Is your mind a wild or tamed horse?Nathalie H
Prah Mana, a Thai monk from the Buddhist Theravada tradition, has been my mindfulness teacher for 14 years. A couple of years ago, during a silent retreat, he shared this story:
The Budha was begging for food in a village and met a Wild horse trainer.
Wild Horse Trainer: Why don’t you work for your own food?
The Budha: I work. What do you do?
Wild horse trainer: I train horses for merchants, travelers and the king.
Buddha: How do you do it?
Wild horse trainer: I get them from the forest when they are very strong and powerful. I cut down food so I can put a rope on their neck and start taming them.
Buddha: What if you cannot tame them?
Wild horse trainer: Then I kill them – barbecue horse meat.
Buddha: I train horses too! There is a wild horse here (point to heart) – it is your mind.
Anyone who has ever experimented with meditation knows that our minds often seem to have a life of its own or at least their own agenda.
Thoughts often pop up out of the blue without being invited and disappear without saying goodbye. Despite our intention to focus on the selected object (i.e. breath or a mental image) our minds may refuse to follow instructions and will do its own thing just like a wild horse.
While the monkey mind expression is popular and quite accurate to illustrate the experience of most beginners I prefer the idea of comparing the untrained mind to a wild horse. I like that analogy better because:
- It indicates that our minds can be trained. Yes, there is hope!
- It highlights the fact that effort/discipline is required. It doesn’t happen overnight.
- It reminds us of the power/strength of our minds and the benefits of being its master.
The Gita, an ancient Indian text written thousands of years ago, said:
For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be the greatest enemy.
Despite being practicing mindfulness meditation for nearly 15 years I still consider myself a beginner. I am devoted to my daily practice and sometimes I feel I am the master of my own mind which allows me to respond instead of reacting in challenging situations and save me from regret. The practice has allowed me to notice when fear, anger, greed or jealousy arises so I can make a conscious choice – not to buy into it. It has also allowed me to tap into an inner joy-peace, available within me, at will anytime. However, sometimes I am still caught by surprise and humbly recognise there is still work to do.
I have certainly had a taste of what the Gita was referring to and that is what motivates me to keep investing time and energy in taming my own wild horse.
What about you? Are you invested in training your mind?
Please share in the comments or send me a private message, I’d love to hear from you.
If you take care of your mind you take care of the world. – Zen Saying.
#Mindfulness #MindTraining #Meditation #ConsciousLiving #ZenHighAchiever