We all have battles inside our minds that stiffens up our breathing and cause our bodies to rage within our heads at some point in our lives. The mind under stress for most of us is a tangle of voices, emotions, and feelings that keeps changing every second. It’s as if our favourite band is performing many songs at the same time. Alternatively, it is like trying to watch a movie with your spouse fussing about family, listening to your child inquire about their world, and reading a text message from your boss all at the same time. We are filled with doubt one minute about ever overcoming the difficulty in front of us, and then we become hopeful, but then we start feeling uncertain again. We can be committed to being peaceful and cheerful one minute and then feel lost the next. We might be kind to ourself and others one minute, and then the wheel turns and we are full of frustration and criticism the next.
On average, humans have tens of thousands of unique thoughts per day, often many of them revolve around the same topic. If we imagine each thought as a branch on a tree and that the attention of our conscious mind is a monkey, we could then see the monkey swinging from branch to branch all day long. In Buddhism, this is called as “Mind Monkey,” because our mind chatters and shrieks as it swings in our head from thought to thought. To some individuals, the mind chatter can feel like a room filled with hundreds of monkeys. This may appear to be entertaining, but in a troubled human mind, the concerns and demands of life are frequently on the mind’s agenda. Some of us call it “over-thinking” to make it easier to understand. Unfortunately, such thinking errors have a considerably larger harmful influence on individuals than we anticipate. In clinical terminology, it is classified under Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), although not everyone that has a monkey mind has ADHD.
So, what is actually happening inside our mind? Individuals are followed by the ego – the chattering monkey of their internal monologue – under the conscious spark of awareness. With all of this monkey noise going on, it’s nearly impossible to be present and focused on the current moment. Instead, the monkeys are whisked away by the wind of thoughts through the trees! Provocations are easy for the Monkey Mind to feed on because of our intrinsic ability to think. When we give our attention to too many things at once, spend our days running from one appointment to the next, and focus on what we have still to do rather than what we are doing now, it’s like our monkey is chasing hundreds of trees full of enticing bananas, but can’t get hold of any.
“Amazing! Look at him go, he’s worried about your date next week, oh, now he’s up in that tree criticizing your incapacity to negotiate at work yesterday, and then he’s reminding you that your car’s engine light is on.”
The point is that we genuinely require the monkey’s assistance. We need the monkey on our side. He’s useful since he maintains track of stuff in our hectic existence. The issue arises when, like other small monkeys with loads to do, he becomes overly excited.
Why is it happening and why is this an important issue?
As previously stated, allowing monkeys to control our mind is quite costly. It’s difficult to place a price on a messed-up mind that can spread into our personal and professional lives. It diverts our attention away from focused tasks or relationships, even when it doesn’t deserve it. It fosters nightmares by instilling unneeded anxiety about the imagined future. In addition to these factors, modern society is a major contributor to people experiencing an abnormally high number of monkeys in their minds. Other elements, such as social media, complicate the situation. In general, monkeys in our head tries to wander in multiple directions at once, swinging from one branch of thought to the next. It’s on the lookout for the next banana, the next great thing, or sometimes the next small thing.
So, what can we do to overcome this issue?
This question does not have a simple or straightforward response. It’s a challenging experience. There are a number of well-established approaches for easing the mind and thoughts, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), that have been in use for decades. Methods such as breathing, or Cardiac Coherence can also be helpful to calm the internal functioning by rhythmed breathing (example: 5 inhales and 5 exhales). According to recent studies, meditation is being utilized to tame the monkey mind all around the world. We invite the monkey to come down from the treetops and rest by being calm, present, following our breath, and categorizing our thoughts. It takes time and effort, but the monkey mind ultimately settles down. Surprisingly, the monkey mind has a lot of energy and strength when it is tamed, focused, and quiet. The dilemma is that we can’t fight or punish the Monkey into submission. We can, however, comprehend it, tame it, and live in peace with our animal companion. Meditation in silence is recommended by Buddhists. The monkey feels heard and understood as a result of his understanding of the Monkey Mind. When his (our) fears are gradually reasoned with, and our mind is calmed through meditative practices, the horrible consequences of not being enough are revealed to be not that terrible.
The future is never certain; none of us can predict what will happen tomorrow. We all have plans, dreams, and objectives that we strive to achieve. When we approach each new day with anxiety, we lose our ability to be present in the moment and fully enjoy the trip we are on. Moving meditations like Qigong, Yoga, and Tai Chi are examples of techniques that can be employed to harmonize us with our monkeys. After all, we find it difficult to sit quietly and not think at first. These internal arts allow us to use our physical forms to cultivate the inherent quiet of the soul by shifting the focus from the mind to the body. The first step toward coexisting with our Monkey Mind is to recognize that it exists, that it is a part of us but does not define us, and that it does not have to cause us pain every time it swings through our forest.
To conclude, the Monkey lives within us, but if we are aware of its presence, it does not have dominion over us. Congratulations to you, as you’ve already taken the first step in transforming your wild monkey into an elegant deer by reading this post.