Do You Have A Monkey Mind?
There is a term used in Buddhism that you may very well be aware of because it has become popular outside the Buddhist community.
It’s called the monkey mind.
Your monkey mind is the one that chatters away all day to itself without any conscious intervention on your behalf.
For the most part you don’t even notice it. It’s like the A/C running in the background – it’s on, it’s making a noise, but you can’t hear it.
Only when you quiet all other noise and focus your attention can you all of a sudden hear the low hum of the air-conditioning unit yet again.
It never went anywhere, you just tuned it out.
The Monkey Mind Is The Same
For the most part we drown it out with the noise of distraction and busy-ness in all its multitude of forms.
It could be music playing as you work, sleeping tablets, playing video games, alcohol, or any number of other things that distract you from paying attention to the thoughts hurtling around your head at a thousand miles per hour.
And did you notice I said ‘you’ there?
Yet I don’t even know you, so how could I possibly be sure this is applicable to you?
Well, it’s because you’re human and all humans have a monkey mind ready to take control when we let out guard drop.
It’s how we’re wired up and it’s perfectly normal.
And it’s important to understand that, and not to think you have more weird shit going around your head than the next person, because it’s highly unlikely you do.
We all have weird shit going on inside our minds and that’s ok because it’s just part of life, and life is without doubt, weird.
The expression monkey mind isn’t always helpful, especially to people who don’t appreciate the fact that it’s not an insult or some slur on their individual progress up the evolutionary scale, but a mere description of a universal phenomenon.
My Monkey Mind Is…Er… Acting Like A Little Monkey
When I talk to clients about meditation the most common response I get goes something along these lines, “I couldn’t possibly do that, my mind is always going ten to the dozen”.
When I point out that mine is too and so is everybody’s on the planet who isn’t paying close attention to it, I do so not to belittle, them, but to help them understand that it’s ok and their brain isn’t broken.
There are probably an infinite number of ways to meditate because meditation is really just a synonym for mindfulness.
Unfortunately, most people think that if they don’t quiet their mind completely when meditating they’re not doing it properly.
But that’s incredibly difficult to do, even for seasoned meditators.
I did a tandem parachute jump last year.
It was fairly easy because I just allowed myself to by strapped to another dude who fortunately knew what the fuck he was doing and I didn’t refuse to get out of the plane at the appointed time.
Imagine I’d decided that instead I wanted to base jump off El Capitan in a wing suit with no training, no guidance and no real hope of survival?
That would have been akin to a complete beginner sitting down to meditate for 20 minutes and expecting to eliminate all thoughts and drop into a deep meditative state.
In terms of the chances of success that is.
Monkey Minds Hate Meditation!
The funny thing is, the more your mind chatters the more meditation can benefit you.
But, and it’s a big but, you have to sit with your thoughts and accept them for what they are rather than judging them and insisting they be quiet.
They’re not real, they’re not demons and they’re not going to hurt you, if that is, you merely observe them.
Thoughts only have power over us when we become attached to them and either ruminate on them causing distress and anxiety, or we act on them.
Otherwise they are just electrical signals in the brain that come and go and then come and go again ad infinitum.
My ebook on meditation for beginners hasn’t been available for a while because I’m still figuring out what to do with it.
Even if you decide you don’t want to take up meditation, which is absolutely fine, just be ok with your chattering mind and don’t make it chatter any more than necessary by telling it to STFU!!!