When I meditate, I realise how often I feel myself to be like a drunken, mad fool.
I begin with the intention to empty myself, to find the stillness within, to melt away from the world of doing and find the world of being…
And for one glorious moment as I begin my meditation, I feel a surge of “Yes; this is what I need, oh what relief to be able to access this place between places in my life, I want more of this everyday, here comes freedom and peace…”
A few moments later and where am I?
I find that my mind has skewed off sideways, obviously with a bottle of strong spirits in its hands, and staggered itself into the gutter at the side of the road to play with last year’s dead leaves that are lying there in a mouldy heap!
I notice it and call out placatingly as if to a child, “Hey, hey, hey, come on now, this way, leave the dead leaves alone, come back to the middle of the path and lets continue.”
And I gently pull myself back to my intention on my path to stillness. Ah, bliss awaits…
Maybe one, two or three breaths later, it really does not take much for my mind to wander off and lose the way in its drunken state, and where do I find myself?
My mind has gone again! There it goes, madly charging off into the undergrowth, throwing things as it goes, leaping wildly over the grass and diving headlong into a bush of tangled vines and thorny prickles. It seems content to linger there in its delirious state, becoming entangled in the vines and scratched by the thorns.
Not again! I shake my head in disbelief and attempt to extricate my mind from the bush. It seems convinced it must untangle the bush before it can leave it, with the obvious result that it becomes more entangled than ever. I pull at it and soothe it and tell it it can come back to the bush later when it is sober if it must, but for now we must leave. At last, I manage to convince my drunken mind to leave the bush alone and I guide its swaying steps back to the path.
OK, breathe, that’s all I need to do. Just breathe…
What on earth?! How did my mind manage that? It has gone and found a multi-coloured hat, a roadside bollard (of course), and an easel and painting set, and is perched on the bollard in the middle of the road staring straight ahead and then swirling paint onto the canvas, muttering beneath its breath as it does so.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! My mind looks like such a ridiculous fool as it sits there attempting to paint the view in front of it, with the muddled picture on the canvas not bearing any resemblance to the road ahead at all. If my mind were a roadside artist earning its living from painting portraits of people and claiming them to be as, “realistic as a photo’!”, I would surely be broke.
I mutter to myself something along the lines of, “Wait till I get me home…”, and then attempt to make my mind put down its paint brush and come with me. My mind however has its own plans and decides it is high time to paint me instead and a few moments later I find myself engaged in a decidedly uncivilised brawl; with me trying to grab the paintbrush from my drunken mind’s hands and it furiously trying to dot paint on every part of me it can find.
I hear a shout from the edge of the road. A stranger is wandering along and calls out, “Why don’t you two drunken idiots stop your fighting and go home and sober up!” At which point I very quickly get the point, stop fighting myself, take yet another deep breath (but this time paying attention to it), straighten out my clothes and those of my still gently swaying mind, leave the mess of paint where it is and carry on down the path.
When eventually I do return home at the end of this little adventure, my mind has sobered up, and is suffering from a vague hangover and pangs of guilt. I realise that throughout that whole meditation I was present for maybe a whisker of a moment and spent the rest of the time being the rest of the cat chasing itself in circles, and I know that really I need start the process all over again. But, the world is calling, there are things to do, so I get up and get on, with my mind promising me that tomorrow it will be different, that tomorrow it will behave itself…