Monkey Mind & Monk Mind

I’m grateful for this phrase that my colleague and friend, Myriam Hadnes spoke on a recent video call. “Less monkey mind; more monk mind.” We were letting ourselves wonder about an upcoming virtual gathering of facilitators.

“Monkey mind” is for me the scattered and chattery mind. It’s very active, but not very clear. We’ve all got it.

“Monk mind” is for me a very centered presence that includes not only mind, but also heart and belly. It’s patient. It’s trust in essence.

So as, perhaps, to cultivate a bit of monk mind, below is a poem that I’ve enjoyed recently. It’s by Julie Cadwallader Staub, an American Poet living in Vermont. I love her invitation to fly on.

By Julie Cadwallader Staub

Consider the blackpoll warbler.

She tips the scales
at one ounce
before she migrates, taking off
from the seacoast to our east
flying higher and higher
ascending two or three miles
during her eighty hours of flight
until she lands,
in Tobago,
north of Venezuela
three days older,
and weighing half as much.

She flies over open ocean almost the whole way.

Oh she is not so different from us.
The arc of our lives is a mystery too.
We do not understand,
we cannot see
what guides us on our way:
that longing that pulls us toward light.

Not knowing, we fly onward
hearing the dull roar of the waves below.

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