Over the last week or so, I've had a bit of trouble with my sleep. I can fall asleep at night easily, but I get up and can't go back to sleep. The sun sure seems bright even at 4 AM and slips in through the blinds on our windows. And I can't fall asleep when the room is lit.
I am reading this book called Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. These are her memoirs of her travels through Italy, India and Indonesia - in that order. I am on the India bit right now. I'll write more on the book once I am done with it, but there is this interesting part that I want to talk about now.
She talks of this concept of a "monkey mind" - a mind whose thoughts behave like monkeys, jumping from one tree limb to another, stopping in between only to scratch themselves or howl. If you tell the monkey to just sit still in a corner, it just will not. But if you give it a pile of 10,000 buttons and tell it to move them from the pile to a new one, it just may do that.
If you try to meditate by just not thinking about anything, it's pretty hard. For a lot of people. Certainly is for me. But if you repeat a mantra over and over in your head, it kind of does the trick. The mantra doesn't have to be Om Namah Shivaya or something religious, it can be any random word that you pick up and choose to repeat. And you know what? It works. It's strange how I needed an American writer to re-enlighten me on the ancient wisdom from my own country. But it definitely helps relax my mind and fall asleep.
By the way, when I bought the book, I knew it was being made into a movie but I didn't know that the movie stars Julia Roberts. Now that I come to think of it, there was quite a stir in the Indian media surrounding her visit to India for the filming. This is one of those rare instances when I am reading the book before watching the movie.