The wandering Monkey When my neurologist had to pump in more air than normal into the black band around my bicep, I knew it was going to be abnormal. As he started releasing the air pressure listening intently to the sound from my elbow through his stethoscope and his eyes riveted on the sphygmomanometer, his eyes widened at the reading. 180/100! He shook his head and repeated the exercise but the manometer refused to budge from the stand it had taken. 180/100! The Doctor gave me a nasty look and remarked that there was no wonder that I had a cerebral haemorrhage with that kind of pressure. He added that I was lucky to have had a non-eventful haemorrhage that did not cripple me but warned me that I could be going in for another episode if I did not bring my BP under control immediately. He referred me to my cardiologist to prescribe the right medicines for my BP management. My cardiologist is a very friendly and pleasant chap who would not scare you with such body language as pursing his lips and moving his head from right to left when he examines you. On the contrary, he would bring cheer to you by saying things like 180/100 is nothing and he has effectively treated people whose pressure used to be 360/200! When I presented myself before him, he was not unduly alarmed at my reading unlike my neurologist but made some appropriately reassuring statements about it. He promised that he would bring it down to normal within a month if I took the prescribed medicines regularly without fail. He agreed that the medicines he was prescribing were strong and the dosage a bit heavy but assured me that he would reduce it if I supplemented my medicines with yoga and meditation. Remembering how, years back, I tried an intricate yogic pose and needed external help to restore myself to my original shape, I ruled it out firmly and decided to try meditation. I have heard some very good things being said about meditation and when my Doctor mentioned it, it was like vox dei! I have also heard that the mind is a monkey and the more you tried to restrict its movement, the more jumping around it would do. I was advised by an experienced teacher to let the monkey wander freely and soon it would get tired and settle down. Solicited and unsolicited advices poured in from all directions about effective meditation and I was aghast at finding that almost every one with the exception of myself practiced meditation. I was overcome with self pity when someone exclaimed that it was incredible that a person of my age had never tried meditation! I decided to set right this only aberration in my otherwise impeccable life. I selected an auspicious day and sat down for meditation in a clean and comparatively noise-free room. I closed my eyes and prayed to Lord Dakshinamoorthy to lead my meditation fruitfully. A few seconds after I closed my eyes, a big monkey with a broad gummy smile appeared in my mental screen which I instantly recognized as the alter ego of my mind. It sat down and closed its eyes as if mocking my attempt to meditate. I gave it a stern look through my closed eyes and continued with my meditation. All was bliss for a few seconds until the tree jumping started. I was on my way to the market in the morning contemplating on what to buy. Drumsticks for sambar and baby potato for curry? But then I might have to peel off the boiled potatoes which job never appealed to me. As I continued my walk, I weighed various options in my mind when my reverie was disturbed by a screeching of brakes and an auto rickshaw halting ominously close to me. The driver launched a harangue against me in the choicest Chennai lingo concluding it with ‘Yov perisu! Veetla sollikkinu vandhiya? Savu grakki!’ (Hey Old man! Have you bidden farewell to the folks at home?) A bunch of software girls walking that way giggled heartily at this making me feel hurt and furious, hurt at being addressed as ‘perisu’ and furious that I did not have a suitable reply. I could feel my closed eyes becoming red with anger at the recollection of an incident that took place a couple of days back! Remembering the advice not to restrict the movements of the monkey but let it wander freely, I complied with it. The wandering monkey took me next to the club to witness an incident that took place a couple of months back. It all started as some innocuous argument over nothing which soon escalated into a wordy duel in which every one had something to contribute including the undersigned. It would have passed off as a routine event but for the fact that the youngest member waved my statement off as inconsequential! Though smitten badly by this gesture on that day, I maintained a stoic silence but in my meditation today, the unfairness of it made me angrier and my eyes redder! Between the close of one episode and the starting of another, the monkey would flash its broad gummy smile and that made me angrier than the episodes themselves. This continued for the entire duration of the prescribed 20 minutes and when I opened my eyes finally, I scared every one with my bloodshot eyes and grinding of my teeth! No one had any clue for this sudden transformation in me and my daughter suggested going to the Doctor immediately. I just waved her off and settled down to watch my favourite TV programmein in total peace and tranquility! I knew instantly that I was better off without meditation. I realised that the capability of effective meditation was not given to all but only to a privileged few and it was with a heavy heart that I decided to give up my meditation and stick to my medication!