Lately, my mind is all over the place and I can’t seem to concentrate on what I’m doing. I start thinking about one thing then my mind moves to something else or I’m redirected by something I hear or see.
I’m guessing that you’re not alone. Many of us are experiencing monkey mind these days. Is this an example of what’s going on in your head?
What if I don’t get an appointment for my COVID vaccine? I’m sick of cooking dinner. My daughter hasn’t called me lately—I wonder if she’s mad. What’s that beeping noise? I wish I hadn’t posted that last remark. Who will take care of me if I get sick?
How you signed your email may be your first clue. For centuries, Buddhist scholars have called this type of worthless mind-chatter “monkey mind.” Author Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame, describes it this way, “The thoughts swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit, and howl.”
If you’ve visited a zoo recently, you might have seen guidelines similar to those below on the monkey cage. Perhaps they will be helpful in curbing your monkey mind.
Watch but don’t stare.
Don’t fixate on one thought but let it flow through and out of your mind. This is how meditation works.
Don’t take pictures.
Holding on to negative thoughts gives them power. Endlessly focusing on a thought is called ruminating, a set up for a negative mood or worse.
Don’t feed the monkeys.
What we pay attention to grows. Feeding the darker side of monkey mind leads to more. Stop paying attention to these thoughts and they will diminish.
Dealing with monkey mind can be challenging. Start with one “do not feed the monkeys” guideline. Work hard at mastering it, then move on to the next. You’ve got this!
Now, go eat a banana—they’re full of potassium, one of the most important minerals in our body.