Learning About Life from a Drunken Monkey
Gulf Coast resident William L. Mikulas, Ph.D., is the author of numerous books and articles on interfacing Western psychology and Eastern wisdom and health traditions, and delivers lectures and workshops around the world. As a professor at the University of West Florida, he has earned many awards for teaching, research and service and became professor emeritus in 2009. He has just written a new book, Taming The Drunken Monkey: The Path to Mindfulness, Meditation and Increased Concentration.
Can you tell us a bit about the title?
In yogic and Buddhist psychologies, the untamed mind is often described as a wild or drunken monkey, running around largely out of control. I have found that people can easily relate to this metaphor and I can then use it in many instructive ways, such as the monkey tricks to keep one from taming the mind.
What inspired you to write this book and how long have you been working on it?
I have been practicing, teaching, and researching the basic practices for many decades. I have been field-testing the best way to learn the practices in college courses, community programs and professional workshops. I finally felt that I could put it all together into a useable manual.
How is this book different than your previous books?
Two of my previous books were written for the lay reader, and the other six were textbooks for college courses and professionals. This book serves both groups. Although it is written and primarily intended for lay readers, it is also being well-received by the professional community. It will be used in college courses and workshops, and it is being recommended by many counselors to their clients.
What do you hope people will gain from reading this book?
Just reading the book will have limited usefulness. But for people who do the practices, I know they will acquire powerful skills that will significantly improve the health of body, mind and spirit. Of course, different people will profit in different ways from different practices. Some will profit most from the breathwork, others from getting control of their thoughts, others from reducing attachments, others from opening the heart, etc.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give regarding cultivating mindfulness and meditation in their lives?
Stop trying to accomplish something! One will have many good reasons to practice meditation and/or cultivate mindfulness. But when you are doing the practices, don’t try to accomplish anything. Simply do the practices in the here-and-now with full awareness. Switch from doing to being.
Your book emphasizes approaching our life journey’s with kindness, patience and “playful curiosity” for us to move at our own rate. What is the importance of this approach?
People add an unnecessary heaviness to their life journey, particularly people seriously on a path of awakening. Yes, awakening is very important, and yes, these practices are life-changing. But just get on with it and lighten up. Have fun and make friends with yourself. If things are not generally getting lighter and more fun in your life, you are missing the point.
Can you tell us a bit about the Unity event on October 19?
At first, I will summarize some of the key points everyone should know about the world’s best practices for improving the health of body/mind/spirit. Then, most of the time will be devoted to a workshop experience based on some of the practices in the book. This part will be facilitated with my friend and colleague Dr. Michael DeMaria, whose live music will be a center point for our exercises. We will finish with a very powerful group loving kindness meditation.
De Maria is a psychologist, author, sound healing artist and four-time Grammy nominee and will accompany Mikulas at the Unity event. With more than 25 years of experience, he offers life guidance to many people in our local area,applying his unique integrative psychology. In addition to his mindful music, he provides local weekly classes and special workshops throughout the year at Sanders Beach Community Center, in Pensacola, that apply a combination of sound therapy, meditation and yoga with healing and personal growth. Find out more about him and his work at MichaelDeMaria.com.
Taming The Drunken Monkey can be found at all major bookstores and online outlets and will be available at the Unity event.