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Taming Your Monkey Mind

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

How to remember yourself: Getting started.

There’s always a lot to do. Work, school, family, friends, the brushing of teeth, the making of coffee… what needs to happen, what should happen. It takes hold of us like a runaway Instagram feed that somehow, even though we choose who to follow, we no longer have any control over. (And if you’re not on Instagram, good for you, you have one less distraction to contend with. If you are, my handle is @r.sun.moves.)

If you’ve ever looked into meditation or mindfulness, you may have heard of the term monkey mind. We grab on to thoughts like a monkey grabs onto tree branches, swinging from one to another. (Not even the Buddha could resist a good monkey metaphor.)

First step to becoming human again: take a moment.

You can be lying down or sitting at your desk or standing on a busy subway. If you can close your eyes, great, but if there’s a chance someone may mug you or you may get fired, don’t.

Take a breath. A deep one. Feel it fill up your chest and stomach.

Pay just as much attention to your exhale.

Do a mini scan of your body: Pay some attention to your shoulders. Or your pinky toe, or basically any part of your body that you may have forgotten about when you were busy swinging from thought to thought.

***True story—just now, while writing this, i realized (too late in the game) that I had forgotten to replace the carafe in the coffee maker which resulted in a counter top flood. Mind you, this was the SECOND pot I was brewing, so I can’t even blame it on caffeine. Proof of how difficult it is to remember yourself. Also proof that you are better off going with warm water and lemon, but that’s a different blog.***

Back to your pinky toe: breath into it. Let that breath help it soften.

Notice what happened? In order to feel your pinky toe (or whatever body part you chose), you had to redirect your brain. You let go of that to-do list and focused. Didn’t take long either, maybe a minute tops.

That’s not to say the monkey is gone forever. Nor should it be: I would have been well served if simian-me was on top of the coffee situation. You just want to remember that YOU are the organ grinder in the relationship. The more often you can catch yourself, the more you can start to train your mind, and love your monkey.

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