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Your Monkey Mind

What is your Monkey Mind?

Your mind jumps from thought to thought, like a monkey swinging from tree to tree. Your monkey mind does not let you focus on one thing at a time, it tends to feed on stimuli – causing your internal dialogue to take over your train of thought.

When your mind is constantly bombarded by negative thoughts, fears, and doubts, it results in mental fatigue and can be physically draining. This is when true lack of focus happens and your monkey mind is running amok!

Origination

Buddha called the monkey mind, ‘ Kapicitta’ and described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys. The Kapicitta are jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. We all have monkey minds, Buddha said, with dozens of monkeys all clamouring for attention. Fear is an especially loud monkey, sounding the alarm incessantly, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong.

Buddha urged his disciples to develop a mind like a forest dear – calm, relaxed in the moment, yet alert and ware of it surroundings.

How To Quiet The Monkey Mind

It is important to remember, having a monkey mind is normal – everyone gets it. The trick is, to learn how to quiet your monkey mind so that you can live a more peaceful life. It is possible to control your anxious and overly active mind.

Nowadays, we live in an ever growing competitive world with busy lifestyles, being constantly assaulted with information and stimuli. This negativity affects our mood, making us unhappy, angry, restless, and, anxious halting our ability to live in the moment. The constant noise of monkey screeching in our heads can be overwhelming and stressful.

In order to quiet the mind, one must find inner peace through breathing techniques like meditation and relaxation practices.

Buddha showed his students how to meditate in order to tame the drunken monkeys in their minds. It’s useless to fight with the monkeys, or try to banish them from your mind. What you resist, persists! Instead, Buddha said, if you will spend time each day in quiet meditation, you can over time, tame the monkeys.

Understand You Can Control Your Monkey Mind

Studies show that after neurochemical triggers excite your brain, it takes just 90 seconds to return to normal brain chemistry.

Stop for a moment to find out what your monkey mind wants, ask questions like, why is it upset? Then ask yourself, is your monkey mind trying to remind you of something that needs to be done? Is it urgent? Note it, and decide if it needs attention right now. If not, tell yourself you will get back to it later.

Is it anxious about something in the future? Reassure your monkey mind that everything is going to be just fine.

Or is your monkey mind voicing resentment over something that happened in the past? Tell yourself, that it was in the past and you need to focus on the hear and now.

When your monkey mind is taking over, first be aware of it, then simply say, ‘Stop!’ Take a deep breath, and carry on. Some people, like to wear an elastic band around their wrist and pull it back – pinging it against their skin when their thoughts are going nuts. This interrupts the thoughts allowing them to concentrate and focus on one task at a time.

Create An ‘if-then’ Plan For Times When The Monkeys Become Activated

Identify your triggers and focus on avoiding them. Stop the triggers at the earliest point.

For example, if you know your monkey mind becomes very active when you take on too much at work, don’t obligate to too many tasks at once. Decide ahead of time how much work you can take on, plan and prepare and learn to say ‘no’.

Journaling

Externalise and record your surrounding stimuli to help you identify your triggers. Jot down who you’re with, what you’re doing, and what feeling you have at that moment. Be specific when recording your emotions.

Meditate

Meditation is the primary way to tame your monkey mind. You don’t need to go into a long meditation practice to tame your monkey mind.

Exercise and other breathing techniques like Qigong are good for your discipline and mind control. Check out the video below showing some Qigong movements to get you started.

Live In The Moment

Living in the moment is all about being mindful, being aware of your thoughts. While you are living in the moment, it is important to match your thoughts to your surroundings. Notice you’re having them and analyse why you feel a certain way.

Practice Mindfulness

Passing thoughts are normal, they can’t be chased away by willpower. Trying to fight the monkeys is counter productive. Be aware of your thoughts and acknowledge them, then tell yourself that you will address them at a later time.

It is important to not let your monkeys take over, learn how to take control – have them listen to your commands. Get them on your side, so they don’t interfere with your success.

Benefits Of Taming Your Monkey Mind

Taming your monkey mind will do all of the following for you

  • Give you clarity

  • Allow you to focus on the present

  • Improve the quality of sleep

  • Increase your sense of calm and well-being

  • Make you happier

  • Make you more positive

Learn more from the book, ‘Taming The Monkey Mind’ by Thubten Chodron via the non affiliated link here

A monkey sits in a tree
Personal Development - Your Health - Tame your monkey mind
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