat. In the most comfortable position ever.

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