The expression monkey mind is an ancient Eastern metaphor for the constant chatter of our everyday consciousness. Just as a group of monkeys in a cage leap about from one side to another in a chaotic cacophony, so too do our thoughts and feelings often bombard us in quick and, at times, random succession. The goal of many meditation practices is to tame the monkey mind. For those of us who have meditated or attempted to do so, the monkey mind analogy is clearly on point.
And then there is my cat. Anyone who has a cat and observed them know that they live in the moment. Presumably their brains have evolved for that purpose only. They know when they want to eat, to eliminate wastes, to chase an object that is moving, lie down and sleep. Being a cat they have little choice as to how their minds work. I sometimes attempt to be like my cat when I meditate.
Being free of thoughts of past or future is extraordinarily difficult for human beings. It is not in our nature to do so. Most likely the ability to examine and past and plan for the future co-evolved with our expanded consciousness. But as we all know the price of all that excessive worrying and obsessional planning–our own suffering.
So next time you attempt to quiet your mind–channel a cat. It will be a challenging and interesting experiment. Just stop short of licking yourself in public. And besides you might just wind up with a hair ball.