Fish Meditation : The Story of Monk Fish

We, Human beings, are storytellers. The stories we tell every day are essentially accounts of the behaviors we perform over longer periods and space. Sometimes we play prominent roles in these stories; sometimes they are about others. They can be fictional or even fantastical, depending on the context.

The stories we tell are constructed and are based on our experience, a perspective on the world around us, and the factual interpretation of those circumstances. Certainly not false, but not always the complete truth. We can develop a deeper understanding of ourselves when we live our stories (instead of just thinking about them). We can explore ourselves through yoga, connect deeply with our personal stories, and learn to live fully embodied.

The Story of MonkFish

Once upon a time, there lived a monkfish in the Pamlico River in a small cave. She loved to meditate in the seaweed grove in her garden and rake symmetrical lines along with the white pebbles in her garden.

One day, as two young fish were swimming by, she overheard their conversation.

“That monkfish is SO weird,” the first fish commented.

“Why would you say that?” asked the second, “She seems nice enough.”

The monkfish turned to the youngsters and said, “Hello my friends, how’s the water today?”

“See what I mean!” The first fish said to the other, “What the heck is water?”

A serene smile spread across the monk fish’s face.

“If you would like, you may come and stay with me for a while,” she replied. “I will teach you about water, as well as many other things.”

The first fish said, “No WAY,” and quickly swam off. But the second fish was curious.

“I have heard about you for a long time,” she told the monkfish. “I’m attracted to your simple way of life and peaceful demeanor despite the other fish’s opinion that you are strange. It would be very much appreciated if you could teach me about this thing you call water and the other mysteries of life.”

As a result, Wanda, the young fish, moved in with the monkfish and began to study under her.

Having been studying the ancient fish wisdom texts for six months  – including meditation, yoga postures, gill breathing techniques, and studying the ancient fish wisdom texts – one day, Wanda’s eyes popped open, even more than usual, so she swam to the monkfish in her garden.

“Teacher,” she gulped, “I just realized what water is! I can’t believe it! I never knew there was such a thing and yet it’s all around me. I feel like I just took off my dark sunglasses and I feel like I can see now!”

The monkfish smiled kindly. “That’s wonderful Wanda. My heartfelt congratulations on discovering this basic truth about fish life. Still, there is much to learn.”

“Do you see that iceberg over there?” asked the monkfish pointing her fin off in the distance. “If you swim up to the top of the water, you will see part of it sticking out. If you lived above the surface of the water, it would look very big, but because you can dive deep, you realize that what you see is nothing compared to what lies beneath.”

Wanda nodded in agreement.

“That iceberg is like the truth,” the monkfish said. “The part that is above the water is the stories that we hear when we watch Fish News. But when you look beneath the water, you see that the truth is very complex.”

“Right beneath the surface, we start to see that truth is influenced by all sorts of things – like the fish in positions of power, the stakeholders, who are behind this so-called ‘truth.’ Even deeper are the beliefs of the fish that heavily influence what is relayed to us on Fish News and conveyed as ‘truth.’ Even deeper are our mythic and emotional beliefs that surround whole fish cultures.”

Then she drew the following diagram for Wanda:

“Wow,” said Wanda. ”Truth is so much more complicated than I imagined!”

“Continue doing your practices,” replied the monkfish with a mysterious smile. “More will be revealed to you.”

Wanda returned to her quest to uncover the truth of existence with renewed resolve. She had another epiphany after six more months. This time she was less enthusiastic.

“Teacher,” she told the monkfish sadly, “I now realize something even more important, but it upsets me. Well, after just recently discovered that this water exists, I have come to understand that it is quite polluted, it is not good for us. Now I’m worried about all my family and friends. In any case, they don’t know that they’re swimming in the water, much less than it’s polluted.”

The monkfish consoled her, “It is true that you realized something important. Often, what we think is good and normal is quite toxic, and facing that truth can be quite painful. But we have our practices – our meditation, our healthy eating, our fish asanas, and gill breathing techniques. They can help us remain strong despite the water being less than clean. You still have so much more to learn. Please don’t stop practicing.”

Wanda felt sad.

The world she had previously known was different from what she was experiencing now, and it was disorienting. She longed for the life she had known before. When she accepted the monkfish’s offer to become his student, she also knew that she had, like Neo in The Fishtrix, chosen the red pill and there was no going back.

Therefore, she continued to study.

Six more months later, Wanda began to sense something stirring deep within her. As time passed, it became such a strong feeling that she knew she had to express it to her teacher.

“Teacher, I have been here with you now for a year and a half,” she said. “During this time, I have discovered that there is the water, that I have always been swimming in the water, and that the water is polluted. I also realized something else,” she said. “I have realized that I want to help other fish understand our world so that we can all work together to make it a better place to live. In the past, I believed everything I saw on Fish News. But the truth goes deeper than the surface of the iceberg. As a result of studying with you, I understand that truth has a depth that I can only grasp when I look inside myself. I can no longer tolerate injustice in the sea.  The news stories will only change if we create new myths, new metaphors, and new worldviews. We have to start looking at the water in a new way.”

At that, the monkfish put her little fins as close to each other as they could reach in a gesture of honor and said, “Wanda, you have learned all that I can teach you. I encourage you to share your knowledge. There are others who await your teachings.”

And Wanda swam off into the sun-reflecting light of the underwater sunset in pursuit of her destiny.

Ending Note

Yoga promotes a sense of calm in the mind and spreads awareness. Your brain will be sharpened and you will be able to improve your mental stamina with the help of breathing and meditation. Additionally, yoga can relieve stress and anxiety as well as depression. Yoga increases flexibility and promotes joint health.

Anjana yoga is an experienced yoga tutor based in North Carolina. She strongly believes in treating diseases by finding their root cause. Through yoga, she has learned how to breathe, to let go, and to surrender what she cannot control. She shares this wisdom with her students.