Sakyong Mipham is director of Shambhala International, a worldwide organization of more than 100 meditation and retreat centers. He is the son of the famous Tibetan meditation teacher Chogyam Trungpa and has been educated in America and India. Mipham not only teaches around the world but is an avid golfer, an accomplished equestrian, a body builder, and a practitioner of Kyudu, the Japanese art of archery. In his first book, he shares his understandings of the art of meditation, which he calls turning the mind into an ally. This substantive work will be of considerable importance to all those interested in mind training.
Mipham's equestrian experience is evident in the following: "The bewildered mind is like a wild horse. It runs away when we try to find it, shies when we try to approach it. If we find a way to ride it, it takes off with the bit in its teeth and finally throws us right into the mud. We think that the only way to steady it is to give it what it wants. We spend so much of our energy trying to satisfy and entertain this wild horse of a mind."
The wild horse of our mind is constantly fleeing from the present moment. Through meditation, we try to hold our mind on our breath and keep it there. Through familiarity, remembering, and nondistraction, we try to stay on top of the wild-horse mind. Mipham explains these practices along with obstacles we often face in this training process, including boredom, laziness, disheartenment, speedy busyness, forgetting the instructions, elation, and laxity. Although it is logical to get upset about these obstacles, the author advises us to see them as teachers who push us toward our practice: "After a while, it is even possible to feel a spark of delight when we see an obstacle coming up, because we know it's an opportunity to keep sharpening our minds. The more obstacles we face, the more confidence we feel to deal with them."
Taming the wild horse mind opens up other possibilities, such as the practice of equanimity as a counter to our propensity for being attached to our opinions and our notions of like and dislike. Mipham suggests and exercise to encourage equanimity: "We can take the attitude that everyone we encounter, directly or indirectly, has been kind to us. The driver of a bus takes us where we need to go. People work at night so that we can read the news at breakfast. A total stranger grew the potato we ate at lunch. Even someone who irritates us might give us the time of day if we ask."