I am barely awake and my mind is overactive already; thinking about the day to come, what to wear, what to eat and if I will take the car or my bicycle to work. Without much notice I digest my breakfast and full of thoughts I experience my bike ride, mostly with my mind focused on the future. This mind you can consider to be a typical monkey mind.
Monkey mind is originally a Buddhist term meaning ‘unsettled, restless, confused, indecisive or uncontrollable’. It refers to the continuous chatter that goes on in your head, a mind that cannot be at rest. Your mind jumps from one thought to the other, producing up to 100,000 thoughts per day! This can drive you nuts for sure. Even if you are reading this, sub-thoughts can be occurring alongside the words your mind absorbs; maybe it’s a silent whisper of judgment, a word of confirmation or what you’ll have for dinner. Swinging from branch to branch, rarely focused solely on one thing, always on the move.
Nowadays there are even more distractions than ever. It is estimated that our brains are bombarded with seven times as much stimuli compared with our grandparents. In addition, most people are working with their mind the whole day, are stuck in traffic jams and experience rising stress levels. Monkey mind alarm!
Luckily, there is a solution for this monkey mind syndrome. Interestingly enough peace is much more nearby than you imagine. More clearly, inner peace is always here, right in this moment: NOW! Sounds easy, isn’t? Though, I know from my own experience that we can make it pretty hard for ourselves. It is rather a process then a single push on a button. A process in which you get to know yourself more, open up, fall and stand up again and always having the possibility to start freshly. It is like looking for your key everywhere, in and around your house and then discover that the key is in your pocket all the time already. So close by, but not aware of it yet.
So what to do? It always helps me not taking myself so seriously and don’t try too hard or fight. What you resist persist. If you feed your monkey mind with attention, energy or fight, it will definitely grow and develop itself, in maybe an aggressive gorilla. It is not the monkey who is the problem, rather our relationship with it. We all have experienced moments of flow. If you do something you really love, time flies by before you know and you’re just doing that one thing you are passionate about. Your mind is still and you’re here, in this moment, in your body. So called peak experiences.
This weekend I was walking in the bush with a group of people. Our planned 4 hour walk turned out to be a 10 hour walk with the last hours barely able to see the marks. There you’re, walking in a cold dark bush, not sure were you’ll end. Not sure how your unfit group member is going to handle at least another hour of tramping including river crossings and steep hills. It makes you aware of this moment while adrenaline is rushing to your body. You’re focused and your energy levels seem to rise in your body even though you’ve walked for hours already. I had thoughts for sure, but not so much as my usually crazy monkey mind. I used my mind as a strength to come to the best solutions and stay focused.
Awareness is the key to transform your monkey mind into a well behaved pet. Through becoming aware of your mind and understand how it work, you become able to change the relationship with your mind. It can even turn out to be a really sweet quiet peaceful little monkey on your shoulder, just here to assist you if you need it. Peace is always here and never goes anywhere. Observe a child and see how joy naturally flows. No mind chattering, just this moment of play and another….