Keep Me Where The Light Is

24 Oct

When I was maybe 3 or 4 years old, my Dad took me to Six Flags Great Adventure, and you had this option to drive in the regular way, or you could drive in through this Wild Safari complete with real live animals, so I’m sure to create some great adventure for his young daughter, my Dad chose the safari route. Only, when we were driving through, the animals didn’t really have a proper respect for boundaries, and these insane hyper monkeys starting jumping up and down, like crazy, as if they were purposely tormenting us, on the roof of my Dad’s very nice, very new car. Like I said, I was only 3 or 4, but I can imagine that my Dad, inside, was like: “Those Motherf*ckers!”


In Buddhism it is called monkey mind. In yoga class they often refer to it as chita vritis. In Nathalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones she calls it “Something that creates busyness to keep us away from our true heart.” It is that constant discursive thought, the inner monologue that plays continually throughout the day and into the next. And my chita vritis can be crazy! Some days my mind will move, without rest, from worry to worry, to do to to do, stress to stress, concern to concern, until I fall asleep, and then start fresh as soon as my alarm goes off the next morning:

-“Why did I say/do/think/feel that?”

-“Where did I put that?”

-“What do I have to do next?”

-“What if (fill in the blank)?”

-“I’ll never (fill in blank).”

-“I don’t have enough (fill in the blank) to (fill in the blank).”

-“That was/this is/I am (insert negative word of your choosing here; usually some variation on the theme of “not enough”).”

Sound familiar?

Some days all I can think about them, inside, is: “Those Motherf*ckers!”

It has been pointed out to me that it is the mechanism, not the individual thought, that causes the problem. Like, it doesn’t so much matter what I thought I wrote on that Post-It that I have since lost that is probably something really important that I have to remember to do, that I have since completely forgotten. The object of stress is irrelevant; it is just a symptom of the overarching problem – the attachment to, or the habit of, being stressed, and focusing on what is wrong all the time.

There are moments when, walking around, I remember this, I remember that all I have to do is quiet my thoughts for a second and take in what’s around me, what’s happening in the present, and that this is enough. And in these brief moments, I have lost my breath at the overwhelming beauty of – life, the trees, the street, the people, the brownstones, the day – whatever is around and in front of and within me. I’m not sure why, but it can be so difficult to just bliss-out in the present and let go of worries, because that goes against what we are all accustomed to do, how we have been conditioned to live. It can scarily feel like free-falling to just enjoy what is, now, and acknowledge that it doesn’t matter what is on the Post-It, or where it is, and know that, if it is truly important, it will come back to me anyway when I need it. It can feel like that line in the movie American Beauty: “Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it…and my heart is going to cave in.” It actually feels exactly like that.

Relating this back to John Mayer, as I promised, he has a song (on his fabulous new cd Continuum) called “Gravity”:

(Check it out on YouTube…

Gravity is working against me

And gravity wants to bring me down

Oh I’ll never know

What makes this man

With all the love

That his heart can stand

Dream of ways

To throw it all away…

…Wo-oh, gravity

Stay the hell away from me

Wo-oh, gravity

Has taken better men than me

How can that be?

Just keep me where the light is

Just keep me where the light is

At this point he repeats that line a whole bunch of times and this choir comes in ooo-ing and ahh-ing to emphasize his point. It is very dramatic.

Ever the English major, I can’t resist a good analysis and interpretation. Therefore, I take “gravity” to mean his monkey mind (would his non-monkey mind intentionally dream of ways to throw everything away?), and “the light” to mean that soft, calm, fuzzy, blissful, buoyant, airy, light space between thoughts, the place that your quiet mind, your true self, rests. This is the point of creation; a place to write from, and a place to live from.

I was in yoga class last week when the teacher was explaining oujai breath, the audible breathing practice used during asana practice. She said that it means “victorious breath,” which I had kind of assumed was so-named because it went with the “warrior” theme of the poses, but what she said was, it is so-named because what you want is something to focus on so intensely that you can have victory over your own thoughts.

This week, tell your monkeys to play nice, or even better, give them a Time Out, so you can have some peace, some quiet, some breath, some space, and some light. And then, even if just for a moment, you will be victorious.

Keepin’ it where the light is,




Copyright © 2006 by Jennifer Garam.  All rights reserved.



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