The term, “monkey mind” derives from the Buddhist’s interpretation of a restless, confused, and all sorts of chaotic thoughts. Do you have this problem?
Hey guys, do you wake in the morning with restless thoughts running all over the place? Do you get up and feel confused because there are so many thoughts fighting for the spotlight? Maybe you don’t know what to do in order to get the day started. Or, maybe you just have way too many options. This chitter-chatter of the brain is called the monkey mind.
Learning to calm the chaos
So, if you’ve realized this is you, then I bet you would love to find ways to calm your monkey mind. Calming this restless state is the key to getting things done and being more productive throughout every day that follows.
It means focus, organization, and a sense of calm…that is, if you can just get control of that noggin of yours, you would accomplish much more.
Now, let’s see if we can calm that monkey mind.
1. Understand what’s happening
To first get a hold on your monkey mind with it’s chattering and arguing, you must first understand what’s happening.
The Buddha said the monkey mind is called “Kapicitta”, and it’s like having a tree in our minds with many branches. Our thoughts are like monkeys swinging from branch to branch always chasing each other or fighting.
They are usually thoughts or projects that we must do. Sometimes they are worries or concerns. They could even be past hurts or self-esteem issues. Honestly, these thoughts could come from anywhere.
So, I guess you can say, being in the present moment can help stop all these monkey thoughts from getting any further without our permission. While we are completing one project, we must hold our next idea at bay, thus calming and organizing our thoughts. Understanding how these things operate, you see, is the first key to fixing them.
2. Let your monkey mind play
For 15 or 20 minutes, just let your monkey mind run wild. While your mind is having the time of its life – jumping, chattering, fighting, and crying – write all these thoughts on paper.
Write your worries, write how you feel about someone, write about your anger about unfair treatments, and write about how you miss your loved ones who have passed. Whatever it is that you’re thinking about when you wake up, write it down.
You see, you’re giving your monkey mind an opportunity to be heard and not in order. Thoughts can zip and zap randomly as you jot down each little insult or compliment. This exercise will immediately start to calm your mind and you will be able to move to get your day in order.
3. Step into nature
The next thing you should do every morning is open the door and walk outside. It may only be for a moment, but that moment can quickly organize your early morning thoughts. In that first encounter with nature, you will start to take in sights and sounds of the world outside your door. The birds singing, the wind blowing through the trees, and, if you’re close to a stream, the soft trickling of water.
Immediately, your mind starts to pay attention to the different sounds. Now, instead of 15 different thoughts, you’re thinking about how beautiful and calming nature seems to be.
As you admire the beauty, you can put together your priorities. Step back in, make a cup of tea, and go sit outside a bit more, if you like. It helps to get as much nature as possible. Oh, and tea/coffee…whatever you prefer. lol
4. Speak to your thoughts
I know this sounds weird, but hear me out. When you feel like your mind is so full of thoughts that it’s about to burst, try talking to it. Pick one of those thoughts from the tangled mass and examine it.
If the thought is trying to speak negative things about how you look, speak back with positive words like “I am beautiful”. This helps the thought dissolve for the time being or at least walk to the back of the line and sit down. Hey, you have to have a little imagination here.
Let’s take another example: Say, your child is being bullied at school and you have to talk to the teacher, and at the same time, your child is causing problems in another classroom concerning something completely different.
These two thoughts alone can make you feel anxious. So, since they are basically appointments, write them down and deal with them one at a time. Talk with your thoughts about their order, and make them stay there.
While you deal with one, do not think of the other. Keep the secondary problem on a piece of paper you can look at after dealing with the first problem. Speak to your thoughts, get them in line, and find a way to prioritize them.
5. Catch and throw away
When I say to catch your thoughts, I mean to take each one and hold it captive until you figure out whether it’s important or not. You don’t have to talk to the thought or let it run wild. You just look at it.
Some thoughts are just meant to be thrown out, especially any sort of judgemental or insulting thoughts. Hold each one captive so that it doesn’t grow, then throw it away. No, don’t let it go to the back of the line and start again……THROW IT OUT!
Meditation is always good when the monkey mind is out and about. Mindfulness such as meditation puts us here in the now, it says to these unruly thoughts, “Quiet and be still”. Meditation says, “No thoughts, just focus”.
Now, meditation is not easy for beginners, but you should never give up. This process can completely transform your life and even give you the ability to wake with much less chaos.
It’s best to start this process early in the morning, in a quiet place. You can double up and go outside, which is preferred, in my opinion, and let nature help you quiet that monkey mind of yours.
Essential oils also help you relax, like lavender, and help you find the center of self. Sorry, monkey mind will never survive a habit such as meditation.
I have a monkey mind
I must admit, every morning when I wake up, I don’t know what to do. Sometimes, I just sit on the edge of the bed with my head in my hands. I think of getting the kids to school, getting chores done, making time for a nice warm bath, catching up on a bit of reading, and that’s just the start. I can see I have a monkey mind, and I am right here with anyone else who is struggling with this problem.
Shall we learn to improve together? I think that would be a wonderful idea.
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This Post Has 16 Comments
That is the best article i have ever read about racing thoughts. I love it I do most of what you listed and have been for a while now but i just loved you calling it monkey mind and the description I bout couldn’t stop laughing long enough to get through reading it.. but it put me in a great mood this morning so I just wanted to to leave this comment to let you know how much i enjoyed it .thank you
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Tiffany. Thank you for visiting and reading.
Absolutely wonderful article. Thank God I finally have tools to try to quiet the beast. I was told once that in order to stop the chaos in my mind that I should start singing the tune from “Gillian’s Island” but all that did was cause me to have chaotic thoughts played to the tune of Gilligans island. Lol. Thank you so much for helping those of us out there who get teased for not being able to focus or concentrate when in fact I focus alright but it’s just on 40 things at once.
Carol, it is quite okay. I struggle every day with filing my thoughts. You should see my library/dining room/den. lol It reflects my mind, I think. We just have to take it one step at a time. If you manage to organize one corner of your mind a week, then that’s a great step forward. Let it be creative too! Let that mind of yours paint, write, play an instrument or sing out loud. You are in control, just remember that.
Thank you for reading, Shabbir
thank you i enjoyed well.
Thank you for reading, abayneh
Loved it !!
I will follow these
Yes, give them a try, and thank you for reading our posts. 🙂
Thank you for reading, Preeti
Since I follow Nicherin Dioshonin’s Buddhism, I find it very helpful in settling and focus my mind.I agree to this monkey mind concept and the ways mentioned by you to take care of it.Nice read.
Thank you for reading, and I hope this truly does help when you need it.
Very educational, I guess with constant practice of garbage in garbage out when a thought don’t align or resonate with you also good way to silent the monkey mind.
Thanks for write up.
Cleaning out the mind is like cleaning out your closet or a drawer. It must be done on a regular basis in order to stay on top of things. Just let your monkey mind have a bit of fun every now and then, and create something amazing.