The ‘monkey mind’ is when your mind, the voice in your head is not taking instructions from you. Instead of you being in control of your thinking, the mental commentary takes over. When you react and complain, this feeds the monkey mind and it starts to chatter out of control.
“Never believe that body is permanent.
Body is like a water bubble.
Mind is like a mad monkey”.
Sathya Sai Baba
The mind, when agitated uses fear as a way of keeping you safe. It can trigger feelings like anxiety, worry, overwhelm, panic and anger. These strong emotions are it’s way of protecting you from danger. I wrote a blog post about this called Taming the ‘inner monkey’.
It is difficult to be present and stay focused in life when the ‘monkey mind’ gets triggered and starts chattering. In the modern world, life is full of distractions. Technology is evolving at a high speed, great inventions such as the mobile phone and internet have created a new distraction for the monkey mind.
The problem with the monkey mind
When the monkey mind takes over, stress will become your constant companion. This way of thinking causes physical and mental fatigue. Have you ever had a day where you felt physically and mentally exhausted, yet achieved little? It becomes hard to relax and switch off, as the mind keeps worrying about the next day or problem.
Thinking negatively and complaining about your problems only feeds the monkey mind. The more you complain or react to these thoughts, the stronger the monkey mind becomes. Thoughts drive your emotions and this influences how you behave. It is what psychologists call the ‘vicious cycle’: the relationship between how we think, feel and act.
Fighting or resisting the thoughts strengthens the monkey mind. You cannot win this battle ! The only way to ease the mental chatter is to find peace.
Peace is always just a thought away….
Peace and tranquility can be found by re-connecting with your natural self. Even in the midst of chaos, stillness is found in the background. It is only a matter of recognising and becoming aware of this connected, abundant feeling within all of us. When you put your attention on this energy, it expands and grows within your conscious awareness.
Where Attention goes Energy flows; Where Intention goes Energy flows!
1. Daily Journal ( Monkey mind workout)
Keeping a daily journal is like a workout for the mind. It helps you to identify your thoughts, and where you are being overly reactive. I find it also helps with putting your problems into perspective as well as finding solutions.
Daily journaling only needs to take a few minutes a day, sometimes a bit longer. It is very helpful with rationalising your thoughts, I find it helps ease the mind. It is a powerful way of giving the monkey mind a workout, so it gives you peace the rest of the day! (This is why I journal in the morning).
2. Daily meditation practice
Daily meditation practice has many positive benefits including reducing stress, managing anxiety, improving sleep pattern and thinking.
People have been enjoying the benefits of meditation for thousands of years. Modern science is now backing it up with research that proves it’s effectiveness. I was reading about some of these research studies on headspace.com/science.
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously….
When you take yourself too seriously, your monkey mind becomes agitated and restless. A sense of humour is very important and can help you in so many ways. When you can laugh at yourself, life just flows so much easier. When you take yourself too seriously, life becomes very hard work, so lighten up !
4. Don’t try to shut your monkey mind up!…
There is no such thing as a completely quiet mind, your thought processes continue to go on and on. Meditation training is a great skill to master as it helps you focus your attention on one thing. Mindfulness as a practice, is also very useful as it trains you to carry out tasks with full conscious awareness. Mindfulness and meditation are both synonymous, as they both relate to improving your focus and attention.
The mind is only a problem when you react to your thoughts. When you fight the monkey mind, it becomes stronger. Thoughts come and go, they only hang about longer when you react to them.
5. Focus your attention on the monkey mind
A useful way of developing awareness of your monkey mind, is by shutting your eyes and focusing your attention directly on your thinking. This is a form of meditation in itself, to simply watch your thoughts without judgement.
When I do this, I find the mind begins to slow down and I begin to relax. I learned this technique from reading spiritual books by Eckhart Tolle.