Lately, I’ve been dealing with a relative of monkey mind I am calling crabby mind. They may be far apart on the biologic tree of life, but they are kissing cousins on my meditation mat.
I’ve turned into a real crab.
No, I didn’t wake up one morning to discover I was a decapod crustacean of the infra-order Brachyura, sort of like Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, the sales agent in “Metamorphosis,” who wakes one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a giant dung beetle.
I’m not covered in a thick exoskeleton and I don’t have 10 legs. But I’m a real crab, nonetheless.
The other day I was trying to figure out why my cell phone was acting so weird. The person trying to help me, well, let’s say explaining techy stuff in English wasn’t one of his superpowers.
He would begin a sentence, and not a few words into it, I would interrupt, anticipating he had misunderstood my question. I could have calmy let him finish, so we could calmly proceed to the next question, but no, I was not having it.
After a few exchanges like these, I finally caught on–crabby mind had taken center stage in my mind. I apologized, but it was too little too late on that one.
This morning I exchanged the usual greetings to my housemate, but within three seconds I answered a simple question in an irritated tone.
And a few days ago I texted someone who, well, sucks at texting. We won’t go into that one.
Yes, we all have these kinds of moments; yet, I am embarrassed to admit this. My responses were mine. I was crabby.
When I chose “crabby” from my mental response menu, well… it happened so darn fast!
Many folks complain about monkey mind-meaning their mind feels restless, and jumps from one thought to the other, like a monkey moving quickly from tree to tree in their native habitat.
This week I’ve been dealing with a relative of monkey mind I am calling crabby mind.
They may be far apart on the biologic tree of life, but they are kissing cousins on my meditation mat.
And while we are in true confessions mode, my monkey mind still shows up from time to time. Yes, even after 40 years as a practicing Buddhist. And that monkey can be a real drama queen sometimes!
Just as I have learned how not to indulge my monkey mind, I am learning how to shut down my crabby mind.
And I need to be a quick study on this one!
I know it makes no sense to get crabby about things that don’t matter all that much.
Some things that trigger my crabby mind don’t even qualify as first world problems.
At this point in this email you are probably waiting for some cool hack, some valuable insight, or some trick to nip our irritations in the bud.
Maybe we are just too conditioned by our streaming services to expect denouements. You know, the last part of a film or narrative that draws the strands of the plot together and resolves lingering questions.
All I can say to those who have been affected by my crabbiness this week, I’m really sorry and I will try better.
Winston Churchill once said:
In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.Sir Winston Churchill
I just bring myself back to the breath or the body, and try to say something soothing to myself, like:
My dear, you’re being such a crab, but let’s work on this together, shall we?
The essence of Mahayana Buddhism is expressed in the four bodhisattva vows, one of which is:
Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to end them all.
Falling short again and again, I find consolation in my humanity, and recommit to the unfinished spiritual work ahead.
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